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.

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Hertzsprung-Russell rating: O103.5

Available in: The Vortex Blasters (duh)

E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith is of an era when professional scifi writers often adopted their former day jobs as nicknames. Smith, for example, maintained a lifelong correspondence with Robert ‘Halal Butcher’ Silverberg, Harry ‘Non-Union-Bull-Inseminator’ Turtledove, and Philip Jose ‘Farmer’. But if Smith was as bad a doctor as ‘The Vortex Blasters’ is a story, I’m going to stop mailing him my urine samples, because I don’t think he knows what he’s doing.

Hertzsprung-Russell rating: F/G3.5

Available in: The Thirty-First Of February

Things I love: fart jokes, lollipops, the songs of Tom T. Hall, and stories where historical and/or cultural phenomena are explained as being the result of alien intervention. In this tale, God is an alien scientist who was exiled to Earth by His alien superiors because He created a disobedient race of creatures called ‘humans’. Take it away, Tom T. Hall: ‘I love candy on a stick/fart jokes that are sick/songs by Tom T. Hall/and scifi stories where historical and cultural phenomena are explained as being the result of alien intervention.’ Okay, the lyrics need some polishing, but cut Tom T. Hall some slack; he’s 75, for Christ’s sake.

Hertzsprung-Russell rating: M106.5+

Available in: The Science Fiction Hall Of Fame Volume I

A pair of precocious pre-teens opens a portal to another dimension using nothing but highly-advanced futuristic technology and the prose of Lewis Caroll. Kids; always getting into other dimensions!  ‘Lewis Padgett’ is actually the pen name of a husband and wife scifi writing team, so most Padgett stories involve aliens arguing about money.

Hertzsprung-Russell rating: A106.5+

Available in: The Mammoth Book Of Golden Age Science Fiction

The language is corny, the characters are 1D and the title has an exclamation mark after it. But, despite all that, this classic story about a possessed and rampaging bulldozer is quite enjoyable. It is a testament to Sturgeon’s mastery of language that he is able to make a detailed technical description of heavy machinery interesting to read for more than fifty pages. Indeed, his skill at keeping the reader ‘hooked’ is why he eventually had a fish named in his honour.

Hertzsprung-Russell rating: G/K10

Available in: The Twilight Zone – The Original Stories

A guy with the ability to see all possible future timelines provides people with everyday items they’ll need to better themselves in those timelines – non-slip shoes, scissors, a dildo, a comb (just checking to see if you’re paying attention [he never gives anyone a comb]). This story was made into a classic episode of The Twilight Zone, so if it would help you for me to type like Rod Serling spoke, I’ll try: “THIS IS A story ABOUT A MAN WITH A gift. A GIFT THAT, WHEN opened, ALSO OPENS THE door TO A strange AND OMINOUS place, KNOWN as……LINE?” Pretty good, huh?

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.