Birthday Reviews: Complete Linked Index to Authors and Stories

Since I finally completed something on this site, I felt like celebrating and thought it might be useful to gather up all the information about the project in this post. I started the Birthday Reviews on January 24, 2020 and, after a break from October 13, 2020 to October 20, 2022, I picked it up again, finally finishing on January 17, 2023. The 52 posts ended up covering 157 authors and 172 of their stories (I generally reviewed one story each, but did a double shot of Cadigan and del Rey plus a batch of Brown short-shorts). While the Site Map lists all these weekly posts with authors’ last names, the following lists the full name of each author individually (which links to their posts), vital dates, the story reviewed, and its place and date of publication.

(There’s also a plain text file to play with in a spreadsheet or with text processing tools if anyone is so inclined, though I strongly doubt anyone is. This is stored at what used to be my old site since WordPress doesn’t seem to want to let me store anything here besides images. Any spreadsheet just needs to be told it’s pipe-delimited with unquoted text (the story titles are incidentally quoted but not in spreadsheet terms).)

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  • Poul Anderson (1926-11-25/2001-07-31) “Time Lag” F&SF, January 1961
  • Neal Asher (1961-02-04) “Softly Spoke the Gabbleduck” Asimov’s, August 2005
  • Isaac Asimov (1920-01-02/1992-04-06) “The Feeling of Power” If, February 1958
  • J. G. Ballard (1930-11-15/2009-04-19) “Prima Belladonna” Science Fantasy, December 1956
  • John Barnes (1957-02-28) “My Advice to the Civilized” IAsfm, April 1990
  • Neal Barrett, Jr. (1929-11-03/2014-01-12) “Perpetuity Blues” IAsfm, May 1987
  • Harry Bates (1900-10-09/1981-09-??) “Farewell to the Master” Astounding, October 1940
  • Stephen Baxter (1957-11-13) “Something for Nothing” Interzone #23, Spring 1988
  • Greg Bear (1951-08-20/2022-11-19) “Hardfought” IAsfm, February 1983
  • Gregory Benford (1941-01-30) “And the Sea Like Mirrors” Again, Dangerous Visions, 1972
  • Alfred Bester (1913-12-18/1987-09-30) “Of Time and Third Avenue” F&SF, October 1951
  • Eando Binder (1911-08-26/1974-10-14) “I, Robot” Amazing, January 1939
  • James Blish (1921-05-23/1975-07-30) “How Beautiful with Banners” Orbit 1, 1966
  • Ben Bova (1932-11-08/2020-11-29) “To Touch a Star” The Universe, 1987
  • Leigh Brackett (1915-12-07/1978-03-18) “The Last Days of Shandakor” Startling Stories, April 1952
  • Ray Bradbury (1920-08-22/2012-06-05) “The Anthem Sprinters” Playboy, June 1963
  • Reginald Bretnor (1911-07-30/1992-07-22) “The Gnurrs Come from the Voodvork Out” F&SF, Winter-Spring 1950
  • Miles J. Breuer (1889-01-03/1945-10-14) “The Gostak and the Doshes” Amazing, March 1930
  • Fredric Brown (1906-10-29/1972-03-11) “Not Yet the End” Captain Future, Winter 1941
  • ——— “Answer” Angels and Spaceships, 1954
  • ——— “Pattern” Angels and Spaceships, 1954
  • ——— “Reconciliation” Angels and Spaceships, 1954
  • ——— “Experiment” Galaxy, February 1954
  • ——— “Imagine” F&SF, May 1955
  • ——— “Abominable” Dude, March 1960
  • ——— “Recessional” Dude, March 1960
  • ——— “Earthmen Bearing Gifts” Galaxy, June 1960
  • ——— “The End” Nightmares and Geezenstacks, 1961
  • ——— “Jaycee” Nightmares and Geezenstacks, 1961
  • ——— “Rebound” Nightmares and Geezenstacks, 1961
  • ——— “Nightmare in Yellow” Dude, May 1961
  • ——— “The Short Happy Lives of Eustace Weaver, I, II, and III” Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, June 1961
  • Algis Budrys (1931-01-09/2008-06-09) “The Man Who Always Knew” Astounding, April 1956
  • Octavia E. Butler (1947-06-22/2006-02-24) “Speech Sounds” IAsfm, Mid-December 1983
  • Pat Cadigan (1953-09-10) “Pretty Boy Crossover” IAsfm, January 1986
  • ——— “Angel” IAsfm, May 1987
  • Jack Cady (1932-03-20/2004-01-14) “The Night We Buried Road Dog” F&SF, January 1993
  • John W. Campbell (1910-06-08/1971-07-11) “Forgetfulness” Astounding, June 1937
  • Cleve Cartmill (1908-06-21/1964-02-11) “Deadline” Astounding, March 1944
  • A. Bertram Chandler (1912-03-28/1984-06-06) “Giant Killer” Astounding, October 1945
  • C. J. Cherryh (1942-09-01) “Cassandra” F&SF, October 1978
  • Arthur C. Clarke (1917-12-16/2008-03-19) “The Star” Infinity Science Fiction, November 1955
  • Hal Clement (1922-05-30/2003-10-29) “The Mechanic” Analog, September 1966
  • Mildred Clingerman (1918-03-14/1997-02-26) “Letters from Laura” F&SF, October 1954
  • John Collier (1901-05-03/1980-04-06) “The Chaser” The New Yorker, December 28, 1940
  • John Crowley (1942-12-01) “Snow” Omni, November 1985
  • Chan Davis (1926-08-12) “Adrift on the Policy Level” Star Science Fiction Stories No. 5, 1959
  • L. Sprague de Camp (1907-11-27/2000-11-06) “The Gnarly Man” Unknown, June 1939
  • Lester del Rey (1915-06-02/1993-05-10) “For I Am a Jealous People” Star Short Novels, 1954
  • ——— “The Seat of Judgment” Venture, July 1957
  • Joseph H. Delaney (1932-02-05/1999-12-21) & Marc Stiegler “Valentina” Analog, May 1984
  • Samuel R. Delany (1942-04-01) “Driftglass” If, June 1967
  • A. J. Deutsch (1918-01-25/1969-11-11) “A Subway Named Mobius” Astounding, December 1950
  • Philip K. Dick (1928-12-16/1982-03-02) “The Short Happy Life of the Brown Oxford” F&SF, January 1954
  • Gordon R. Dickson (1923-11-01/2001-01-31) “Dolphin’s Way” Analog, June 1964
  • Gardner Dozois (1947-07-23/2018-05-27) “Morning Child” Omni, January 1984
  • George Alec Effinger (1947-01-10/2002-04-27) “The Aliens Who Knew, I Mean, EverythingF&SF, October 1984
  • Greg Egan (1961-08-20) “Learning to Be Me” Interzone #37, July 1990
  • Harlan Ellison (1934-05-27/2018-06-28) “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” If, March 1967
  • Carol Emshwiller (1921-04-12/2019-02-02) “Moon Songs” The Start of the End of It All, 1990
  • Hanns Heinz Ewers (1871-11-03/1943-06-12) “The Spider” Die Besessenen, 1908
  • Philip Jose Farmer (1918-01-26/2009-02-25) “Sail On! Sail On!” Startling Stories, December 1952
  • Robert L. Forward (1932-08-15/2002-09-21) “Self-Limiting” Analog, May 1992
  • Alan Dean Foster (1946-11-18) “Ye Who Would Sing” Galileo, December 1976
  • Raymond Z. Gallun (1911-03-22/1994-04-02) “Derelict” Astounding, October 1935
  • William Gibson (1948-03-17) “Johnny Mnemonic” Omni, May 1981
  • Joseph Green (1931-01-14) “The Crier of Crystal” Analog, October 1971
  • James Gunn (1923-07-12) “The Misogynist” Galaxy, November 1952
  • J. B. S. Haldane (1892-11-05/1964-12-01) “The Gold-Makers” The Inequality of Man, 1932
  • Joe Haldeman (1943-06-09) “Anniversary Project” Analog, October 1975
  • Edmond Hamilton (1904-10-21/1977-02-01) “Exile” Super Science Stories, May 1943
  • Peter F. Hamilton (1960-03-02) “The Forever Kitten” Nature, July 28, 2005
  • Charles L. Harness (1915-12-29/2005-09-20) “The Chessplayers” F&SF, October 1953
  • Harry Harrison (1925-03-12/2012-08-15) “Not Me, Not Amos Cabot!” Science Fantasy, December 1964-January 1965
  • Alix E. Harrow (1989-11-09) “A Whisper in the Weld” Shimmer #22, November 2014
  • Robert A. Heinlein (1907-07-07/1988-05-08) “Columbus Was a Dope” Startling Stories, May 1947
  • Robert E. Howard (1906-01-22/1936-06-11) “Pigeons from Hell” Weird Tales, May 1938
  • Shirley Jackson (1916-12-14/1965-08-08) “The Lottery” The New Yorker, June 26, 1948
  • Neil R. Jones (1909-05-29/1988-02-15) “The Jameson Satellite” Amazing, July 1931
  • Raymond F. Jones (1915-11-17/1994-01-24) “A Stone and a Spear” Galaxy, December 1950
  • David H. Keller (1880-12-23/1966-07-13) “The Thing in the Cellar” Weird Tales, March 1932
  • James Patrick Kelly (1951-04-11) “Think Like a Dinosaur” Asimov’s, June 1995
  • Daniel Keyes (1927-08-09/2014-06-15) “Flowers for Algernon” F&SF, April 1959
  • C. M. Kornbluth (1923-07-23/1958-03-21) “That Share of Glory” Astounding, January 1952
  • Henry Kuttner (1915-04-07/1958-02-04) “The Proud Robot” Astounding, October 1943
  • Geoffrey A. Landis (1955-05-28) “Approaching Perimelasma” Asimov’s, January 1998
  • Keith Laumer (1925-06-09/1993-01-23) “The Last Command” Analog, January 1967
  • Ursula K. Le Guin (1929-10-21/2018-01-22) “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” New Dimensions 3, 1973
  • Tanith Lee (1947-09-19/2015-05-24) “Into Gold” IAsfm, March 1986
  • Fritz Leiber (1910-12-24/1992-09-05) “The Oldest Soldier” F&SF, May 1960
  • Murray Leinster (1896-06-16/1975-06-08) “The Power” Astounding, September 1945
  • Jack London (1876-01-12/1916-11-22) “A Thousand Deaths” The Black Cat, May 1899
  • H. P. Lovecraft (1890-08-20/1937-03-15) “The Strange High House in the Mist” Weird Tales, October 1931
  • Katherine MacLean (1925-01-22/2019-09-01) “Unhuman Sacrifice” Astounding, November 1958
  • Ian R. MacLeod (1956-08-06) “The Chop Girl” Asimov’s, December 1999
  • George R. R. Martin (1948-09-20) “A Song for Lya” Analog, June 1974
  • Julian May (1931-07-10/2017-10-17) “Dune Roller” Astounding, December 1951
  • James McConnell (1925-10-26/1990-04-09) “Learning Theory” If, December 1957
  • Jack McDevitt (1935-04-14) “Act of God” Microcosms, 2004
  • A. Merritt (1884-01-20/1943-08-21) “Through the Dragon Glass” All-Story Weekly, November 24, 1917
  • C. L. Moore (1911-01-24/1987-04-04) “Shambleau” Weird Tales, November 1933
  • William Morrison (1906-10-13/1980-06-02) “The Model of a Judge” Galaxy, October 1953
  • Pat Murphy (1955-03-09) & Paul Doherty “Cold Comfort” Bridging Infinity, 2016
  • Linda Nagata (1960-11-07) “Codename: Delphi” Lightspeed #47, April 2014
  • Larry Niven (1938-04-30) “The Hole Man” Analog, January 1974
  • Andre Norton (1912-02-17/2005-03-17) “All Cats Are Gray” Fantastic Universe, August/September 1953
  • Edgar Pangborn (1909-02-25/1976-02-01) “The Red Hills of Summer” F&SF, September 1959
  • Rog Phillips (1909-02-20/1966-03-02) “The Yellow Pill” Astounding, October 1958
  • H. Beam Piper (1904-03-23/1964-11-06) “Time and Time Again” Astounding, April 1947
  • Edgar Allan Poe (1809-01-19/1849-10-07) “The Cask of Amontillado” Godey’s Lady’s Book, November 1846
  • Frederik Pohl (1919-11-26/2013-09-02) “Day Million” Rogue, February/March 1966
  • Steven Popkes (1952-10-09) “Sudden, Broken, and Unexpected” Asimov’s, December 2012
