Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Astounding Science Fiction, March 1956

A fairly readable issue.

Exploration Team • [Colonial Survey] • novelette by Murray Leinster
An inspector lands on a planet. He expects to find a thriving colony, but he finds a single illegal inhabitant who lives with a few selectively bred giant Kodiak bears. The original animals of the planet are extremely dangerous. After the illegal immigrant doesn't kill the inspector (which would have been a smart move as illegal occupation on a planet is for some unnamed reason an extremely serious crime) they together try to find out what has happened to the colony. They are facing a dangerous journey to the site where seem to be transmission coming. A pretty nice story, writing was good for the time period. A Hugo award winner. I do wonder why the robots were so poorly programmable. ****-
Man in the Sky • shortstory by Algis Budrys
The first man in space dies in his capsule. Everything seemed to go smoothly, and the capsule seems to be in perfect condition - it is assumed that he just had a freak heart attack or something. Should the space effort to be adjusted so that his body could be retrieved? Or should it be continued as planned? A discussion heavy story, little happens. **+
Minor Ingredient • shortstory by Eric Frank Russell
A young cadet goes to a space academy. He gets a personal valet who unpacks for him and looks after him. Later, he returns as an admiral to visit the school. Not much happens. The writing is pretty good, and the story is apparently meant as a poignant bitter sweet mood piece, but the main protagonist seems to be a real prick and the society seems to be disgustingly strict class society where there are loyal servants and noble better people who belong to a higher class. The story is somewhat disturbing as this was seen mostly as a good thing. **
A Nice Little Niche • shortstory by Herbert L. Cooper
An ecologist is pondering whether he should release a new planet for the colonialization. It seems perfect: no large dangerous animals, no poisonous plants, nice climate. But something is nagging him: why all mammals, including humanoid ones, disappeared about 20 000 years ago? And then members of the expedition start getting sick…An average story, entertaining enough. I suspect that the author got a prescription of Coumadin, which was a new drug at the time of the writing. **½

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