Sunday, September 16, 2007

Eric Frank Russell's "Men, Martians and Machines" (collection): Annotated table of contents & review

Cover image of short story collection titled Men, Martians and Machines by Eric Frank RussellAll four stories share mostly the same crew - a mix of terrestrials & martians. Martians are 10-tentacled, chess crazy, & very resourceful. First story, "Jay Score", pretty much stands alone; other 3 are variants of the same theme - human adventurers on very hostile alien planets. All voyages are lead by Captain McNulty, a terrestrial & a spineless stickler for rules.

Stories are generally far inferior when compared with best of Russell. But they are still great reading. Last 3 read a lot like juvenile fiction.

Stories included are:

  1. "Jay Score" (A); 1941: A passenger ship on earth to Venus voyage is hit by a meteor, & is now headed for Sun!
  2. "Mechanistria" (B); Astounding, January 1942: Adventure on planet Mechanistria, a world ruled by very hostile robots. Nowhere near the quality of rest of Russell I have read.
  3. "Symbiotica" (B); Astounding Science Fiction, October 1943: Travails of inadvertently nasty human adventurers on an alien planet where animal & plant life-forms live in a much closer symbiosis than on earth, & where plants can be very nasty once provoked.
  4. "Mesmerica" (B); 1955, original in this collection: Human adventurers on a planet of hostile telepaths.
First published: 1955
Related: All stories of Eric Frank Russell.