Tuesday, July 8, 2008

David Drake, Jim Baen, & Eric Flint (Ed)'s "The World Turned Upside Down" (anthology, science fiction, classics, free)

Today, Rusty at Best Science Fiction Stories linked this online copy of the book that is promising to turn out to be one of the best collections of old science fiction stories I've seen.

Among the stories I'd not yet seen online is one of the genre's best - Tom Godwin's "The Cold Equations".

Also included are the first published stories of C L Moore, & A E van Vogt. These two selections are not their authors' best, but very good first stories.

Annotated able of contents (29 stories, best first, unread last).

Link on story title goes to my post on the story, if there is one. Link on author name (when there is one) goes to more information on author or his/her stories. My rating is in brackets. Download link appears alongside the story.
  1. Tom Godwin's "The Cold Equations" (A); download; Astounding, August 1954; science fiction: An innocent girl is to be executed due to apathy of administration (according to author, due to nature's laws, but that's not how it comes across in the story). Intensely emotional.
  2. Issac Asimov's "The Last Question" (A); download; Science Fiction Quarterly, November 1956: An intelligent machine is assigned an impossible task...
  3. Arthur Clarke's "Rescue Party" (A); download; Astounding, May 1946: There is life even after apocalypse - so don't lose hope.
  4. [ss] Robert Sheckley's "Hunting Problem" (A); download:; Galaxy, September 1955; humor: Alien can be totally incomprehensible!
  5. [ss] Keith Laumer's "The Last Command" (A); download; Analog, January 1967: A buried war machine, awakened accidentally decades after the end of war, is unaware of war's end & considers everything nearby as the enemy!
  6. [novella] John W Campbell, Jr's "Who Goes There?" (as by Don A Stuart) (A); download; Astounding, August 1938; thriller: Curious figuratively & inadvertently open the bottle to let the djinn out, & all hell breaks loose.
  7. [ss] Fritz Leiber's "A Pail of Air" (A); download: "survival in the face of desperate circumstances".
  8. [novelette] L Sprague de Camp's "A Gun for Dinosaur" (A); download; Galaxy, March 1956: Detailed description of ancient world where dinosaurs roamed. Told as a colonial-style hunting story - time travel to past to hunt dinosaurs.
  9. [novelette] Murray Leinster's "The Aliens" (A); download; Astounding, August 1959: First human contact with aliens begins on a very hostile note, but ends in peace. Except for some rather dramatic scenes, it's generally a gripping story.
  10. H Beam Piper's "Omnilingual" (A); download; Astounding, February 1957: A universal rosetta stone to decode the writings of a long dead civilization known to be at about our level of technological ability.
  11. [ss] Ross Rocklynne's "Quietus" (A); download; Astounding, September 1940: "who we are creates a bias in how we view the world".
  12. [ss] Poul Anderson's "Turning Point" (A); download:; If, May 1963: When human space farers met alien super-genius hunter/gatherers.
  13. [ss] Michael Shaara's "All the Way Back" (A); download; Astounding, July 1952: An answer to "why haven't we met aliens yet?"
  14. [novella] Christopher Anvil's "The Gentle Earth" (A); download: Alien cold-blooded invaders have occupied much of US, but are losing battle against earth's weather. Often humorous, but with a lame ending.
  15. Robert Heinlein's "The Menace from Earth" (A); download: A 15 year old girl is confused about love & life. Story is set on moon, & we get treated to a lot of things peculiar to life in Luna City.
  16. A E Van Vogt's "Black Destroyer" (A); download: A practically immortal super-being of an alien world is attacking human visitors & threatens to overrun inhabited galaxy. First published story of van Vogt. I found the ending incomprehensible, but it was a very interesting read.
  17. [novelette] C L Moore's "Shambleau" (A); download; Weird Tales, November 1933: A cocktail of a vampire story & the story of Medusa from Homer's "Odyssey" - science fictionalized. First published story of Moore.
  18. [ff] Fredric Brown's "Answer" (A); download: It's not safe to invent god!
  19. [novelette] Theodore Sturgeon's "Thunder and Roses" (B); download; Astounding, November 1947: A nuclear war has doomed US. Some survivors awaiting death are trying to prevent retaliation it's still capable of inflicting - to give humanity a chance, even if it is without the US.
  20. C M Kornbluth's "The Only Thing We Learn" (B); download: Frontiersmen always return as raiders of their ancient homes...
  21. Rick Raphael's "Code Three" (B); download: A day in the life of a (road) traffic police patrol car.
  22. James H Schmitz's "Goblin Night"; (B); download: A human psychopath on a colony world loves hunting humans visitors to a game park with the aid of his pet nocturnal carnivore.
  23. P Schuyler Miller's "Spawn" (B); download: Alien spores have found earth a fertile ground. Much of the story is gore violence, & is generally more fantasy than science fiction.
  24. Wyman Guin's "Trigger Tide" (B); download: An assassin, on a mission to kill leader of a group of despots on a human colony world, learns of strange effects of interaction of its many moons with local piezoelectric rock formations.
  25. Gordon R Dickson's "St Dragon and the George" (B); download; fantasy: An adventure involving time travel & body transfer with hypnotism & sorcery, fighting with & against dragons, & also featuring an ogre, a "Worm", a magician, a chivalrous knight.
  26. Chester S Geier's "Environment" (B); download: An apparently dead city on an alien world transforms visiting humanoids into super-beings.
  27. Lee Gregor's "Heavy Planet" (B); download: A native of a super-high gravity & super-dense atmosphere world has found an invaluable relic of alien origin.
  28. Jack Vance's "Liane the Wayfarer" (B); download; fantasy: A criminal wayfarer needs to steal something from a magical superman because his girl demands it.
  29. Robert Ernest Gilbert's "Thy Rocks and Rills" (B); download: On a future US gone macho in the sense of Hollywood's Western movies, & talking & intelligent cows made so by radiation exposure of their long dead ancestors near US' first nuclear bomb test site, we will witness two unusual fights between man/man & intelligent bull/man.

Fact sheet.

First published: Baen Books, January 2005.


Rusty said...

Yeah, this ebook is turning out to be quite a goldmine of sci-fi stories! I plan on reading and reviewing several of them. Thanks for pointing out the ones you read and liked, I'll start with those.