Hertzsprung-Russell rating: A0.1

Available in: The Oxford Book Of Science Fiction Stories

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Things heat up considerably on planet Earth after a gigantic second sun mysteriously appears in our sky. Oceans boil then fall as scalding rain, the sauna industry tanks and Buster Poindexter is mercilessly beaten in the street (which, let’s be honest, was bound to happen anyway). And, yet, the story’s lone Republican congressman still insists global warming is nothing to worry about.

Hertzsprung-Russell rating: A/F10-2.5

Available in: Weird Tales, Volume VIII, No. 3

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A man employed by a news wire service (sigh…remember the news?) hears the story of a mysterious fog that has enveloped a small town and subjected its inhabitants to bizarre lights and noises, vertigo and a general sense of temporal displacement. If that small town were only full of stupid hippies selling t-shirts for thirty bucks a pop, it’d be just like a Grateful Dead concert. Or, I guess maybe a Foghat concert, since it’s a story about fog. But definitely not Ram Jam.

Hertzsprung-Russell rating: A10

Available in: The Best Of Murray Leinster

A man invents a device that can duplicate matter on the molecular level, so he naturally uses it to double his supply of money, liquor and women. This also doubles his supply of headaches, hangovers and hysteria but, as the old saying goes: ‘mo’lecularily duplicated matter, mo’ problems’. I myself own a molecular duplicator I use to duplicate copy for this blog when I don’t feel like writing more. I also own a molecular duplicator I use to duplicate copy for this blog when I don’t feel like writing more (I also duplicated this bit about duplication I used in another post).

Hertzsprung-Russell rating: O/B10

Available in: Thrilling Wonder Stories, Vol. XXIX, No. 3

A Nebraska-grade corny story about a spore-woman from Venus who lands on Earth and grows in a man’s garden. Any guy who can grow a woman from scratch must have quite a green thumb, but the fact that she’s described as being buxom, beautiful, and rooted to the ground tells me it’s not his thumb she should be worried about.

Hertzsprung-Russell rating: G104

Available in: Galactic Cluster

Do you like surprise endings? For example; would it thrill you if, instead of the question mark you were expecting at the end of this sentence, there was a miniature picture of Bob Uecker instead Then you should read this story. It has a surprise ending that’ll make that question mark/Uecker thing seem hackneyed and pathetic by comparison. Much like Bob Uecker himself (bet you didn’t see that coming, Uecker!)


Hertzsprung-Russell rating: F106.5+

Available in: The Twelve Frights Of Christmas

Aliens with the ability to mimic humans infiltrate a space colony, and the captain is forced to take desperate measures to figure out who’s who, and who’s an ‘it’. Do you have what it takes to be a captain? One of these blogs is an alien mimic. Figure out which one it is and eliminate it.

Hertzsprung-Russell rating: F106.5+

Available in: The Twelve Frights Of Christmas

Aliens with the ability to mimic humans infiltrate a space colony, and the captain is forced to take desperate measures to figure out who’s who, and who’s an ‘it’. Do you have what it takes to be a captain? One of these blogs is an alien mimic. Figure out which one it is and eliminate it.

Hertzsprung-Russell rating: K0.1

Available in: Orsinian Tales

An arrogant travelling priest tries in vain to convert a barbaric mountain tribe to Christianity. But the village chieftain, having none of it, slits the priest’s throat (God, while omnipresent, is nowhere to be found at the time of the priest’s gurgling death). A nice little gem of a story that reminds us that, while many of us make sacrifices for our careers, a few of us actually become them.

Hertzsprung-Russell rating: A10-2.5

Available in: Sword And Sorceress III

A wandering African female warrior meets a shape-shifting succubus in the jungle and is lured into a life of captive lesbian sexuality that makes said jungle even hotter and stankier than it is. ‘Marwe’s Forest’ is part of an anthology of ‘female fantasy’ that purportedly celebrates strong female characters penned by strong female writers, but it’s written by a guy and is naught but boner-inducing jack-fodder. You get the feeling it started off as something serious and sincere, but kept coming back from a cigar-chomping editor with ‘NEEDS MORE TITS’ scrawled in the margins. And tits it got.

Hertzsrpung-Russell rating: A/F10-3.5

Available in: Armageddons

An amateur astronomer discovers a comet heading towards Earth that’ll wipe the globe off the map in the next few hours. So he spends his last moments alive working up the nerve to ask a co-worker out for coffee, resulting in the awkwardest first (and last) date small-talk ever (“So….um….how did you enjoy civilization?”) Chicks fall for the old ‘end-of-the-world comet’ trick every time; it’s how I got my wife to marry me. Luboš Kohoutek was our officient. He got really drunk at the reception.