Science fiction and fantasy
Away And Beyond
by A. E. van Vogt
Secret Unattainable is another tale that revolves around a machine, although in this case it takes place in the paranoid setting of Nazi Germany during WWII. The Germans are working on a secret weapon that they hope will win them the war. It's a tense and atmospheric story, told through a series of terse messages between officials in the Gestapo and the Ministry of Science.
In several stories it's the ingenuity of scientists that trumps the greed, short-sightedness and evil of others. In places there's an idealism that seems very naive. This is most obvious in Heir Unapparent, which is about a benevolent dictator looking to hand power to a worthy successor.
Themes of time-travel, high technology and advanced alien races are prominent in this varied collection. In Asylum there are even vampires, although they are of the space-faring kind. Asylum's plot is somewhat messy, in that it shifts perspective abruptly and doesn't make the kind of clear-cut, unambiguous point that some of the shorter stories do. But this isn't necessarily a bad thing, since it means there's more variety in the way the stories are told, as well as in the subject matter.
Away And Beyond is a medley of ideas and situations, as seen by the kind of guy who looked at the future with dizzy anticipation. Diverse and entertaining, van Vogt is at his best in some of his longer stories, when he reaches beyond the concepts to give his characters the individuality that can bring them to life for readers.
If you like this, try:Across The Event Horizon by Mercurio D. Rivera
There's something quite classic about this collection of mostly science fiction stories. These short tales deal with aliens, bizarre futures and peculiar societies.
Entanglement by Douglas Thompson
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The Currents of Space by Isaac Asimov
A man with amnesia remembers that the planet is doomed. But will anyone believe him?
Review © Ros Jackson
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