his week, I scratched through Project Gutenberg and came up with two short scifi stories, both out of pulp magazines. I didn’t want to spend that much time on them but they deserved some sort of mention (and me? I deserve some sort of weekly blog entry out of them).
A Spaceship Named McGuire – this was a shortie written in 1960, just about when Harry Harrison was coming up with the Stainless Steel Rat. It was when humanism was making a push back into the industry, when bold wisecracking heroes were popular. In this story, a clever space detective finds himself covering two missions for his rich industrialist patron – first, find out who’s causing his prototype AI ships to go insane and crash, and second, escort his brat-jap daughter (charmingly named “Jack”) to finishing school. It’s full of fun, witty and clever – not quite Harrison but fun all the same. I rather enjoyed it and the end was not obvious, so yeah, a good read. If you aren’t sure, you can pull it down yourself for free HERE.
This World Must Die! – Okay, this is a bit of a misrepresentation (and I think it was purposely done to make it sound so very critical – a world? Which one?). So the story here (an early 50’s piece) was about our solar system in the future, when all aggression has been bred out of the race. The problem is, an infectious disease has crippled the outer asteroid colonies, turning their citizens insane (can you say “reivers”?). And now a ship of them is heading towards Mars, and if it gets there, everyone on the red planet will go bonkers.
The idea is that this future world needs to pick four people to man an attack ship to blow up this plague ship (since this is “their world”, it must die. See? A stretch). So four people are chosen, who have indirectly or purposely killed another person. Of course, these people are aggressive to start, and since nobody is clearly captain, well, things go out the space porthole pretty quick. Still, interesting. If you’re curious, you can get it HERE.