Hertzsprung-Russell rating: O106.5+

Available in: More Tales Of Pirx The Pilot

In Stanislaw Lem’s native Poland, the letter ‘w’ is often represented by the letter ‘v’. In tribute, I will follow the same rule for my review of this story. Ahem. This story is wery, wery boring. I would rather have a wiolent wasectomy with a scalpel soaked in winegar and then get kicked and wigourously and wiciously in the testicles by Darth Wader than read it again.

Hertzsprung-Russell rating: F/G10-2.5

Available in: The Best From Fantasy & Science Fiction

Dirt: we earthlings never realize how important it is until we don’t have any under us, on us, or in us. In this story, a criminal exiled in space longs for the brown, brown ground of home. The lesson? Don’t take Earth dirt for granted. Stop washing your potatoes before you eat them. Re-watch the seminal 2001 David Spade comedy Joe Dirt. And for Christ’s sake lay off the Tide.

Hertzsprung-Russell rating: A/F106.5+

Available in: The Best Of Edmond Hamilton

When scientists discover the sun is about to ‘splode, they devise an ingenious plan: build giant jets in New Zealand and use them to steer the planet to a more hospitable galaxy. It’s a logistical nightmare, but humankind moves Heaven and Earth to move Heaven and Earth to someplace less blowy-uppy. Plus, New Zealand is now obliterated by giant jets, but fuck those guys. Full disclosure: this post is sponsored by Tourism Australia to counter the previous post sponsored by Tourism New Zealand.

Hertzsprung-Russell Rating: A10-5

Available in: 100 Great Science Fiction Short Short Stories

Got a second? That’s how long it’ll take you to read this three-word story (spoiler alert: the last word is ‘up’). There’s a famous anecdote about Hemmingway writing a six-word story (‘For sale: baby shoes, never worn.’) but ‘Sign At The End Of The Universe’ is half as long as Papa’s. Which means, of course, that Duane Ackerman is twice as good a writer as Ernest Hemmingway.

Hertzsprung-Russell rating: B10

Available in: The Best Of Raymond Z. Gallun

When a long-abandoned alien ship is found orbiting Jupiter, an intrepid space explorer boards ‘er to discover what he can about the long-abandonees. He examines the aliens’ long-abandoned records, rifles through their long-abandoned underwear drawer and puzzles at their long-abandoned technology (this ‘Zune’ they had – what purpose did it serve?) The result of his intensive six-week, $181,000 investigation? The ship was abandoned. Possibly long ago. And that’s why the space program should be funded by the private sector.

Hertzsprung-Russell rating: G1

Available in: The Farthest Reaches

Spinrad spins a rad yarn about a vanished alien civilization that leaves behind a stately pleasuredome designed to lure humans into eternal paradise. I like this story because it uses the word ‘spacer’ to describe professional interstellar travelers. Such a sadly optimistic, fun, corny, word. ‘Spacer’. Say it with me now: ‘spacer’. Neat.