Archive for the ‘Murray Leinster’ Category

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“West Wind” by Murray Leinster.

January 30, 2012

The Book: “West Wind” by Murray Leinster. Originally published by Astounding Science Fiction in March, 1948, the edition read was in 3 in 1: Three Science-Fiction Novels, (by which they mean somewhat longer short stories) edited by Leo Margulies, published by Pyramid Books (F-899) in 1963.


The Setting:  Some alternate Earth, most likely.

The Story: A journalist stays behind when a province is evacuated to allow a neighboring country to take it over. He is, not surprisingly, captured and treated as an enemy agent.

The Science: The story ends with one side of the conflict becoming suddenly, horribly ill from radiation. Turns out, the wind blows west, and one country released radioactive uranium dust into the wind, causing the other forces to die. Radioactive dust causes the enemy army to die, literally, overnight. I’m not sure about the timeline and the ability to focus the dust the story claims, but acute radiation exposure sure can cause death.

The Reaction: I spent the whole story feeling like I had read it before, which is possible. The main character is a little, shall we say, hammy? There’s a thing about coffee in the story which seemed pretty cheap to me. But it’s okay.  Just like the previous story from this volume, I was feeling the whole WWII vibe pretty strongly here.

The Cover: Cover art by EMSH. This cover is pretty cool. We’ve got three different species all trying to fix a space thing, and they’re all in specialized spacesuits. Different from a lot of other cover art I’ve seen and I like it.

Next Up: “Breeds There a Man…?” by Isaac Asimov

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“Plague” by Murray Leinster

July 18, 2010

The Book: “Plague” by Murray Leinster from the Science Fiction Omnibus edited by Groff Conklin.  Story originally published in 1944 by Astounding Science Fiction.  Edition read was published by Berkeley Books in 1956.

The Setting: Distant space, a distant planet.

The Story: A massive, entrenched bureaucracy causes a deadly plague and attempts to kill the one man who figures out how to fight it.

The Science: It’s not a plague, really, it’s an electric being that feeds on human energy, but not any human energy, only women!  That’s right.  It only kills women.  Why?  I don’t know.  So the hero doesn’t have to worry about getting infected, I guess.  The story isn’t very clear on that point.  The entity prefers materials which conduct better (it can exist outside the female body) but, as far as I know, there should be no appreciable difference between the sexes when it comes to the body acting as a conductor – we’re all mostly water, right?  In trying to figure this out, I came across this article abstract- Differences in electrical stimulation thresholds between men and women – which, if I understand it correctly (and I’m not at all sure I do), means women feel pain more quickly than men.  SO it’s not really relevant anyway.  Mr. Leinster (if that is your real name), I”m afraid this doesn’t make sense.

The Reaction: When I’m not getting hung up on the arbitrary gender binary of plague susceptibility, I was enjoying the story.  In fact, I kept thinking of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s series.  (Which, if you needed to click the link to know what I was talking about, you need to stop everything, go find a copy of the book and a nice cup of tea and get reading.) The story was interspersed with encyclopedia articles, mentions of not-quite-random simultaneous action, and had a highly entrenched, highly ridiculous, but very much all powerful bureaucracy.   In other words, vogons.  My husband tells me this is a Foundation rip off, but I haven’t read that yet.  And so, I quite like the story.  Pretty good stuff.

The Cover: It’s an anthology and clearly this cover has nothing to do with this story, but it’s gorgeous.  I mean, look at all those spaceships!  And they’re such space age spaceships of the future.  Love it.  But I’m a sucker for retro-future spaceships and rayguns.

Next Up: Man of Two Worlds by Raymond F. Jones.