Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Lester del Rey's "Over the Top" (short story, war, free): Men go to war, unless distracted!

Illustration accompanying the original appearance in Astounding Science Fiction magazine of short story Over the Top by Lester del Rey
This is of a class of war stories that don't have an actual war - just a build up towards it. Then a wise man, or circumstances, create a distraction so people can channel their excess energies in a different direction! Probably the best I've seen of this class so far is Fritz Leiber's "Wanted--An Enemy".

Story summary.

Dave Mannen, a midget, is the sole man aboard the first human ship to Mars. He will land, but with a minor shipwreck that makes take-off impossible but life support systems intact. He has a few weeks of air, after that end. Oh, and he'll soon befriend a "Martian farmer" too.

This event - a man in distress in a dramatic situation - brings enemies together on earth. So a repurposed Soviet missile will land supplies for this US man - so he can fix the ship & return.

But the man in distress is seeing more than all humanity is seeing back on earth, & has a plan that will keep humanity distracted a little while longer...

Collected in.

  1. John W Campbell, Jr (ed)'s "The Astounding Science Fiction Anthology".

Fact sheet.

First published: Astounding, November 1949.
Download full text as part of the scans of Astounding issue it originally appeared in.
Rating: A.
Among the stories from Astounding/Analog issues edited by John Campbell.
Related: Stories of Lester del Rey; Mars in fiction; Tuesday Classics.