Hertzsprung-Russell rating: F0.1

Available in: Study War No More

A tale of futuristic American military Imperialism, but instead of bombing, torture and rendering extraordinarily, invading soldiers deliver brand-new home appliances to third world countries and force enemy combatants to use them at gunpoint.  Forget napalm in the morning; wait’ll you get a whiff of freshly-made Freedom Toast served piping hot from a General Electric 3000-Series Liberator oven. Yum! BREAKING NEWS: I’ve just learned that, because of its involvement in the overcooking of a civilian casserole , General Electric has been court-martialed.

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: B103

Available in: Infinite Dreams

A highly-advanced human mutant catches shit from his muttie brethren for canoodling with a run-of-the-mill homo sapiens female. Apparently, mutants are the Southerners of the future and don’t like miscegenatin’ bloodlines and such. Also, if you’re Jewish and stop at a mutant gas station, they’ll glare at you menacingly with their third infrared eye and tell you telepathically they don’t like your kind ‘round those parts. Also, they’ll sodomize Ned Beatty.

Hertzsprung-Russell rating: O1

Available in: Creatures From Beyond

A young couple discovers that common housecats are actually an intelligent alien species from space. They’re here, no doubt, to plunder our lasagna reserves and enslave humankind in the litter mines of Katssell. And dogs are all, like, “Dude, we told you. Didn’t we tell you?”

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: G0.1

Available in: The Best Of New Dimensions

A 22nd-century rabble rousing artist visits a walled ‘Utopia’ to convince its inhabitants their ‘freedom’ is illusory and that their quotation marks are being used to express false ‘sincerity’. But the sheeple say no thanks-y to this futuristic Banksy and choose to remain high, dumb and happy. I really don’t think sheep deserve their obsequious reputation. Ever tried to tongue-kiss one against its will? They bite!

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.