Never doubt that Science Fiction writers, at least, are science nerds. Who else would title a book Volume IIB? I guess that it’s the second half of a hardcover Volume II.
Issued in 1973, this book contains some medium-length fiction published before 1966. It was edited by Ben Bova.
- “The Martian Way” by Isaac Asimov. In this tale, Terran colonists on Mars address covert political opposition from Earth in the form of reluctance to let Mars have any water for its rockets.
- “Earthman, Come Home” by James Blish. In this story of the end of the Okie cities as space-roving laborers powered by the never-explained spindizzies, Mayor Amalfi must find a permanent home for his city as the spindizzies wear out. He discovers a distant colony with a feudal society centred on another stranded city.
- “Rogue Moon” by Algis Budrys. Budrys uses an early concept of matter transmission to make possible the exploration of a mysterious and deadly alien artifact on a distant moon.
- “The Specter General” by Theodore R. Cogswell. Perhaps clothes do make the man. An outpost is finally visited by the “Specter General.”
- “The Machine Stops” by E. M. Forster. This famous tale pictures a world-wide, automated society where no one must leave their room to have a social life and no one EVER leaves the city. I wonder what Forster would think of the Web.
- “The Midas Plague” by Frederik Pohl. If prosperity depends on consumers, then consumption becomes a duty.
- “The Witches of Karres” by James H. Schmitz. This novelette contains the first few chapters of the eponymous novel, in more or less their final form. A few words or paragraphs are different. It’s not the preliminary story, of a spaceman and his childlike bride, which was quite different.
- “E for Effort” by T. L. Sherred. A man discovers a way to view the past and tries to use it to save the world.
- “In Hiding” by Wilmar H. Shiras. I remembered this story but not the author’s name. A young boy does everything he can to appear normal when he is anything but.
- “The Big Front Yard” by Clifford D. Simak. This is a typical Simak story. A straightforward and resourceful loner finds something creepy going on around him, gets some hints from his dog, takes aliens and interstellar doorways in his stride, deals with unusual developments, and fights off bureaucracy.
- “The Moon Moth by Jack Vance. I believe that this is a work of unusual complexity for Vance. He places his outworlder in a society of nuances and complex mores, with musical performance accompanying the simplest of communications. His outworlder fails again and again to grasp the subtleties, with dramatic results.