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...


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.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Martin Gardner's "Thang" (flash fiction, free): Big fish eats smaller one; & is food to bigger one

This is a very minor story, though apparently a well known one.

A giant, cosmic scale creature called Thang eats up earth for breakfast! And then gets eaten up by something even bigger.

Collected in.

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

Fact sheet.

First published: 1948. ("for his college literary magazine").
Download full text.
Rating: C.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart" (short story, horror, free)

This is not science fiction. It's creepy horror. A mad man is telling us how he murdered an old man because the victim had blue eyes of a vulture!

Fact sheet.

First published: 1843.
Download full text.
Download MP3 from Internet Archive.
See a movie adaptation at YouTube.
Rating: B.
Related: Stories of Edgar Allan Poe; from 19th century.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Isaac Asimov's "No Connection" (short story, puzzle, free)

Millions of years into future, man is long extinct. The world has two dominant intelligent races:
  1. Americas dominated with "Gurrows", intelligent descendents of bears;
  2. Rest of the world dominated by "Eekahs", intelligent descendents of chimpanzees.
Eekahs are far more technologically advanced, are aware that Americas are sparsely populated, & are planning raids to claim that land.

This is the story from the point of view of a Gurrow archeologist who knows a bit about the long extinct man (the "Primate Primeval"). And of his seriously incomplete piecing together of the history of the continent & what lays ahead as they come into more frequent contact with Eekahs...

Collected in.

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

Fact sheet.

First published: Astounding, June 1948.
Download full text from AlfaLib.
Rating: A.
Related: Stories of Isaac Asimov.

Poul Anderson's "Genius" (novelette, superman): Who is observing whom, in this lab experiment?

Quote from short story Genius by Poul Anderson
This is said to be the "first stand alone piece of short fiction" by Anderson.

I personally found it a somewhat boring read. Content of the story is mostly in the form of infodump - a character lecturing another one, plus description of author's idea of a utopia.

Story summary.

In far future, human empire extends to tens of thousands of planets in galaxy, has some interactions with alien empires, & it is a fairly static society with thought conditioning of populace to ensure they don't think inconvenient thoughts.

And the "psychotechnological" ruling elite conduct laboratory experiments on humans, as one would on rats: dump a couple of thousand men, matching some profile, with their memories wiped out, into some experimental environment, & observe their behavior!

One such experiment has been going on for 1500 years on "Station Seventeen": a virgin earth-like world, complete with a moon, seeded with a few thousand geniuses. And the experiment didn't turn out the way the experimenters expected...

Collected in.

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

Fact sheet.

First published: Astounding, December 1948.
Download MP3 of an old time radio drama based on this story titled "Planet of Geniuses". [via SFFaudio]
Rating: B.
Related: Stories of Poul Anderson.

Everett F Bleiler & T E Dikty (eds)' "The Best Science Fiction Stories: 1949" (anthology): Annotatated table of contents & review

Cover of short story anthology The Best Science Fiction Stories 1949, edited by Everett F Bleiler and T E DiktyAccording to Wikipedia, "It was the first published anthology to present the best science fiction stories for a given year. The stories had originally appeared in 1948 in the magazines".

Several well known classics here. I seem to have read several of these years back; currently reading just the half dozen unread ones.

Table of contents.

  1. [ss] Ray Bradbury's "Mars is Heaven!" (A); download radio adaptation; Planet Stories, Fall 1948.
  2. [novelette] Henry Kuttner & C L Moore's "Ex Machina" (as by Lewis Padgett); Astounding, April 1948: One of the funny Galleghar stories. I read it long back; don't recollect much now.
  3. [ss] Murray Leinster's "The Strange Case of John Kingman" (A); Astounding, May 1948: First contact, but no space ships, no space travel, not even any obvious aliens...
  4. [ss] Erik Fennel's "Doughnut Jockey"; Blue Book, May 1948: Don't recollect anything now.
  5. [ss] Martin Gardner's "Thang" (C); download: Big fish eats smaller one; & is food to even bigger one...
  6. [ss] John R Pierce's "Period Piece" (as by J J Coupling) (A); Astounding, November 1948: A modern man in 31st century makes a curious discovery.
  7. [ss] Fredric Brown's "Knock" (A); download text/radio adaptation; Thrilling Wonder Stories, December 1948: A smart man reclaims earth from invincible aliens.
  8. [novelette] Poul Anderson's "Genius" (B); download radio adaptation; Astounding, December 1948: When lab "animals" were observing their experimenters...
  9. [novelette] Ray Bradbury's "And the Moon be Still as Bright" (A); download radio adaptation; Thrilling Wonder Stories, June 1948: Some Mars colonists are feeling guilty...
  10. [ss] Isaac Asimov's "No Connection"; download; Astounding, June 1948: Planning a second taking of Americas, from across the pond...
  11. [novelette] Wilmar H Shiras' "In Hiding" (A); Astounding, November 1948: A young boy who's "different" is forced to conform...
  12. [novelette] Henry Kuttner's "Happy Ending" (A); Thrilling Wonder Stories, August 1948; humor: When a man got what he "desired"!

Fact sheet.

First published: 1949.
Related: Works of Everett F Bleiler; anothologies & collections; fiction from 1940s.