The Invaders by Robert Spencer Carr (plus Ray Bradbury and John D. MacDonald)

American Science Fiction Magazine #20Published un-numbered as the 20th issue in the American Science Fiction magazine series (Australia: Malian Press) in about December 1953, with stylistically simple artwork by Stanley Pitt, this issue packs a hefty punch, with two very competently-written short stories to chase the thrilling novelette by Carr.

The Invaders by Robert Spencer Carr
Original source: The Saturday Evening Post (24 September 1949) as “Easter Eggs”

The title seems to imply a slew of aliens invade our planet, but, in fact, we are looking only at two Martians. Operating on a shared-mind system, they fly about in red-egg-shaped ships. One lands in Washington D.C., while another lands in Moscow. After reported attempts to blast the ship(s) to pieces, both country leaders learn that an impenetrable H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds-like shield protects them from assault. The alien in each vessel finally contacts each country’s leader, and negotiations begin for coming to live here on Earth. But, each country wants the vessels abilities to counteract war and/or to annihilate their enemy. The alien in Moscow agrees to the deals made there without his “brother’s” agreement, which goes against every Martian code and silences their joint contact. This results in an aerial Martian war between the two all across the skies of America. Finally, one wins, and departs for Mars. It ends on a note that suggests the D. C. visitor won, as a very human-like victory lap is performed over D.C.

Dwellers in Space by Ray Bradbury
Original source: Maclean’s (15 September 1948) as “The Long Years”

An expedition led in 2017 finds a 1997 expedition alive and well on Mars. Bizarrely, the 2017 crew begin to wonder how it is that the professor has aged, yet, his wife and children are the same age that they were 20 years ago, unchanged!!! This fact is clarified simply that his family died 20 years ago and he created robots from the surrounding Martian city which man had set up long ago, but abandoned after nuclear war engulfed Earth. Decades later Earth had rebuilt itself, to a limited degree, and 2017 got its first active ship back to Mars. The aged professor dies of a heart-attack, and the robot family is baffled as to how to behave. The crew eventually departs, leaving the creepy robots “alive.”

Flaw by John D. MacDonald
Original source: Startling Stories (January 1949)

The magazine is securely finished with John D. MacDonald’s short thriller Flaw. Imagine if going into space resulted in your returning a year later the size of the 50 Foot Woman. Just so, the four space pioneers return and slam into earth and die. The narrator has figured out the “why” and figures it is only a matter of time before scientists on earth eventually learn, but, in the meantime, the third exploration ship is due back in three months… and how big a crater will they create on re-entry?

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The Irrationals by Milton Lesser (American Science Fiction Magazine series)

by Morgan Wallace

The Irrationals by Milton Lesser
Let us continue with our ongoing thread on Australia’s American Science Fiction Magazine pulp reprint series, as published by the Malian Press, in the 1950s. As always, each cover is gorgeously illustrated by Stanley Pitt.

Our cover feature is “The Irrationals” by Milton Lesser. The story reminds me of the movie version of Philip K. Dick’s Minority Report, albeit, very loosely. If you’ve read Dick’s story or viewed the movie, then, you really do not need me to elaborate any further. The story itself was decently written.

Nelson Bond’s “The Man Who Could Walk Through Walls” was terribly stale, but typical of Bond’s easy-going fantastic fiction stylings. Not great, but not horrible either. Just a good, easy read for the late-night armchair reader, kickin’-it old-school by a roaring fireplace.

Ray Bradbury’s “The Pedestrian” is epic, to a fault. Ray expresses no imagination regarding televisions over a hundred years later from whence this story was originally written. Nor does he alter the “shows” the people are watching, etc. It’s as if they are all watching 1940s television in the year 2131. Hardly believable. I found that irredeemable of a man capable of writing cleverly constructed stories. Despite my personal grievances against the background-plot, it was well-written, and engaging enough to make me wonder just what WAS the point that Ray would eventually drive home. According to Ray, this story is the beginning of what would become FAHRENHEIT 451. So, maybe I shouldn’t knock the story…. Not entirely.