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Adventures in Time and Space by Raymond J.…

Adventures in Time and Space (1946)

by Raymond J. Healy (Editor), J. Francis McComas (Editor)

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33 of the greatest stories novelettes and short novels by the best SF writers of all time: so it says on the cover of my Del Rey edition first published in 1975. You can never trust the blurb on the cover (especially when you discover there are actually 35 stories in the book), which had all appeared previously in American pulp fiction magazines: mostly in Astounding Science Fiction when it was under the editorship of John W Campbell from 1937-1945. This period up to and just beyond the second world war has justly been labelled The Golden Age of Science Fiction and most of these stories fit right into that Golden Age.

Some famous names from the period are represented here; Robert A Heinlein has three stories as does A E Van Vogt, John W Campbell writing under the pseudonym of Don A Stuart has two stories and there are stories by Isaac Asimov, Alfred Bester, Lewis Padgett and L Sprague Du Camp and all of these have some excellent pieces in the collection. There are 24 authors represented and a high percentage of the 35 stories are well worth reading, there are very few duds. I quite happily read the stories from end to end through nearly one thousand pages over a one week period without getting bored or feeling the need to turn to something else.

There are a few classic stories here that still hold the imagination today. “Who Goes there” by Don A Stuart has been filmed a number of times as “The Thing”: an Antartica expedition come across an alien spaceship deep in an ice field; they thaw out the alien pilot and unleash a creature that can imitate any life form with which it comes into contact and can do this with every cell of its body, the original story is well written and packs a massive punch. “The Dark Destroyer” is one of the best things I have read by A E Van Vogt, which moves through the gears from a hunter/stalker scenario to a modern space opera. “Adam and No Eve” is an atmospheric dystopian novella by Alfred Bester and “Nightfall” is a brilliant short story by Isaac Asimov who imagines a planet with six suns whose inhabitants go crazy every 2500 years when there is a total eclipse and there is nightfall. “He who Shrank” by Harry Hasse imagines that there are universes that exist as a succession of tiny particles and when a scientist invents a shrinking formula that reduces a person in size he will shrink down through a succession of universes ad infinitum. There are a few stories that imagine strange things happening in the present time (the 1930’s) and Lewis Padgett’s “The Twonky” and Raymond F Jones’ ‘The Correspondence Course” are two of the best of these. There are a clutch of time travel tales ranging from adventure stories following a step backwards or forwards in time to tales that explore the paradox of time travel.

The best stories from the Golden Age of science fiction contained ideas the stirred the imagination, it was not a time for much hard science fiction although in this collection there is a factual account of the German V2 rocket system. The ideas behind many of these tales were recycled through the comics of the 1960’s: publications like “Journey into Mystery” or “Strange Tales” by Atlas comics; stuff that I avidly collected as a kid and I was amazed that most of these stories originated from a period 20-30 years earlier.

I suppose that you have got to like science fiction to want to read this collection and you have got to remind yourself for whom they were written: mainly male young adults and so in many of the stories it is old fashioned American muscle that solves many of the tricky situations, but this is not always the case: females of course hardly get a look in. There is no great literature here, but many of the stories are well written and thoroughly entertaining if you have a mind to give them a fair hearing. I enjoyed myself and so 4.5 stars. ( )
1 vote baswood | Nov 29, 2015 |
Editors Raymond J. Healy and J. Francis McComas have taken thirty-five of the best writings of the golden age of science fiction (1932-1945) and presented them in Famous science-fiction stories : adventures in time and space. (Actually, there are two non-fiction essays included.) The editors also introduce the volume with information about the period and the driving force behind the excellent writing, John W. Campbell Jr. in his magazine, Astounding stories, who demanded the best from his authors, including good English and plot lines that made sense. The end result was an explosion of interest in science fiction and the beginning of many careers.

Although not all of the stories were to my taste, they are excellent and well worth reading and re-reading. (I first read the volume in 1962 and have re-read several times since. The wonder remains!) My favorites include “Nightfall” by Asimov, “The weapons shop” and “Asylum” by Van Vogt, and “The roads must roll” by Heinlein. I’ve commented below on each of the stories.

