Fredric Brown – Paradox Lost (1973)


Vintage Science Fiction
Date Finished: September 9, 2019

Another outstanding collection of Fredric Brown short stories, each filled with wit and intelligence. Some notes:

“Paradox Lost”
A dozing student falls into a time warp directed by an insane navigator, killing dinosaurs with a slingshot, in a story of paradoxes, sanity/insanity, and complexities. Whew.

“The Last Train”
A drunk, planning for years to get out by catching whatever train is available, finally takes action only to just miss the last train. Not weird until the end, but being published in Weird Tales fits.

“Obedience (The Undying Ones)”
A tough look at humanity’s instinct to kill all possible enemies, justified or not, and the one human who goes against that to save a race of aliens.

“Ten Percenter”
Selling your soul to an agent never turns out the way you expect. Very good story.

Cat phobia in a experiment on words.

“The New One”
Pyro deals with temptations and demons in a confusing story.

“Double Standard ”
What if TV world existed and lived by censor standards but could also see our world not living by the same standards? Interesting question well executed.

Astounding Science Fiction, November 1951


Vintage Science Fiction Pulp
Date Finished: August 27, 2019

Iceworld continues here in the second installment, but also:

“The Hunting Season” by Frank M. Robinson
Totalitarian state sends criminals back in time to be hunted like The Most Dangerous Game. Lots of running but confusing and pointless. Weak.

“Implode and Peddle” by H.B. Fyfe
Capitalism on another planet. Supposed to be humorous, I guess. Overlong.

“To Explain Mrs. Thompson” by Philip Latham
Astronomers find the image of a middle-aged human woman appearing in the vicinity of the Andromeda Galaxy. What does it all mean? Starts out well with scientists in confusion, but ends with little explanation as the image fades away.

Not the strongest issue, but maybe my science fiction patience is wearing thin.

Astounding Science Fiction, October 1951


Vintage Science Fiction Pulp
Date Finished: August 17, 2019

Obviously this one features the first installment of Iceworld, but also the following:

“Thinking Machine” by H.B. Fyfe
Confusing beginning finally resolves into a space station battle between human and Arcturian crew members. Took too long to get interesting.

“The Years Draw Nigh” by Lester del Rey
Years late, a final exploration rocket returns to Mars to find earth’s hope for finding other races or hospitable planets gone, with evidence that the same revelation had crushed an earlier race on Mars. Interesting themes in a downbeat way.

“Ultima Thule” by Eric Frank Russell
Rocket containing three men goes beyond all space and time with each of the three handling it in their own ways. Well done.

“The Head Hunters” by Ralph Williams
Alien hunter encounters earth hunters in Alaska. Not very complex other than one being an extraterrestrial.

Astounding Science Fiction – December 1951


Vintage Science Fiction Pulp
TBR #89 (57e, 32p)
Date Finished: July 30
, 2019

Featuring the third installment of “Iceworld” by Hal Clement, this issue also includes the following:

“Dune Roller” by J.C. May
Read this a long time back, but remember it being a good story and entertaining.

“Hell’s Pavement” by Irving E. Cox, Jr.
Warrior empire visits planet, but can’t deal with their unusual peaceful ways. Irony: It turns out to be Earth!

“The Edge of Forever” by Chad Oliver
Humans stationed on alien planet trapped inside by 6-month rainy season. Reads more like a simple mystery as one character goes insane, though in the end not very complicated.

Hal Clement – Iceworld (1951)


Vintage Science Fiction
Date Finished: July 29
, 2019

Sulfur-based beings used to a 500 degree environment can’t understand earth life. They come to earth to trade worthless platinum for highly valuable and addictive tobacco. One in particular is an undercover agent trying to break up the drug ring. Many chapters of trying to figure out what water is or what fire is. Discussion upon discussion about dealing with temperatures. The earth family that encounters the aliens is run like a scientific discussion group and written like a juvenile adventure. Very tough to get through.

Amazing Stories – December 1936


Vintage Science Fiction Pulp
TBR #73 (46e, 27p)
Date Finished: June 25, 2019

This issue finishes the second part of John W. Campbell, Jr.’s “Uncertainty.” The rest of the issue includes the following:

“Time Control” by Philip Jacques Bartel
Time traveling Soviets dealing with bureaucracy. Confusing.

“The Space Marines and the Slavers” by Bob Olsen
Good setting of space marines on secret mission to Mars to rescue slaves marred mainly by dialogue explaining basic stuff of Mars, such as the moons and their names, to junior officer who should know this by now.