  • Tom Purdom (1936-04-19) “A Response from EST17” Asimov’s, April/May 2011
  • Robert Reed (1956-10-09) “Katabasis” F&SF, November/December 2012
  • Mike Resnick (1942-03-05/2020-01-09) “Death Is an Acquired Trait” Argos, Winter 1988
  • Alastair Reynolds (1966-03-13) “Merlin’s Gun” Asimov’s, May 2000
  • R. S. Richardson (1902-04-22/1981-11-12) “N Day” Astounding, January 1946 (as by Philip Latham)
  • Ross Rocklynne (1913-02-21/1988-10-29) “Into the Darkness” Astonishing, June 1939
  • Milton A. Rothman (1919-11-30/2001-10-06) “Heavy Planet” Astounding, August 1939
  • Rudy Rucker (1946-03-22) “Pac-Man” IAsfm, June 1982
  • Eric Frank Russell (1905-01-06/1978-02-28) “Jay Score” Astounding, May 1941
  • Fred Saberhagen (1930-05-18/2007-06-29) “Starsong” If, January 1968
  • Hilbert Schenck (1926-02-12/2013-12-02) “The Morphology of the Kirkham Wreck” F&SF, September 1978
  • James H. Schmitz (1911-10-15/1981-04-18) “An Incident on Route 12” If, January 1962
  • Karl Schroeder (1962-09-04) “The Pools of Air” Tesseracts 3, 1991
  • Bob Shaw (1931-12-31/1996-02-11) “Light of Other Days” Analog, August 1966
  • Robert Sheckley (1928-07-16/2005-12-09) “The Perfect Woman” Amazing, December 1953-January 1954
  • Charles Sheffield (1935-06-25/2002-11-02) “A Braver Thing” IAsfm, February 1990
  • Wilmar H. Shiras (1908-09-23/1990-12-23) “In Hiding” Astounding, November 1948
  • John Shirley (1953-02-10) “The Incorporated” IAsfm, July 1985
  • Robert Silverberg (1935-01-15) “To Be Continued” Astounding, May 1956
  • Clifford D. Simak (1904-08-03/1988-04-25) “The Creator” Marvel Tales, March-April 1935
  • Joan Slonczewski (1956-08-14) “Tuberculosis Bacteria Join UN” Nature, June 29, 2000
  • Clark Ashton Smith (1893-01-13/1961-08-14) “The Weird of Avoosl Wuthoqquan” Weird Tales, June 1932
  • Cordwainer Smith (1913-07-11/1966-08-06) “The Game of Rat and Dragon” Galaxy, October 1955
  • E. E. “Doc” Smith (1890-05-02/1965-08-31) “The Vortex Blaster” Comet, July 1941
  • George O. Smith (1911-04-09/1981-05-27) “QRM / Interplanetary” Astounding, October 1942
  • Norman Spinrad (1940-09-15) “A Thing of Beauty” Analog, January 1973
  • Brian Stableford (1948-07-25) “The Magic Bullet” Interzone #29, May-June 1989
  • Allen Steele (1958-01-19) “The War Memorial” Asimov’s, September 1995
  • Bruce Sterling (1954-04-14) & Lewis Shiner “Mozart in Mirrorshades” Omni, September 1985
  • Theodore Sturgeon (1918-02-26/1985-05-08) “The Hurkle Is a Happy Beast” F&SF, October 1949
  • Michael Swanwick (1950-11-18) “Radio Waves” Omni, Winter 1995
  • Leo Szilard (1898-02-11/1964-05-30) “The Mark Gable Foundation” The Voice of the Dolphins and Other Stories, 1961
  • Stephen Tall (1908-06-14/1981-01-15) “The Invaders” If, August 1973
  • Drew Hayden Taylor (1962-07-01) “Take Us To Your Chief” Take Us to Your Chief and Other Stories, 2016
  • Lucy Taylor (1951-11-30) “The Family Underwater” Close to the Bone, 1993
  • William Tenn (1920-05-09/2010-02-07) “Betelgeuse Bridge” Galaxy, April 1951
  • James Tiptree, Jr. (1915-08-24/1987-05-19) “Milk of Paradise” Again, Dangerous Visions, 1972
  • A. E. van Vogt (1912-04-26/2000-01-26) “Concealment” Astounding, September 1943
  • Jack Vance (1916-08-28/2013-05-26) “Sulwen’s Planet” The Farthest Reaches, 1968
  • John Varley (1947-08-09) “Retrograde Summer” F&SF, February 1975
  • Joan D. Vinge (1948-04-02) “Fireship” Analog, December 1978
  • Vernor Vinge (1944-10-02) “Long Shot” Analog, August 1972
  • Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (1922-11-11/2007-04-11) “Harrison Bergeron” F&SF, October 1961
  • Howard Waldrop (1946-09-15) “Ugly Chickens” Universe 10, 1980
  • Bryce Walton (1918-05-31/1988-02-05) “Too Late for Eternity” Startling Stories, Spring 1955
  • Lawrence Watt-Evans (1954-07-26) “Why I Left Harry’s All-Night Hamburgers” IAsfm, July 1987
  • Sharon Webb (1936-02-29/2010-04-29) “Variation on a Theme from Beethoven” IAsfm, February 1980
  • Stanley G. Weinbaum (1902-04-04/1935-12-14) “Parasite Planet” Astounding, February 1935
  • Manly Wade Wellman (1903-05-21/1986-04-05) “O Ugly Bird!” F&SF, December 1951
  • H. G. Wells (1866-09-21/1946-08-13) “The Star” The Graphic, Christmas Number 1897
  • Don Wilcox (1905-08-29/2000-03-09) “The Voyage That Lasted Six Hundred Years” Amazing, October 1940
  • Oscar Wilde (1854-10-16/1900-11-30) “The Nightingale and the Rose” The Happy Prince and Other Tales, 1888
  • Kate Wilhelm (1928-06-08/2018-03-08) “The Mile-Long Spaceship” Astounding, April 1957
  • Robert Moore Williams (1907-06-19/1977-05-12) “Flight of the Dawn Star” Astounding, March 1938
  • Jack Williamson (1908-04-29/2006-11-10) “Nonstop to Mars” Argosy, February 14, 1939
  • Connie Willis (1945-12-31) “At the Rialto” Omni, October 1989
  • P. G. Wodehouse (1881-10-15/1975-02-14) “Sir Agravaine” Collier’s, June 29, 1912
  • John Wyndham (1903-07-10/1969-03-11) “The Asteroids, 2194” New Worlds #100, November 1960
  • Timothy Zahn (1951-09-01) “The Cassandra” Analog, November 1983
  • Roger Zelazny (1937-05-13/1995-06-14) “The Man Who Loved the Faioli” Galaxy, June 1967

