The Best of L. Sprague de Camp

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He made further contributions to Astounding working especially well with it's later editor John W. Campbell , as well as to a variety of other pulps. His most notable works from this period include the Johnny Black stories about an intelligent bear , as well as a number of others later gathered in his The Best of L. Sprague de Camp collection In de Camp married Catherine Crook who would also serve as his re-write editor and sometimes collaborator during the rest of their years together.

In he joined the U.

L. Sprague de Camp

Like Heinlein and Asimov as well as A. Clarke , and others , de Camp would eventually become one of the principle authors of what is now referred to as the Golden Age of science fiction. De Camp's work was part of an explosion of titles and ideas that transformed the tiny emerging sci-fi genre once defined almost entirely by H.

Wells and Jules Verne into a broad, rich and burgeoning body of literature. De Camp himself both singly and in collaboration with others produced nearly titles, not to mention scores of short stories -- and a number of edited anthologies.

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Email required Address never made public. I suggest you all read the whole article. As a guy who got into sabermetric research in the late 80s, I think this is awesome. Anyway, I suppose we should actually turn to the fiction.

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The first story is Universe by Heinlein. The story is about a generational ship on its way to the stars. And the story is really good. What happens to their understanding of science? To their society? It would change, undoubtedly. Our hero is someone who has grown from that society, raised by exiled muties, and learns the truth of their ship.

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Oh, look. We move from Heinlein to Isaac Asimov. What a darn shame, having to read these two hacks. Such a bummer. Anyway, the story is another early Robot one starring Susan Calvin called Liar. A brand new robot has the astounding ability to read minds, though how its positronic brain gained this talent is unknown and is completely not repeatable until they learn just how it happened. RB, Herbie, is programmed with early versions of the Three Laws of Robotics , so this ability is a real problem for it.

When it talks to people, it knows what they want, so telling them the truth might actually hurt them. So, it supplies the answer that the person talking to them wants. Of course, this leads to conflict as Calvin desires the love of one of the other scientists and another character hopes to be the next director. After they realize Herbie is providing different answers to each person, they confront him. Now, Herbie is in an insoluble situation. No matter what he says, he will hurt at least one of the humans.

In the end, he collapses in positronic insanity.

In some ways, this is Asimov fumbling towards something amazing. What a fascinating time that was for science fiction. And dates are really important when unpacking this story.

This issue was released in May of The story is, essentially, about Mutually Assured Destruction. MAD was, and is, an unsatisfactory solution. Heinlein proposed another, that of a world-wide dictatorship which has a monopoly on the superweapon, but even he points out that will never work. Campbell has a follow-up to this story where he asks for any better suggestion. The request is almost pleading. Moving on we get In Times to Come , the preview of the next issue.

Also on that page is the scores from the ratings of the previous issue. Yeah, Heinlein might be good and really prolific at this time. The April issue also has one by him and one by him as Anson MacDonald. They were, by a large margin, the best-rated stories of that issue. They get the rockets going, but even so a slingshot around the sun will be difficult. They only manage it because of Jay Score, the assistant pilot.

He is, of course, a robot names J. It lessens the story for me.

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This particular story is about catching highly poisonous giant frog-like creatures on Venus. He succeeds by the use of creative chemistry. I often wallow in the history of these stories, like I did in Solution Unsatisfactory. We move on to Subcruiser by Harry Walton. This is ripping yarn of a ship captain drugged by his executive officer so he can steal their subspace cruiser and take it to their enemies. The captain thinks the drugs are simply part of alcoholic fits brought on by depression from a previous battle. In the end, he manages to defeat his XO and save his ship, and in the process regain the trust of his crew.

Great story. Next we get to the monthly section called Brass Tacks. Sprague de Camp. This story is a mashup of a number of different threads. A bit of Ivanhoe. A heaping helping of Romeo and Juliet. Some Purloined Letter. However, there are a ton of loose threads. This is actually the first issue of this magazine. Unlike last week, where the Spaceway had few recognizable names, this issue is filled with them. John W. He starts this issue off with a short essay pointing out the importance of sea-water sources in the future.

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What an amazing picture, and reminiscent of J. Tolkien , C. Lewis , and the Inklings , though I suspect these three did not have anywhere as comfortable as T he Eagle and Child to chat about their writing. Before even reading the story, though, I had my nose rubbed in one of my weaknesses: taglines. I really enjoyed the story, especially the way de Camp interwove s business terminology with feudalism.

As an SCA ceremonial geek, I found the passage where the hero, Horace Juniper-Hallett is elevated to the rank of businessman delightful. Getting to wallow in the history of science fiction and fantasy is one of the prime joys of this exercise, but The Stolen Dormouse highlights the greatest drawback.

This is Part One of the story. At least I have Reason by Isaac Asimov to console me. In Runaround Donovan and Powell return, this time with the explicit use of the laws. Their life cycle is much faster than humans, meaning that problems that take scientists generations to solve are solved much quicker, as their generations are that much shorter. Kidder is oblivious of power and money, except when that allows him to expand his laboratory. Of course, not everyone is oblivious and his banker finally decides to kill the golden goose.

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In the end, the Neoterics create an impenetrable shield for Kidder, another scientist named Johansen, and the Neoterics to live out their lives in peace. Talk about the Golden Age of Science Fiction. In the story, all the solutions are unsatisfactory, but MacDonald goes through a number of them. Now, remember this is April, Missed the prediction by a little more than a year, but is a fascinating question to someone who grew up during the Cold War.