#1 Requiem / Robert Heinlein. A man can go to the moon, if he is physically fit. What happens when the person responsible for getting us there can’t go himself.
#2 Forgetfulness / Don A. Stuart (pseudonym of John W. Campbell Jr.). When we meet aliens, we tend to see them in our own terms. That could be a mistake!
#3 Nerves / Lester del Rey. It’s hard to remember that this story was written in 1942, before there were atomic power plants. We’ve lived through several disasters including Three Mile Island but this one is eerie in its details of what could happen.
#4 The sands of time / P. Schuyler Miller. Can we go back in time? What do we need for proof? And do we leave a trace of ourselves for others to find?
#5 The proud robot / Lewis Padgett (joint pseudonym of Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore). Comedy and parody have their place in science fiction. Gallagher, a brilliant inventor can’t figure out why he made the robot in the first place. Of course he was drunk but why won’t the robot tell him?
#6 Black destroyer / A. E. van Vogt. What will we meet on out voyages to other planets? And can we understand the motivations that drive us and them?
#7 Symbiotica . Eric Frank Russell. An exploration of life that is based on flora and how relationships can be misinterpreted.
#8 Seeds of the dusk / Raymond Z. Gallun. Alien life forms can sometimes be deadly to some and not to others.
#9 Heavy planet / Lee Gregor (pseudonym of Milton A. Rothman; co-written by Frederik Pohl). We are familiar with gravity; what would happen if our gravity was 100 times what we know. How could we leave our planet?
#10 Time locker / Lewis Padgett (joint pseudonym of Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore). Another drunken inventor and a shyster lawyer who tries to circumvent the law with unexpected results and a real paradox!
#11 The link / Cleve Cartmill. Man evolved and this may be the way it happened.
#12 Mechanical mice / Maurice A. Hugi (and possible co-written by Eric Frank Russell). Another slightly mad scientist and an invention that even he can’t figure out. Asimov’s laws don’t count here.
#13 V-2: rocket cargo ship / Willy Ley. Written during the war by a scientist outlining thee research done by the Nazis at Peenemünde. We know so much more now but this non-fiction piece was one of the first popular articles about rocketry. The editors of this volume in their commentary predicted we’d have a man on the moon within a decade. They were wrong by ten years but the work outlined by Ley made it all possible.
#14 Adam and no Eve / Alfred Bester. A chilling story about rocket flight and what can go horribly wrong usually does.
#15 Nightfall / Isaac Asimov. A tale of what happens when the lights go out in a world with five suns. Classic Asimov at its best.
#16 A matter of size / Harry Bates. Take the tale of an earth man needed by an alien race who thinks on his feet, even when they are just an inch long. Add a very large spaceship (about 1 inch to the foot), a cat and New York City seen from a different perspective.
#17 As never was / P. Schuyler Miller. A paradox in time travel, with a knife that was, or was it? Archaeology was never like this.
#18 Q. U. R. / Anthony Boucher. Robots have feelings too and what several gentlemen do to make them happy.
#19 Who goes there? / Don A. Stuart (pseudonym John W. Campbell Jr.). The classic alien from outer space story. Horror and desperation face the men of an expedition to Antarctica. This was made into a movie; as I recall it was awful and could not match the sheer brilliance of the short story.
#20 The roads must roll / Robert A. Heinlein. Early Heinlein at his best with the story of the roads and the men that maintained them. Labor problems are always with us.
#21 Asylum / A. E. van Vogt. Not your cute, cuddly paranormal vampires. The dreegh are highly dangerous and want to take over earth.
#22 Quietus / Ross Rocklynne. The aftermath of a disaster and few survivors remain. Assumptions are made that aren’t quite correct.
#23 The twonky / Lewis Padgett (joint pseudonym of Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore). More sinister than the other Padgett stories. An alien makes twonkies in his dimension but, when he slips through and makes one here, the results are not so nice.
#24 Time-travel happens! / A. M. Phillips (Alexander M. Phillips). An essay on the experiences of C. Anne E. Moberly and Eleanor F. Jourdain at Versailles. They claim to have seen events and places from 1789 in their first visit. Six months later, Jourdain again has a strange experience. The ladies wrote of their findings in a book, An adventure published in 1911. Did they travel back in time or was it a mass hallucination? The details of their “trip” were correct. How would they have known of these details, some of which were not discovered until long after their experience?