Birthday Reviews: Howard, MacLean, Merritt, Moore, Poe, Steele

This final installment of the weekly Birthday Reviews brings us another six-pack from a large birthday gang (of a large week[1]) and these fall in pairs: two reprints from earlier reviews, two reviews of colorful debuts, and two phobic tales from Allan and Allen, the birthday boys of the nineteenth.

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Robert E. Howard (1906-01-22/1936-06-11)

“Pigeons from Hell” (Weird Tales, May 1938)

[Adapted from my 2019-10-30 review of Margulies’ anthology Weird Tales.]

While the anthology is good as a whole, Howard’s tremendous “Pigeons from Hell” wrecks the grade curve. The second-longest tale of the book opens with two New Englanders on a jaunt to the South ending up spending the night at a deserted mansion. One wakes up from what he tries to convince himself was a nightmare only for things to go from bad to worse, resulting in a mad dash from the house. I don’t want to spoil even the opening section but perhaps some flavor of what happened can be given by quoting a piece from when the surviving traveler, Griswell, returns to the house with Buckner, the local sheriff.

He swung the beam around, and Griswell had never dreamed that the sight of the gory body of a murdered man could bring such relief.

“He’s still there,” grunted Buckner.

In the second section, the two men meet with a voodoo man and fill in some details of what Buckner knew of the sordid family history of the mansion’s last inhabitants before moving to the final section and the nightmarish showdown with a “zuvembie” monster. My only complaint with this story is that the first section is so powerful that the remainder, while also powerful and maintaining suspense and interest, can’t quite match that opening. Still, that prosaic opening and initially very basic horror, straightforward narrative and stylistic approach, and skillfully joined antebellum relics and imported voodoo combine to make this effective for a likely majority of readers. Highly recommended.

Katherine MacLean (1925-01-22/2019-09-01)

“Unhuman Sacrifice” (Astounding, November 1958)

[Adapted from my 2017-08-29 review of her collection The Trouble with You Earth People.]

“Unhuman Sacrifice” deals with the two crewmen of a small starship, the missionary they’ve had to convey to an alien world, and the natives who have a bizarre coming-of-age ritual which involves tying the youths upside down to trees and is sometimes fatal. From religious motives, the preacher wants to intervene with words and, from compassion, the initially resistant crewmen get involved with action. If you don’t see it coming, the result should be shocking and, even if you do see it coming, the result is well-constructed and still thoroughly effective. A couple of my favorite parts involve the main native’s very strange yet completely plausible perception of what the humans must be and the extremely exciting “fighting the flood” scene that basically forms the climax. In terms of combining dramatic action and thoughtful concepts, this is SF at its best.

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A. Merritt (1884-01-20/1943-08-21)

“Through the Dragon Glass” (All-Story Weekly, November 24, 1917)

A. Merritt made his debut with this Sehnsucht story which involves one man telling his friend of his amazing experiences with a supernatural “dragon glass” which has a triple layer of the glass itself, the compelling world within (or through) it, and the sort of gnostic foundation interpenetrating and encompassing that. It actually lacks a truly satisfying dramatic arc but is filled with enticing glimmers of substance in its colorful description.

C. L. Moore (1911-01-24/1987-04-04)

“Shambleau” (Weird Tales, November 1933)

C. L. Moore made her debut with a very different, but equally colorful story. Northwest Smith is a sort of anti-hero of the spaceways who rescues an alien girl from a multi-species Martian mob bent on destroying her. He finds himself simultaneously drawn to and repelled by her but, after a night of strange dreams, he experiences a night (and nights) of erotic pleasure and horrific revulsion and learns that old myths have their roots in reality. This story is crisply plotted until an overlong denouement throws things a little out of proportion and ends the powerful blending of disparate psychosexual elements with a sort of sputtering effect until recapturing some of the momentum at the very end and it’s odd in that Northwest Smith is introduced as a mover and shaker of a main character, yet he takes a backseat first to the girl and then to another character. Also, while not a structural problem, there’s a sort of puritan streak running through this one despite its amoral complacency about Smith’s extra-legal activities. All that aside, this is an extremely vividly imagined and memorable tale of great intensity and rightly made Moore immediately famous.

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Edgar Allan Poe (1809-01-19/1849-10-07)

“The Cask of Amontillado” (Godey’s Lady’s Book, November 1846)

This is a good example of Poe’s theory of the short story in which everything is directed toward producing a single effect. This doesn’t mean that everything is monotone but, rather, that a great variety of things can be deployed as long as they have the same vector and accumulate power. The premise is simply that a once rich and/or powerful man has been wronged by one who is still rich and/or powerful and, having received an insult of some kind on top of these injuries, has formulated his revenge and exacts it in the story. The plan is clever and insanely forceful. Examples of the variety of elements (mostly twistedly funny) are the way the narrator ensures he will not be bothered by servants, the victim saying he won’t die of a cough (which is more true than he realizes) coupled with the bit about masons and the trowel, the discussion of the coat of arms and, perhaps best of all, the screaming scene. This is a masterful piece of black humor and ironic art.

Allen Steele (1958-01-19)

“The War Memorial” (Asimov’s, September 1995)

Allen Steele shares a birthday and (almost) a name with Poe but doesn’t generally share much else, generally writing somewhat optimistic fiction which is often literally light years removed from the gothic, but this example of “anti-military SF” has some unusual similarities with the preceding one. The protagonist is fighting a battle on the moon, encounters some serious technical difficulties with his combat armor, and eventually contributes to an unusual “war memorial.” This is a much more sober tale but is also short, powerfully focused, dark, and effective.


[1] I started this in 2020, which was a 366-day year and 52 weeks only covers 364 days, so this last installment covers nine days (I should have posted it yesterday). Ironically, the birthdays only kick in on the nineteenth, so only cover the last six of those nine. In that sense, it’s a short week.

