Stellar, volume 3
By Judy-Lynn del Rey
edited by Judy-Lynn del Rey
Del Rey (October 1977)
244 pages ($1.95)
Man, look at those prices rocket up…
Cover art by Darrell Sweet, who seems to have gotten out all the pastels for this one. Illustrates a scene from “Chasing Shadows”.
“No Hiding Place” (Jack Chalker)
A human scientist is chased through time by an evil alien with big claws. Many people die in an apparently haunted house. Eventually, the alien is vanquished and the scientist’s data recovered.
Very pulpy. Sort of stupid. Chalker at his best.
Salty’s Sweep (Arson Darnay)
Centuries in the future, long after a major nuclear war, an ambitious religious man heads out to find sufficiently nifty relics of the time before the war to ensure his passage up the church hierarchy. Since the church, for reasons related to unethical application of research into reincarnation back in the 20th century, worships and protect radioactive waste there’s always room for promotion at the top as cancer and radiation disease thins out the herd. Salty is lucky; he finds an installation which pours the technological information of the 20th century into his head. The builders of the installation are unlucky; Salty has no plans to share the information freely and will destroy all the other installations of this type.
A decent enough Darnay. Wonder what ever happened to him? This story probably explains where the tech for the Structures in A Hostage for Hinterland came from.
“The Book of Padraig” (Mildred Downey Broxon)
A dying alien from a long-lived species returns to Earth to give back a book he got from an Irish monk.
I hate to keep saying this but Not My Thing. The writing was alright with an atmosphere of melancholy and loss.
“When You Wish Upon A Star” (Gene DeWeese)
The story of a fraudulent FTL starship program and how it all worked out in the end.
Well, I didn’t like the con game aspect of The Quiet Pools either but the author of that (Kube-McDowell) didn’t give his characters a cheap save. Bah. Wishing doesn’t make it so. There’s an entire genre of ‘we faked the data but the device works anyway’ crap in SF. I blame John W. Campbell for this trend.
“An Error in Punctuation” (B. Lee Cooper & Larry S. Haverkos)
A psychiatric AI follows the instructions of two patients and still manages to trash their marriage, because while one patient orders the machine to increase the sex drive of the other patient, the other patient is ordering the machine to decrease the first patient’s sex drive.
Another fairly stupid story. The problem with the situation is that whoever programed the AI has no grasp of medical ethics. Why the heck would the machine follow instructions from one patient to brainwash another one? Plus, people who’d fiddle with someone else’s sex drive without permission probably should not be married to anyone.
Now, if the problem had been a watch-chain, combs attempt by the patients to modify themselves to be more compatible, that probably wouldn’t have irritated me so much.
“The People Who Could Not Kill” (Bill Starr)
Short piece about a spaceman who kills some pacifistic aliens and spends his life trying to make up for his crime, only to learn that the only service he can supply them is as executioner.
Short, to the point, minor.
“We Hold These Rights” (Henry Melton)
A discussion concerning the degree to which rights are innate, with explosions and bafflegab science in.
Minor, stretched out because the dissenting character is inarticulate in presenting his case.
“Chasing Shadows” (Charles W. Runyon)
People doomed by a starship mishap flip into alternate characters in a different universe.
What was the point of this story, again?
“Auk House” (Clifford D. Simak)
A man is shanghaied to a house on an Earth where humans never evolved. He somehow escapes the trap to confront the misguided capitalists who use their new inter-world technology for personal gain and non-lethal social engineering and discovers that there are other intelligences which have no plans to let the capitalists strip-mine the multiverse.
I once had what I thought was a neat, original idea, inspired by the behavior of my brother’s Belgian Shepherd but the idea of a carnivore turned to obligate herder shows up in this story. Bugger. I know I read this one, too. Aside from that aspect (And it isn’t like my crappy memory is Simak’s problem) this was a little too long but ok.
Over all, a disappointing collection. Some flabby writing, some demented ethics and over reliance on wish fulfillment.