Friday, October 28, 2016
Pendulum by A.E. van Vogt
(pb; 1978: science fiction story anthology)
Pendulum is a good, fun story collection, one worth owning. Between the solid writing, the intriguing concepts, the humor and everything else within them, these stories are entertaining and provocative.
1.) "Pendulum": An oceanic endeavor to regenerate new marine life revives mysterious beings whose presence ushers in a new age of language and time-travel (particularly for a man, John Hudman). This is a mostly fun -- if overlong -- tale.
2.) "The Male Condition": On an anger- and crime-free planet, a psychological study on rape is scheduled for re-enactment. Of course, complications ensue. This is a biting, satirical, non-explicit and non-violent work, embodied with psychological terms and quirky aliens (Tinkers). Fun, dark-themed and sometimes silly stuff, this.
3.) "Living with Jane": A scientist (Dan), trying to fend off an android societal takeover, discovers that his family has been taken hostage. Plot- and character-twisty, this is a provocative and entertaining tale.
4.) "The First Rull": Excellent thriller about an alien (the Rull) whose plot to steal a scientific discovery from a human college campus encounters disruptive complications. This is one of my favorite stories in this collection.
5.) "Footprint Farm": A farm, the site of an ancient meteorite crash, may prove to be the salvation -- or doom -- of a family on the brink of falling apart. Good story, long enough to be interesting, short enough to not overstay its welcome.
6.) "The Non-Aristotelian Detective": An unusual sleuth figures out a murder case. Fun story.
7.) "The Human Operators" (written in collaboration with Harlan Ellison): Mostly good piece about a man whose entire existence revolves around spaceship maintenance -- a Ship that is his master. The concept and execution of the work is solid, though it could have been considerably shorter.
8.) "The Launch of Apollo XVII": A science fiction writer, at the site of a NASA rocket launch, interviews other spectators from different social strati. This humorous, loose work is political, satirical and offbeat, different than the other stories in this collection. Another fun offering, this.