Birthday Reviews: Budrys, Effinger, Green, London, Silverberg, Smith

This week’s installment covers a record six birthdays which include stories of strange knowledge, strange intelligence, and sex and death. Three of the stories (those by Budrys, London, and Silverberg) are drawn from a single anthology, though that’s still less than three percent of its contents. The other three authors (Effinger, Green, and Smith) weren’t in that one and their tales are drawn from the other three books depicted.

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Algis Budrys (1931-01-09/2008-06-09)

“The Man Who Always Knew” (Astounding, April 1956)

Algis Budrys is known, but not well known; he’s esteemed, but not greatly esteemed–and I don’t know why everyone doesn’t know him and think he’s among the greatest. In this, a sad, tired man has a great weight on him and finally unburdens himself to (who else?) his bartender and, after he’s taken the plunge, Budrys says, “He did look happy–happy all the way through, like a man with insomnia who suddenly feels himself drifting off to sleep.” There’s just something about that line that Budrys has written a million of and even better, but it’s just quintessentially him. Anyway, this is a bittersweet tale about a man with a very odd and special talent which results in fame, fortune, and unhappiness.

George Alec Effinger (1947-01-10/2002-04-27)

“The Aliens Who Knew, I Mean, Everything” (F&SF, October 1984)

For a very different tale about very different kind of knowledge, Effinger here gives us a very funny tale in which the President of the United States describes the day the aliens came and what happened after. These aliens, the nuhp, are very friendly and helpful (when they can be, as they are backwards in some amusing ways) but have never heard of the phrase “de gustibus non est disputandum” and their know-it-all ways result in expected transformations in human attitudes toward them and some unexpected transformations of humanity and the world beyond that. From the president asking them, “And how long do you plan to be with us?” and then lamenting to himself that he sounded like “a room clerk at a Holiday Inn” to his later conversations with the nuhp about the Joy of Bowling, this packs in many laughs and, despite being nuhp-like, I say this is a better story than hollyhocks.

Joseph Green (1931-01-14)

“The Crier of Crystal” (Analog, October 1971)

Among the last stories John W. Campbell bought before his death was an installment in Joseph Green’s series that would be fixed up into Conscience Interplanetary. The background for all the stories is that a component of international human space exploration is the Practical Philosopher Corps, which is made up of “Consciences” who try to determine if anything, no matter how bizarre, has any intelligence on the explored worlds and, if they do, those planets may be studied but not exploited. In this particular tale, the protagonist Conscience, Allan Odegaard, is on Crystal, a world of silicon-based life-forms, the strangeness and beauty of which is evoked well. He encounters a plant-like form which seems to make random noises mixed with random words on this very noisy world. Determining if it’s intelligent and trying to communicate with it may be difficult, but performing the same tasks with a human politician who wants to cancel the Consciences may be even more so!

Jack London (1876-01-12/1916-11-22)

“A Thousand Deaths” (The Black Cat, May 1899)

A man (something of a Byronic figure) is drowning (something of a Shelleyan fate) when the story opens. He quickly tells us his backstory and then loses consciousness. But we know he doesn’t die because it’s first person and, indeed, he is awakened to find himself being resuscitated by a strange mechanical contrivance. His savior happens to be his estranged father, who doesn’t recognize him. What follows is a strange bit of temporary double deception as the father imprisons and repeatedly kills the son as part of his researches into death and resuscitation until the son develops a machine of his own. This doesn’t have the strongest plot and narrating in the first person doesn’t exactly maximize any potential tension (to be fair, I think this was London’s first story or nearly so) but the echoes of the other Shelley and H. G. Wells’ island and, of course, the psychological, even mythical, elements of the story give it quite a bit of power.

Robert Silverberg (1935-01-15)

“To Be Continued” (Astounding, May 1956)

This story’s opening line (abridged) is “Gaius Titus Menenius sat in his apartment on Park Avenue” which is an excellent example of cognitive estrangement (or very mean parents) and it turns out to be the former, as he’s a two-thousand-year-old Roman who ages very, very slowly. But, oh happy day, he learns he’s aged enough to be able to reproduce and goes about trying to do so, with some surprising results which leads to another round of surprise and one more for the kicker. This is probably a pretty good example of Silverberg’s earlier work in that it has a great idea, a slick execution, and an effective ending, though it’s a little sloppy in the details of its premise and doesn’t explore it in the fullness the general concept might merit. Still, it’s a clever tale with some sense of wonder along with some ironic humor.

Clark Ashton Smith (1893-01-13/1961-08-14)

“The Weird of Avoosl Wuthoqquan” (Weird Tales, June 1932)

In this, one of Smith’s Hyperborean tales, we get the story of a money-lender who will spare nothing for a beggar and thus receives his weird from him for free: a doom which the money-lender scoffs at and forgets. Later, the time comes and quite a memorable night it is. The description of its start conveys how Smith’s 11 reverberated long enough for it to still be at least a six by the time it got to Jack Vance:

Avoosl Wuthoqquan sat in a lower chamber of his house, which was also his place of business. The room was obliquely shafted by the brief, aerial gold of the reddening sunset, which fell through a crystal window, lighting a serpentine line of irised sparks in the jewel-studded lamp that hung from copper chains and touching to fiery life the tortuous threads of silver and similor in the dark arrases. Avoosl Wuthoqquan, seated in an umber shadow beyond the aisle of light, peered with an austere and ironic mien at his client, whose swarthy face and somber mantle were gilded by the passing glory.

The form of this baroque tale is similar to many fables of retribution such as the one of Midas but the imaginative content and deft execution set it apart.

Birthday Reviews: Asimov, Breuer, Russell

Exactly one week late with last week’s installment which brings us a feeling of power, a not-so-alternate world of political madness, and a ship which is out of control and set for the heart of the sun!

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Isaac Asimov (1920-01-02/1992-04-06)

“The Feeling of Power” (If, February 1958)

While doing my Asimov Centennial reviews I fell one book short of covering all his pure science-fiction-era books from 1950-1959 when I didn’t get to Nine Tomorrows. This is from that collection, which I hope to review in its entirety soon. In the meantime, this one amusingly turns the notion of technological advance on its head when humans are fighting Deneb with self-programming computers and are at a stalemate until they discover that they can do math themselves with only their brains and paper. This may give them a bizarre edge in the conflict.

It’s an odd story unlike most other stories of the time (including Asimov’s own) in being aware of mechanical miniaturization and is a hair from anticipating Vinge’s Singularity (but misses it completely) and one has to wonder how we lost all records of the principles of multiplication but not all other history (however confused what has been retained may be) and why the technician who rediscovered them by analyzing the working of computers uses base ten instead of two but it’s just always stuck in my head as a remarkable concept and becomes ever more meaningful as I contemplate people someday relearning the concept of paper itself, including reading from it and writing on it (perhaps even in cursive!), and possibly using telephones that do only one thing but do it well: enable (voice!) communication.

Miles J. Breuer (1889-01-03/1945-10-14)

“The Gostak and the Doshes” (Amazing, March 1930)

When I reviewed Great Science Fiction by Scientists on February 13, 2017, I only said this “alternate world story” is “memorable” and “tells of a guy slipping into an earth in which people madly emote over senseless slogans rather than using reason. (These days, this earth feels like the alternate one.) It’s rather lazily plotted but makes up for it with its other excellences.” I think some of those excellences include a powerfully evoked mood of paranoia and the deft deployment of clever satire. Either way, it’s another of those Cassandra stories where, if Cassandra could ever have any effect, we’d be much better off.

Eric Frank Russell (1905-01-06/1978-02-28)

“Jay Score” (Astounding, May 1941)

Moving from Cassandra to Icarus, John W. Campbell’s May 1941 issue of Astounding brought us “Jay Score,” about a Star Trek-like spaceship crew composed of, among others, Martian techs (who would also like to have played chess with Harness’ club last week) and a black doctor. This yarn later became part of Eric Frank Russell’s Men, Martians, and Machines. I enjoyed that book so much that I went looking for more like it, encountering Joseph Green and Stephen Tall. In this episode, a meteor hits the Upsydaisy and ruins her trip to Venus, sending the ship on a crash course for the sun. The only way to survive is to veer slightly to achieve a cometary orbit which will require a pilot on the exposed, boiling bridge, but Jay Score is uniquely suited to trying to pull off the almost impossible feat. Fun stuff.

Birthday Reviews: Harness, Shaw, Willis

I haven’t posted in a while but it’s not because I’m done with the birthday reviews (I started doing them for the week beginning January 25 and won’t have finished the year until I’ve covered things to the end of January 24) but because I’m late. This one was supposed to have been posted around December 26 and have covered the week to January 1 but I didn’t get it done. I so didn’t get it done that I was supposed to have posted another one on Isaac Asimov’s birthday (January 2) that should have covered the week to January 8 but I haven’t done that yet, either. But that’s the holidays (and me) for you. Better late than never and all those other cliches. And happy belated birthday as well to Ellen Datlow (1949-12-31) who published the final story in this group.

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Charles L. Harness (1915-12-29/2005-09-20)

“The Chessplayers” (F&SF, October 1953)

Harness wasn’t the most prolific author but managed quite a bit of variety within that compass. His van Vogtian The Paradox Men was one of the more explosive textual objects I put in my head as a teenager but he can write everything from that to legal dramas to this, which is a short, comical tale of a mere civilian chess club treasurer trying to convince his club of chess nuts to take on a chess-playing rat that has been trained by a professor when he and the rat were in a concentration camp. With perfect political correctness, the leading club members aren’t convinced the rat is skilled enough at chess to merit playing with them.

“But Jim,” I protested. “That isn’t the point at all. Can’t you see it? Think of the publicity…a chess playing rat…!”

“I wouldn’t know about his personal life,” said Jim curtly.

This one’s intrinsically entertaining and funny but also has something to say about different perspectives and perhaps the imminent space race.

Bob Shaw (1931-12-31/1996-02-11)

“Light of Other Days” (Analog, August 1966)

This story (which I can’t help but think of as “Slow Glass” despite its actual title, which is borrowed from Thomas Moore’s 1815 poem, “Oft in the Stilly Night”) is one of those stories like “Flowers for Algernon” which perfectly bridges the “two cultures” of the sciences and humanities with its poet narrator and wife in marital turmoil, a salesman suffering even more, and the brilliant idea of the technology of “slow glass” which can be “ten light years thick” and “in phase” but can also help and hurt the human heart. Just a masterpiece of a story which can’t be missed.

Connie Willis (1945-12-31)

“At the Rialto” (Omni, October 1989)

Not to be mean on what would have been her birthday but not everyone can appeal to everyone, at least not all the time, and I’m not the biggest fan of Connie Willis’ work, generally, but I jumped at the chance to re-read this because I remembered it as being one of the funniest stories I’d ever read. It’s actually not as funny as I remembered, but it’s still pretty funny. In addition to having the humor of this post’s first story, it has the humanity (undergirded with scientific elements) of the second. And while it references things like It Happened One Night, it makes me think more of Preston Sturges’ The Palm Beach Story as it contemplates quantum physics from the perspective of a member of the International Congress of Quantum Physicists while she tries to check into her Hollywood hotel room despite the “help” of Tiffany, the model/actress who’s just working at a hotel to pay for her transcendental posture lessons (and should have been played by Lisa Kudrow), avoid the colleague she’s romantically bound to, and figure out life, the paradigm for understanding the comedy that is our quantum universe, and everything.

Birthday Reviews: Keller, Leiber

There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone. —Rod Serling (1924-12-25/1975-06-28)

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David H. Keller (1880-12-23/1966-07-13)

“The Thing in the Cellar” (Weird Tales, March 1932)

Ever since little Tommy was a baby, he’d reacted strangely to the kitchen of the house his parents had moved into, which was connected to an unusually large cellar, separated by an unusually massive door. Now a boy of six about to go to school, his parents have had enough of his strange and unmanly ways and consult a doctor for advice on what to do about it. Since the boy’s fears are irrational, the doctor decides, his parents should make him confront them so that he can learn that there’s nothing to be afraid of.

This story, though short, is a little long and labored in getting to the point we’re all expecting, but it is a more effective psychological horror story than anything else, as it touches on the horrible things parents and society can do to children… for their own good, of course.[1]

Fritz Leiber (1910-12-24/1992-09-05)

“The Oldest Soldier” (F&SF, May 1960)

Fred’s a liberal who used to be a pacifist but, being a liberal and thus able to see both sides of every issue, he’s become interested in military affairs. He’s become a regular at a liquor store bar where he’s tolerated as the token civilian and has become friends with Max who tells taller tales than even the rest of the ex-soldier regulars—claiming to have been in Napoleonic wars and even Martian ones. But when he and Fred both become aware of a large black shape with glowing red eyes spying on them, they find themselves in a night of terror and Fred develops a new perception of reality in a couple of ways.

