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Science Fiction

From Lint’s Library

War Game

by Bryce Walton

11 minute read

The Minister of Peace asked the United States President if he had heard from the Secretary of State. "Yes," the President said. "I heard from Mr. Thompson only a few minutes ago." "How's their final conference coming, Mr. President?" "Inevitably. Operation Push Button within the hour." The Minister of Peace blinked out the window at Washington, D.C. "So they're going to blow up the world?" "Inevitably." "Shall we watch it?" asked the Minister of Peace. The President nodded, spoke to master control through the intercom box on his desk, and switched on the TV screen. They had a special pipe-line into the United Nations Cellar. They sat back, had martinis, and watched the interior of the Cellar come to life on the screen. Three thousand miles from New Washington, under a natural camouflage of tundra and wintry hills, the U.N. Cellar was thought by its occupants to be thoroughly resistant...

Mimsy's Joke

by Millard Grimes

13 minute read

He was lying in the grass and his cute little cocker spaniel was nibbling on his ear when the message came. He was breathing the fragrant air of spring and feeling cool spring breeze and the solid earth under the grass beneath him, while the dog with doleful eyes delighted him with her tricks. His name was Oscar Nance, and he was the world's top archaeologist. That was why the message came to him when the UN began selecting a crew for Earth's first expedition to Mars. "We want you," the message read. It was an invitation that was difficult to refuse. He cuffed the cocker on the ear. She barked softly and let her tongue hang out at the cutest angle. "Good-bye, Mimsy," he said. The dog was all he had on this world. "I'll miss you, lady," Nance told the dog. She licked his hand. Then Nance raised...

A Pail Of Air

by Fritz Leiber

26 minute read

The dark star passed, bringing with it eternal night and turning history into incredible myth in a single generation! Pa had sent me out to get an extra pail of air. I'd just about scooped it full and most of the warmth had leaked from my fingers when I saw the thing. You know, at first I thought it was a young lady. Yes, a beautiful young lady's face all glowing in the dark and looking at me from the fifth floor of the opposite apartment, which hereabouts is the floor just above the white blanket of frozen air. I'd never seen a live young lady before, except in the old magazines—Sis is just a kid and Ma is pretty sick and miserable—and it gave me such a start that I dropped the pail. Who wouldn't, knowing everyone on Earth was dead except Pa and Ma and Sis and you?...

Native Son

by T. D. Hamm

9 minute read

Tommy hated Earth, knowing his mother might go home to Mars without him. Worse, would a robot secretly take her place?... Tommy Benton, on his first visit to Earth, found the long-anticipated wonders of twenty-first-century New York thrilling the first week, boring and unhappy the second week, and at the end of the third he was definitely ready to go home. The never-ending racket of traffic was torture to his abnormally acute ears. Increased atmospheric pressure did funny things to his chest and stomach. And quick and sure-footed on Mars, he struggled constantly against the heavy gravity that made all his movements clumsy and uncoordinated. The endless canyons of towering buildings, with their connecting Skywalks, oppressed and smothered him. Remembering the endless vistas of rabbara fields beside a canal that was like an inland sea, homesickness flooded over him. He hated the people who stared at him with either open...

On A Lark To The Planets

by Frances Trego Montgomery

5 minute read

Nearer and nearer toward strange and unexplored regions, higher and higher sailed the Wonderful Elephant, borne along by the great silken balloon. Harold and Ione, the Prince and the little Princess slept peacefully. It was midnight by the hands of the clock, but the boundless aerial space through which they sped was lighted by myriads upon myriads of twinkling stars. On and still on through diamond-specked space the Elephant floated safely. Above, below, to right, to left, and round about in all directions, flashing, glittering globes of light were to be seen and of such dazzling hues and colors as had never been dreamed of by earth-bound mortals. The planet Neptune was wrapped in a bluish-green vapor; Uranus seemed a blinding white; Saturn emitted a yellow light; Jupiter shone like a glorious, crimson jewel; Mars blazed forth fiery red beams, while Mercury seemed bathed in a metallic green color. Our...

The Fire People

by Ray Cummings

11 minute read

The first of the new meteors landed on the earth in November, 1940. It was discovered by a farmer in his field near Brookline, Massachusetts, shortly after daybreak on the morning of the 11th. Astronomically, the event was recorded by the observatory at Harvard as the sudden appearance of what apparently was a new star, increasing in the short space of a few hours from invisibility to a power beyond that of the first magnitude, and then as rapidly fading again to invisibility. This star was recorded by two of the other great North American observatories, and by one in the Argentine Republic. That it was comparatively small in mass and exceedingly close to the earth, even when first discovered, was obvious. All observers agreed that it was a heavenly body of an entirely new order. The observatory at Harvard supplemented its account by recording the falling, just before dawn...

