Friday, April 3, 2015

Astounding Science Fiction, October 1958

A fairly good issue – including one Hugo award winner.

The Big Front Yard • novella by Clifford D. Simak

A man who fixes appliances and trades with antiques first finds that a few things which were waiting to be repaired have been repaired and vastly improved, for example an old b&w TV is turned to a color set. And his house is being enforced by unscratchable plastic-like material. And then a portal to an other world appears…Another story with thematic similarities with the Waystation. A well-written story, but perhaps slightly too disjointed at places. ****-
The Yellow Pill • shortstory by Rog Phillips
A man has killed several people in a supermarket. He is brought to see a psychiatrist. The murderer behaves very calmly and explains to the shrink that he is the sane one and he has just saved their space ship from Venusian lizards, who tried to board the ship. And the psychiatrist is his friend and crewmate, who has some severe mental troubles and tends to imagine strange things - like living on earth and being doctor. A pretty amusing short story. ***½
Big Sword • novelette by Pauline Ashwell [as by Paul Ash ]
Human explorers live on an unknown planet. They are slowly exploring the planet but aren’t aware of a sentient species with an unusual life cycle and means of communication. And the aliens can’t contact humans with their telepathic powers as human minds are always so busy. But the commander’s son is a curious young man, and he might be able to bridge that gap. A pretty good story, but slow and overlong at places. I wonder if Orson Scott Card has read this story before he wrote Xenocide, there are some slight similarities. ***
... And Check the Oil • novelette by Randall Garrett
A chemist is drafted by a friend to a secret government project: They are studying an alien spacecraft and are trying to make friendly contact with its’ crew. There seems to be a fair amount of distrust between humans and aliens, but a female scientist finds an innovative way of proving good intentions. It involves something which sounds pretty risqué for this time period’s Astounding: stripping naked to prove you are not carrying any weapons. A fairly nice story, perhaps slightly overlong, but writing ok and the plot isn’t bad. ***½
False Image • shortstory by Jay Williams
Explorers meet strange giant aliens whose behavior is strange. The aliens turn out to be humans (in the past) and the explorers are aliens. About as bad and stupid it sounds. **+

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