H l gold ed, p.1

H. L. Gold (ed), page 1

 

H. L. Gold (ed)
 


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H. L. Gold (ed)


  TRIAL BY MACHINE!

  "The trial is over, 0 Earth Monster," the buglike Venusian announced. "The Justice Machine has reached its decision."

  "It has, has it? Well, it's about time. I've been delayed long enough." Jiminez turned and started for the door.

  But he didn't make it. The Justice Machine flared in blinding colors and spun swiftly to come between him and the door.

  "Hey!" cried Jiminez, more surprised than angry. "Now what's the matter?"

  The Venusian coughed apologetically-at least his dorsal chitin made a faint popping sound that must have been the equivalent of a cough.

  He said regretfully, "0 Earth Monster, the Justice Machine has found you guilty."

  THE FOURTH GALAXY READER was originally published by Doubleday & Company, Inc., at $3.95.

  OTHER BOOKS EDITED BY H. L. GOLD

  THE SECOND GALAXY READER •THE THIRD GALAXY READER 'FIVE GALAXY SHORT NOVELS

  •Published in a Permabook edition.

  Are there paper-bound books you want

  but cannot find at your retail stores? You can get any title in print in these famous series, POCKET BOOKS, CARDINAL EDITIONS, POCKET LIBRARY and PERMABOOKS, by ordering from Mail Service Dept., Pocket Books, Inc., 1 West 39th St., New York 18, N.Y. Enclose retail price plus 5c per book for mailing costs.

  FREE CATALOGUE SENT ON REQUEST

  Edited by H. L. GOLD

  PERMABOOKS • NEW YORK

  This Permabook includes every word contained in the original, higher-priced edition. It is printed from brand-new plates made from completely reset, clear, easy-to-read type.

  THE FOURTH GALAXY READER

  Doubleday edition published April, 1959

  PERMABOOK edition published November, 1960

  1st printing............................. September, 1960

  All of the characters in this book are fictitious, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

  Copyright, 1956, by Galaxy Publishing Corp.: NAME YOUR SYMPTOM, Jim Harmon, and HORRER HOWCE, Margaret St. Clair, reprinted by courtesy of the authors, MAN OF DISTINCTION, Michael Shaara, reprinted by courtesy of Harry Altshuler and the author.

  Copyright, 1957, Galaxy Publishing Corp.: i AM A NUCLEUS, Stephen Barr, and THE BOMB IN THE BATHTUB, Thomas N. Scortia, reprinted by courtesy of the authors, YOU WERE RIGHT, JOE, J. T. Mcintosh, reprinted by courtesy of Willis Kingsley Wing and the author, WHAT'S HE DOING IN THERE?, Fritz Leiber, reprinted by courtesy of Harry Altshuler and the author.

  Copyright, 195B, by Galaxy Publishing Corp.: THE HATED, Paul Flehr; KILL ME .WITH KINDNESS, Richard Wilson; THE GENTLEST UNPEOPLE, Frederik Pohl, and "MAN IN A QUANDARY, L. J. Stecner, Jr., reprinted by courtesy of the authors. THE MINIMUM MAN, Robert Sheckley; THE OUN WITHOUT A BANG, Finn O'Donne-van, and BLANK FORM, Arthur Sellings, reprinted by courtesy of Harry Altshuler and the authors, OR ALL THE SEAS WITH OYSTERS, Avram Davidson, reprinted by courtesy of John Schaffner and the author.

  L

  Copyright, ©, 1959, by Galaxy Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved. This PERMABOOK edition is published by arrangement with Doubleday & Company, Inc. Printed in the U.S.A.

  PERMABOOK editions are distributed in the U.S. by Aifiliared Publishers. Inc. 630 Fifth Avenue, New York 20, N.Y.

  i

  PERMABOOK editions are published in the United States by Pocket Books. Inc., and in Canada by Pocket Books of Canada, Ltd.—the world's largest publishers of low-priced adult books.

  To Joan and Van with love and gratitude

  Contents

  I Am a Nucleus ............................................................................................... '

  by Stephen Barr

  Name Your Symptom ............................................................................................ 34

  by Jim Harmon

  Horrer Howce .......................................................................................................... 49

  by Margaret St. Clair

  Man of Distinction ................................................................................................ 62

  by Michael Shaara

  The Bomb in the Bathtub ....................................................................................... ¿9

  by Thomas N. Scortia

  You Were Right, Joe ............................................................................................... 85

  by J. T. Mcintosh

  What's He Doing in There? ................................................................................. 9'

  by Fritz Leiber

  The Gentlest Unpeople ........................................................................................... 106

  by Frederik Pohl

  The Hated .................................................................................................................. 129

  by Paul Flehr

  Kill Me with Kindness ............................................................................................ 141

  by Richard Wilson

  Or All the Seas with Oysters ................................................................................ 159

  by Avram Davidson

  vii

  viii • Contents

  The Gun Without a Bang........................................................................................ 170

  by Finn O'Donnevan

  Man in a Quandary ................................................................................................. 180

  by L. J. Stecher, Jr.

