Delivering Innovation

Forty-odd years ago, my uncle gave me a science fiction anthology, a thick red hardcover that I read cover to cover. He inspired a lifelong love of the genre. The stories in that book made me think outside the box. They filled me with awe at the imagination that went into writing them, and at times, they scared the hell out of me. That book remained in my collection for many years. At some point it disappeared, but not from my memory. I recently had a desire to re-read it and thanks to I was able to purchase a used copy.

The title is SCIENCE FICTION BUS, edited by Groff Conklin, a well-known and prolific publisher of the genre. It was published in 1952, the golden age of science fiction. It is a heavy tome, 562 pages, with 43 stories divided into sections related to a common theme. Some stories are funny, some are thought-provoking, and some are adventurous. I love you all.

Part I. Wonders of the Earth and of Man

Katherine MacLean’s “And be Merry” originally appeared in Astounding Science Fiction in February 1950. When her husband embarks on an archeology trip, a biologist performs rejuvenation experiments on herself. Believing that she will be immortal if she can avoid accidental death, she is afraid to live. Realizing that he must convince her that she is dying in order for her to live again, her husband tells her that she has a slow-growing tumor that cannot be operated on.

Other stories in this section are:

“John Thomas’s Bucket” by John Leimert

“Hyperpilosity” by L. Sprague de Camp

“The Thing in the Woods” by Fletcher Pratt and BF Ruby

“The Bees of Borneo” by Will H. Gray

“The Rag Thing” by David Grinnell

“The Conqueror” by Mark Clifton

Part II. Dangerous and other inventions

The intriguing short story, “A Subway Named Mobius,” by AJ Deutsch, was published in Astounding Science Fiction in December 1950. The Boston Subway Authority builds an extension to the subway system, and a train with three hundred passengers disappears. The closed system became so interconnected and complex that it became a Möbius strip, that continuous loop with one side made famous by MC Escher.

Other stories in this section are:

“Never Underestimate…” by Theodore Sturgeon

“The Doorbell” by David H. Keller

Backfire by Ross Rocklynne

“The Box” by James Blish

“Zeritsky’s Law” by Ann Griffith

“The Fourth Dynasty” by RR Winterbotham

Part III. From outer space

In HP Lovecraft’s “The Color Out of Space,” a surveyor discovers an abandoned farmhouse with an old well in the center. The earth is devoid of life and asks for the name: the accursed heath. An old hermit tells him the story. In the 1880s the farm was productive until a nondescript colored meteorite crashed next to the well. After hearing the dire circumstances that befell the farmer and his family, the surveyor ends by saying that he is not coming back and that he would not recommend drinking the water.

Other stories in this section are:

“The Headhunters” by Ralph Williams

“The Star Doll” by Anthony Boucher

“Catch That Martian” by Damon Knight

Shipshape Home by Richard Matheson

“Homo Sol” by Isaac Asimov

Part IV. distant journeys

Ray Bradbury’s “Kaleidoscope” is a harrowing story of astronauts who drift through space after their ship is destroyed. They have contact with each other but no hope of being rescued. A man laments the fact that he hasn’t accomplished anything worthwhile, but when his life ends, he becomes a shooting star visible to a child on earth.

Other stories in this section are:

“Alexander the Bait” by William Tenn

“Nothing Happens on the Moon” by Paul Ernst

Wyman Guin Trigger Tide

“Plague” by Murray Leinster

“The Winner Loses All” by Jack Vance

“Test Piece” by Eric Frank Russell

“Environment” by Chester S. Geier

Part V. Adventures in Dimension

John D. MacDonald’s “Spectator Sport” was first published in Thrilling Wonder Stories in February 1950. A man travels to the future and discovers that nothing much has changed. Shortly after his departure, someone invented virtual reality and the entire population is permanently connected to it.

Other stories in this section are:

“High Threshold” by Alan E. Nourse

“Recruiting Station” by A.E. van Vogt

“A Stone and a Spear” by Raymond F. Jones

“What You Need” by Lewis Padgett

“The Choice” by W. Hilton-Young

Part VI. worlds of tomorrow

Arthur C. Clarke’s “History Lesson” was first published in 1949. A final ice age looms in the future. A tribe of nomadic humans travels towards the equator but becomes trapped between two advancing glaciers. They hide some relics from the 21st century in a cairn. Five thousand years later, Venusian reptiles travel to Earth and retrieve the relics. They try to learn about life on the Third Planet by analyzing a reel of cartoon film.

Other stories in this section are:

“The War Against the Moon” by André Maurois

“Pleasant Dreams” by Ralph Robin

“Manners of the Times” by HB Fyfe

“The Gun” by Fredric Brown

“The Scarlet Plague” by Jack London

“Heritage” by Robert Abernathy

“Instinct” by Lester del Rey

“Countercharm” by Peter Phillips

sci fi omnibus

groff conklin

Publisher: Crown Publishers 1952

Pages: 562


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