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Stellar 5

Stellar, volume 5

Edited by Judy-Lynn del Rey 

16 Mar, 2009



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Stellar 5

edited by Judy-Lynn del Rey

Del Rey (May 1980)

246 pages ($2.50)

The cover is Darrel K. Sweet illustration for the Hogan story. Not bad, although his spaceships look too slabby for my taste.

The Sword of Damocles” (James P. Hogan)

An evil American President plans to use temporal blackmail and a handy alien artifact to make the future sent energy back to 1996. The future complies for more effectively than he planned for and his evil plans are foiled.

Some daffy bits and who ever heard of a President deciding to screw the future over for a short-term gain? Actually, not too bad, although the subplot about marriage got up my nose.

Chains of Air, Web of Aether” (Philip K. Dick)

A man on an alien planet helps a nearby sick woman at great psychic cost to himself.

Not my thing. Bit of a downer. Science and background are wacky but I know exactly what Dick is getting at here.

Grimm’s Law” (L. Neil Smith)

A really nasty time agent tells a shaggy dog story about linguistics to a man in a bar.

Slight. The main character is a mean, mean bastard who gets some jollies out of letting someone know that a huge explosion is going to kill him too late to let the endochronic do anything about it.

Corpus Cryptic” (Lee Killough)

A very dead body is found and a plucky pathologist figures out how. The ending is a little odd in that while the killer’s identity is fairly obvious, there’s no proof.

Hey! This violated my genre expectations! Reads a bit like half the story, which is a shame because I used to be a big Killough fan (It’s not that I stopped being one but I don’t seem to see new material by her).

Elbow Room” (Marion Zimmer Bradley)

Features an innovative solution to one-person deep space station, sometime before MPD stories became popular (Although after the first famous case, name forgotten).

It was ok.

The Nobel Laureate (Robert H. Curtis)

Helpful beings tinker in human history, bringing Hitler to power and killing the parents of the man who would have cured cancer.

What was the point of this, please?

All That Glitters” (G.C. Edmondson)

A prospector, dying of cancer, helps an alien find fuel for its starship and is cured as a side effect.

Minor, to the point. If anyone has missed Edmondson’s novel about the time traveling ship, I will recommend it now (Ship That Sailed the Time Stream , I think).

[I wonder how that novel stands up]

The Subtle Serpent” (Charles Sheffield)

Humans marooned on a terrestrial planet must figure out why the local aliens are limited in the geographical range over which they are intelligent.

I liked this when I read it but, gee, the alien biology is very, very terrestrial. Can’t think why that didn’t distract me in the early 1980s. Still, some interesting ideas.

I liked this collection better than the last two but it’s nothing breath taking.