#25 Robot’s return / Robert Moore Williams. Robots come to a planet to try and rediscover their past. They are a bit disappointed.
#26 The blue giraffe / L. Sprague de Camp. What happens when genes are mutated? This is an extreme case but it has and will happen.
#27 Flight into darkness / (pseudonym of J. Francis McComas). An ex-Nazi builds the first space ship for his own reasons.
#28 The weapons shop / Lewis Padgett (joint pseudonym of Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore). Van Vogt at his best, developing a world far into the future. The weapons shop appears, startling and dismaying Fara Clark.
#29 Farewell to the master / Harry Bates. The classic story that inspired the film The day the earth stood still. Our perceptions of leadership can be flawed by our experience. This happens to reporter Cliff Sutherland who is following the story of the alien spaceship who landed on earth one day.
#30 Within the pyramid / R. DeWitt Miller. What would you do if you discovered an ancient pyramid that was not exactly a burial site?
#31 He who shrank / Henry Hasse. The connection between planets and atoms is explored by the shrinking man. This is not your typical Disney stuff.
#32 By his bootstraps / Anson MacDonald (pseudonym of Robert A. Heinlein). Heinlein explores the paradoxes of time travel. Some say you cannot meet yourself as you cannot exist in the same place and time as yourself. Or can you?
#33 The star mouse / Frederic Brown. The adventures of Mitkey [sic] Mouse and his trip in outer space. Of course we have a mad scientist to add to the story as well as some aliens.
#34 Correspondence course / Raymond F. Jones. What does an ET do when he doesn’t have the dexterity to repair his spaceship? Training ex-GIs seems just the right thing.
#35 Brain / S. Fowler Wright. A disturbing story of government taken over by scientists. But a pig has the last laugh. ( )
1 vote fdholt | Jul 23, 2013 |
A great anthology ( )
  Georges_T._Dodds | Mar 30, 2013 |
Any child of my generation who happened upon this collection in his/her youth became a lifelong sci-fi devotee, despite the really dreadful prose of many of these tales. Lester del Rey, for one, seems to have been an early computer trying to construct a string of sentences. But for the following classics alone, this volume should retain its value as a gateway to the stars: "Asylum" and "The Weapon Shop" by A.E. Van Vogt, "Forgetfulness" by John W. CAmpbell, Jr., "By His Bootstraps" by Robert A. Heinlein, "Nightfall" by Isaac Asimov,. ( )
  jburlinson | Sep 8, 2011 |
the little computer guy that sets up LibraryThing will tell you that this is a duplicate already in my library. well, yes. and no. the paperback (#150) already entered has eight stories in it, all of which are found in this larger collection. But eight of 35 isn't anywhere near a replica. Herein there are 27 stories I haven't read.
  andyray | Jan 15, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Healy, Raymond J.Editorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
McComas, J. FrancisEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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The 1946 Random House anthology Adventures in Time and Space was reprinted by The Modern Library in 1957 under the title Famous Science Fiction Stories: Adventures in Time and Space
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  • Introduction (Adventures in Time and Space) essay by
    Requiem - Robert A. Heinlein
    Forgetfulness - John W. Campbell, Jr.
    Nerves - Lester del Rey
    The Sands of Time - P. Schuyler Miller
    The Proud Robot - Lewis Padgett
    Black Destroyer - A. E. van Vogt
    Symbiotica - Eric Frank Russell
    Seeds of the Dusk - Raymond Z. Gallun
    Heavy Planet - Milton A. Rothman
    Time Locker Lewis Padgett
    The Link - Cleve Cartmill
    Mechanical Mice - Maurice G. Hugi
    V-2: Rocket Cargo Ship (essay) - Willy Ley
    Adam and No Eve - Alfred Bester
    Nightfall - Isaac Asimov
    A Matter of Size - Harry Bates
    As Never Was - P. Schuyler Miller
    Q. U. R. - Anthony Boucher
    Who Goes There? - John W. Campbell, Jr.
    The Roads Must Roll - Robert A. Heinlein
    Asylum - A. E. van Vogt
    Quietus - Ross Rocklynne
    The Twonky - Lewis Padgett
    Time-Travel Happens! (essay about the Moberly-Jourdain incident) - A. M. Phillips
    Robot's Return - Robert Moore Williams
    The Blue Giraffe - L. Sprague de Camp
    Flight Into Darkness - J. Francis McComas
    The Weapon Shop - A. E. van Vogt
    Farewell to the Master - Harry Bates
    Within the Pyramid - R. DeWitt Miller
    He Who Shrank - Henry Hasse
    By His Bootstraps - Robert A. Heinlein
    The Star Mouse - Fredric Brown
    Correspondence Course - Raymond F. Jones
    Brain - S. Fowler Wright
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