  Blank Form ........................................................................................................... 189

  by Arthur Sellings

  The Minimum Man ................................................................................................. 205

  by Robert Sheckley

  ► In This Corner

  Just recently the wife of a U.S. diplomat called, said her husband was to meet with an Iron Curtain official known to have a fondness for "space" fiction, and what could I suggest as a politic gift of books?

  Political is the word.

  Like all overlords before them, the Communist chiefs consider everything to be political; the differences between democracy and autocracy are immense, but this is the biggest, the multi-trap-doored labyrinthine arena in which democracy continually finds itself emerging unaware, to be thwacked humiliatingly before the laughing world—simply for want of knowing that everything is political, or can be made so if that's how one operates, and that this is how autocracy does operate because it must.

  Brink of war and Olympic games, steel-production figures and Nobel prize winners, U.N. debates and ballet for export, alphabet-bomb bans and world fairs, Arab nationalism and music contests . . .

  And, of course, science fiction. Why not? It falls into the everything classification.

  Not long ago, newspapers picked up a Moscow story in which Russian writers of science fiction were ordered, as the headlines something less than accurately stated, to "Think, Damn You!" (We in American science fiction would say extrapolate, which is the process of taking a known fact or theory of today and carrying it just as far as imaginative logic can take it, only we don't have to curse or command our writers into doing so.) When Russian politniks make a political statement on something, how else should we regard

  that something but as political, even if it's something as seemingly unlikely as science fiction?

  This is no call to Washington to mobilize science fiction into diplomatic and military legions. We need them not. But let's be a bit smart about this literary force we so casually own, which so unth
inkably outclasses the antagonists in the arenas they invariably choose, and in which we go on being surprised to discover ourselves, a force that exists right now, with no subsidies for research and development being required, no aid programs for allies to import it at our expense. . . .

  Most U.S. science-fiction magazines have foreign editions in one or another country—and Galaxy has editions all over the British Empire, France (which includes Belgium and Switzerland), Italy, Germany, Sweden, Finland, with more being negotiated—items of democracy, far superior by the Russians' own yelped admission, imported by other nations at not a penny's cost to government or, for a glad change, taxpayer, and at every level, of course, as private as enterprise possibly can be.

  And there's the accounting for the superiority of American science fiction. When a dictatorship settles on a crash priority, it can get an awesome lot of things done, but thinking isn't one of them, and science fiction—good science fiction, not filmonsters and cinemarmageddons—is the product of thinking. Lone thinking that is done by individual writers at individual typewriters, for science fiction produced in any collective fashion, whether by a bureau of literature or a board of directors, collapses into a puddle of effects, Technicalorific in Hollywood, black-and-white politicalumnies in Kremlinland.

  Prove that latter charge? As easily done as said. Galaxy was approached by the Soviet Embassy for an exchange of Russian and American science fiction—story for story, even-stephen, no money to change hands. We naturally said we would be glad to take a look, and on came the flaccid flood, and here is how the swap would have worked out:

  Their timid venturings to the edge of space, for our bold explorations of planets in this solar system and elsewhere, commutings between the galaxies and even other universes— which, regard you well, are actual mathematical concepts that have been created out of necessity to account for observable and duplicable phenomena.

  Their forcibly constrained Utopian views of Communistic society a few years into the future, for our bravura forays into social setups of every conceivable kind for more millennia and light-years than mankind has recorded hours of history and sea-leagues and land-miles of voyaging.

  Their tinkerings with the sciences of today, and only today, with a worried eye toward coming Lysenko-like dogmas, for our daring construction of disciplines as much beyond today's as space-ship construction is from the building of rafts, and many that are no more than guesswork hazards that may prove true—may, mind, not will, a word that belongs in science fiction only until the end of any given story, for the next, or one soon after, is sure to contradict it as thoroughly as the author is capable of, as, to be sure, he should, else what is science fiction for, if not to come up with every imaginable answer?

  Their . . .

  Well, the one attractive piece of Russian science fiction did not come from the Embassy. It came from an American translator who happened on it back at the end of World War II, when it went on sale briefly—very briefly. A competent novel by a competent craftsman, its scientific premise was acceptable enough, though nothing to create an uproar past the Jules Verne era: a tunnel through the earth, large enough to accommodate considerable passenger and freight traffic at railroad speed, which is faster but costlier than shipping, slower and less pleasant and convenient than jet flight. The scientific premise, however, was much more credible than the political one: the U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. built the earth tunnel as a joint project!

  Only two conjectures seem less likely: that the author escaped exile or execution; that the book would now be allowed Iron Curtain publication.

  xii • In This Comer

  On the other hand, there would be just one reprisal if it were brought out here: who'd buy anything so pathetically outdated?

  You probably would like to know if the Russians still wanted American science fiction. Well, yes. If they didn't have to pay for it. And if they could make certain changes.

  They can't make those changes. But if there are enough U.S. diplomats bringing enough "politic" gifts of American "space" fiction to enough Red officials with a taste for it, they could have the entire edition of this volume of freely enterprising stories without its costing them a cent.

  Not a bad idea, is it?

  -H. L. GOLD

  ►I Am a Nucleus

  Stephen Barr —

  WHEN I GOT HOME FROM THE OFFICE, I was not so much tired as beaten down, but the effect is similar. I let myself into the apartment, which had an absentee-wife look, and took a cold shower. The present downtown temperature, according to the radio, was eighty-seven degrees, but according to my Greenwich Village thermometer, it was ninety-six. I got dressed and went into the living room, and wished ardently that my wife Molly were here to tell me why the whole place looked so woebegone.

  What do they do, I asked myself, that I have left undone? I've vacuumed the carpet, I've dusted and I've straightened the cushions . . . Ah! The ash trays. I emptied them, washed them and put them back, but still the place looked wife-deserted.

  It had been a bad day; I had forgotten to wind the alarm clock, so I'd had to hurry to make a story conference at one of the TV studios I write for. I didn't notice the impending rainstorm and had no umbrella when I reached the sidewalk, to find myself confronted with an almost tropical downpour. I would have turned back, but a taxi came up and a woman got out, so I dashed through the rain and got in.

  "Madison and Fifty-fourth," I said.

  "Right," said the driver, and I heard the starter grind, and then go on grinding. After some futile efforts, he turned to me. "Sorry, Mac. You'll have to find another cab. Good hunting."

  If possible, it was raining still harder. I opened my news-

  paper over my hat and ran for the subway: three blocks. Whizzing traffic held me up at each crossing and I was soaked when I reached the platform, just in time to miss the local. After an abnormal delay, I got one which exactly missed the express at Fourteenth Street. The same thing happened at both ends of the crosstown shuttle, but I found the rain had stopped when I got out at Fifty-first and Lexington.

  As I walked across to Madison Avenue, I passed a big excavation where they were getting ready to put up a new office building. There was the usual crowd of buffs watching the digging machines and, in particular, a man with a pneumatic drill who was breaking up some hard-packed clay. While I looked, a big lump of it fell away, and for an instant I was able to see something that looked like a chunk of dirty glass, the size of an old-fashioned hatbox. It glittered brilliantly in the sunlight, and then his chattering drill hit it.

  There was a faint bang and the thing disintegrated. It knocked him on his back, but he got right up and I realized he was not hurt. At the moment of the explosion—if so feeble a thing can be called one—I felt something sting my face and, on touching it, found blood on my hand. I mopped at it with my handkerchief but, though slight, the bleeding would not stop, so I went into a drugstore and bought some pink adhesive, which I put on the tiny cut. When I got to the studio, I found that I had missed the story conference.

  During the day, by actual count, I heard the phrase "I'm just spitballing" eight times, and another Madison Avenue favorite, "the whole ball of wax," twelve times. However, my story had been accepted without change because nobody had noticed my absence from the conference room. There you have what is known as the Advertising World, the Advertising game or the advertising racket, depending upon which rung of the ladder you have achieved.

  The subway gave a repeat performance going home, and as I got to the apartment house we live in, the cop on the afternoon beat was standing there talking to the doorman.

  He said, "Hello, Mr. Graham. I guess you must have just missed it at your office building." I looked blank and he explained, "We just heard it a little while ago; all six elevators in your building jammed at the same time. Sounds crazy. I guess you just missed it."

  Anything can happen in advertising, I thought. "That's right, Danny, I just missed it," I said, and went on in.

/>   Psychiatry tells us that some people are accident-prone; I, on the other hand, seemed recently to be coincidence-prone, fluke-happy, and except for the alarm clock, I'd had no control over what had been going on.

  I went into our little kitchen to make a drink and reread the directions Molly had left, telling me how to get along by myself until she got back from her mother's in Oyster Bay, a matter of ten days. How to make coffee, how to open a can, whom to call if I took sick and such. My wife used to be a trained nurse and she is quite convinced that I cannot take a breath without her. She is right, but not for the reasons she supposes.

  I opened the refrigerator to get some ice and saw another notice: "When you take out the Milk or Butter, Put it Right Back. And Close the Door too."

  Intimidated, I took my drink into the living room and sat down in front of the typewriter. As I stared at the novel that was to liberate me from Madison Avenue, I noticed a mistake and picked up a pencil. When I put it down, it rolled off the desk, and with my eyes on the manuscript, I groped under the chair for it. Then I looked down. The pencil was standing on its end.

  There, I thought to myself, is that one chance in a million we hear about, and picked up the pencil. I turned back to my novel and drank some of the highball in hopes of inspiration and surcease from the muggy heat, but nothing came. I went back and read the whole chapter to try to get a forward momentum, but came to a dead stop at the last sentence.

 
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