…SF addict …

Monday, July 3, 2017

Penguin Science Fiction ed. by Brian Aldiss



This is a collection of 12 stories by numerous authors writing in the 1950s, the book itself published in 1961 (my copy is dated 1965)

Sole Solution, Eric Frank Russell
A very short story, just 3 pages, about a scientist trapped in a dark room or chamber, I'm not sure exactly,  and his means of escape through the mind. Very odd. I never did understand the ending and I read it twice! But I think the gist is science wins.

Lot, Ward Moore.  I've not heard of this author, a pseudonym perhaps? Anyway it's a fairly long tale of a family fleeing after some catastrophic event. The reader is never informed of the nature of the event, it is simply referred to as It but I'm guessing It is a nuclear attack. Anyway the story itself is a decent story of a family's  journeying by car to hopefully somewhere safe, and the interaction of the various family members is quite fun.  But, and it's a big but, the main character, the father,  has terrible dialogue. He comes across as highly intelligent but incredibly analytical and dull. Not a likeable character at all!

The Short-short Story of Mankind-John Steinbeck.
I never knew Steinbeck wrote SF or fantasy, but then again I've not read the author before. This fun fable concerns itself with the survival of mankind as a species from our caveman ancestors to modern times. It's a kind of potted history of mankind,  but done with the author's tongue very much in cheek,  yet retaining serious undertones. I enjoyed this one a lot, even though it's not really SF.

Skirmish,Clifford D. Simak
A curious little tale involving a newspaper reporter who discovers that a piece  of his office equipment has developed a life of its own...I loved this one, very silly and yet a little bit scary...

Poor Little Warrior, Brian Aldiss
A story about a dinosaur hunter who faces disappointment, and then something much worse.
A fun little tale spoiled somewhat by over purple prose and Aldiss's tendency to play with words.

Grandpa, James H. Schmitz
A tale of an alien world where visitors travel across the water on large  lily pad-like creatures. A young boy named Cord, from another planet, tells people of a giant lily pad that he named Grandpa, and takes them to find it. They climb aboard Grandpa but the boy notices something different about it, and sinister events ensue. An interesting tale, and I imagined the planet to be warm and lush, like the Amazon on Earth. In some ways it reminded me of Aldiss's Hothouse and Ballard's Drowned World.

The Half Pair, Bertram Chandler
A couple in space are enjoying their time together when the man discovers he has lost a cuff link. He is determined to get it back,  a decision that comes at s cost
Command Performance, Walter M. Miller
A woman has a strange feeling one day  that something is wrong, something is missing or different. She tries to analyse the situation and suddenly decides she needs to be naked and takes a walk in the garden in the rain.  Then she feels that she is being watched and meets a stranger, who knows her...

Nighfall, Isaac Asimov
This is a classic story and the only one I've read before.
Imagine a world with 6 suns giving constant light across the planet. Now imagine if one day all the suns were arranged in such a way that darkness fell. People have never seen night before, never seen the stars before, which exist as a long forgotten myth. A good one!

The Snowball Effect, Katherine Maclean.
A rather boring one about sociology and the effects of an idea on a group of people.

The End of Summer, Algis Budrys.
Set 10,000 plus years in the future, this is a story about a man named Kester Fay, an immortal who makes a startling realisation that will affect all of humanity. Quite a long story, almost novella length with some interesting concepts.

Track 12, J. G. Ballard
A very short story about a sound engineer who plays a series of micro- recordings to a colleague,  who then has to guess the origin of the sounds. An interesting one with a dark twist, which reminded me of the 1980's TV show Tales of the Unexpected.

Not a bad collection but not good enough to stay on my shelf so it's listed on bookmooch.com