Science Fiction Though the Decades

Monday, March 26, 2012

1984: Pohlstars (Pohl, Frederik)

Some stars shine, others struggle to ignite (4/5)
From January 29, 2011

Pohl has 25 collections of his short stories, novelettes, and novellas published. From all the ones I've read, they're all been excellent. With stories reaching back as far as 1940 and as modern as 2010, Pohl has a huge wealth of select stories to put into each published collection. I would love to say that this selection process is hand-picked and careful, but some of the duds offered up are painful (see The Wizard-Masters of Peng-Shi Angle).

The Sweet, Sad Queen of Grazing Isles (1984) - 5/5 - The roaming behemoth ships of advantageous hydrothermal explorers of the initial investor and his financial conspirator reap the rewards of innovative marine technology but the death of the owner brings Jason (the ex-banker, shareholder and legal guardian of the captain's only daughter) into unfamiliar personal and mortal territory. 75 pages

The High Test (1983) - 3/5 - Galactic driving instructor writes a series of holiday letters back to his mother in Chicago depicting his daily routine with human and alien learners, some with and some without an agenda. 15 pages

Spending a Day at the Lottery Fair (1983) - 3/5 - The fair has come to town and the Baxter family pay to enter to be included in the job lottery and other lotteries for the day but it's the visiting Scot and the Japanese/Scot who just don't understand the American way of appreciating both life AND death. 12 pages

Second Coming (1983) - 2/5 - Starts like a bad joke: so, a spaceship finds Jesus on an alien planet and brings Him back to earth but after watching TV and speaking nothing but Aramaic, Jesus doesn't like what He sees and can't be bribed with having His own channel to preach on. 4 pages

Enjoy, Enjoy (1974) - 4/5 - Hired to live his life to the fullest in terms of `fun' and "excitement," Cowpersmith take on the challenge through extreme activities and depressions in the trough, but if the money is there for his pleasure and pain, he doesn't care who the end buyer is. 18 pages

Growing Up in Edge City (1975) - 4/5 - A boy finds himself outside the walls of a sheltered city but also finds that he is victimized because of it, yet the victim always finds a prey for his own shortcomings. 14 pages

We Purchased People (1974) - 4/5 - Because of Wayne's paranoid disposition and criminal history, he is enslaved as an alien/human surrogate liaison where he does the financial bidding of the trans-light alien signals but occasionally finds himself with free time when he likes to peruse the flesh trade and lust after a fellow alien mind slave. 14 pages

Rem the Rememberer (1977) - 3/5 - A boy ponders the future but current ecological disaster on earth all the while being educated by how bad it COULD have been if his ancestors hadn't implemented their wise eco-friendly ways. 7 pages

The Mother Trip (1975) - 2/5 - After an enlightening `encounter group' where Pohl was `having his sensitivities elevated and his inhibitions soaked away', a multi-partner experience is re-lived through the eyes of alien intelligences who have come to earth to view the passive and aggrieve ways of human nature. 18 pages

A Day in the Life of Able Charlie (1976) - 4/5 - Seemingly Average Joe product tester is put under then pressure of mechanically reviewing numerous product ideas and ultimately composing the perfect solution while the next product testis moments away and leagues away from `his' normal experience. 7 pages

The Way it Was (1977) - 4/5 - A man is paid handsomely to live the high life of exciting travels, adrenaline inducing thrills and the lavish consumption of luxury all the while having it be paid for by a secret organization who sells the experience to an unknown buyer who seeks not only the acme high of human experience, but also the sullen lows of depression. 15 pages

The Wizard-Masters of Peng-Shi Angle (1958/1984) - 0/5 - A mere novelty to Pohl, this re-translated version of the Chinese-translation of The Wizards of Pung's Corner is littered of Romanized Chinese words and over 80 footnotes relating to the translations. Ignore this "wax tadpole" and read the original version (5/5!) in The Man Who Ate the World. 45 pages

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