Hertzsprung-Russell rating: 0106.5+

Available in: The Early Del Ray Volume 1

A brilliant biologist imbues a statue of Hermes with life using unorthodox methods. But in order to survive, his creation requires a steady diet of hard liquor.  I suppose you could call it a science experiment gone a-rye. Many famous scientists allowed alcohol to interfere with their work. A drunken Nikola Tesla, for example, would often ‘prank’ Thomas Edison by leaving a steaming ‘Tesla coil’ on Edison’s doorstep. And every Saturday night ended with Marie Curie puking her guts out, although that was from radiation poisoning.


Hertzsprung-Russell rating: O106.5+

Available in: The Human Zero

From the creator of ‘Perry Mason’ (yeah – no kiddin’!) comes a scifi detective tale about an evil scientist who builds a weapon that lowers people’s body temperatures to 0° Kelvin. Spoiler alert: then they die. Things get tense as the heroic leading man searches frantically for the source of the deadly freeze ray to save the dame he loves. If people were searching frantically for the source of my deadly freeze ray, I’d taunt them by saying ‘You’re getting colder….colder….colder….’

Hertzsprung-Russell rating: G105.5

Available in: The Second Omni Book Of Science Fiction

A sentient, bio-engineered house turns on its masters and imprisons them within its walls, and all without a Mike Holmes in sight to make their plight right (older readers may want to substitute a Bob Villa reference there). This story is a good lesson for first–time homebuyers; if you walk into a house and discover the corpses of two people it’s imprisoned, try to leverage that.

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: B0.5

Available in: Thrilling Wonder Stories, Volume XXX, No. 3

A  mapcap tale in which highly-intelligent donkeys enslave humans. They’re all, like, ‘Fuck this – you guys pull the carts and carry Juan Valdez’ coffee and bring Jesus into Jerusalem and be the briefly amusing but now thoroughly grating comic sidekick in Shrek.’ Basically, it’s Planet Of The Apes, but with donkeys (and somewhere, someone has spoken the previous sentence to the head of a movie studio, who is currently writing them a cheque for a hundred million dollars.)

Hertzsprung-Russell rating: F106.5+

Available in: The Big Book Of Adventure Stories


A scientist develops a formula that reduces him to the size of a single atom (talk about shrinkage!) and allows him to discover and explore hitherto unknown worlds that exist on the microscopic level. Eventually, he falls in love with the tiny unsuper-sized civilizations and decides to stay down there forever. No biggie. While entertaining, the whole story is preposterous: I took a shrink formula thirty minutes ago and nothing is happening yet and oh shit it’s kicking in and if you’re still reading this you have really good eyesight.

Hertzsprung-Russell rating: O/B102.5

Available in: Great Science Fiction About Doctors

A young couple buys a robo-nanny to care for their newborn baby in all the ways a real mother would. The robot feeds the baby, rocks the baby and writes about the baby on an insufferably self-righteous mommy blog. In the end, however, the baby grows to love the robot more than its human parents. Children eschewing their progenitors in favour of machines is nothing new. In the 80s I spent so much time playing Nintendo I forgot my father’s name. I think it was ‘Mario’. Is this thing on? The computer, I mean – is it on? Yep. Green light’s flashing. It’s on.