“Devolution” by Edmond Hamilton
Men discover aliens who are seeking descendants of the original interstellar settlers of earth, finding all has devolved. Human can’t take it. Much lecturing, little action.

“Death Creeps the Moon” by Wede
Humorously crotchety professor participates with discovery of prehistoric termite civilization. Their writings are easily translated into English with the vast majority of the story then relating boring bug history from the point of view of moon men they defeated.

“When the Earth Stood Still” by Arlyn H. Vance
Odd story of renegade scientist exiled for warning world of impending doom. When the earth stops rotating, gravity, sound, and light inexplicably also stop working. Scientist works to save world  then quits and they live happily ever after on stationary planet, despite all previous reason why that wouldn’t work. Strange, almost if intended ending was cut and all wrapped up differently in a page.

Science fiction remains not my thing, other than Fredric Brown, but perhaps that is because I’m reading 1936 science fiction.

Thrilling Wonder Stories – October 1936


Vintage Science Fiction Pulp
TBR #63 (41e, 22p)
Date Finished: May 27, 2019

I’m operating outside of my comfort zone with science fiction, but am slowly working my way through some of these pulps. This issue, volume 8, no. 3, of Thrilling Wonder Stories, contains a John W. Campbell story, “The Brain Stealers of Mars” that was included in The Planeteers. Finishing out the rest of the issue were:

“Trapped in Eternity” by Ray Cummings
Time traveling horndog abducts 17-year-old girl and her boyfriend but fizzles out.

“Static” by Eando Binder
Scientist defeats spies by talking.

“The Lanson Screen” by Leo Arthur Zagat
Confusingly terrible story of New York City being cut off from the world in some sort of bubble. New characters being constantly introduced. A mess.

“The Brink of Infinity” by Stanley Weinbaum
A crazy man holds a mathematician prisoner, forcing him to solve a mathematical riddle in order to go free. Challenging but fun.

“Mutiny on Europa” by Edmond Hamilton
Unjustly convicted of treason, a former space officer imprisoned on Jupiter’s moon Europa plots an escape but then faces a uprising of the natives that he must put down to save his captors. Exciting but no consideration given to natives as deserving to control their own world.

“Saturn’s Ringmaster” by Raymond Z. Gallun
Stranded by space pirates, a pair figure out how to outwit them. Meh.

“The Island of Doctor X” by Allan K. Echols
Good scientist fights bad scientist who is going to ruin world economy by manufacturing gold. Poor.

“Earth-Venus 12” by Gabriel Wilson
Man fights political intrigue and mutiny on space liner to Venus. Physics problems distract from narrative.

Amazing Stories – October 1936

Amazing Stories 1936-10 00fc

Vintage Science Fiction Pulp
TBR #49 (32e, 17p)
Date Finished: April 20, 2019

Volume 10, number 12 of Amazing Stories features the first part of the John W. Campbell, Jr. serial “Uncertainty,” which was reviewed under its paperback title The Ultimate Weapon.

As for the remaining stories:

“Council of Drones” by W.K. Sonnemann
Man exchanges bodies with a queen bee and plots revenge against humans. Unusual.

“Six Who Were Masked” by Henry J. Kostkos
A doctor uses a blood transfusion from five upstanding men to cure a degenerate murderer but could it also work in reverse? Somewhat dull mystery story with little sf appeal.

“The Human Pets of Mars” by Leslie F. Stone
Humans taken back to Mars to be pets eventually escape in an exciting story marred by casual racism.

“The Outpost on Ceres” by L.A. Eshbach
Good story of solitary man stationed on asteroid refueling station overcoming addiction and rescuing stranded travelers.

I’m not the biggest science fiction fan, but this issue was adequate, though somewhat creaky in its 1930s style.

Planet Stories – Spring 1945


Vintage Science Fiction Pulp
Deal Me In Challenge: 10♣️
Date Finished: December 30, 2018

The Fiction House science fiction pulp Planet Stories featured more action-oriented space opera stories than did some of the more artistic or experimental magazines. Leigh Brackett, one of their star authors, had a story in this issue, as did one with whom I was not familiar, Albert DePina, who is also mentioned in a cover blurb. Robert Wilson’s “Vandals of the Void” was another entertaining novelet in this issue.

The 10 of clubs selection, “Double Trouble” by Carl Jacobi, features Grannie Annie, science fiction writer in the future, who goes to various planets to do research for her stories, but stumbles across a real mystery amid competing mines on a moon of Jupiter. This seems to have been a continuing series, but here features her narrator assistant more than the quirky woman herself.