Archive for the ‘Science Fiction’ Category

“Medal of Honor” ends, as our protagonist makes a few important realizations and does something about them.

Part 4.


I have to say that this is one of those stories with a great start and then… Mack installs some Mack truck-sized plot holes toward the end. The ending requires touching faith in legalities and a total disregard of how economics works, as well as convenient weakness and strength on the part of certain characters. (Frankly, there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t disappear a guy who’s been drunk off his butt for a good six months, and every reason why villains would have made contingency plans.) I think the basic problem is that Reynolds created novel-sized problems in a short story, so he chose to end it by authorial fiat; and the magazine editors decided they were fine with that. But hey, it’s entertainment. You’re happy to see a happy ending, and the editors are happy to have a story of no more than the required length.


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“Medal of Honor” continues, as our protagonist lives the life of the hero he’s not. But he’s starting to figure out that he may not have made a good bargain.

Part 3.


This story’s only got one or two parts to go.

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“Medal of Honor” continues, as our protagonist learns what kind of future has been planned for him.

Part 2.


Is it me, or are there a lot of emo commanding officers in military SF from the sixties and seventies?

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“Medal of Honor” is an interesting story. I’m afraid that the first part is rather short, but it seemed a logical stopping point. (And I’m still babying my voice.)

Mack Reynolds was an extremely prolific author who was very popular back in the fifties, sixties and early seventies. (He apparently was a member of the Socialist Labor Party, which surprises me. I always thought he was an early libertarian or something. Well, I’m no pundit.) Anyway, he always struck me as a very Western-ornery sort of writer, and he wrote a lot of military and political sf. It was fairly obvious that he loved throwing what-ifs into the speculation blender. Today he’s almost totally forgotten by younger sf readers, except for his 1968 Star Trek kids’ novel, which was recently reprinted at John Ordover’s behest. (A very nice behest.) I don’t think any of his books were precisely great, but they were all pretty good reads.

Part 1.


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“Shipwreck in the Sky” is a fun little near-future story of a pioneering Air Force space test pilot. Originally published in March 1954 in Fantastic Universe, you’ll find that it did a pretty good job of predicting how space would be. But then, it throws in a little twist…. 🙂

I’m not sure Binder captures the military on a mission/flight control mindset quite as well as he could have (unless you imagine the Colonel as being actually extremely stoic in his replies, in which case it does make sense). I’m afraid I didn’t quite capture the pilot voice correctly, though, so we’re even. (Maybe I need to rewatch The Right Stuff, to get in touch with my inner Chuck Yeager.)

“Shipwreck in the Sky”


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“Morale” continues, as Sergeant Walpole comes up with a plan, and Murray Leinster anticipates the feelings of many television viewers. (Really, an impressive act of extrapolation, in a story published in December 1931.)

Part 5.


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“Morale” continues, as Sergeant Walpole takes a midnight ride into a battlefield.

Part 4.


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“Morale” continues the saga of man vs. supermonstertank in the East Coast’s countryside. Sergeant Walpole continues his dogged attempts to report in, and my brother’s new kitchen appliances become relevant to the plot.

Part 3


Another fascinating thing about old science fiction is the stark contrast between when people understood the uses of technology (and therefore thought its application was sure to be widespread in ten years), and when the technology actually became practical and widely adopted. Sometimes it just takes a while.

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“Morale” continues. Somebody doesn’t like people watching them. Not at all.

Part 2.


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“Morale” is another military sf story by Murray Leinster. This one first appeared in the December 1931 issue of Astounding, and is set ten years later than “Tanks”, though apparently in the same universe.

We’re apparently still fighting the Japanese, too, though I still doubt that anybody Asian would be using the yellow imperial color for an ordinary flag. (Well, it’s not something most people would think about, and it worked as shorthand for his audience.) But really, the identity of the enemy doesn’t seem to have been all that important to either story, which is odd for the days of the “Yellow Peril” showing up tons in sf. (And really, that’s not fair. Japan was building up its military strength all during the early twentieth century, which was why military guys worried about it. It may have fed into racist fears, but Japanese militarism and expansionist imperialism was real.) As would become characteristic of Leinster, even when you meet the enemy face-to-face in “Tanks”, the enemy is made up of ordinary guys. Whatever causes the horrific nature of war, Leinster seems pretty clear that it’s not a matter of furriners being furrin. This makes his characters’ moral outrage at the events in “Morale” more effective, I think.

This story is divided up into eight short episodic parts by Leinster, with little fake quotes from his alternate universe’s histories to head each one. (We fans eat that stuff up. At least, I do.) So I’m recording it according to his scheme. It should make a nice set of short listens for people.

Part 1.


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“Tanks” continues, as the general waits for the infantry to report, and Sgt. Coffee and Cpl. Wallis find out some things he’d be interested to know. But they’ll have to report them first….

Part 2.


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“Song in a Minor Key” is the last of the Northwest Smith stories, and probably the shortest. Still, I feel fortunate and honored to present this little tale that’s slipped into the public domain. Enjoy!

“Song in a Minor Key”


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“A Question of Courage” concludes with a big space navy war bang.

(There’s a bit of unnecessary info-dump, which makes me wonder if this is part of an idea for one of Bone’s novels. I’m not sure if we’re meant to take the political backstory seriously, or assume that Things Are Hinky. I personally go with the hinky, especially since Bone is tricky like that in his novel The Lani People.)

“A Question of Courage”, Part 2.


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From the author of The Lani People and “Pandemic” (and a book on animal physiology), we now get a space Navy story ripped from the pages of the December 1960 issue of Amazing Stories“A Question of Courage”.

Imagine you’re an officer newly assigned to a ship in wartime. As soon as you get there, you sense something wrong….

Part 1


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Since there’s no super-cool fannish letter column yet in this, the second issue of the magazine ever, and since I do not really feel like reading the huge amount of copy included in a typical 1930’s magazine ad — of which there are a gazillion in the issue — this is the end of my audiobook version of the February 1930 issue of Astounding Stories of Super-Science. “The Thief of Time” has a nice solid ending, and I think you’ll find it satisfying. If you like Carnes and Bird, Meek wrote a whole series of stories for them, all of which appeared in the Bates-edited Astounding.

Sterner St. Paul Meek really did achieve the rank of Captain in WWI; he eventually became a colonel in the US Army. (Hence the “U.S.A.” after his name in some of his bylines.) You can find bibliographies of his works at ISFDB and Fictionmags.

Since track is mentioned, I think it fitting to wish my dad, a former track coach (though he never goes on the Internet) a happy birthday, and many returns of the day. I should also assure everyone that my dad hadn’t been born yet when this issue hit the drugstores!

“The Thief of Time”, Part 2.


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