Archive for the ‘Lester Del Ray’ Category

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Beachheads IN SPACE

October 3, 2012

The Book: Beachheads in Space, edited by August Derleth, published by Berkeley Books in 1952.

The Stories:

“The Blinding Shadows” – Donald Wandrei

“Repetition” – A.E. Van Vogt

“Metamorphosite” – Eric Frank Russell

“To People a New World” – Nelson Bond

“The Years Draw Nigh” – Lester Del Ray (read in a different book, but featured in this one as well)

“Breeds There a Man…?” – Isaac Asimov

“And the Walls Came Tumbling Down..” – John Wyndham

The Evaluation: Worth having!  There are a lot of fascinating ideas in this book, and even a few well written stories. I remembered about half of them, which is a pretty darn good ratio.

The Cover: Cover by Richard Powers. And, like so many of his, it’s excellent. It has a really awesome spaceship on the cover, and an outpost on a hill, and is very lovely science-fictiony in general. Awesome.

Etc.: This is the second and last short story wrap up wherein all the stories of a volume are linked, as I am now moving to a new model of reading books of short stories when that volume was originally published, and blogging it as a volume.

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“And It Comes Out Here,” by Lester del Rey

October 23, 2011

The Book: “And It Comes Out Here,” by Lester del Rey.  Originally published in 1951 in Galaxy Science Fiction, the edition read was in the anthology Mortals and Monsters published by Ballantine in 1965.

The Setting: Earth, present and future.

The Story: Wibbly wobbly, timey wimey… stuff.

The Science:  Time machines and miniature atomic engines. Nope, we don’t have that yet. What this story does nicely is put forth the notion that time travel is complex and has a great many implications that will get even more complicated.

The Reaction: Yes, so my story and science descriptions don’t do a very good job at convincing you to read this, but you probably ought to if you end up with a copy of it. It’s kind of fun, kind of familiar, but also a little… timey wimey.

The Cover:  Same as the last one

Next Up:  The Alien by Raymond F. Jones.

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“The Years Draw Nigh” by Lester del Rey

October 16, 2011

The Book:  “The Years Draw Nigh” by Lester del Rey.  Originally published in Astounding Science Fiction in 1951, the edition read was in the anthology Mortals and Monsters published by Ballantine in 1965.

The Setting:  A far future, Mars.

The Story:  The last of a fleet of intergalactic exploration ships returns to home base.

The Science:  This story starts with the idea that the human race has developed a way to rejuvenate itself – no one need grow old. People can live forever returning to youth when old age begins to creep back. The interesting thing about the idea as played here is that people are no longer choosing rejuvenation. The world, apparently, is dying and there’s no hope for anything better. So people are choosing to let their lives end naturally when they could have it otherwise. An interesting take on the eternity machine idea.

The Reaction:  This is a nice story. It worked well, with good characters and ideas. It’s melancholy, even morose, but it’s the right tone. Unfortunately, I’m not sure that the tone should be morose, ultimately. I didn’t follow the leap the story made of 1+1=failure when it seemed to me that 1+1 could= a new hope.

The Cover:  ISFDB says the cover is Richard Powers, and it is even signed on the side, but it doesn’t have that cool feel Powers usually has. It’s got a collage feel and a sort of clockwork robot. This cover means nothing to me.

Next Up: “And It Comes Out Here,” by Lester del Rey

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“The Day is Done” by Lester Del Ray

June 19, 2010

The Book: “The Day is Done” by Lester Del Ray.   Story originally published in 1939 by Astounding Science-Fiction.  Read in the anthology Where Do We Go from Here? edited by Isaac Asimov, published by Fawcett Crest in 1972.

The Setting: Prehistoric Earth

The Story: The last Neanderthal feels sad.

The Science: Neanderthals and early humans did probably encounter each other, and no one is quite sure why Neanderthals died out.  This story has a two pronged explanation: Early humans were better hunters and made easy prey difficult to get.  Also, neanderthals got inferiority complexes and didn’t really want to live in a world with a superior species.  I don’t know about that.  Neanderthals were pretty hardy  – I once heard a physical anthropologist suggest that they developed their trademark thick brow ridges because they kept getting hit over the head.  And that there are a large number of neanderthal remains with blunt force trauma to the head to support that.  I’m not going to speculate on why they died out, or even if they did.  But I tend to think it had more to do with climate change or interbreeding than it had to do with depression.

The Reaction: Meh.  It’s fine, but I was a little annoyed that the early humans talk like Shakespeare, except the outcast who has a distinctly lower class way of talking.  It’s certainly a different sort of science fiction than I’ve been reading.  No outer space, no rockets.  Just rocks.

The Cover: A generalized science fiction anthology cover with what may be planets or molecules or whatever.  But mostly, ASIMOV.

Next Up: “Heavy Planet” by Milton A. Rothman