Here's another short science fiction story I've written. This is its first public showing. If you like this, then try my first story, here. If you want to try some more science fiction short stories, then this looks like a very good place to start. The book at the link has stories from many of the masters of science fiction, and you will be able to try many different writing styles, and see which ones you like.
Tales of Known Space is another book I’ve had for a long time, and I most likely bought it in 1975 when I’d first started work aged sixteen and had a bit of money to spend.
That means I probably bought it from W.H. Smith in Buckingham, (still there) or Weatherhead’s book shop (now long gone) in Aylesbury. These were the two nearest biggish towns to me then. I found all sorts of new and used gems in Weatherheads, which had tall, packed shelves and piles of books on the floor.
I think this is one of the first of many books I bought written by Larry Niven, and his novel Ringworld was another. (See below)
I spent this early May Bank Holiday weekend on a campsite, on the South coast of the Isle of Wight. I took a couple of books with me. One was A Clockwork Orange, and this is from the back cover:
“Fifteen-year-old Alex and his three friends start an evening’s mayhem by hitting an old man, tearing up his books and stripping him of money and clothes.
“Or rather Alex and his three droogs tolchock an old Veck, razrez his books, pull off his outer platties and take a malenky bit of cutter”
“For Alex’s confessions are written in ‘nadsat’ - the teenage argot of a not too distant future
"Horror Farce? Social prophecy? Penetrating study of human choice between good and evil? A Clockwork Orange is all three”
A Clockwork Orange was first published in 1962, but this is a 1973 copy. I’ve read it before and read it again over the weekend; I recommend it.
My other book was John Buchan’s The Power-house. It’s an adventure set in London from 105 years ago; rather a different sort of tale from the unpleasant activities of Alex and his contemporaries, and that's why I chose these books as a pair.
The Powerhouse is an anarchist’s organisation, and yes, that is a contradiction in terms, but it's a criticism of anarchists, not of this book.
Published first in serial form in Blackwood’s Magazine in December 1913, it was written before Buchan’s much more well known The Thirty-Nine Steps, but was first published as a book nearly a year later in 1916.
In the end I didn’t read it, choosing Castle For Rent by John DeChancie instead. This was a much better counterpoint to Burgess’s book. Castle Perilous is a gigantic castle where magic works, and there are portals to thousands of other realities and worlds. It’s a scifi/swords and sorcery novel.This is the first edition, 1989.
It’s okay, but light fantasy isn’t my thing and I think his science fiction Skyway trilogy is rather better.
Piece of Cake is Australian Geoff Taylor’s own story of being a pilot with Bomber Command. He is shot down over Germany, wanders alone across the country, is captured, attempts to escape, and eventually gets released at the end of the war. First published 1955, this is a 1957 edition.
Dare to be Free is by a New Zealander, W.B. “Sandy” Thomas. During the airborne invasion of Crete, he is seriously injured and captured. He makes several unsuccessful escape attempts until he gets away and hides amongst the monks of Mount Athos, a peninsula in Greece. First published in 1951, this edition is from 1955.
There’s a picture of a hand waving the Greek flag, pasted opposite the title page. I believe this was put in by a previous owner.
I’m back home now, tired but refreshed.
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, The Powerhouse by John Buchan, Castle for Rent by John DeChancie, Piece of Cake by Geoff Taylor, Dare to be Free by W.B. Thomas.
Robert Anson Heinlein, (1907-1988) is widely acclaimed as “The Dean of Science Fiction”. A title he richly deserved, after 48 years of high quality imaginative writing.
In more recent times Heinlein has been accused of being sexist or mysogynist but these claims are groundless. Both male and female characters are treated equally; as well rounded individuals with individual differences in character and capabilities.
As in real life, they have their faults too. This isn’t sexist! Indeed, several of his novels have strong female lead characters; there’s the eponymous Poddie Fries in Podkayne of Mars, Friday Jones in Friday and Maureen Johnson in To Sail Beyond The Sunset.
Characters and events in books do not necessarily reflect the author’s beliefs and own character, folks! Only if you believe that the only purpose of writing fiction is to impose your political views on others could you imagine that is the case.
Not a murderer
This is not the same as exploring ideas about characters and doesn’t mean that Heinlein does not expouse his ideas in his work; just that you can’t make a blanket assertion about all he or anyone else writes.
Portraying a criminal or murderer doesn’t mean that the writer believes in law breaking and killing anyone who gets in their way, or every crime writer in the world would need to go to jail)
Let’s take a look at these books: