1955


Time Patrol: Classic time travel stories by Poul Anderson

Time Patrol by Poul Anderson

Between 1955 and 1995 Poul Anderson published a series of short stories, novelettes, novellas, and novels, about the Time Patrol, a secret group of people from all over the world whose job is to protect the world history we know. They jump up and down the timeline, making sure that terrorists and other disruptors don’t use time travel to remake history to suit their own malign purposes. Or any purposes, actually. Their goal is to keep history the same, even with all its evils, so as not to accidentally wipe out human civilization so that we can eventually evolve into the Danellians, a post-human species that is highly invested in making sure history doesn’t change.

Though there are many Time Patrol agents, the one we see most often in these stories is Manse Everard, an American man who was recruited by the Tim... Read More

The Chrysalids: Forbidden post-apocalyptic telepaths

The Chrysalids by John Wynhdam

It’s no wonder that David dreams of a distant and wondrous city at night: life in the post-apocalyptic settlement, Waknuk, is difficult. Waknuk’s people are descended from the survivors of the Tribulation, which everyone knows was sent by God to punish the Old People. Though David and his community are lucky to have any land to live on, they must always guard against Deviations — in their crops, in their livestock, and in their children.

Deviations are not made in God’s True Image. Children that, say, have six toes, have the Devil in them, so they are either destroyed or else sent to the Fringes after they are sterilized. Though these exiles may later return as raiders, life in Waknuk is — if not always peaceful — still much better than life in the Badlands.

David Strorm may not care that deeply about Purity and maintaining God’s True Image, but his father, Joseph, cares ... Read More

The End of Eternity: A retro time-traveling tale

The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov

Re-reading a favorite book from your teenage years is always a risky endeavor. I've been dismayed by how often my youthful memories are tarnished by a re-read, and I end up wondering if my taste as a young adult was all in my mouth.

But I couldn't resist trying The End of Eternity (1955) by Isaac Asimov again, partly because I remembered liking it so well as a teenager, but my memories of it were so extremely hazy (for the longest time, until a Google search saved me, I couldn't even remember the title of the book, it was just "that really cool Asimov time-traveling book" in my head). So I bought a used copy, got a few chuckles out of the 1970s sci-fi cover and how short novels used to be (192 pages here), and settled down to read.

Andrew Harlan is one of the so-calle... Read More

The Long Tomorrow: Leigh Brackett’s magnum opus

The Long Tomorrow by Leigh Brackett

If indeed social movements occur in cycles that over time have a net result of zero, what then is the value of scientific pursuit? If humanity will inevitably revert to primitivism, of what use is maneuvering toward that fuzzy idea of ‘civilization’? Is it just to give us something to do with our time on Earth? Is it an innate, unavoidable aspect of being human we should shun? Is it just false hope? Or, is there a light at the end of the tunnel? These questions and more Leigh Brackett examines in her oft-overlooked 1955 magnum opus The Long Tomorrow. A simple tale, it nevertheless lays bare one of the most fundamental questions we face: to what goal should humanity strive?

Post apocalypse, The Long Tomorrow posits an America where technologically advanced civilizat... Read More

The Halfling and Other Stories: Eight marvelous tales from the “Queen of Space Opera”

The Halfling and Other Stories by Leigh Brackett

The Halfling and Other Stories gathers together eight tales, of varying lengths, that Leigh Brackett, the so-called “Queen of Space Opera,” wrote between the years 1943 and ’57. The collection initially appeared as an Ace paperback in ’73, but it was the second edition, released in ’83, that this reader was fortunate enough to lay his hands on. This is a generous collection of over 300 pages of Brackett’s work, and for the most part, the stories reveal Brackett at the very peak of her form.

The anthology, however, does not begin with its strongest selections. “The Halfling” itself, a novelette (7,500 - 17,500 words) that first appeared in the February ’43 issue of Astonishing Stories, is a minor but colorful tale that conflates both the world... Read More

Invasion of the Body Snatchers: Book vs. film

Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Jack Finney

Although Don Siegel’s 1956 film Invasion of the Body Snatchers has long been a favorite of this viewer — it is, most assuredly, one of the genuine sci-fi champs of the 1950s — it was only very recently that I finally got around to reading Jack Finney’s source novel. The occasion was Simon & Schuster’s 2015 release of the book’s 60th anniversary edition, with a most interesting foreword by author Dean Koontz. Actually, Finney’s novel had originally appeared serially in 1954 in Collier’s, a “slick” magazine of that era (as opposed to a “pulp” magazine), under the shorter title The Body Snatchers — the Milwaukee-born author was 43 at the time — and in book form the following year. The Siegel film, apparently, lengthened the title so as to avoid confusion with the 1945 Boris Karloff film The Body Snatcher Read More

Men, Martians and Machines: Proto-“Trek”

Men, Martians and Machines by Eric Frank Russell

More than four decades before Capt. Jean-Luc Picard and his mixed crew of Earthlings, aliens and android made their initial appearance in Star Trek: The Next Generation, English author Eric Frank Russell was charming readers with his tales of a similarly composed starship crew. Russell (1905 – ’78) had been a contributor to John W. Campbell’s seminal Astounding Science-Fiction magazine since 1937, when it was simply called Astounding Stories (Campbell would, years later, name Russell as his favorite science fiction author, which is quite a statement, considering all the many great writers whom editor Campbell fostered during the genre’s Golden Age!), and in 1941 contributed the first of four stories that would ultimately be collected into the volume appropriately titled Men, Martians and Machines. The collection was init... Read More

Earthlight: Imaginative descriptions of life on the moon

Earthlight by Arthur C. Clarke

Arthur C. Clarke is one of the most influential writers of science fiction. His quiet optimism, faith in science, and ability to tell straightforward but intriguing tales endeared him to a generation of fans that continues to this day. Earthlight, his sixth published novel, follows directly on the heels of his successful Childhood’s End, and though rather simplistic in presentation, adheres to the author’s style in perfect fashion.

Earthlightis the story of Bertram Sadler, an undercover agent for the CIA sent to the moon to ferret out a suspected spy. Though dependent on Earth for all of their metals, several of the solar system’s planets have been inhabited and are united under the banner of The Federation. Tungsten, uranium, and the like are all in short supply and prices on Earth determine much of the solar system’s economics. A rebellion is fomenting in the f... Read More

Solar Lottery: PKD’s debut novel

Solar Lottery by Philip K. Dick

Although the Philip K. Dick novel Solar Lottery is correctly cited as being the writer's first full-length piece of fiction to see the light of day, it was hardly the first time the budding author saw his name in print. The 26-year-old Dick had already seen some 35 short science fiction stories published between 1952 and 1953, beginning with his first sale, "Beyond Lies the Wub," in the July 1952 issue of Planet Stories; he would see 27 stories go into print in 1953 alone! In addition, Dick, who only turned to science fiction when his several mainstream novels remained unpublished, had no less than four such works languishing in his files at home by 1955, including Gather Yourselves Together (written in 1949) and Voices From the Street (1952), not to mention his fantasy novel A Glass of Darkness (released in 1956 as The Cosmic Puppets).

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