Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Wedge

"The Wedge" by H. B. Fyfe

"Finding his way out of this maze was only half the job."

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Student Body

Student Body by F. L. Wallace

"When a really infallible scientific bureau makes a drastically serious error, the data must be wrong ... but wrong in what way?"

Monday, March 29, 2010


by Clark Ashton Smith

No more of gold and marble, nor of snow
And sunlight and vermilion, would I make
My vision and my symbols, nor would take
The auroral flame of some prismatic floe.
Nor iris of the frail and lunar bow,
Flung on the shafted waterfalls that wake
The night's blue slumber in a shadowy lake.
To body forth my fantasies, and show
Communicable mystery, I would find,
In adamantine darkness of the earth,
Metals of any sun; and bring
Black azures of the nether sea to birth—
Or fetch the secret, splendid leaves, and blind
Blue lilies of an Atlantean spring.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


"Games" by Katherine MacLean

"It is a tough assignment for a child to know where a daydream ends and impossibility begins!"

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Double Spy

The Double Spy by Dan T. Moore

"Meet the man with no name. Nothing cool about this cat. He was built along the lines of a necktie rack, weighed slightly more than a used napkin, and was as shy as the ante in a crooked poker game.

No sex appeal there, you'd say. Yet within the space of a few days every woman in the country melted into quivering protoplasm at the very thought of this mystery man!"

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Peacemaker

"The Peacemaker" by Alfred Coppel

"The legends of Jaq Merril are legion—but legends. Hark, ye, then to the true story of the pirate benefactor of Mankind!"

"The Draw" by Jerome Bixby

"Stories of the old West were filled with bad men who lived by the speed of their gun hand. Well, meet Buck Tarrant, who could outdraw them all. His secret: he didn't even have to reach for his weapon...."

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Call Him Savage

"The Record of Currupira" by Robert Abernathy

"From ancient Martian records came the grim song of a creature whose very existence was long forgotten."

Call Him Savage by Howard Browne

"Around the 15th of March each year, folks start saying, "Give the country back to the Indians!" Well, that's what we want to talk to you about."

Korgoth of Barbaria

Korgoth of Barbaria was a brilliant parody of Conan, Thundarr, late '70's Ralph Bakshi films, FRPGs, and sword-and-sorcery in general.

It could have been one of the all-time great cult TV shows if it had made it past the pilot episode. Instead the closest thing we got to a decent parody of the genre was the kid's show, Dave the Barbarian.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Political Application

"Political Application" by John Victor Peterson

"If matter transference really works—neanderthalers can pop up anywhere. And that’s very hard on politicians!"

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Psilent Partner

"The Sloths of Kruvny" by Vern Fearing

"This world we live in is a pretty grim place. It's tough to make a living. At any moment we may get blown up, down or sideways by the atom bomb. The day after tomorrow may never come, and on top of all this, TV commercials are getting worse and worse. It seems that our only salvation is a sense of humor, so we give you "The Sloths ..." a very unserious yarn."

The Psilent Partner by John Victor Peterson and Edward S. Staub

"Without stressing the technological aspects of the strange powers of the widely-talented ones—the psis, espers, telepaths which have been so painstakingly forecast by Stapledon, van Vogt, Weinbaum, Vance and others—Messieurs Peterson and Staub have whipped fantasy, forecasts and facts into a stirring and mentally titillating story of a too-imaginative mind."

"Star Performer" by Robert Shea

"Blue Boy's rating was high and his fans were loyal to the death—anyone's death!"

Monday, March 22, 2010

Happy birthday, Rudy Rucker

Today is the birthday of mathematician and sf author, Rudy Rucker. In addition to non-fiction books like Geometry, Relativity and the Fourth Dimension (1977) and Infinity and the Mind (1982), he wrote his Transrealist novel, White Light (1980).

This was followed by his sf novels comprising The Ware Tetralogy (1982-2000). He's written many other momorable novels, like the steampunkish The Hollow Earth (1990), Frek and the Elixir (2004), Postsingular (2007) and its sequel Hylozoic (2009).

And if that weren't enough, he publishes the free sf webzine, FLURB. So happy birthday to one gnarly dude.


This is probably going to be the last birthday tribute I write. I've been reminded that some people don't like being reminded of their age. I started writing these because it seems slightly ghoulish to me the way people wait until someone is dead to celebrate their life and work. So please appreciate your favorite authors while they're still around.

Buck Rogers teaser

As Jamie Mal mentioned awhile ago, a new trailer for James Cawley's upcoming Buck Rogers series is available.

It's a short scene in which "Buck tries to talk his parents into letting him go to France to join the AEF in WWI." His parents are played by Gil Gerard and Erin Gray, the stars of the 1980's TV show, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. It's an appropriate scene given that Buck Rogers was originally a military sf story. In his comic strip incarnations the artist even signed his name "Lt. Dick Calkins" to reinforce the military overtones. The things for which the series became famous, the rocketships, spacesuits, spaceflight to other planets, "that crazy Buck Rogers stuff," wasn't added until much later.

