A Bookaholic, Pro-life, Pro-Family, Pro-Oxford Comma, Catholic (with Asperger's) who reads and writes as her obsession. I've been reading over 400 books a year lately. These are my ramblings on some of the books I read. To read about all the books I read and comment on, visit me at LibraryThing or Goodreads.

I've been blogging since 2007 and at this point (July 2015) am trying my hand at turning the theme of this blog towards mystery, thriller, and crime, fiction and nonfiction. I have some special interest topics and categories within this broad genre which include (but are not limited to) serial killers, scandi-crime, Victorian history and historicals, history of the criminally insane and asylums, psychopathology, death, funerary practices and burial, corpses, true crime and anything dealing with the real life macabre, or that portrayed in fiction.

I also read a short story a day from various collections, sometimes anthologies othertimes collections of a single author's work. These reviews are also posted here and while they are of mixed genre the mystery, thriller, horror, gothic and macabre often appear within their pages as well.

I also blog about
graphic novels and manga on a separate BLOG.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

313. Analog: The Best of Science Fiction compiled from Analog Magazine

Analog: The Best of Science Fiction compiled from Analog Magazine (formerly Astounding Science Fiction)

Rating: (3.5/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (UK)

1982, Galahad Books, 621 pgs
Age: 18+

"32 short stories of science fiction by the best: del Rey, Bester, Clarke, Simak, Harrison, Pohl, Haldeman and many others."

Purchased a secondhand copy from a used book store.

This review and table of contents is for the 1982 edition published by Galahad Books, the cover is the same as the 1994 edition.  While the cover states that the stories are "from the 20s to the present" they are actually from 1939 to the 70s.

1. The Day is Done by Lester Del Rey (1939) - I read an old kids' space story by this author once ages ago.  This story though is hardly what I call science fiction.  Set in prehistoric times it is the tale of an old Neanderthal man (Hairy Ones), probably the last of his kind, bemoaning his last days now that the Cro-Magnon man (Talkers) have taken over the land.  A poignant, sad story.  Well-written and, surprisingly, I enjoyed it.  (4/5)

2. Adam and No Eve by Alfred Bester (1941) - I've not heard of this author before.  Didn't particularly enjoy this story.  The first rocket to go into space is ready to go when at the last minute a scientist has damning evidence that the rocket will spit back pieces to earth which will almost instantly destroy all life here.  After some science mumbo jumbo and some hi-jinx, the pilot finds himself and dog waking up in space to find the scientist was right after all.  As he returns to the ash blackened planet, injured and dying, he hallucinates, waxes philosophically about evolutionary cr*p and a twist ending tells us we are not where or when we thought we were.  Meh.  (3/5)

3. Ogre by Clifford D. Simak (1943) - Again, I remember reading a book by this author as a young teenager but nothing else about it.  This is a quite long story about mankind living in harmony with a vegetation-type species on their planet.  Like humans they come in different colours, shapes and sizes.  It doesn't take long to realize that they are not living in harmony though as each has a racist superior attitude of themselves.  Quickly it becomes obvious that the parallels of the two species are being made to the Nazis.  There is a Hitler substitute character and the story is very disturbing.  Both races, mankind and the alien life, are unwittingly selfish and there is no "good" side.  A very intricate building up of relations between "races" which leaves one with a poor taste for the state of "man". Not a pleasant story, nor to my liking ideologically but well-written. (4/5)

4. Invariant by John Pierce (1944) - Only a few pages long, this story is by an author I've never heard of before.  A very scientific story of a man who is preserved in the 1940s, a specific day actually which he keeps repeating because of an inoculation he gave himself hoping to make humans able to regenerate like salamanders.  His body and brain remain the same, reverting back after any interruption and the story is about a man visiting him and explaining the physics of his condition to him.  This man has become a valuable property in this world of over 225 years later.  An easy read despite the science. (3/5)

5. Desertion by Clifford D. Simak (1944) - Simak is very good at building believable alien lifeforms.  This takes place on Jupiter as a scientist sends men out, converted into Jovian lifeforms to see if they can withstand the hostile atmosphere but none of them ever come back.  Finally the scientist decides to go himself, taking his dog, and he discovers why no one comes back.  I enjoyed the story but found its tone rather disturbing as it formulates that there is a perfect being and way of life but which is certainly not "man" nor life on Earth. (4/5)

6. Rescue Party by Arthur C. Clarke (1946) - Of course, I`ve read some of this author.  My favourite story so far.  A ship is sent out to rescue people from a planet that's sun is going supernova.  They have only just realized that this planet contains sentient life.  Then we find out that our assumptions are backwards; the spaceship is crewed by aliens and the planet about to be destroyed ... Earth.  No life can be found on Earth and one of the rescue parties ends up needing to be rescued themselves before the planet explodes.  We find out what happened to the humans at the end and we are left with a chilling prospect.  Another story that doesn't take a very kind view of "mankind" as a whole.  (5/5)

7. The Chronokinesis of Jonathan Hull by Anthony Boucher (1946) - I've never heard of this author before.  The deaths of two men are surrounded by mysterious ghostly sightings.  The officer in charge meets a man who looks exactly like a ghostly figure he has seen and is given a message by him.  The man literally disappears and what follows is a written confession of a scientist and his companion on their time traveling adventures from the 1970s to now, the 1940s.  I liked the sci-fi/crime mix.  (4/5)

8. Police Operation by H. Beam Piper (1948) - I am almost pretty sure I read Little Fuzzy during my teen sci-fi craze; if not I`ve certainly heard of it.  This starts off as your standard livestock being killed by something ferocious; residents think it's a bobcat or lynx.  Turns out though we have a sort of time traveller who has come to track down a runaway pet from Venus.  At this point the story becomes quite advanced for its times (written in 1948) and deals with parallel Earths and travel between them.  Lots of discussion on what caused the parallel realities is way out of sync with how we explain them today, but an interesting take nonetheless and a fine vintage sci-fi story.  (5/5)

9. Tiger Ride by James Blish & Damon Knight (1948) -  Of course I've read some of Blish's Star Trek work but don't believe I've heard of the other author. A creepy story set in 2121 where a small group of scientists are working on a small planetary outpost under quarantine where they meet an alien life form who ultimately gets the uperhand.  Lots of science lingo that's probably just mumbo jumbo but I enjoyed the story. (4/5)

10. Over the Top by Lester Del Rey (1949) - This is the first story in this collection that shows its age because it talks of the current political state in a future time which was dated and silly reading it today.  A "midget" is sent on the first landing to Mars, not the first attempt though, and he crash lands rendering his ship unable to return.  He has three weeks of air and sets off to explore making friends with an indigenous species.  The man has a bitter outlook on life and begins thinking he's better off this way but in the end he's no better than what he thinks of other "men".  (3/5)

11. Incommunicado by Katherine MacLean (1950) - This is another author I've never heard of but I'm going into it interested as it is the first female author to appear in this collection.  Really weird. A bit long .  The human race is changed by adding music to its logical reasoning skills.  (3/5)

12. The Little Black Bag by C.M. Kornbluth (1950) - Once again an author I've never heard of and instead of consistently repeating that I will now only mention if I have heard of the author.  Loved this story of time travel, greed, a person's ability to change for the better and getting what you deserve in the end.  (5/5)

13. Berom by John Berryman (1950) - An alien in his huge impressive technologically advanced ship arrives in the States and tries to communicate.  The Americans start to do some research when the Russians show up demanding equal time with the alien.  Typical cold war story of mankind not being advanced enough yet to handle such technology and how one scientist fixes the situation.  (4/5)

14. The Waiting Game by Randall Garrett (1950) - Earth is now the "Federation" and for hundreds of years has been exploring space for livable planets, many have been found and along the way two alien races also found.  The good guys, and the bad guys.  We are at the point where humans are just about winning the war with the bad guys when our story starts.  The Lilaarians, the supposed good guys, remind me a lot of story #3 and the plot becomes similar only by this point the outlook has become much more positive as the ending takes a doubletwist.  I liked the ending of this one so I'd say it's my favourite story so far. (5/5)

15. Protected Species by H.B. Fyfe (1951) - This is a short but profound story.  Man is engaging in trying to communicate and protect an alien species as their archaeologists work in the ruins on the alien planet.  Eventually man is faced with the realities of its own past sort of like that moment when Charlton Heston finds the Statue of Liberty in the Planet of the Apes.  Good one. (4/5)

16. The Years Draw Nigh by Lester Del Rey (1951) - A depressing tale about the futility of man searching for life on other planets using the "Martians" as an example.  Man's colony on Mars has been abandoned but 54 years overdue, signals are heard from the only ship never to return from it's voyage to search for a habitable planet or intelligent life so the former general of the mission is sent back to greet them. (3/5)

17. Thinking Machine by H.B. Fyfe (1951) - This one started off very slow for me as it was too science-y, which isn't my thing but once the background was set it actually became quite the thriller.  A terran finds out that an alien is manipulating an entire tiny race under his tyrannical rule.  He makes contact and tries to work out a way to help them.  He gets caught and it ends with a chase to the death.  An ironic type of ending.  (3.5/5)

18. Implode and Peddle by H.B. Fyfe (1951) - This is the third story now by this author and for the most part I am enjoying him (?).  There are obvious parallels to the communism going on at the time this story was written.  A totalitarian planet that the Terrans presume plan on attacking them some day wants to trade for a weapon.  They draw out the negotiations and once the trade is made something that arrives on the Planetary State drives the downtrodden inhabitants to revolution.  I really enjoyed this and along with the plot the banter between the main characters was humorous. (4/5)

19. Belief by Isaac Asimov (1953) - Finally an author in this collection that I am very familiar with!  Very entertaining!  A physics professor wakes up one morning floating near the ceiling.  Seems he can now levitate at will.  When no one will believe him and he is about to lose his job he figures out a clever way to switch the situation around to his advantage.  (4/5)

20. Minor Ingredient by Eric Frank Russell (1956) - Very touching story of a cadet's years of training for the space navy and his special relationship with his "man" (ie. personal servant). Develops into a treatise on the importance in the belief behind the words "God Bless You" and the practice of being a gentleman and a soldier. (5/5)

21.  Barnacle Bull by Winston P. Sanders (1960) - Spaceship from Norway is on a mission through the asteroid belt that all the major countries have tried and no ship has ever been seen again since entering.  Once in they figure out what happened to the others and try to make it out alive themselves.  Rather boring actually. (2.5/5)

22. Monument by Lloyd Biggle, Jr. (1961) - Rather a long story and one I enjoyed quite immensely.  The first section sets up the story.  A man crashes on a planet, lives there, breeds to an extent that the blonde natives genetically take on his red hair but as he gets older he realizes that this Utopian planet is in danger of being exploited when, not if, civilized man next finds it.  So he implements a strategy that will save the natives and their planet from exploitation.  Then a century later we watch as it unfolds.  Great story but the ending was a bit flat. (4/5)

23. Blind Man's Lantern by Allen Lang (1962) - An Amish couple are sent to be the first settlers on an alien planet.  It is a very good, well-told story that reads like a pioneer/frontier tale.  The couple get on well with the inhabitants but you just know something is going to happen, and when it finally does it is something in the realm of what the reader feels is going to happen; but then the ending is such a boring let down.  (3/5)

24. Thin Edge by Jonathan Blake Mac Kenzie (1963) - I should have written this was one down right after I'd read it; it's been a couple of days now and I can't for the life of me remember it at all except that it was a bit of a crime.  I wasn't impressed after reading it and obviously it didn't have any lasting affect on me to even remember the plot (1/5)

25. The Permanent Implosion by Dean McLaughlin (1964) - A military lab explodes as an experiment goes wrong creating a whirlwind which is sucking the air out of the atmosphere.  Candido, an expert at putting out fires at oil wells is called in and various attempts are made to stop the whirlwind.  Very intense!  The physics and science is a bit mumbo jumbo to understand especially at the beginning but otherwise I really enjoyed this one.  (4/5)

26. A Case of Identity by Randall Garrett (1964) - Brilliant!  This fine story is quite long and could be considered a novella.  Looking back I see my favourite story up to this point was also by the same author but this far outshines it and is now my favourite in this collection.  However, it really doesn't belong here as it is not science fiction.  It is a brilliant murder mystery that turns into international intrigue and an early example of alternate history but must be classified under fantasy as it contains magic.  Set in an alternate England ruled by an Anglo-French Empire it takes place in a modern day (that is 1964) that never developed past the feudal system.  Loved it!  I must look up this author for future reading.  (5/5)

27.  Balanced Ecology by James H. Schmitz (1965) -  Not bad.  An agricultural planet and its colonizers are threatened by corporate de-forestation so the sentient trees and plants put a plan they've always had since man arrived into action.  (3/5)

28. The Easy Way Out by Lee Correy (1966) - Aliens come to Earth to observe whether it is in their best interests to attack and add it to their colonizations.  Short and sweet (3/5)

29. The Last Command by Keith Laumer (1966) - Usually when construction workers are digging for a new site they unearth something like, say, King Richard III's skeleton but in this futuristic story blasting wakens a behemoth war machine buried at the end of a planetary war close to a century ago.  The machine rises to the surface and takes active position as if it were the last warrior left on earth fighting the enemy headed for the nearest mall.  A 90 year old war veteran comes to the rescue.  Loved the story and it shows the tragedy of making sentient machines then treating them like machines in the end. I've read Laumer before.  (5/5)

30. The Powers of Observation by Harry Harrison (1968) - Starts out as a spy mystery not really feeling like sci-fi at all as an American agent chases after a suspicious soviet man.  Lots of car chases and talk of cars and horsepower and crap like that, then a fun ending and we see the story is set in a futuristic Cold War world where the Sovs and US are running not a space race but another kind of race.  OK.  My first time reading Harrison so not as impressed as I'd hoped. (3/5)

31. The Gold at the Starbow's End by Frederick Pohl (1972) - Great science fiction with the twist ending.  This is a long story and the narrative alternates between communications from a space crew and the third person view of the scientist in charge of the project along with the President and military/political situation on Earth.  The ship and crew have been sent to Alpha Centauri to colonize a newly discovered planet.  Not all is as it appears to be though and this was an extremely entertaining if somewhat dated, set in a futuristic Cold War era, story.  (5/5)

32. Hero by Joe W, Haldeman (1972) - The Taurans have been attacking Earth's ships and killing humans.  No one has ever seen a Tauran or survived to describe one but now they have landed on an alien planet and Earth sends in a commando team to take them out and bring back one prisoner.  Was ok, mostly had an anti-war type of gist to it and not much character development.  (3/5)

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