The Eyes Have It

by James McKimmey

12 minute read

Illustrated by Paul Orban Joseph Heidel looked slowly around the dinner table at the five men, hiding his examination by a thin screen of smoke from his cigar. He was a large man with thick blond-gray hair cut close to his head. In three more months he would be fifty-two, but his face and body had the vital look of a man fifteen years younger. He was the President of the Superior Council, and he had been in that post—the highest post on the occupied planet of Mars—four of the six years he had lived here. As his eyes flicked from one face to another his fingers unconsciously tapped the table, making a sound like a miniature drum roll. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Five top officials, selected, tested, screened on Earth to form the nucleus of governmental rule on Mars. Heidel's bright narrow eyes flicked, his fingers drummed. Which...

Trees Are Where You Find Them

by Arthur Dekker Savage

11 minute read

Illustrated by Philip Parsons You might say the trouble started at the Ivy, which is a moving picture house in Cave Junction built like a big quonset. It's the only show in these parts, and most of us old-timers up here in the timber country of southwest Oregon have got into the habit of going to see a picture on Saturday nights before we head for a tavern. But I don't think old Doc Yoris, who was there with Lew and Rusty and me, had been to more than two or three shows in his life. Doc is kind of sensitive about his appearance on account of his small eyes and big nose and ears; and since gold mining gave way to logging and lumber mills, with Outsiders drifting into the country, Doc has taken to staying on his homestead away back up along Deer Creek, near the boundary of...

Slay-Ride

by Winston K. (Winston Kinney) Marks

14 minute read

Frane Lewis enjoyed another sadistic shiver as he moved up the narrow passageway to the captain's control room. To his flared nostrils the warm, moist air of the small space-freighter was still heavy with the smell of death. A psychiatrist could have told him that this was a neural confusion of olfactory sensation with the perverted emotional excitement of murder. But no physicians ever attended Frane's murders, except at inquests. Three crewmen, still warm, lay at their posts with bloody splotches staining their tunic pockets. Two more chores aboard and his pay, fabulous pay, was earned. For Frane simple plans worked best. He rapped on the gray magnesium panel. "Your lunch, sir," he called. Inside, a solenoid thumped. The port slid aside revealing the captain's square back outlined against the white-sprinkled velvet of space. As the executive turned away from the transparent nose dome Frane's weapon spoke its final invitation...

A Princess Of Mars

by Edgar Rice Burroughs

8 minute read

To the Reader of this Work: In submitting Captain Carter’s strange manuscript to you in book form, I believe that a few words relative to this remarkable personality will be of interest. My first recollection of Captain Carter is of the few months he spent at my father’s home in Virginia, just prior to the opening of the civil war. I was then a child of but five years, yet I well remember the tall, dark, smooth-faced, athletic man whom I called Uncle Jack. He seemed always to be laughing; and he entered into the sports of the children with the same hearty good fellowship he displayed toward those pastimes in which the men and women of his own age indulged; or he would sit for an hour at a time entertaining my old grandmother with stories of his strange, wild life in all parts of the world. We all...

A Trace Of Memory

by Keith Laumer

16 minute read

The ad read: Soldier of fortune seeks companion in arms to share unusual adventure. Foster, Box 19, Mayport. I crumpled the newspaper and tossed it in the general direction of the wire basket beside the park bench, pushed back a slightly frayed cuff, and took a look at my bare wrist. It was just habit; the watch was in a hock shop in Tupelo, Mississippi. It didn't matter. I didn't have to know what time it was. Across the park most of the store windows were dark along the side street. There were no people in sight; they were all home now, having dinner. As I watched, the lights blinked off in the drug store with the bottles of colored water in the window; the left the candy and cigar emporium at the end of the line. I fidgeted on the hard bench and felt for a cigarette I didn't...

The Happy Homicide

by Frank Banta

6 minute read

Attendants pushing an ambulance cot wheeled what was left of murdered Fannie Bork into the center of the courtroom. The body was covered with a white sheet, except for the long, slim feet which were sticking out. Her toenails were painted red. Forty-year-old John Bork listened while the prosecutor read the indictment against him: "—and the same John Bork did on the twelfth day of March, 1986, fire a pistol at his wife, having then and there a long preconceived desire to kill her, and then and there did achieve his felonious intent, and did murder the same Fannie Bork." "John Bork, you have heard the indictment," stated the judge formally. "How do you wish to plead: Not guilty, no contest, or wait and see?" "I'll wait and see, your honor." "I thought you would," sighed the judge. "We haven't had a straight not-guilty plea in ages. Proceed, Mr. Prosecutor."...