That's not Buck on the cover, it's Dick Seaton.

But those things were to be found in the same issue of Amazing that Buck premiered in. They were the stuff of Doc Smith's seminal tale The Skylark of Space. But despite his importance to the history of the genre, Smith's works were eclipsed by Nowlan and Calkin's famous character, who didn't hesitate to borrow elements Smith's work with the same questionable nonchalance with which Seaton acquired ownership of "X". Maybe it's time for a film of Skylark, too.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Jimsy and the Monsters

"Jimsy and the Monsters" by Walter J. Sheldon

"Hollywood could handle just about anything—until Mildume’s machine brought in two real aliens."

Saturday, March 20, 2010

'Mid Pleasures and Palaces

Given the title of one of the sf works being added to Project Gutenberg today, it is worth repeating that these stories are from a different time with different sensibilities and some aspects of them might be offensive by today's standards.

"'Mid Pleasures and Palaces" by James McKimmey, Jr.

"It was, Kirk thought, like standing in a gully, watching a boulder teeter precariously above you. It might fall at any minute, crushing your life out instantly beneath its weight. Your only possible defenses are your brain and voice—but how do you argue with a boulder which neither sees nor hears?"

"It was a big joke on all concerned. When you look back, the whole thing really began because his father had a sense of humor. Oh, the name fit all right, but can you imagine naming your son...."

"Noble Redman" by J. F. Bone


If you thought "Bread and Circuses" was too much, here's what it might have been like if Gene L. Coon had produced the fourth season of Star Trek. Everything Is Terrible!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Collector's Item

If Worlds of Science Fiction, November 1953

Homo Inferior by Mari Wolf

"The world of the new race was peaceful, comfortable, lovely—and completely static. Only Eric knew the haunting loneliness that had carried the old race to the stars, and he couldn't communicate it, even if he had dared to!"

Collector's Item by Evelyn E. Smith

"Being trapped in the steaming h—l of Venus is no excuse for forgetting one's manners—but anyone abducted, marooned, tricked, kept from tea might well crack under the strain!"

"Membership Drive" by Murray F. Yaco

"Want to join our secret organization? Well, first you have to pass the tests."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

FlashForward: Revelation Zero

Just a reminder that FlashForward returns to the screen in just a few hours time.

I've already made it clear that I don't like some of the changes they made to the story in adapting it to TV, but I have been following the show.And it has the full backing of Robert J. Sawyer which is more than you can say for most sf adaptations. So I'll be tuning in to see what happens next.

Generals Help Themselves

"With no one to help him, it seemed the General was lost. But the enemy was soon to discover that—"

"Generals Help Themselves" by M. C. Pease

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Fool's Gold

The League of STEAM celebrates St. Patrick's Day in style. Erin Go Bragh!

Exile from Space

"Skin Game" by Charles E. Fritch

"Working on the theory that you can skin a sucker in space as well as on Earth, the con team of Harding and Sheckly operated furtively but profitably among natives of the outer planets. That is—until there was a question of turnabout being fair play in a world where natives took their skinning literally!"

The Cartels Jungle by Irving E. Cox, Jr.

"It was a world of greedy Dynasts—each contending for the right to pillage and enslave. But one man's valor became a shining shield."

Exile from Space by Judith Merril

"Who was this strange girl who had been born in this place—and still it wasn't her home?..."

Once a Greech by Evelyn E. Smith

"The mildest of men, Iversen was capable of disprove Harkaway's hypothesis that in the midst of life, we are in life!"

The Six Fingers of Time by R. A. Lafferty

"Time is money. Time heals all wounds. Given time, anything is possible. And now he had all the time in the world!"

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Conquest Over Time

The Instant of Now by Irving E. Cox, Jr.

"Revolution is not necessarily a noble thing. Unless shrewdly directed, its best elements may fall victim to its basest impulses."

"Conquest Over Time" by Michael Shaara

"What was the startling secret of Diomed III that almost caused Travis to lose his life?
And who was Lappy?...

"My Fair Planet" by Evelyn E. Smith

"All the world's a stage, so there was room even for this bad actor ... only he intended to direct it!"

What Does It Mean To Be Human?

The Smithsonian Human Origins Program is asking people to submit their answer to the question, "What Does It Mean To Be Human?"  I see that Joyce Carol Oates has weighed in, answering that
Homo sapiens is the species that invents symbols in which to invest passion and authority, then forgets that symbols are inventions.
That's sure to make the semioticians happy. There's also a response by a Karen Anderson, but I don't think it's sf's Karen Anderson.

The most fascinating thing about the various answers posted when I visited the sight is the degree to which idealism dominates people's view of humanity. Almost all the answers focus on what people think or feel, and most could be summed up with the phrase, "Humans have souls." Hardly any answers expressed a materialist perspective, such as "Humans are social animals that use complex tools to modify their environment." Or "Humans are mammals that walk upright and have learned to control fire."

