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Book Review: Infinity Two edited by Robert Hoskins

Continuing my recent trend of reading classic speculative fiction anthologies, Infinity Two brings us stories from Poul Anderson, Arthur C. Clarke, James E. Gunn, J.F. Bone, William F. Nolan, and more.  For this reader, the gems of the collection include…

Adam and Eve prepare to restart the human race under strict guidance from God, until Adam starts looking behind the scenes in Michael Fayette’s “The Monster in the Clearing.”

J.F. Bone takes us across the galaxy to a world where humans go into business with a species of cannibalistic, but highly civilized crustaceans. While labor relations seem to be precarious at first, a pheromonal discovery leads to a new and profitable venture in “The Scents of IT.”

Surrounded by technology’s modern conveniences, Sara begins to recall her grandmother’s luddite attitude toward machines, just before every appliance in Sara’s house seems to conspire against her in “The Technological Revolution” by James E. Gunn.

In “The Other Way Around” by Howard L. Myers, a cantankerous Merlin reluctantly takes on a pupil, Raedulf, on his way to Stonehenge. As Raedulf soon learns, Merlin might just be a man out of time…

After surviving a near-fatal accident, a middle-aged man is restored to physical health by a radical series of procedures, one that leaves him in mental and emotional turmoil  in “Legion” by Russell Bates.

“GORF! GORF! GORF!” is the name of the operation when a bullfrog swallows a crateful of experimental growth pellets, eats a Corvette (complete with driver), and traverses 50 miles at a leap! William F. Nolan leads us on a whimsical hunt that includes the military, government bureaucrats, and pellet inventor’s own lovely daughter.

Robert Silverberg leaves us “In Entropy’s Jaws” as we follow wealthy telepath and businessman John Skein on a quest back and forth through time to find the panacea to the psychological breakdown that cost him his career as Communicator. Skein knows his answer lies on a planet with purple sand, blue leaves, orange seas… and a withered skullfaced man with all the answers. Will Skein find the correct world before his fugue episodes destroy him?

Infinity Two Cover

Book Review: Partners in Wonder by Harlan Ellison

As an avid admirer of Harlan Ellison, I was excited to find a cache of his books in fine to excellent condition at a used bookstore late last year. It was a rare and wonderful discovery, as I hardly ever find Harlan’s backlist in such a quantity in any single location.

Partners in Wonder was one of the books I found that day. It is an anthology of collaborative stories between Harlan and some of the most famous SF and speculative fiction writers of that Golden Age such as Ben Bova, Robert Silverberg, A.E. Van Vogt, Robert Bloch, and others.

While these may not be considered the best works from Harlan or his co-conspirators—which Harlan himself admits in one instance during his brief introduction to “The Power of the Nail”—there is a wide variety of tales that demonstrate the depth and breadth of these august scribes. All told, it is an entertaining collection.

Speaking of Harlan’s introductions, each story has one and I enjoyed being regaled by his recollections of how each collaboration was born as much, if not more in some cases, than the stories themselves.

My favorites yarns in the bunch include:

I See a Man Sitting on a Chair, and the Chair is Biting His Leg – written with Robert Sheckley

Up Christopher to Madness – written with Avram Davidson

The Human Operators – written with A.E. Van Vogt

Wonderbird – written with Algis Budrys

The Song the Zombie Sang – written with Robert Silverberg

Street Scene – written with Keith Laumer


Partners in Wonder-Ellison