Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Road To Science Fiction 2 - James Gunn

Gunn's second volume in this series is concerned with the early twentieth century writers like Wells and Burroughs and the birth of the science fiction magazines from Amazing to Astounding.

There is a reasonable length introduction and each story has a piece placing the work and the author in time, with an overview and some biography. This is all very readable, and probably more directed to include the general reader.

There are some excerpts from novels, too, which will annoy some. Some good tales in these early stories, bit nothing outstanding.

Road To Science Fiction 2 : The New Accelerator - H. G. Wells
Road To Science Fiction 2 : The Machine Stops - E. M. Forster
Road To Science Fiction 2 : The Chessmen of Mars [short story] - Edgar Rice Burroughs
Road To Science Fiction 2 : The People of the Pit - A. Merritt
Road To Science Fiction 2 : The Red One - Jack London
Road To Science Fiction 2 : Dagon - H. P. Lovecraft
Road To Science Fiction 2 : The Tissue-Culture King - Julian Huxley
Road To Science Fiction 2 : The Revolt of the Pedestrians - David H. Keller
Road To Science Fiction 2 : Last and First Men [short story] - Olaf Stapledon
Road To Science Fiction 2 : Brave New World [short story]) - Aldous Huxley
Road To Science Fiction 2 : A Martian Odyssey [short story] - Stanley G. Weinbaum
Road To Science Fiction 2 : Twilight - John W. Campbell, Jr.
Road To Science Fiction 2 : Proxima Centauri - Murray Leinster
Road To Science Fiction 2 : What's It Like Out There? - Edmond Hamilton
Road To Science Fiction 2 : With Folded Hands - Jack Williamson
Road To Science Fiction 2 : Hyperpilosity - L. Sprague de Camp
Road To Science Fiction 2 : The Faithful - Lester del Rey
Road To Science Fiction 2 : Black Destroyer - A. E. van Vogt
Road To Science Fiction 2 : Nightfall [short story] - Isaac Asimov
Road To Science Fiction 2 : Requiem - Robert A. Heinlein

Flash tonic.

3.5 out of 5


Can't do anything ourselves.

3 out of 5


""You deserted us, Tara of Helium," said John Carter. "It is not what the guests of John Carter should expect.""

3 out of 5


Explorer gets horribly lost.

3.5 out of 5


"Possessed of more than a cursory knowledge of astronomy, he took a sick man’s pleasure in speculating as to the dwellers on the unseen worlds of those incredibly remote suns, to haunt whose houses of light, life came forth, a shy visitant, from the rayless crypts of matter. He could no more apprehend limits to time than bounds to space. No subversive radium speculations had shaken his steady scientific faith in the conservation of energy and the indestructibility of matter. Always and forever must there have been stars. And surely, in that cosmic ferment, all must be comparatively alike, comparatively of the same substance, or substances, save for the freaks of the ferment. All must obey, or compose, the same laws that ran without infraction through the entire experience of man. Therefore, he argued and agreed, must worlds and life be appanages to all the suns as they were appanages to the particular of his own solar system.

Even as he lay here, under the breadfruit tree, an intelligence that stared across the starry gulfs, so must all the universe be exposed to the ceaseless scrutiny of innumerable eyes, like his, though grantedly different, with behind them, by the same token, intelligences that questioned and sought the meaning and the construction of the whole. So reasoning, he felt his soul go forth in kinship with that august company, that multitude whose gaze was forever upon the arras of infinity."

...

"“Once, O Ngurn,” Bassett repeated, “let the Red One speak so that I may see it speak as well as hear it. Then strike, thus, when I raise my hand; for, when I raise my hand, I shall drop my head forward and make place for the stroke at the base of my neck. But, O Ngurn, I, who am about to pass out of the light of day for ever, would like to pass with the wonder-voice of the Red One singing greatly in my ears.”

“And I promise you that never will a head be so well cured as yours,” Ngurn assured him, at the same time signalling the tribesmen to man the propelling ropes suspended from the king-post striker. “Your head shall be my greatest piece of work in the curing of heads.”"

3.5 out of 5


Marine monstrosity.

4 out of 5


Slave breeding for type, now how about some telepathy?

3 out of 5


If our boots were mad efor shooting, how about we just turn off your machines you crawling, legless freaks?

3.5 out of 5


"For another branch of the degenerated fifth species had retained a more terrestrial habit and the ancient human form. Sadly reduced in stature and in brain, these abject beings were so unlike the original invaders that they are rightly considered a new species, and may therefore be called the Sixth Men. Age after age they gained a precarious livelihood by grubbing roots upon the forest-clad islands, trapping the innumerable birds, and catching fish in the tidal inlets with ground bait. Not infrequently they devoured, or were devoured by, their seal-like relatives. So restricted and constant was the environment of these human remnants, that they remained biologically and culturally stagnant for some millions of years.

At length, however, geological events afforded man's nature once more the opportunity of change. A mighty warping of the planet's crust produced an island almost as large as Australia. In time this was peopled, and from the clash of tribes a new and versatile race emerged. Once more there was methodical tillage, craftsmanship, complex social organization, and adventure in the realm of thought.

During the next two hundred million years all the main phases of man's life on earth were many times repeated on Venus with characteristic differences. Theocratic empires; free and intellectualistic island cities; insecure overlordship of feudal archipelagos; rivalries of high priest and emperor; religious feuds over the interpretation of sacred scriptures; recurrent fluctuations of thought from naïve animism, through polytheism, conflicting monotheisms, and all the desperate "isms" by which mind seeks to blur the severe outline of truth; recurrent fashions of comfort-seeking fantasy and cold intelligence; social disorders through the misuse of volcanic or wind power in industry; business empires and pseudo-communistic empires--all these forms flitted over the changing substance of mankind again and again, as in an enduring hearth fire there appear and vanish the infinitely diverse forms of flame and smoke. But all the while the brief spirits, in whose massed configurations these forms inhered, were intent chiefly on the primitive needs of food, shelter, companionship, crowd-lust, love-making, the two-edged relationship of parent and child, the exercise of muscle and intelligence in facile sport. Very seldom, only in rare moments of clarity, only after ages of misapprehension, did a few of them, here and there, now and again, begin to have the deeper insight into the world's nature and man's. And no sooner had this precious insight begun to propagate itself, than it would be blotted out by some small or great disaster, by epidemic disease, by the spontaneous disruption of society, by an access of racial imbecility, by a prolonged bombardment of meteorites, or by the mere cowardice and vertigo that dared not look down the precipice of fact."

3.5 out of 5


Alpha delta stability.

3 out of 5


Interplanetary interpersonal communication.

4 out of 5


Future science dwindling.

3.5 out of 5


Vegie men seek animal matter gold.

3.5 out of 5


Mars crackup shootout coverup.

4 out of 5


Robot home help useless.

2.5 out of 5


Hairy virus cure, no thanks.

3.5 out of 5


Dogs still happy to see us.

3.5 out of 5


A ship's crew lands on a planet and meets an alien with extraordinarily dangerous abilities.

3.5 out of 5


Media and religion struggle with science. Still.

4 out of 5


Any ship will do if you can get me there.

3.5 out of 5




4 out of 5

No comments: