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Literature

From Lint’s Library

End As A World

by F. L. (Floyd L.) Wallace

11 minute read

Prophets aplenty foretold the end—but not one ever guessed just how it would come about! Every paper said so in all the languages there were, I guess. I kept reading them, but didn't know what to believe. I know what I wanted to think, but that's different from actually knowing. There was the usual news just after Labor Day. The Dodgers were winning or losing, I forget which, and UCLA was strong and was going to beat everybody they met that fall. An H-bomb had been tested in the Pacific, blowing another island off the map, just as if we had islands to spare. Ordinarily this was important, but now it wasn't. They put stuff like this in the back pages and hardly anybody reads it. There was only one thing on the front pages and it was all people talked about. All I talked about, anyway. It began long...

What Do You Read?

by Boyd Ellanby

21 minute read

By Boyd Ellanby Illustrated by Malcolm Smith Writers have long dreamed of a plot machine, but the machines in Script-Lab did much more than plot the story—they wrote it. Why bother with human writers when the machines did the job so much faster and better? Herbert would have preferred the seclusion of a coptor-taxi, but he knew he could not afford it. The Bureau paid its writers adequately, but not enough to make them comfortable in taxis. In front of his apartment house, he took the escalator to the Airway. It must have been pleasant, he thought as he stepped onto the moving sidewalk, to be a writer in the days when they were permitted to receive royalties and, presumably, to afford taxi fare. On the rare occasions when he was forced to travel in the city, he usually tried to insulate himself from the Airway crowds by trying to...

Hold Back Tomorrow

by Kris Neville

18 minute read

"Hello, Margy," he said bashfully when he came upon her standing beside the low, white stone wall which surrounded the schoolyard, isolating it from the carefully landscaped forest and lakes beyond. "Hello, Clyde." "How are you today, Margy?" "I'm fine, Clyde. How are you?" "I'm fine, Margy.... Mind if I sit down here?" Feeling a little flutter of unnamed fear, she cried, "Go ahead. I don't own the wall." Clyde put his hands behind him, found the top of the wall, and drew himself up until he could sit on the stones. He looked down at her, his chin level with her brown curls; he looked as if he had half expected her to turn and walk away, and when she did not, he smiled uncertainly. The fear gone, now, she tilted her head and looked at him out of the corner of her eyes, once again the conscious master...

Lonesome Town

by E. S. (Ethel Smith) Dorrance

24 minute read

The trail spilled into a pool of shadows at the bottom of the gorge. As if doubtful of following it, the lone rider in chaps and a flannel shirt drew up for a “breathing.” This was gratefully advantaged by his mount. Evidently they had come at speed, whatever the distance, for the reins were lathered and foam flecked the bit corners. The man removed his white sombrero and mopped his brow with a purple bandanna. The fingers with which he combed back his moist thatch nicely matched the hair in color—sunburn brown. His head bulged slightly at the back, but was balanced on a neck and shoulders splendidly proportioned. His rather plain face was not covered with stubble or mustache—cheek bones high, jaw sloping in at an angle, nose straight, lips thin by contrast with their width. While he rests in his saddle, every pore of him exuding healthfully to...

Dalrymple's Equation

by Paul W. Fairman

20 minute read

Illustrated by W. E. Terry It's the not knowing that gets you. The wondering. Thinking sometimes one way and sometimes the other. But never knowing for sure. Being suckered is bad enough but wondering whether you've been suckered is rougher. Or whether you've let the biggest thing since fingerprints slide right by you. Someday the case may be solved. Then we'll know for sure—one way or the other—Donovan and I. What case? Wait 'til I tell you. It won't take long. The thing started with as crazy a murder as two Homicide cops ever got called in on. In a bar on Tenth Avenue near Grand—you probably know the place and you probably read about the case. It was in all the papers. But the whole story never saw print. We were rung into it by a call from the squad car boys who got there first. We walked in...

Final Glory

by Henry Hasse

9 minute read

N'Zik was a forlorn and weary figure at the forward port. He balanced his frail, bulbous body on four of his eight limbs, while the other four moved listlessly over the etheroscope, adjusting sights and lenses. N'Zik wondered dully why he bothered. Even from here he could see that the system looking ahead, the dull reddish Sun with its wild and darksome planets, was not for them. Bitterness flooded his soul. To have come so far and searched so long, only to find this! In all this Galaxy here was the one Sun that sustained a planetary system, and that Sun was dying! The irony was more than he could bear. Shi-Zik came to stand beside him. Only she and N'Zik were left, of all the thousands; two alone on this driving colossus which was the only world they had ever known. She sensed his bitterness now and tried to...

The Builders

by Fox B. Holden

16 minute read

Markten flew low over the sun-lit ruins, and wondered idly if he would find any more in them than he had found elsewhere on the planet. "Looks as completely dead as all the rest," he said to his companion. "New City has a big enough population anyhow, as far as I'm concerned. Not that it's important, I suppose. There's always plenty of space in which to expand, but you know what I mean." The younger occupant of the low-circling aircraft nodded his understanding. "There'd be enough room on either side of the Big Mountains to take care of millions more of us, I guess. But I think you're right. Anyway, there isn't another nomad or ruin-dweller on the planet. New City is as complete as it's going to be—and as you say, twelve million is enough. But do you think we'll find any more plans down there?" "Hard to say,"...

A Gift From Earth

by Manly Banister

25 minute read

Except for transportation, it was absolutely free ... but how much would the freight cost? "It is an outrage," said Koltan of the House of Masur, "that the Earthmen land among the Thorabians!" Zotul, youngest of the Masur brothers, stirred uneasily. Personally, he was in favor of the coming of the Earthmen to the world of Zur. At the head of the long, shining table sat old Kalrab Masur, in his dotage, but still giving what he could of aid and comfort to the Pottery of Masur, even though nobody listened to him any more and he knew it. Around the table sat the six brothers—Koltan, eldest and Director of the Pottery; Morvan, his vice-chief; Singula, their treasurer; Thendro, sales manager; Lubiosa, export chief; and last in the rank of age, Zotul, who was responsible for affairs of design. "Behold, my sons," said Kalrab, stroking his scanty beard. "What are...

The Contact Point

by Jack Sharkey

15 minute read

Lieutenant Lloyd spotted the first alien in the ruins of the strange red Martian city on the second day of exploration. His first impulse was to call out to the other men—but then, afraid his voice would startle the creature down at the end of the rubble-strewn street, he silently unholstered his military service pistol and crept forward toward the back (he hoped it was the back) of the alien, his breath rasping behind his faceplate. He was a mere ten paces short of his goal when loose gravel beneath his heavy boot betrayed him. Even in the thin Martian atmosphere, the sound was a sharp one. The creature spun about, one appendage gripping the haft of a slim crystal tube. He froze there, watching Lloyd with odd oval-shaped eyes, yellow-orange in color. Lloyd's thumb slid back the safety catch on his automatic, slowly, carefully. Then the creature lowered the...

Referent

by Ray Bradbury

13 minute read

Roby Morrison fidgeted. Walking in the tropical heat he heard the wet thunder of waves on the shore. There was a green silence on Orthopedic Island. It was the year 1997, but Roby did not care. All around him was the garden where he prowled, all ten years of him. This was Meditation Hour. Beyond the garden wall, to the north, were the High I.Q. Cubicles where he and the other boys slept in special beds. With morning they popped up like bottle-corks, dashed into showers, gulped food, and were sucked down vacuum-tubes half across the island to Semantics School. Then to Physiology. After Physiology he was blown back underground and released through a seal in the great garden wall to spend this silly hour of meditative frustration, as prescribed by the island Psychologists. Roby had his opinion of it. "Damned silly." Today, he was in furious rebellion. He glared...

House Operator

by Randall Garrett

11 minute read

Rafferty was a gambler of the old school. He didn't believe in any of the fancy electronic gadgets that the casinos went in for these days, didn't much care for the psionic games of chance and other tricky and probably rigged affairs. Give him a good poker game any time, and he would be happy. He stood in the door of the Ganymede Casino, outlining himself against the gaudy lights flashing within, standing there patiently. Inside, the rich and would-be rich of a dozen planets were enjoying themselves, playing the brightly-lit games and throwing money around in handfuls. Rafferty waited for some attention. His hand slid to the bulky roll in his pocket—one hundred hundred-credit bills, 10,000 smackers in all. It was all Rafferty had. He was here to triple it, or else. Tomorrow 30,000 had to be handed over to Lee Walsh. It was the result of the one...

Ordeal In Space

by Ralph Sloan

22 minute read

A needle gun pointed through the cell bars at the hulking form of Edward Snyder, his blue-furred Moon mimic squirming on his lap. Behind it were the cold hands, cropped black hair, and bloodless face of Lt. Mike Logan. It had taken him three hours to slide past the guards of the transient prison. He would leave with the same efficient caution. But first he had to kill! Snyder looked up and saw him. The flabby face twisted cynically. "Something personal, Lieutenant, or does the gun make it official?" "Ask your questions in hell," Logan grated. His angular length was bent; gray eyes bloodshot and he fought to keep them open. After two months of tramping over Pluto's ice cliffs, he had returned to Jupiter to find the odor of death and no rest. A savage desire for revenge had driven him on until now he stood staring almost unseeingly...

In The Dead Of Night

by John T. (John Thomas) McIntyre

7 minute read

Kenyon ate the good little German dinner which the Berlin always served, and looked amusedly out upon Broadway. “Apparently it’s the same old town,” said he. “A little more light, a few more people; but the same cocksureness, the same air of being the goal of all human effort.” With a smile, he lay back in his chair and watched the tide ebbing along. It was a November night and the pulse of Broadway beat heavily: the stream of life that flowed through the great artery was as flippant and as garish as a vaudeville. An orchestra was drooning behind some palms in the Berlin; it played one of those Indian things, filled with the throb of tom-toms and unusual combinations of tone. But Kenyon listened inattentively. He ate the last morsel of his dessert with satisfaction, and drained the last drop of wine with appreciation; then he turned once...

Slaughter On Dornell IV

by Randall Garrett

11 minute read

Larry Filmore stared at his beer and mentally roasted his fight manager for the fiftieth time. Human beings were supposed to be the toughest race that the Galaxy had ever spawned, but as a fighter, Larry didn't put too much faith in the theory. He had fought a good many races throughout the Galaxy, and, although he had always come out the winner, he had plenty of scars to show for it. He looked around the bar. It was full of various beings, none of them human except himself. What am I doing here? he asked himself. I'm sitting in a cheap little bar on Dornel IV, waiting for a Dornellian fighter to kill me tomorrow. But there was no way out of it, Filmore thought bitterly. Blackmer, his manager, had the whole thing sewed up. Larry had found out, three months before, that Blackmer was cheating him—but that had...

Walls Of Acid

by Henry Hasse

18 minute read

Braanol stirred, throbbed sluggishly once, then lay quiescent as his mental self surged up from the deeps of non-entity. And gradually he came to know that someone had entered the room. His room , far beneath the city. Now he could feel the vibra-currents through the liquids of the huge tanks where he had lain somnolent for untold aeons. It was pleasant, caressing. For a moment he floated there, enjoying to the utmost this strange sensation as the renewed thought-life-force set his every convolution to pulsing. "To be once more aware! O gloriously aware!" the thought came fierce and vibrant. "Once more they have wakened me—but how long has it been?" Then curiously: "And what can they want this time?" The huge brain was alert now, with a supernal sense of keening. Tentatively he sent out a thought-potential that encompassed the room. "They are afraid!" he sensed. "Two have entered...

The Unthinking Destroyer

by Rog Phillips

14 minute read

Gordon and Harold both admitted the possibility of thinking entities other than human. But would they ever recognize the physical form of some of these beings? "Hey , Gordon!" Gordon Marlow, Ph.D., straightened up and turned in the direction of the voice, the garden trowel dangling in his dirt-stained white canvas glove. His wide mouth broke into a smile that revealed even white teeth. It was Harold Harper, an undergraduate student, who had called. "Hop over the fence and come in," Gordon invited. He dropped the trowel and, taking off his work gloves, reached into his pocket and extracted an old pipe. He filled it, the welcoming smile remaining on his lips, while Harold Harper approached, stepping carefully between the rows of carrots, cabbages, and cauliflower. Harold held a newspaper in his hand. When he reached Gordon Marlow he held it open and pointed to the headline. ROBOT ROCKET SHIP...

Don't Look Now

by Henry Kuttner

23 minute read

The man in the brown suit was looking at himself in the mirror behind the bar. The reflection seemed to interest him even more deeply than the drink between his hands. He was paying only perfunctory attention to Lyman’s attempts at conversation. This had been going on for perhaps fifteen minutes before he finally lifted his glass and took a deep swallow. “Don’t look now,” Lyman said. The brown man slid his eyes sidewise toward Lyman; tilted his glass higher, and took another swig. Ice-cubes slipped down toward his mouth. He put the glass back on the red-brown wood and signaled for a refill. Finally he took a deep breath and looked at Lyman. “Don’t look at what?” he asked. “There was one sitting right beside you,” Lyman said, blinking rather glazed eyes. “He just went out. You mean you couldn’t see him?” The brown man finished paying for his...

Heist Job On Thizar

by Randall Garrett

18 minute read

In the future, we may discover new planets; our ships may rocket to new worlds; robots may be smarter than people. But we'll still have slick characters willing and able to turn a fast buck—even though they have to be smarter than Einstein to do it. Anson Drake sat quietly in the Flamebird Room of the Royal Gandyll Hotel, listening to the alien, but soothing strains of the native orchestra and sipping a drink. He knew perfectly well that he had no business displaying himself in public on the planet Thizar; there were influential Thizarians who held no love for a certain Earthman named Anson Drake. It didn't particularly bother Drake; life was danger and danger was life to him, and Anson Drake was known on half a hundred planets as a man who could take care of himself. Even so, he wouldn't have bothered to come if it had...

Mindsnake

by Jim Harmon

25 minute read

"Witch! Witch!" The cry was among the walkers, but he didn't bother to track it down. It was no longer a fighting word to Hammen. He wore it like a badge of honor. It tasted of brass, but it gleamed on him. A puzzled growl came from the Familiar at his heels. The dog could never understand how people could hate Hammen. Lad, the dog, often asked Hammen how anyone could possibly hate Hammen, and Hammen always told him to shut up; he couldn't understand—he was only a dog. The walk ramp was crowded this afternoon with people fresh from the transmatter stations, eager to tell themselves they were walking on a strange planet. Hammen passed among the nudists, the cavaliers, the zip-suiters, the zoot-suiters, the Ivy-coated, the Moss-covered, walking not for novelty or exercise but because he preferred to go everywhere under his own power. Even to the stars....

Traitor's Choice

by Paul W. Fairman

14 minute read

The phonovision bell rang. Reed Kendall reached for the switch, not taking his eyes off the blueprint that lay on his desk. He spoke absently. "Yes?" The reply came sharp and cold. "I'd suggest you stop what you're doing and pay attention to me." Kendall raised his head and looked at the screen. The image that faced him was that of a man; a tall man in ordinary street clothes, but wearing an odd silver mask over his face. Kendall made no effort to hide his annoyance. This was no time for jokes. Some lab comedian with time on his hands. "Now listen here! I'm busy and I'm in no mood to—" "Shut up!" The tone was sharp, brutal, contemptuous. It stiffened Kendall, then eased him slowly back into his chair. "What do you want?" "That's better." "Take that absurd mask off." "I'll leave it on." "Then get this over...

The Angel Of Terror

by Edgar Wallace

6 minute read

The hush of the court, which had been broken when the foreman of the jury returned their verdict, was intensified as the Judge, with a quick glance over his pince-nez at the tall prisoner, marshalled his papers with the precision and method which old men display in tense moments such as these. He gathered them together, white paper and blue and buff and stacked them in a neat heap on a tiny ledge to the left of his desk. Then he took his pen and wrote a few words on a printed paper before him. Another breathless pause and he groped beneath the desk and brought out a small square of black silk and carefully laid it over his white wig. Then he spoke: "James Meredith, you have been convicted after a long and patient trial of the awful crime of wilful murder. With the verdict of the jury I...

The Day Of The Dog

by Anderson Horne

16 minute read

Carol stared glumly at the ship-to-shore transmitter. "I hate being out here in the middle of the Caribbean with no radio communication. Can't you fix it?" "This is a year for sun spots, and transmission usually gets impossible around dusk," Bill explained. "It will be all right in the morning. If you want to listen to the radio, you can use the portable radio directional finder. That always works." "I want to catch the 5 o'clock news and hear the latest on our satellite," Carol replied. She went to the RDF and switched it on to the standard broadcast channel. "Anyhow, I'd feel better if we could put out a signal. The way we're limping along with water in our gas is no fun. It will take us twenty hours to get back to Nassau the way we're losing RPM'S." Bill Anderson looked at his young, pretty wife and smiled....

The Automatic Maid-Of-All-Work: A Possible Tale Of The Near Future

by M. L. Campbell

14 minute read

BY M. L. CAMPBELL. Yes ; I mean what I say—an automatic maid-of-all-work, invented by my husband, John Matheson. You see it was this way,—the old story of servants, ever since we began housekeeping. We’ve had every kind, and if we did get a good one, something would come along to take her off. You know John has invented lots of things. There’s that door-spring now,—not much when you look at it but it brings in quite a little income. He used to say that he was spending his spare time on an automatic maid-of-all-work. Of course, I laughed, said I wished he would, and thought no more of it. Well, the day the last girl left, John announced that the automatic maid-of-all-work was completed, and that he would stay at home next day and show me how to work it. Of course, I didn’t believe in it. It was...

Mutineer

by Robert Shea

15 minute read

For every weapon there was a defense, but not against the deadliest weapon—man himself! Raging , Trooper Lane hovered three thousand feet above Tammany Square. The cool cybrain surgically implanted in him was working on the problem. But Lane had no more patience. They'd sweat, he thought, hating the chill air-currents that threw his hovering body this way and that. He glared down at the three towers bordering on the Square. He spat, and watched the little white speck fall, fall. Lock me up in barracks. All I wanted was a little time off. Did I fight in Chi for them? Damn right I did. Just a little time off, so I shouldn't blow my top. Now the lid's gone. He was going over all their heads. He'd bowled those city cops over like paper dolls, back at the Armory. The black dog was on Lane's back. Old Mayor himself...

Pirates Of Venus

by Edgar Rice Burroughs

16 minute read

“If a female figure in a white shroud enters your bedchamber at midnight on the thirteenth day of this month, answer this letter; otherwise, do not.” Having read this far in the letter, I was about to consign it to the wastebasket, where all my crank letters go; but for some reason I read on, “If she speaks to you, please remember her words and repeat them to me when you write.” I might have read on to the end; but at this juncture the telephone bell rang, and I dropped the letter into one of the baskets on my desk. It chanced to be the “out” basket; and had events followed their ordinary course, this would have been the last of the letter and the incident in so far as I was concerned, for from the “out” basket the letter went to the files. It was Jason Gridley on...

Birthday Present

by Arnold Marmor

5 minute read

"It's tonight or never," Diane said. "Yes," I said. I watched her as she walked back and forth across my bedroom floor. She had on a sheer plasto dress that clung to her round white breasts and full milky thighs. "I'm picking him up at the spaceway," she said. "We're supposed to go dining and dancing tonight." She stopped pacing. "It's my birthday. I'm thirty today." And I was twenty-four and in love. Six years between us. So what? I didn't give a damn. I wanted to marry her, to live with her. "I'm thirty," she said again. "Do you mind?" "I know your age. Why bring it up?" "Someday you'll find out you married an old woman. If we ever do marry." "Stop it." I got off the bed, went to her. "Just tell me what to do and I'll do it." "Do you love me?" she looked up...

Invader From Infinity

by George A. Whittington

16 minute read

Commander Jon McPartland stared with hard blue eyes into his view screen. He watched a tiny dot in one corner grow slowly, and heard the unnecessary words of his Lieutenant-Commander, Clemens: "Observation Officer reports enemy craft sighted, Sir." "Very good," acknowledged McPartland. "Have Lieutenant Parek compute their speed and course." Clemens spoke softly into the intra-ship phone, and Commander Jon McPartland returned momentarily to his thoughts. His square jaw was set as though cast in bronze, with hard muscles machined into its contour. Here was the enemy—the unknown, the alien, who spoke only with destruction! This was the ship that had destroyed System patrols; later a full battle fleet of the Solar System's most powerful space fighters. The interceptors had been unable to establish communication of any sort; and they were blasted into fiery chunks of space debris before getting close enough to use their own guns. "Well, here they...

The Grave Of Solon Regh

by Charles A. Stearns

12 minute read

George Seeling was one of the most personable ghouls you would ever care to meet. When he disappeared three years ago, somewhere in the unexplored wilderness of southern Mars, his loss was mourned not only by the Terran Museum of Natural History, for whom he worked, but by a multitude of lovers of adventure by proxy, as well, who kept up with his astounding fortunes through their daily papers. For George Seeling, who feared nothing that walked, crawled, flew, or pulsed, and who owned, moreover, a shining pair of seven league boots, in the form of an inexhaustible expense account, believed in sharing himself with the public. He adored publicity. There was the time, for instance, that he made off with the crown jewels of the Tsarn Princess of Ganymede. The people loved it. All of them excepting, of course, the Ganymedians. They were considerably upset, but being a minority...

The Little Red Bag

by Jerry Sohl

20 minute read

About an hour out of San Francisco on the flight to Los Angeles, I made the discovery. I had finished reading the Chronicle , folded and put it beside me, turned and looked out the window, expecting to see the San Joaquin Valley but finding only a sea of clouds instead. So I returned my attention to the inside of the plane, to the overstuffed gray-haired woman asleep beside me, to the backs of heads in seats before me, across the aisle to other heads, and down to the blonde. I had seen her in the concourse and at the gate, a shapely thing. Now she had crossed her legs and I was privileged to view a trim ankle and calf, and her profile as she stared moodily across the aisle and out a window where there was nothing to see. I slid my eyes past her to others. A...