Thursday, April 28, 2016

Astounding Science Fiction, November 1959

Pretty silly stories, especially from today’s perspective.

Panic Button • shortstory by Eric Frank Russell
Aliens find an uninhabited planet. They send scouts to discover whether any Terrans are to be found there, as there is an understanding that the first finder gets the planet. They find one man in one hut — no garrisons or any other permanent habitation. Is he someone who has survived a shipwreck? Or what is going on? Is his presence known, or is it possible that he might "disappear" and no one would notice it? Not a bad example of John Campbell's editorial style, where humans are always the smartest ones. ***½
The Unnecessary Man • novelette by Randall Garrett
A hereditary monarch of an interplanetary federation seems to have taken control of the prime minister, who seems to have taken a very stupid and dangerous action. A young man seeks help for a retired officer to expose the plot. But things are not what they seem. OK story, but a perfect, totally altruistic leader with absolute power is kind of hard to believe. ***
A Filbert Is a Nut • shortstory by Rick Raphael
An inhabitant of a mental asylum makes an atomic bomb out of clay. His therapist gives him praise for showing imagination. But the next night, the art therapy faculty (which, luckily, was a few miles away from the sleeping arrangements) blows up under a mushroom cloud. Certainly the atomic bomb could not have been functional? Short, pretty stupid story. **-
I Was a Teen-Age Secret Weapon • novelette by Richard Sabia
A young 18-year-old boy seems to cause accidents where ever he is. He doesn’t do anything, but thing go horribly wrong around him, and people get hurt. The US military gets a fine idea: they send him to war, and wait until he is taken prisoner. Things also go horribly wrong for the Chinese and Russians. This is an overlong story that dwells far too long on his military training, but it's otherwise OK. ***
Certainty • shortstory by Robert Silverberg
An alien ship lands on a remote outpost guarded by a small garrison. As the ship has no permission to land, the captain of the outpost sends a strict warning. The aliens announce that they are going to stay a few weeks for stellar observations. Thy captain sends an envoy, who is supposed to give a strict warning. The envoy returns and reports that he gave aliens permission to be on the planet, as he was supposed to. An OK story; strange for its time, as humans are the ones who are played upon. ***

Proofreading by

No comments: