Saturday, September 17, 2011

Tales of the Future

Bodyguard and Four Other short Science Fiction Novels From Galaxy 

"When I talk of the purpose of life, I am thinking not only of human life, but of all life on Earth and of the life which must exist upon other planets throughout the universe. It is only of life on Earth, however, that one can speak with any certainty. It seems to me that all life on Earth, the sum total of life upon the Earth, has purpose. If the means were available, we could trace our ancestry -- yours and mine -- back to the first blob of life-like material that came into being on the planet. The same thing could be done for the spider that spun his web in the grass, and of the grass in which the web was spun, the bird sitting in the tree and the tree in which he sits, the toad waiting for the fly beneath the bush, and for the fly and bush. We are all genetic brothers. The chain of life, tracing back to that primordial day of life's beginning, is unbroken..."  
-  Clifford Simak *

Reading science fiction was one of my favorite past-times when I was a teenager in high school. It remains one of my favorite genres for reading to this day. Back in the mid sixties I devoured a variety of science fiction, but this collection of short novels remains etched in my memory better than most of those I read -- especially the robot story "How-2". This was a startlingly funny tale of how one regular Joe, named Gordon Knight, ordered a do-it-yourself mechanical dog kit from How-2 Kits, Inc. and received instead a Robot kit. 
The sixties was the era of do-it-yourself kits and build-your-own train sets so this story was one that really hit close to home for a thirteen-year-old boy. The complications from the mistake of sending a robot instead of a mechanical dog are compounded in the story to the point of near chaos that is more humorous and fascinating than most other stories I have ever read. It is not surprising that the story was written by Clifford Simak, one of the elder statesmen of modern science fiction who was named a "Grand Master" by the Science Fiction Writers of America. The remaining stories in this collection do not disappoint as the volume also contains a classic tale of psychological intrigue by Frederick Pohl. While it may be difficult to find this volume it is worth the search to read these tales of the future.

*quote from Simak's interview in Speaking of Science Fiction: The Paul Walker Interviews 1978. Oradell, New Jersey: Luna Publications

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parrish lantern said...

was also a great fan of Science Fiction & fantasy when younger, occasionally dip a toe into that world now, including an Anthology recommended to me & I wrote A post on last year - The Secret History of Science Fiction.

James said...

Thanks for the comment and recommendation.