Book Review: Beyond Belief edited by Richard J. Hurley

I came upon this anthology of eight SF stories while volunteering to sort used books for my local library’s annual book sale. I was intrigued when I saw some of the names included in the collection, especially Asimov, Clarke, Sturgeon, and Matheson.

There were only two stories I would consider weaker than the rest, “The Invasion” by Robert Willey and “Phoenix” by Clark Ashton Smith. The other six were well done, including…

“The Hardest Bargain” by Evelyn E. Smith.  Earth is a remote planet without diplomatic relations with the other solar systems. While still led by humans, the planet is primarily managed by robots. Food is purchased purchased or bartered from alien traders since radiation from the last global conflict sterilized much of the soil. However, when one alien visitor offers technology that can remove the radiation and make the land fertile once more, it’s a good idea to give him exactly what he asks for in return…

“It’s Such a Beautiful Day” by Isaac Asimov. In a utopian future, a device known simply as a Door has been invented that can teleport people to the location of their choice. Yet when a Door malfunctions, one boy discovers the mystery and wonder of actually walking outside in the grass under the sunlight. When he comes to prefer this over the Door, his teacher recommends psychotherapy…

“The Man Who Lost the Sea” by Theodore Sturgeon. You lay there in your spacesuit, half-buried in the sand while someone chatters at you about a toy airplane with pieces that break off. All you want to do is listen to the ocean in the dead of night and watch the satellite pass by overhead in the white-speckled heavens, but perhaps you’re not really near the ocean and perhaps that airplane that broke apart wasn’t truly an airplane…

“Third from the Sun” by Richard Matheson. A rocket scientist convinces his family and neighbors that their world is doomed, but he knows of a planet in a distant solar system where they can start a new life. They just need to get to the ship…

“Keyhole” by Murray Leinster. Mankind intends to settle on the moon, regardless if the native population of small, furry creatures wants them there or not. After an astronaut is killed by one of the lunar creatures,  a scientist captures one in an attempt to learn its species weaknesses. However, humans are not the only ones who gain knowledge from the experience…

“History Lesson” by Arthur C. Clarke. Sensing their doom in the encroaching ice covering most of the planet, the last members of the human race store a number of relics in a stone vault atop a high mountain. These relics are found 5,000 years later by an expedition from Venus, but when the reptilian scientists run a film showing an example of life on Earth, they’re not quite sure what to make of it…

 

Beyond Belief book cover

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