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Belaker Meas, agent for galactic control CROWN, did not really have any choice: He could spy for them—and risk a rapid death—or he could die, period. But slowly.
He knew going in that his job of Jsimaj was not going to be the gentlest in the galaxy, at lest not if he could judge from the ground transport CROWN had provided, “Pacesetter” was a rendal, originally from Jsimaj, a twelve-legged, armor-plated, fanged, clawed behemoth who was, totally and ideally (and significantly) adapted to his native planet.
But Pacesetter proved to be an affectionate, staunch, and gentle friend in comparison with the other inhabitants of Jsimaj…
Eric the Only was anxious to become a man…eager to perform his initiation Theft from the Monster World and be accepted by the elders of his small tribe.
Then the women would notice him…and one woman in particular might begin to take him seriously.
He had learned well the rules of stealing. He had long anticipated his just rewards. He had carefully plotted and schemed. He had minimized all the risks.
But though Eric understood the merciless ways of the Monsters who had long ago driven his people into the wretched burrows, he could not anticipate the treachery of men.
Suddenly―without warning―the best laid plans of Eric the Only went violently astray.
That was what the humans called the rich, attractive planet—a refuge from starving, over-populated Earth. And the Colonists could provide millions of tons of desperately needed produce for the hungry billions left on their home planet.
If only the native inhabitants of Refuge weren’t so natural-born lazy: harmless, it’s true, but actually nothing more than a bunch of loafers. If the loafers could be made to turn to, Refuge could really be the Earth’s breadbasket.
But the Loafers steadily refused to “turn to”—there was nothing the humans could do about it. And the years went by. And everything remained friendly and quiet. Until one day, a young human, born and raised on Refuge, decided he’d rather join the Loafers!
Dr. Charles Howard Gilley was a brilliant man. And he was in charge of a very remarkable, very expensive computer.
So expensive, and so remarkable, that the authorities were much concerned with his proper use of its time.
They of course couldn’t know that to Dr. Gilley the computer had ceased to be an “it.”
Syzygy by Michael G. Coney
Ballantine Books, 1973
Price I paid: 90¢
The Planet Arcadia has six moons, describing erratic orbits. But once every fifty-two years, the Moons of Arcadia come together in a constellation that creates havoc on the surface—raging tides, storms…and worse.
For the inhabitants of Arcadia are themselves affected in some strange way by the unusual gravitic pulls. Or so it would seem. For few on this new, recently colonized world can remember exactly what happened fifty-two years before; those old enough to remember are curiously reticent.
And meanwhile the Moons grow closer…
Jimmy Holden was an experiment…
He was normally bright, normal-sized, and enormously curious—just like most small boys. The only thing different in Jimmy’s life was a machine—a machine which could teach him better, faster, more completely and more thoroughly than any human method yet devised.
It was really nothing more than a glorified memorizing contraption, but it filled the mind permanently with whole books of fact and figure—readin’, ‘ritin’, and ‘rithmetic—plus all the diverse information that an insatiably curious young mind could seek, including how to build the machine that taught him.
So Jimmy quickly became a very valuable experiment indeed. Certain people figured that, properly handled, young James could be a goldmine, and they weren’t above murdering in order to get control of him. But even a five-year-old mind will defend itself when attacked.
And nobody had figured on what the machine did not teach—the fourth “R”—REASON…
WHERE WAS SIMON ASHTON?
Ashton had disappeared somewhere—somehow—on Skaith, and Stark had come to find him, no matter what the cost. Everyone on this exotic planet had heard of the strange Dark Man from another world, but no one was talking. Not the Farers. Not the Wandsmen. Not even the Irnanese. All clues led to the mysterious North—stronghold of the tyrannical Lords Protector. Stark was on his way, despite the price on his head…
The four hundred and fifty-fourth microcytological transfer succeeded—it produced a cell with the basic forty-seven chromosomes, the masculinegenetic structure.
In other words, a living male embryo.
A special laboratory was set up for the care and growth of this embryo, known as the Alpha project. With specially trained cytologists. And special guards. Why not? The world had not seen a “man” in over 500 years.
There was no telling what the strange creature might do…
Luke Devereaux was a science-fiction writer, holed up in a desert shack waiting for inspiration. He was the first man to see a Martian…but he wasn’t the last!
It was estimated that a billion of them had arrived—one to every three human beings on Earth—obnoxious green creatures who could be seen and heard, but not harmed, and who probed private sex lives as shamelessly as they probed government secrets.
No one knew why they had come. No one knew how to make them go away—except, perhaps, Luke Devereaux. Unfortunately Devereaux was going slightly bananas, so it wouldn’t be easy.
But for a science-fiction writer nothing was impossible…
Nils Kruger was the Earthman. A castaway with a smashed spaceship on the parched surface of the inhospitable planet Abyorman.
Dar was his non-human castaway companion. But Nils, a latter-day Robinson Crusoe, quickly learned that his intended Man Friday was a superior creature.
They would both die.
Typically, Nils the Human opted to do something about it. Typically, Dar, who knew the day, date, and hour of his death in advance, opted to do nothing.
Which of them was right?
Or, perhaps both of them were!