While not an award winner and not usually on lists of great stories, so far as I know, this is one of my favorites. Whether Leiber is letting creative whimsy show through when talking about the “screwballistics” of the bar folk, or making the store in Chicago seem vividly real with talk of plate glass windows and Fred’s attempts to rationalize the glowing eyes as reflected tail lights or cigarette butts blown by the wind, or describing the mindless actions Fred takes to control his fear as he tries to wait out an only vaguely understood disaster, all of it works. The narrative which moves deftly from present to past and back more than once also keeps the story taut and moving while allowing room to create depth. The protagonist’s issues with war and peace, bravery and fear, and his night of crisis is compelling of itself even if it weren’t a powerful horror story at the same time.


[1] And I can’t help but think of “I Don’t Wanna Go Down to the Basement” by the Ramones.

Birthday Reviews: Bester, Clarke, Dick, Jackson

Like a wrapped box under the tree, this week’s offerings (or last week’s if you want to get technical) include a seasonal tale secreted among tales of time travel, interstellar exploration, shoes that really go places, and a lottery.

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Alfred Bester (1913-12-18/1987-09-30)

“Of Time and Third Avenue” (F&SF, October 1951)

If you could have one book from the future, what would it be? This story presents one eminently sensible choice which may be surprising to some (I’m probably one of the few people who actually still gets them) and then presents another option which may be even more surprising.

Our very odd hero has to travel back to 1950 to try to convince a young couple to part with a 1990 book they’ve just purchased (without noticing its date) and provides an economical, almost Aesopian fable which is sure to instruct and amuse.

Arthur C. Clarke (1917-12-16/2008-03-19)

“The Star” (Infinity Science Fiction, November 1955)

A Jesuit astrophysicist is part of an exploration team which has come to a supernova remnant and discovered the time capsule an extinct race has left to posterity on what was once their outermost planet. In this concise and efficient but reflective tale, he makes another discovery of his own which tests him sorely. One of the all-time classics that deserves the cliche “I envy those of you who will read this for the first time” though I greatly enjoyed the umpteenth re-read as well.

Philip K. Dick (1928-12-16/1982-03-02)

“The Short Happy Life of the Brown Oxford” (F&SF, January 1954)

Adding to a colorful line of crackpot (or at least slightly squirrelly) scientists and inventors which includes Weinbaum’s Professor van Manderpootz, Kuttner’s Galloway Gallegher, and Leiber’s Dr. Dragonet, Philip K. Dick brings us Doc Labyrinth, developer of the Principle of Sufficient Irritation and inventor of the Animator (and you thought it was a Dutch oven!) which results in our bewildered narrator having one of his shoes baked and that’s only the beginning.

In a way, this fairly early tale has a feel of Dick trying on other people’s stories for size but, in another, it has PKD’s usual cockeyed view of things and his fascination with the animate and inanimate. Either way, this is much lighter than his average tale and is a lot of fun.

Shirley Jackson (1916-12-14/1965-08-08)

“The Lottery” (The New Yorker, June 26, 1948)

The townsfolk have gathered in the square for the annual lottery and all is right with the world on the fine day of June 27th. What is the lottery? Well, a clue is deftly placed early, lighting the fuse without our knowing it, which burns slowly and darkens on the way to its explosive end. This is excellently executed and is thematically akin to the passage I quoted from Brackett in the last birthday review about man, the reasoning being.

Birthday Reviews: Brackett

I only have one author to cover this week but the story is a great novelette in a series of tales by the mistress of Martian magic.

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Leigh Brackett (1915-12-07/1978-03-18)

“The Last Days of Shandakor” (Startling Stories, April 1952)

John Ross, the anthropologist, is on Mars, in a wine shop in Barrakesh, when a stranger enters. Based on the odd reactions of others in the shop to the stranger and the odd appearance of the mostly shrouded man, JonRoss (as the Martians call him) goes to meet the stranger. He learns the stranger has fled from his dying city of Shandakor and now regrets it. With the prospect of discovering an unknown city and achieving fortune and fame, Ross convinces the stranger to return and take Ross with him. Even the feeling that the stranger intends to kill him before they reach Shandakor doesn’t deter him. Along the way, he is indeed forced to fight the stranger whom he has come to know as Corin and then discovers that Corin is not human. Now very afraid but compelled to head towards Shandakor due to a lack of water for a return, he goes forward, only to be waylaid by Martian humans[1] encamped outside the city. They take all his belongings and, when he begs for water, they mockingly tell him he can get water inside. Suspecting he will be killed by the natives of the city, but having no choice, he enters. Despite Corin telling him the city was nearly dead, he finds himself in a sort of “City of Dreadful Night” in which he sees a large population of splendor and power going about their business but can hear nothing except strange laughter and can feel nothing of these apparitions but only stones striking him from out of nowhere. Running wildly, having come to accept the ghosts as given, he’s shocked when he runs into solid beings and is first taken prisoner and then sentenced to death. However, his laughing, rock-throwing tormentor becomes his savior when she pleads for his life and saves her stray dog for the time being. For Ross learns that Shandakor is populated by an ancient race who once ruled Mars. However, they are dying and the barbarian humans outside have cut the city’s water supply. When that runs out, they will commit suicide rather than suffer death at the hands of others. Either way, Ross feels he is doomed. What he continues to learn and his relationship with Duani, the girl who “saved” him, takes up the remainder of the tale.

One of the best things about this tale is the style, which is vigorous and plain, with its abundance of conjunctions and paucity of contractions giving it a stateliness which dovetails with another of the best things about it, which is its powerful sense of time and place. The use of words like “serai” (a Turkish/Persian word) and expressions like “so be it” (a sort of secular “inshallah”) reinforce the Arabian and/or Egyptian feel of this Mars (which may have inspired Cherryh’s wonderful Faded Sun trilogy), though Shandakor is also described as being as beautiful as Athens. More good things include the almost fable-like theme of the delicately proud citizens with their technological fig leaf and the ambitious, avaricious, Pyrrhic protagonist. It might have been better if it had managed in some way to have a more implicit and less explicit conclusion but it’s still strong and the memory of the city, the flight through the silent visions, and the final actions last.

