“Impostor”

“Impostor” by Philip K. Dick
from The Metal Smile, ed. Damon Knight
Belmont Science Fiction, 1968
Originally published in Astounding Science Fiction, June 1953
Price I paid: none

“DO NOT FOLD, BEND, OR MUTILATE”

marked the beginning of our cybernetic society. How will it end?

The varied answers to that question have proved to be fertile ground for some of the greatest science fiction imaginations. But perhaps we shouldn’t look too closely into the future of cybernetics. It may be that the survival capacity of the thinking machine is greater than that of its maker…

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I’ll Be Back Next Week

Hey all, I know that I’m a giant bummer joykiller, but I’m gonna be on the road for the holidays and I don’t really have the time to present you with a proper post this week, so I’m coppin’ out and throwin’ the whole schedule out of whack.

Just so you didn’t come all this way for nothing, here are some micro-reviews of stuff I’ve read this year:

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Casca #1: The Eternal Mercenary

Image courtesy isfdb.org

Casca #1: The Eternal Mercenary by Barry Sadler
Casca eBooks, 2014
Originally published by Ace Charter, 1979
Price I paid: $9.98

When they flew Casey into the hospital at Nha Trang, the medics were sure he’d die. That he didn’t was only the first surprise.

The second, bigger one, was that Casey had been fighting for two thousand years, ever since that day on Golgotha when he put his lance into the side of the Man on the Cross.

“Soldier, you are content with what you are. Then that you shall remain until we meet again.”

So does Casca’s journey begin, a man who cannot die, does not age, and knows no skill but those of battle. He becomes The Eternal Mercenary.

copied from Goodreads
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Lurid Dreams

Lurid Dreams by Charles L. Harness
Avon Books, 1990
Price I paid: 90¢

Though basically a skeptic, William Reynolds had known out-of-body experiences in the past. But never before had he floated past the boundaries of Baltimore…and across the borders of time. And now, with the fires of Civil War looming on the horizon, the astonished graduate student was hobnobbing with none other than the dark poet Edgar Allen Poe. But their meeting of minds was to have chilling consequences. For a desperate Confederacy planned to use them both to remold the world—and to change history…for the worse.

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The Time Masters

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Image courtesy of isfdb.org

The Time Masters by Wilson Tucker
Doubleday, 1971
Price I paid: none

In Knoxville, Tennessee, the men involved in the top-secret Ridgerunner project are about to complete work on the first rocket designed to probe beyond the solar system, and Secret Service agents in that city are becoming frantic over the presence of one Gilbert Nash, a man without a past.

The investigation of Nash began when it was discovered that he subscribed to every journal of science currently published in the free world—archeology [sic], geology, astronomy, meteorology, chemistry, medicine and, most disturbing of all, nuclear physics. Was he merely showing a healthy interest in science, or perhaps something more sinister? Determined to find out, the government agents are soon plunged into the most baffling and frustrating case of any of their careers.

Every fact they uncover only adds to the mystery surrounding Nash’s identity. He seems to have come into existence out of nowhere on March 8th, 1940, the date the United States decided in earnest to build an atomic bomb, and then migrated to Knoxville just in advance of the establishment of the Ridgerunner project. On the door to his office appear only his name and the word “Investigations.” And, although Nash gave his age as 31 in 1940, he appears not to have aged a day since that time.

When a key member of the Ridgerunner project goes to Nash’s office and then commits suicide a few days later, the search for Nash’s true identity and purpose becomes desperately urgent. But only Shirley Hoffman, secretary to one of the agents, is able to get close enough to Nash to actually converse with him. What he says adds a new and frightening dimension to the ever deepening mystery.

While dining, he begins to tell her the story of Gilgamesh, hero of an epic written thousands of years ago in ancient Assyria. Supposedly immortal, Gilgamesh was a man whose origins were either unknown or unrecorded, and who stalked through the land accomplishing mighty deeds.

As the story of Gilgamesh unfolds, Shirley Hoffman begins to wonder just what Nash’s interest in this ancient tale is—and by the time he reaches the end of the epic, she learns the incredible and terrifying answer.

THE TIME MASTERS is a compelling novel of science fiction that will hold readers i the grip of suspense until the very end. As the identity of Gilbert Nash is revealed—and the countdown begins that will blast the first rocket outside of the solar system—the book builds to an unforgettable and shattering climax.

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The Penetrator #30: Computer Kill

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The Penetrator #30: Computer Kill by Lionel Derrick
Pinnacle Books, 1979
Price I paid: $1.50

Electronics wizard Hector Lattimer has at last figured out a fool-proof way to beat the system. Using his ingeniously designed portable computer terminal, Lattimer can tap into any programmed bank and authorize payment to his account. Then, in a flash of a diode, all data is wiped out—with no one the wiser…and Lattimer the richer.

Even the Penetrator is baffled—until he learns that the engineer is an embittered ex-employee of an electronics firm; a madman whose attempts at extortion have failed, who is now planning to destroy the entire works by automating a deadly device that will trigger an explosion.

It’s a touchy situation, and Mark Hardin’s number may be up—unless he can stop the bomb before it blows!

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King of Argent

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King of Argent by John T. Phillifent
DAW Books, 1973
Price I paid: $1.25

They told John Lampart that he would have to have his entire bodily metabolism altered to survive on Argent. Because that unknown planet was his most valuable find, he agreed.

He landed on Argent, golden-skinned and different. He had expected to find himself on a barren world, destined for two years of hard work. But Argent had life of its own of a different kind, weird, wild and endlessly challenging.

Not the least challenge to him was the discovery that his Earthly bosses regarded him as expendable—his work would end in his death while they got rich….

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Spaceling

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Spaceling by Doris Piserchia
DAW Books, 1978
Price I paid: $1

The ability to see the other-dimensional rings that float in Earth’s atmosphere was a late mutation of a few space-age humans. Daryl was under the care of the institution for muters, and she had discovered that if you jumped through the right ring at the right time it would land you in another dimensional world and another shape.

SPACELING is the story of Daryl’s desperate efforts to unravel the mystery of why she was being held captive and of what was really going on in a certain alien dimension. Because she was sure it was all bad and that someday everyone would thank her for the revelation.

But instead everyone was engaged in a wild effort to hold her down, to keep her on this Earth, and to keep the world simply intact!

It’s a fast and furious escapade of a future Huck Finn, female gender, by the author of EARTHCHILD.

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“I Made You”

The Metal Smile“I Made You” by Walter M. Miller, Jr.
from The Metal Smile, ed. Damon Knight
Belmont Science Fiction, 1968
Originally published in Astounding Science Fiction, March 1954
Price I paid: none

“DO NOT FOLD, BEND, OR MUTILATE”

marked the beginning of our cybernetic society. How will it end?

The varied answers to that question have proved to be fertile ground for some of the greatest science fiction imaginations. But perhaps we shouldn’t look too closely into the future of cybernetics. It may be that the survival capacity of the thinking machine is greater than that of its maker…

Continue reading ““I Made You””