Sunday, January 12, 2014

Angels & Spaceships: Review

Fredric Brown was a master of the science fiction short story form...and even more so of the short short form.  Angels and Spaceships is a fantastic collection of stories--over half of which were published in Astounding & Unknown between 1941 and 1949.  The book starts out with an absolute stunner--a work of supreme science fiction irony that does its magic in a page and a half.  Brown does more with that page and a half than a lot of writers could do with an entire novel.  He goes on to tell us about the linotype machine (a printing line casting machine used until the 60s/70s) that comes alive and makes a slave of the printer. And how the earth was surrounded by aliens that fed off of electricity and forced everyone to go back to the horse and buggy and steam-powered engines.  And the little boy who defeated Satan with a water pistol--and some very special water.  And the spaceman who kills an alien and finds that the death sentence isn't quite as bad as he first thought. Oh...and the heavenly typesetter who missed a typo or two and made things difficult for Charlie Wills.  All this and more in one place!

The stories range from screwball fantasy to hardball science fiction and everything in between.  Brown's writing is delightfully straightforward until the clever curve ball that he manages to throw at the end of every story.  A fun and intriguing collection.  Four stars.


fredamans said...

Not much of a sci-fi fan here, but the topic of learning about a linotype machine appeals to me.
Fab review!

Bev Hankins said...

Freda: I think part of the appeal of the Brown stories is that they really don't have to be science fiction--they're just good stories.