Another short story from Planet Stories pulp magazine in 1952, pulled down off my favorite supplier of eBooks, Project Gutenberg. The Gun is a shorty by Philip K. Dick, one of the famous (and struggling, I’m led to believe) writers from the golden era.
So astronomers on a planet pick up a fusion flash from a world not too far off, a big flash, an end-of-civilization full-stop flash. They send a space ship out that way to check on it. Of course, all they find is a dead world, fused and cold without a living thing in its ruins.
But there are things down there. Automated things. And the next thing these intrepid spacemen and spacewomen know, they’ve been shot out of orbit by a planetary defense gun. A scouting party is sent to reconnoiter where the shot came from (what else can they do – if they repair and lift, it will be all over in a blazing second). But what they find… it’s just one strange discovery after another.
I was prepared to discount this story at one point when I thought that the heroes were overlooking a painfully obvious solution to their problem. I won’t go into the details of this, but suddenly the story shifts in your brain – it’s pretty cool, you can feel it rotate around in your skull – and a remarkable situation develops. I could only smile and nod as I was played along like a dummy. And even after you’ve gotten around the big secret, there is still the strange ending to the story, one that changes the entire flavor in what is virtually the last paragraph.
Can I sell this any more than I already have? Look, it’s good, and it’s free. If you don’t let the 1952 publication date hang you up, you’re in for a great story. Get it HERE!