There is one final thing I want to quote in full from this story as a sort of postscript because, reading it, it seemed to have even more resonance than it did the first time I read it. I couldn’t help but think that the humans on Earth in 2016-22 have much in common with the humans on Mars in 2024. Ross is talking with the most prominent citizen of Shandakor and wonders how his people had developed such a powerful society that had lasted for so long. The non-human Martian replies:

“We developed the faculty of reason.”

For a moment I thought he was joking. “Come,” I said, “man is a reasoning being–on Earth the only reasoning being.”

“I do not know of Earth,” he answered courteously. “But on Mars man has always said, ‘I reason. I am above the beasts because I reason.’ And he has been very proud of himself because he could reason. It is the mark of his humanity. Being convinced that reason operates automatically within him he orders his life and his government upon emotion and superstition.

“He hates and fears and believes, not with reason but because he is told to by other men or by tradition. He does one thing and says another and his reason teaches him no difference between fact and falsehood. His bloodiest wars are fought for the merest whim–and that is why we did not give him weapons. His greatest follies appear to him the highest wisdom, his basest betrayals become noble acts–and that is why we could not teach him justice. We learned to reason. Man only learned to talk.”


[1] I can’t remember if these spring from panspermia, convergent evolution, varieties of secret history, or what, but there were or are both ancient races of humans and others on Mars and the younger human race on Earth.

Birthday Reviews: Crowley, Rothman, Taylor

This week: a speculative sandwich with one story partly about how hard it is to hold on and one partly about how hard it is to let go, with a superscience adventure between!

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John Crowley (1942-12-01)

“Snow” (Omni, November 1985)

This opens with Charlie telling us how his deceased wife’s ex-husband bought her a “Wasp” and the contract that goes with it. The Wasp is a recording device designed to follow her around and store eight thousand hours of her life at a repository where she is to be buried and where visitors may come to commune with these recordings. It seems Georgie is older than Charlie but still young when she does die and the body of the story consists of his coming to visit her resting place and his experiences with this technology, as well as his interactions with the director of the place when he encounters problems with the technology. There are a lot of ways such a story could go but the way this one chooses is to be a stylish, dark, philosophical meditation on memory, death, and entropy using literal and technological snow as a symbol and which seems to show the ultimate emptiness of life, the universe, and everything, but which seems to vector toward a zen-like peace which keeps on keeping on. Not my kind of story, but weighty and skillfully done.

Milton A. Rothman (1919-11-30/2001-10-06)

“Heavy Planet” (Astounding, August 1939)

[Adapted from my 2019-10-21 review of The Expert Dreamers.]

Pseudonymous Lee Gregor’s “Heavy Planet” reads a bit like “Hal Clement meets Thunderball.” People are living on a planet with incredible gravity such that steel is almost like kleenex to them. However, they have enemies and need atomic weapons to deal with them so, when an atomic-powered spaceship goes down in the ocean, the protagonist and some of those enemies converge on the wreckage and tense combat ensues. This thrilling tale is simultaneously action- and idea-packed and I enjoyed it a lot.

Lucy Taylor (1951-11-30)

“The Family Underwater” (Close to the Bone, 1993)

This story bristles with sharply horrific phrases jabbing like fire urchin spines and comical ones glinting like bioluminescence in the dark deep. It’s set in a house filled with water in which family members may metamorphose into sea creatures but, for all that, it’s an all-too realistic story of abusive, dysfunctional families, habituation, and, worst of all, how difficult it can be to escape from them even if you’ve left.

Birthday Reviews: Anderson, de Camp, Pohl

Nine months after the cold days of February, three Grand Masters were born on consecutive days (and several other authors were born during this week that, but for time and space, I could have covered—and may some year soon). They give us tales of an interstellar war, an immortal neanderthal, and a very odd couple.

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Poul Anderson (1926-11-25/2001-07-31)

“Time Lag” (F&SF, January 1961)

This may not be among Anderson’s best stories (at one point, a character thinks “a short, dry lecture might soothe” another) but I like it and it’s the one I wanted to re-read this time.

Elva the Vaynamoan is returning home from having been out doing leader-like things in her stable, non-sexist, free, open, healthy, low-population society which preserves the environment of her colonial planet and respects the semi-intelligent natives thereof when a spaceship enters the atmosphere for the first time in centuries. Of course, it turns out that these are invaders from a society that is antithetical to hers in essentially every way and they destroy Elva’s home, kill her husband, and capture her, but fail to shock the Vaynamoans into immediate surrender. The leader of the expedition, Golyev the Chertkoi, takes her back home with him as he readies a second expedition, to be followed by a third intended to finally bring Vaynamo to subjection even though it will take quite some time due to interstellar travel and even longer for the two worlds due to time dilation and the twin paradox. This leads to a pyrotechnic climax in which we learn more about Elva and the Vaynamoans. The story’s full volume is not as simplistic as I’ve boiled it down to and produces an exciting and involving experience.

L. Sprague de Camp (1907-11-27/2000-11-06)

“The Gnarly Man” (Unknown, June 1939)

An anthropologist happens to go to a sideshow where she meets what’s presented as “Ungo-Bungo the ferocious ape-man” but whom she recognizes as (im)possibly something else: a neanderthal. She manages to talk with him and introduce him to some of her fellow scientists, who take varying views of him, while we learn that he was struck by lightning fifty thousand years ago and hasn’t aged since. He’s gone from time and place in various guises and occupations, most recently being Clarence Aloysius Gaffney, sideshow actor. Problems arise when he tries to get some poorly mended broken bones treated and finds a doctor who seems willing to help him, but actually has other ideas.

This reads almost like a sequel to Lester del Rey’s “The Day Is Done” (published a month earlier) if the neanderthal in it thought he was the last one, not knowing that one of his kind had become immortal. On the other hand, it’s almost like a rejoinder in which the pitiable misfit is replaced by an admirable one. It could be more strongly plotted (only having enough to produce some tension and hang the main notion of a modern-day neanderthal on) but it mostly works with good old-fashioned story-telling, with that intriguing central notion, an effective tone and mood, and some nice phrases.

Frederik Pohl (1919-11-26/2013-09-02)

“Day Million” (Rogue, February/March 1966)

Many of today’s readers might be interested in and surprised by this story’s take on non-binary omnisexuality which transcends most of today’s “cutting-edge” but, really, this tale of the love of “Don” and “Dora” is a tour de force of future shock which uses sparkling prose and intense conviction to convey both how far we’ve come and how far we may go. Its six pages are the distilled quintessence of science fiction, itself.