Say, where did that monolith come from?

What will your answer be?

[via Science Weekly]

Monday, March 15, 2010

Helpfully Yours

Helpfully Yours by Evelyn E. Smith

'"Come down to Earth—and stay there!" is a humiliating order for somebody with wings!'

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Beard Master

Andre Norton's novel The Beast Master (1959) inspired a cheesy movie, a cheesier TV show, and this totally rad video by daybyday.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


"Robots of the World! Arise!" by Mari Wolf

"What would you do if your best robots—children of your own brain—walked up and said "We want union scale"?"

"The Very Secret Agent" by Mari Wolf

 "Poor Riuku!... Not being a member of the human race, how was he supposed to understand what goes on in a woman's mind when the male of the same species didn't even know?"

The Planet Savers by Marion Zimmer Bradley

A person with two personalities seeks help from an alien race to save the planet Darkover.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Out of the Earth

"They wanted to go home—back to the planet they'd known. But even the stars had changed. Did the fate of all creation hinge upon an—"

"An Empty Bottle" by Mari Wolf

"To Remember Charlie" By Roger Dee

"Just a one-eyed dog named Charlie and a crippled boy named Joey—but between them they changed the face of the universe ... perhaps."

"Out of the Earth" by George Edrich

"Offences against the State meant elimination in the Black Passage. Death. And these people were to die!"

Happy birthday, Harry Harrison

Today is the birthday of Grand Master and sf icon Harry Harrison. He's a giant in the field and the author of classics like the military sf parody, Bill, the Galactic Hero (1965), and the socially relevant, Make Room! Make Room! (1966), which was the basis of the film Soylent Green (1973).

He also wrote The Deathworld Trilogy (1974), and perhaps his most famous series telling the tale of Slippery Jim DiGriz,  The Stainless Steel Rat (1960 onward).

Happy birthday Harry, and many more.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The House from Nowhere

Pursuit by Lester Del Rey

"Fear cut through the unconscious mind of Wilbur Hawkes. With almost physical violence, it tightened his throat and knifed at his heart. It darted into his numbed brain, screaming at him."

"The House from Nowhere" by Arthur G. Stangland

"Time-travel continues to exercise its mesmeric fascination upon writers, readers and editors of science fiction alike. Probably because almost all of us, at one time or another, have longed greatly to visit either the future or the past. Perhaps, in view of the dangerous paradoxes such travel must involve, it is a good thing that such horological journeys have to date been confined to the printed page."

"The Very Black" by Dean Evans

"Anders was pretty sure he was going to die. No one had yet flown the new-style jet job and lived to tell the tale. A story both chilling and heart-warming that shows us how bravely the human equation can operate when the chips are stacked against it."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Mighty Dead


The Mighty Dead by William Campbell Gault

"What would it be like to live in a world which has conquered the near planets but abolished all literature? Bill Gault gives us a look at a world like this—in a not too distant future which finds all our pressure groups united to rule the roost."

The Venus Trap by Evelyn E. Smith

"One thing Man never counted on to take along into space with him was the Eternal Triangle—especially a true-blue triangle like this!"

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


by Clark Ashton Smith

Thy beauty is the warmth and languor of an orient autumn,
Caressing all the senses—
With light from skies of heavy azure,
With perfume from blossoms large as thuribles,
That hang in the berylline dusk of palms;
With the balmy kiss of wind and wave beneath Canopus;
And the songs of exotic birds
That pass in vermilion-flashing flight from isle to isle
On an ocean of lazuli.
O, sweetness in the inmost sense,
As of blood-red fruits that have grown by the waters of Lethe,
Or fragrance of purple lilies crushed in a cypress-grove
By the sleeping limbs of Eros ! . . .
Thou pervadest me with thy love
As the dawn pervadeth a valley among mountains,
Or as sunset filleth the amaranth-colored sea;
The desire of thy heart is upon me
Like a summer wind from Cythera,
Where Venus lies among the tiger-lilies
By a pool whose waters arc fed from secret springs;
I inhale thy love
As the breath of hidden gardens of purple and scarlet,
Where Circe trails a gown
Whose colors are the reddening gold of flame
And the azure of the skies of autumn.

Monday, March 8, 2010


Youth by Isaac Asimov

"Red and Slim found the two strange little animals the morning after they heard the thunder sounds. They knew that they could never show their new pets to their parents."

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Planet Stories

The Women-Stealers of Thrayx by Fox B. Holden

"And that is why you will take us to Earth, Lieutenant," barked the Ihelian warrior. "We do not want your arms or your men. What we must ask for is—ten thousand women."

Narakan Rifles, About Face! by George H. Smith  (as by Jan Smith)

"Those crazy, sloppy, frog-like Narakans ... all thumbs and six-inch skulls ... relics of the Suzi swamps. Until four-fisted Lt. Terrence O'Mara moved among them—lethal, dangerous, with a steady purpose flaming in his volcanic eyes."