Post by Craig Herbertson on Sept 15, 2013 10:34:32 GMT
"The Monsters" It's the first time that humans make contact with an alien race and they meet the first stumbling block when they discover that the aliens kill their female mates every twenty five days to limit the population. Told from the aliens' side it's a good study in moral relativity. "Cost of Living" Under economic pressure to buy every new fangled gadget men are pressured to sign up their income to pay the debts. Next they can sign away their children's income. Excellent study of rampant capitalism. "The Altar" A fairly straight forward horror tale which by the very title needs no explanation for Vaultees. Good though. "Keep Your Shape" A tale highly reminiscent of P K Dick with flowing shape-changing aliens who want to take over earth but are mesmerized by the diversity of life on our tiny planet. "The Impacted Man" Lovely Sheckley theme of a god-like galaxy engineer who's made earth (and our entire galaxy) but there's a couple of flaws. One of which impacts rather nastily on one poor bloke trying to get out of his house. "Untouched by Human Hands" You're stuck on a planet and need to eat to survive. But what can you eat. Clever stuff. "The King's Wishes" "Warm" Voices in your head, parallel universe next door. Horrific stuff and worthy of inclusion in any horror anthology. "The Demons" "Specialist" (Not horrible at all) An alien spacecraft composed of interlocking intelligent beings loses its 'pusher in a storm. In need of a replacement they turn to earth. "Seventh Victim" This one grew later into a novel. Murder is legalised. The classic futuristic tale of the hunt where hunters are assigned a victim but the victim can fight back on an almost equal level. If you survive, you are the nextvictim. This is SF but it is horror strangely reminiscent to me of Stanley Ellin. "Ritual" "Beside Still Waters"
All published around 1953/4 this is a really strong collection, many of which would appeal to horror fans. Sheckley hasn't gone off into his philosophical; excesses yet and is on top form with ideas and execution. Reads very easily and is also a barrel of laughs at times. This review is marred by my inabiltiy to find the book, a poor memory and my reading four books in-between. Maybe my copy is in a parallel universe but I struggle to remember if the other stories were in the four square edition.
Just discovered the book with none of the other stories but an additional one called Watchbirds about robotic birds that hang around and prevent murders. The problem is they have an element of developing consciousness and they start to get over zealous. Again very like Dick with his fears of robotic nightmares ahead. Good though.