Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Astounding Science Fiction August 1954
A bit old-fashionable stories, however most of them were not too bad.
The Cold Equations • novelette by Tom Godwin
Very famous story. I have heard a lot about this one, but this was the first time ever I have read it. A bit longer that I thought, I had thought that this is a short story, not novellette. A small space ship is on a critically important mission, carrying a cure for a deadly disease which is spreading on a colony planet. The pilot finds a stowaway, a young woman, hiding in a closet. But the mass of the ship has been calculated very carefully, and the surplus mass will doom the ship, and the vital medication will not reach the colony. The only solution is that she must be jettisoned out from the airlock. Pretty good story, but very stupid in several ways. It is hard to imagine that critical mission would have NO safety margin at all. Also, there should be enough mass to throw out side of airlock. Clothes, some air, some water, furniture (at least a chair is mentioned, also, the closet the girl was hiding in, was mentioned to have a door.) It shouldn't have been hard to find a few dozens of kilograms of surplus mass. ****
Superstition • novelette by Lester del Rey
Planet which should have been destroyed by a solar flare is found to have human inhabitants. They seem to have very close relationship to their god, and they seem to think that they get direct help from him. That seems like a silly superstition, until it is noticed that the natives can move a giant spaceship to another location alone, only by using the power of their god.
There are some fairly good parts in this story, but it is a bit overlong. The ending isn't too good – psionics seem to solve anything in the Astounding in the beginning of the 50s. **+
Welcome, Strangers! • shortstory by H. B. Fyfe
An alien and human meet by accident. The alien is an inventor who has developed a sort of matter transporter which can travel everywhere instantaneously. They travel to earth, and to the aliens home world, and then try to get attention of the officials on the both places. Bureaucrats in both places refuse to acknowledge them as their paperwork isn't in order, and furthermore, officially there are no aliens. Ok, simple, mildly ironic story. ***+
This Is the Way the World Ends • shortstory by H. W. Johnson
The son of a late nuclear physicist starts to manifest a power of mind-reading. Moreover, he seems to be able to read minds from the future. At the same time nuclear scare is at its highest. When he sees just fire, and nothing after that, his mother and her boyfriend start for the mountains. It turns out that the boy seems just his own death after a accident with a gasoline truck. ***+