Friday, August 8, 2014

Alien Earth and Other Stories, ed. By Elwood and Moskowitz

This great 1969 Macfadden-Bartell paperback is a personal favorite because it introduced me to several wonderful writers. Compiled by Roger Elwood and Sam Moskowitz, Alien Earth and Other Stories reprints nine classic pulp stories. First up is Edmond Hamilton’s superb Alien Earth and its classic opening line: “The dead man was standing in a little moonlit clearing in the jungle when Farris found him.” (NOTE: Hamilton’s name is misspelled as “Hamiliton.”) He wrote dozens of great stories, and that includes his stint on Superman comics in the swinging Sixties. Robert Bloch’s The Past Master is next, so this was the first Bloch story I read. The third story, Rain Magic by Erle Stanley Gardner, is a forgotten classic. Owing much of its structure to a A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Gardner’s Rain Magic is still a lively and fun piece of adventure writing. I’ve loved Rain Magic since I first read it here. This is followed by Ultimate Melody by Arthur C. Clarke and so this was my introduction to the legendary Clarke. Clifford D. Simak’s The Loot of Time is a masculine pulp piece; followed by Ray Bradbury’s Doodad. Some years ago I contacted Bradbury about Doodad because it is seldom reprinted. In his letter he told me that Doodad was one of his lost stories and that since I mentioned it he would try to include it in a future anthology. That never happened and Doodad has slipped into obscurity. It’s a great, short piece of science fiction. A. E. van Vogt’s Automaton is next, followed by Andre Norton’s The People of the Crater, another favorite. The last story is Isaac Asimov’s Franchise. You can see from these superb tales that editors Elwood and Moskowitz knew their material. The cover art by Jack Faragasso lends the book its nifty sci-fi mood. I was hooked. These writers are my favorites to this day, along with others that I encountered at about the same time. This paperback is easy to find and I recommend tracking it down, for all of the stories, but specifically for the hard-to-find Rain Magic and Doodad.

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