The Furious Rose

by Dean Evans

21 minute read

This world was a setup for any man who wanted to get along—provided one had enough victims to toss to the wolves! The Master Clock on the black desk in the office of Federal Executions made a quiet blipping sound. Immediately the lights lowered to Emote Neutral. Long, probing shadow fingers snaked here and there across the floor, and a silence that should have been restful—and wasn't—descended on the place. Tony Radek leaned back in his chair and frowned. One-fifteen in the morning. At one-fifteen in the morning no man, no matter who, should be going to his Neg-Emote. Why not hang a man instead? Or electrocute him? Or gas him the way they used to back in the old days? In those old days his grandfather used to talk about, where twelve ordinary citizens said the word that peeled the life off a man like skinning an onion. He...

Waste Not, Want

by Dave Dryfoos

10 minute read

Panic roused him—the black imp of panic that lived under the garish rug of this unfamiliar room and crawled out at dawn to nudge him awake and stare from the blank space to his left where Tillie's gray head should have been. His fists clenched in anger—at himself. He'd never been the sort to make allowance for his own weakness and didn't propose to begin doing so now, at age eighty-six. Tillie'd been killed in that crash well over a year ago and it was time he got used to his widowerhood and quit searching for her every morning. But even after he gave himself the bawling out, orientation came slowly. The surroundings looked so strange. No matter what he told himself it was hard to believe that he was indeed Fred Lubway, mechanical engineer, and had a right to be in this single bed, alone in this house his...

She Knew He Was Coming

by Kris Neville

20 minute read

"Mary must be expecting that Earthman," Anne said. She held her glastic blouse tight together over her breasts and leaned a little out of the window. Milly nodded. "The Azmuth landed this morning." The noises of commerce were fading. From the window Anne saw the neon blaze up over the door. For the thousandth time she blinked between the equivocal words: 30—BEAUTIFUL HOSTESSES—30. Laughter, dry and false, filtered up from the tea bars along the street. She looked westward, toward the spaceport, and made out the shadowy nose of the berthed space liner looming against the night. She could picture the scene—a thousand stevedores unloading cargo, refill men and native spacewriters scurrying over the sleek hull, the Earth voyageurs shouting orders and curses. "Maybe he isn't even on it." Anne turned from the window. She crossed to the couch and sat down, fluffing out the green crinkly glass of her...

The King's Men: A Tale Of To-Morrow

by Robert Grant

8 minute read

There are few Americans who went to England before the late wars but will remember Ripon House. The curious student of history—a study, perhaps, too little in vogue with us—could find no better example of the palace of an old feudal lord. Dating almost from the time of the first George—and some even say it was built by the same Wren who designed that St. Paul's Cathedral whose ruins we may still see to the east of London—it frowned upon the miles of private park surrounding it, a marble memorial of feudal monopoly and man's selfish greed. The very land about it, to an extent of almost half a county, was owned by the owners of the castle, and by them rented out upon an annual payment to such farmers as they chose to favor with a chance to earn their bread. In an ancient room of a still older...

Let Space Be Your Coffin

by S. M. Tenneshaw

25 minute read

Bert thought savagely, I'm going to kill you, Miles Berendt. You've always lorded it over me—thought you were something extra special when we were kids. Now you've practically taken over the business I helped build. My business—the best damned space freight line in the system! And you've got your eyes on Carol—my girl! Well, look smug, Miles. This is your last day alive—tomorrow they won't even find your atoms! "Something eating you, Bert?" Miles Berendt closed the tally book and shoved it aside on the desk. He eased his six-foot frame back in the chair behind the desk and stared quizzically at Bert Tanner. Tanner was standing by the window, staring moodily out toward the long line of space hangars. Tanner twisted abruptly, stared at Berendt, and laughed shortly. "What? Not a thing, Miles. Not a thing...." Berendt sighed. "I'm glad. With business as good as it is, and that...

In The Control Tower

by Will Mohler

26 minute read

Shadows haunted the dying alleys. Madness stalked the wide streets. And what lay at the city's heart? Dewforth had almost most lost the habit of looking from windows. The train which took him to the city every morning passed through a country in the terminal stages of a long war of self-destruction. Whatever had been burned, botched, poisoned or exhausted in that struggle had been filled along the right-of-way, among drifts of soot and ground-mists of sulphurous smoke and chemical flatulence, to form a long tedious mural—a parody of cloud-borne Asiatic hills, precipitous and always so close to the tracks that their tops could not be seen. This was almost merciful, considering what had been done to the sky. When the train did not sneak between hills of slag, cinders, rubbish, garbage, dross and the bloody brown carrion of broken machinery, it shot like a bolt in the groove of...

