Archive for the ‘Short Story’ Category

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Beyond Infinity by Robert Spencer Carr

December 12, 2012

The Book: Beyond Infinity by Robert Spencer Carr. Copyright 1951. Published 1954 by Dell (#781).

Beyond Infinity

The Stories:

“Beyond Infinity” -1951 – Somewhat noir-y mystery/indirect observation of a space/time adventure. Good.

Morning Star” – 1947

Those Men from Mars” – 1949

“Mutation” – 1951 – Short but slightly tiresome story about survivors of an atomic blast and the mutations they deal with in their environment.

The Evaluation: I enjoyed “Beyond Infinity” and “Those Men from Mars.” The other two were not great stories. The quality of the writing was decent, and fun in places. This collection is a solid “meh” from me.

The Cover: A fine Richard Powers cover.  A man, a woman, and an alien environment. And possibly a sign post.

Next Up: Sentinels from Space by Eric Frank Russell.

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NSF: “The Pumpernickel” by Ray Bradbury

February 20, 2012

The Book: “The Pumpernickel” by Ray Bradbury.   Originally published in Collier’s in May, 1951, the story was read in Long after Midnight published by Bantam in 1978.

The Setting: Small town Earth.

The Story: Bread reminds an old man of a happy time in his life.

The Science: Old people get a bit carried away by memory. This is not science fiction.

The Reaction: Another Bradbury vignette. Ho hum.

The Cover: Still not thrilled by it.

Next Up: Sands of Mars by Arthur C. Clarke.

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“Here There be Tygers” by Ray Bradbury

February 15, 2012

The Book: “Here There be Tygers” by Ray Bradbury. The story was first published in the anthology New Tales of Space and Time  in 1951. The edition read is in R is for Rocket, published by Bantam Books in 1978.

The Setting: A planet far far away.

The Story: Prospecting space men find a planet which provides them with all their wants and desires, unless it’s threatened…

The Science: Sentient planets? Or at least reactionary eco-systems? Eh, why not?

The Reaction: Like so much of Bradbury, it’s vivid and fun to read. And, in this case, classic. So many others have ripped this idea off – paradise with a bite.

The Cover:Still not impressed. 

Next Up: “The Pumpernickel” by Ray Bradbury

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“And the Walls Came Tumbling Down…” by John Wyndham

February 10, 2012

The Book: “And the Walls Came Tumbling Down…” by John Wyndham. Originally published in Startling Stories, May 1951. The version read was in Beachheads in Space, edited by August Derleth, published by Berkeley Books in 1952.

The Setting: Earth, the desert, maybe in the Southwest US.

The Story: Invisible silicate life forms land in the desert and investigate.

The Science: It’s interesting to read stories written from non-human points of view. Particularly when the life forms in question break at individualized frequencies. I’m a little unclear as to which noises are destroying these life forms, but it’s cute.  Cute idea.

The Reaction: Cute idea, but I had a little trouble following the story. I get that the reader was supposed to put together a lot of the pieces on the way, but it was a kind of a difficult puzzle, and I’m not sure I got enough pieces to complete the picture.

The Cover: Still awesome. 

Next Up: “Here There be Tygers” by Ray Bradbury.

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“Breeds There a Man…?” by Isaac Asimov

February 4, 2012

The Book: “Breeds There a Man…?” by Isaac Asimov. Originally published in Astounding, June 1951. The version read was in Beachheads in Space, edited by August Derleth, published by Berkeley Books in 1952.

The Setting: Contemporary Earth.

The Story: A scientist on the edge of a breakthrough becomes relentlessly suicidal. Because of aliens?

The Science: Well. Huh. So the scientist in question invents a force-field. And it works. The story doesn’t much go into why, and frankly I’m getting a bit bored trying to be scientific in this science section. I’m a pretty well informed lay person, so I can hoot and holler when stuff is just ridiculous, but some folks, like Asimov, make the explicit stuff seem pretty plausible.

The Reaction: A good story. The idea that humans are the experiment of some other force is a pretty old one. Actually, isn’t that the idea behind a lot of major religions…?

The Cover: Still a truly lovely cover. 

Next Up: “And the Walls Came Tumbling Down…” by John Wyndham

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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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“There is No Defense” by Theodore Sturgeon

January 23, 2012

The Book: “There is No Defense” by Theodore Sturgeon. Originally published by Astounding Science Fiction in February, 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: Space, sometime in the future.

The Story: An unknown ship enters the solar system. Big, dark, scary, and it kills everything that attacks or scans it. Nothing seems to hurt it. A coalition of governments from Earth, Mars, and Jupiter, decide to use their ultimate weapon on it (a weapon long outlawed because of its effectiveness). But that doesn’t really work.  Blah blah blah, political intrigue, cross species suspicion, and the whole thing wraps itself up tidily.

The Science: The solar system fights the invader with what they call The Death. The Death is an ultimate weapon which destroys life and from which There Is No Defense… Anyway, it works by focusing a very powerful and random vibration on an enemy. This vibration then breaks down all organic matter and spins out into space. Can a vibration be so strong that it breaks down life at the cellular level? Uh, maybe. Personally, I feel vibration strongly – at a loud concert, I can feel it in my core. Extrapolated, I think it could do serious harm. So this seems plausible. Also, kudos to Sturgeon for creating good sounding explanations of many of the scientific elements of this story.

The Reaction: Not a fan of this story. Didn’t hate it, but wouldn’t mind never reading it again. I can’t put my finger on exactly why, because I appreciated some items, like Sturgeon’s science-y bits. But overall, it just didn’t come together for me. Hard not to read this story without thinking about it in a post WWII context.

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: “West Wind” by Murray Leinster.