Tag Archives: Astounding Science Fiction

Kuttner’s Baldy Series: “The Lion and the Unicorn”

“The Lion and the Unicorn”
Originally published in Astounding Science Fiction, July 1945

This is the third installment of the Baldy series, written by Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore under their joint pen name of Lewis Padgett.  The reviews of the preceding two stories can be found here and here.

Spoilers to follow.

“The Lion and the Unicorn” opens only a few decades after “Three Blind Mice”.  Barton, the protagonist of the previous tale, is still alive.  He’s in his sixties, and while a key player, he’s not the central figure in this story.  Barton managed to kill the Baldies who had developed the alternate wavelength, but there are others.  It turns out the ability to send and receive telepathic messages on this alternate wavelength is a new mutation on the Baldy mutation.  And all the Baldies who have it are paranoid. Continue reading

Kuttner’s Baldy Series: “Three Blind Mice”

“Three Blind Mice”
Originally published in Astounding Science Fiction, June 1945, as by Lewis Padgett

This story takes place about a generation, maybe two, after the events of the first story, “The Piper’s Son”.  The stories in this series present the highlights of the history of the Baldies for the first two hundred and fifty or so years after their mutation brought them forth.  As in the last post, there will be spoiler below the READ MORE link.

David Barton is a big game hunter who captures animals and brings them back to North America (the US no longer exists as we would recognize it) for various zoos.  It’s how he has managed to adjust and adapt to his mutation.  He’s channeled is aggressiveness into something product, an accomplish necessary for a Baldy to survive.

The story opens with him bringing a load of animals to a town in the rocky mountains.  He’s flying in, looking forward to having catfish at a restaurant he knows, when he’s contacted telepathically by a woman he’s not met before.  Her name is Sue Connaught, and she wants to meet him in person. Continue reading

Kuttner’s Baldy Series: “The Piper’s Son”

“The Piper’s Son”
Originally published in Astounding Science Fiction, Feb. 1945

Henry Kuttner wrote a series of stories in collaboration with his wife C. L. Moore about a race of telepathic mutants called Baldies. This series consisted of five novelettes and ran under the Lewis Padgett byline in Astounding Science Fiction in the 1940s. This post will look at the first of them. I’ll look at the rest every Friday and Tuesday until I’ve covered the entire series and the fix-up novel containing them all.

First a bit of backstory.  The setting is about one generation, maybe two, after a nuclear war.  Chicago, among other cities, was destroyed.  There are strict limits on how large a municipality can grow.  Any town that gets too large is destroyed.

The radiation blast created a number of mutants.  Among them are a race of hairless telepaths known as Baldies.  They wear wigs and do their best to blend into society.  Understandably, they’re feared and hated by a large segment of the population. Continue reading

Happy Birthday, Eric Frank Russell

Eric Frank RussellBritish science fiction author Eric Frank Russell was born on this date 111 years ago.  (That’s January 6, 1905 for those of  you reading this at a later date.)

Russell isn’t as well known as he should be these days.  I’m not aware of any new editions of his work in the last decade or so.  There are a couple of ebooks available on Amazon, but for the most part, you’ll have to look for his work in second hand editions of the two NESFA omnibuses (short fiction and novels) from about 15 years ago.

During World War II, Russell worked in the same unit in British Intelligence as a chap named Ian Fleming.  Russell used some of the ideas he developed for sabotage in his novel Wasp.  There’s an ebook version, and the book is included in Entities from NESFA.  The novel is about a man sent behind enemy lines to disrupt and cause trouble.  It’s essentially primer on how to be a terrorist without actually killing anybody.  Like most of Russell’s work, there’s an element of humor that runs through it.  These days, it’s hard to imagine a novel dealing with these themes that fits the description I gave, but Russell pulls it off. Continue reading

John W. Campbell, Jr. at 105

On this day in 1910, John W. Campbell entered the world.  It was a very different world when he left it on July 11, 1971.  He envisioned much of that world and much of what followed his passing.JohnWCampbell-WhoGoesThere-314x218

John Campbell was arguably the most influential science fiction and fantasy editor of the 20th Century.  (Feel free to disagree in the comments.)  Campbell began writing science fiction for the pulps.  At first he published space opera under his own name.  Not content to be a well regarded writer in the field, he began publishing moody, thoughtful stories under the name Don A. Stuart.  He took the pen name from his wife’s maiden name, Dona Stuart.  His most famous story under either byline is “Who Goes There?” by Don A. Stuart, which was filmed as The Thing From Another World (1951), The Thing (1982), and The Thing (2011). Continue reading

Asimov and the Editorial Hand of John W. Campbell

The Winds of ChangeI said in my post on Asimov’s birthday a few days ago that I was going to read some stories from The Winds of Change.  I did, getting through the first four stories before my eyelids grew heavy.  The third story is the oldest in the book, “Belief” from 1953.  Asimov notes in his introduction to the story that this was its first appearance in one of his American collections.  (The reasons are beyond the scope of this post.)

I thought I had read it somewhere, perhaps in The Great SF Stories, but the ISFDB said otherwise.  It did, however, show that the story had been published in a later collection, The Alternate Asimov’s.  I had a copy I had picked up years ago that I’d never read, primarily because I didn’t have time to read the original and final versions of the novels The End of Eternity and Pebble in the SkyThe Alternate Asimovs contains the original versions of those novels.  It also contains both version of the novelette “Belief”.

It seems the version of the story John W. Campbell, Jr. published in Astounding wasn’t Asimov’s preferred version.   Campbell required Asimov to rewrite the ending significantly.  I read the original version, and found the experience quite enlightening. Continue reading

Merry Christmas

Astounding ChristmasEmsh ChristmasGalaxy Christmasgalaxy Christmas Emsh


Merry Christmas to all, whatever race you belong to or planet you hail from.  I thought I would provide a few examples of Christmas as seen through the covers of some vintage science fiction magazines.

The Astounding is the January 1955 issue, with a cover by Frank Kelly Freas.  John W. Campbell Jr. published a number of Christmas covers during his tenure as editor.

Ed Emshwiller, who often signed his work Emsh, was the artist for the image in the upper right as well as the Galaxy cover from 1953.  The artist for the December 1960 Galaxy was Ross Rosenberger.  I’m not familiar with his work.  Galaxy ran a whole series of Christmas covers featuring the four-armed Santa in the 1950s.

I really like these covers because, like many sf magazine covers from the 1950s, they have a sense of whimsy about them.  In many ways they show contemporary scenes in a science fiction settings, such as the aliens spying on Santa and Santa receiving the alien carolers.

One of the memories I have about Christmas while in middle school and high school was the science fiction paperbacks I received as Christmas presents, many of them anthologies containing stories from these magazines.  The Christmas breaks were when I had plenty of time on my hands with no homework and could get a lot of reading done.

Have a Merry Christmas, everyone.

Different Christmas posts are up at Adventures Fantastic, Dispatches From the Lone Star Front, and Gumshoes, Gats, and Gams.