A Fall Of Glass

by Stanley R. Lee

25 minute read

The weatherman was always right: Temperature, 59; humidity, 47%; occasional light showers—but of what? The pockets of Mr. Humphrey Fownes were being picked outrageously. It was a splendid day. The temperature was a crisp 59 degrees, the humidity a mildly dessicated 47%. The sun was a flaming orange ball in a cloudless blue sky. His pockets were picked eleven times. It should have been difficult. Under the circumstances it was a masterpiece of pocket picking. What made it possible was Humphrey Fownes' abstraction; he was an uncommonly preoccupied individual. He was strolling along a quiet residential avenue: small private houses, one after another, a place of little traffic and minimum distractions. But he was thinking about weather, which was an unusual subject to begin with for a person living in a domed city. He was thinking so deeply about it that it never occurred to him that entirely too many...

Fuzzy Head

by Frank Belknap Long

22 minute read

We arrived in the golden autumn. We drove up through the russet leaves to the great house and descended lightly to the dew-drenched earth. Celia darted on ahead of me, her pale body a diaphanous flowing. I moved more slowly, my thoughts like muted chimes as I pondered the meaning of what had happened within the high, dark walls of the house. For the first time on Earth a human child had been born who could summon us! He was eight years old now, but wise beyond his years and he had summoned us deliberately across space. He had sat, hunched and shivering, in his own small room, staring up at the far-flung constellations. Then, abruptly, he had thrown out his arms and called to us. Celia could scarcely believe it even now. She had always wanted a child of her own, but we had despaired of ever finding one....

The Iron Heel

by Jack London

7 minute read

It cannot be said that the Everhard Manuscript is an important historical document. To the historian it bristles with errors—not errors of fact, but errors of interpretation. Looking back across the seven centuries that have lapsed since Avis Everhard completed her manuscript, events, and the bearings of events, that were confused and veiled to her, are clear to us. She lacked perspective. She was too close to the events she writes about. Nay, she was merged in the events she has described. Nevertheless, as a personal document, the Everhard Manuscript is of inestimable value. But here again enter error of perspective, and vitiation due to the bias of love. Yet we smile, indeed, and forgive Avis Everhard for the heroic lines upon which she modelled her husband. We know to-day that he was not so colossal, and that he loomed among the events of his times less largely than the...

Definition

by Damon Knight

25 minute read

Man, n. A pentagonal, dipolar, monoplane dominant, of intelligence 96, native of District 10039817. Unabsorbed. It is a truism that a human being can get used to very nearly everything. The hardy Eskimo, lying belly-down on a plain of ice that stretched unbroken to the sky, probably spent little of his time in meditating upon the vastness and inscrutability of the Universe ... he was thinking of his dinner. And Charles Samson, seven hundred years later, looked past his long nose at a scene of equal majesty—our galaxy, viewed from a ship in mid-arc—in a similar frame of mind. It was approximately sixteen hours, galactic time; a trifle later according to Samson's stomach. He had played a vicious game of handball with his wife an hour and a half before, and now he was hungry. The Eskimo, although a patient man, might have reflected that it was unreasonable of this...

Breath Of Beelzebub

by Larry Sternig

20 minute read

The martian servant stopped at my desk, coughed faintly to attract my attention. I looked up and he handed me a calling card on which was printed "Slane O'Graeme." It was a limp, thumb-marked and discouraged-looking emissary. "'E wishes to see Mr. Ames," the wedge-faced servant told me. The high disdain in his tone of voice revealed more clearly than words his opinion of the visitor. I shrugged and dropped the card on my desk. "Oh, well, send him in. I'll give him the brush-off." The Martian faded away and I turned back to the 1999 capitulation figures Mr. Ames wanted. I forgot about Slane O'Graeme, whoever he was, until a timid "hello" made me look up from the reports. "You're Mr. Fleming Ames?" he asked diffidently. He was an odd-looking little guy with a head like an oversize cue-ball and a narrow fringe of fuzzy graying hair that looked...

The Peacemaker

by Alfred Coppel

19 minute read

Illustrated by BOB MARTIN We humans are a strange breed, unique in the Universe. Of all the races met among the stars, only homo sapiens thrives on deliberate self-delusion. Perhaps this is the secret of our greatness, for we are great. In power, if not in supernal wisdom. Legends, I think, are our strength. If one day a man stands on the rim of the Galaxy and looks out across the gulfs toward the seetee suns of Andromeda, it will be legends that drove him there. They are odd things, these legends, peopled with unreal creatures, magnificent heroes and despicable villains. We stand for no nonsense where our mythology is concerned. A man becoming part of our folklore becomes a fey, one-dimensional, shadow-image of reality. Jaq Merril—the Jaq Merril of the history books—is such an image. History, folklore's jade, has daubed Merril with the rouge of myth, and it does...