Sunday, July 20, 2014

Clifford D Simak's "Rule 18" (novelette, humor): How earth won it's first football match against Martians in decades

One of the illustrations accompanying the original publication in Astounding magazine of short story Rule 18 by Clifford D Simak. Image shows the victory procession through New York of Martian football team after its latest win against earth.Martians have been beating earth in annual football match for a long time. And the diagnosis is: earth-men have become soft because of too much automation here; they never get a chance to exercise their muscles. But things are about to change as a cool newly invented gadget, the earth team's coach sick of losing too long, & a betting syndicate come together...

Title comes from one of the rules of the game that requires a player of the team to not only be natives of his world, but his 9 preceding generations should have been native of this world too. Coach will twist this rule in a curious way to win.

Update 21 July 2014Marooned has a note on an Isaac Asimov connection to this story.

Fact sheet.

First published: Astounding, July 1938.
Rating: B.
Nominated for Retro Hugo Awards 1939 in novella category.
Among the stories from Astounding/Analog issues edited by John Campbell.
Related: Stories of Clifford D Simak.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

H L Gold's "A Matter of Form" (novella, brain dump): When a man lived in a dog's body

One of the uncredited illustrations accompanying the original publication of this story in Astounding magazine. Image shows a scene near end where the man in dogs body, with 2 friends, is confronting 2 villains.A surgeon has discovered that the pineal gland at the brain's base is the source of an
animal's identity; surgically extract & transplant it in another animal's brain, & you've put the original in a new body. And he has a rich, old & seriously ill financier who wants a young man's body!

In one of the experiments, the surgeon exchanged the identity of a kidnapped man with a dog. Only the resulting man-in-dog's-body turned out to be more determined & resourceful than either the surgeon or his financier expected...

Fact sheet.

First published: Astounding, December 1938.
Rating: A.
Nominated for Retro Hugo Awards 1939 in novella category.
Among the stories from Astounding/Analog issues edited by John Campbell.
Related: Stories of H L Gold.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Robert E Howard's "Pigeons From Hell" (novelette, haunted house, free)

While I'm not a fan of haunted house tales, & the first of its 3 parts did bore me a bit, the later parts were generally quite readable.

Story summary.

An abandoned house in the US South is haunted by a "zuvembie", a "zuvembie" created by black voodoo in revenge for serious maltreatment of a "mulatto" maid by a former slave owner. Now the zuvembie targets whatever hapless human happens by the place, killing the victim. A lucky escaped victim & a policeman will join hands to kill the zuvembie.

Fact sheet.

First published: Weird Tales, May 1938.
Download full text from Project Gutenberg of Australia.
Rating: B.
Nominated for Retro Hugo Awards 1939 in novelette category.
Related: Stories of Robert E Howard.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Lester Del Rey's "The Faithful" (short story, doomsday, free)

Uplifted dogs are taking over the civilization, as the last of the Man is dying following a war & then a plague...

Fact sheet.

First published: Astounding, April 1938.
Download full text from Chomikuj.pl (badly formatted HTML; I'd to edit it in a text editor on PC discarding entire HTML header & footer, & saving it as TXT file, before it would read correctly in Moon+ Reader on my tablet).
Rating: B.
Nominated for Retro Hugo Awards 1939 in short story category.
Among the stories from Astounding/Analog issues edited by John Campbell.
Related: Stories of Lester del Rey.

Hello

I'm back here after a long time. And I'm not sure if I'm back for good. I've read just too much science fiction during the last few years; am finding it difficult to get back in.

Today, I begin a series on nominees for this year's "Retro Hugo Awards 1939", to be presented along with this year's Hugo Awards at LONCON3 next month. My experience reading Hugos last few years has been less than satisfactory, so I thought may be I'll try Retro Hugos. I will be reading only those Retro nominees I've not already read, which may be about half the stories; or rather, the ones I can locate among the unread ones.

Thank you.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Pierre Barbet's "A Problem in Bionics" (short story, detective)

A group of scientists are working on a bunch of green technologies inspired by the workings of animals & insects. To get noticed by a wider audience, they move to live on an island using only the green tech - no petroleum, no CO2, ... The idea is to demonstrate that living in an environmentally sane way is possible.

But a thief among them has been selling the technology to unscrupulous elements outside, who intend to patent them; hence hinder their widespread adoption.

So a detective is hired to catch the thief...

Notes.

I'm not convinced of the ending. I've never seen a microfilm, but can you attach one to a wing of a butterfly & have the poor thing still fly?

Collected in.

  1. Donald A Wollheim (ed)'s "The Best from the Rest of the World: European Science Fiction".

Fact sheet.

First published: Horizons du Fantastique (French), sometime in 1974. This post is based on an English translation by Stanley Hochman included in Wollheim's anthology.
Rating: B.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

John R Pierce's "Period Piece" (as by J J Coupling) (short story)

A modern man finds himself in 31st century, with no recollection of how he got there. He's being treated very well & kindly, but he's smelling something fishy - why's is no one curious about the period he's come from, not even an eminent historian?

Very curious & unexpected ending.

Collected in.

  1. Everett F Bleiler & T E Dikty (eds)' "The Best Science Fiction Stories: 1949".

Fact sheet.

First published: Astounding, November 1948.
Rating: A.
Among the stories from Astounding/Analog issues edited by John Campbell.
Related: Stories of John R Pierce.