Men, Martians and Machines
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First edition (UK)
|Author||Eric Frank Russell|
|Genre||Science fiction short stories|
|Publisher||Dennis Dobson (UK)|
|Media type||Print (Hardback)|
The book follows the crew of a highly advanced spaceship, (relative to the time of publishing, radio is a highly advanced technology), as it explores the universe and has several encounters with various lifeforms on different planets that inevitably become hostile. These mini-adventures follow a prologue of sorts which gives background to the crew. It is told from a first person point of view by the nameless sergeant-at-arms.
- "Jay Score" (first appeared in Astounding Science-Fiction, May 1941): How Emergency Pilot Jay Score saves the Upskadaska City, and its mixed crew of terrans and chess-loving Martians, after a meteor strike.
- "Mechanistria" (first appeared in Astounding Science-Fiction, January 1942): The first mission together where the crew from the Upskadaska City, along with some new characters, land on a planet in a solar system predicted to contain life. They are captured by strange machines and eventually extract themselves thanks to the Martians with few casualties.
- "Symbiotica" (first appeared in Astounding Science-Fiction, October 1943): The crew returns for another mission to a planet that is covered with plant life. They find the plants are hostile and strange little creatures live among them. They must quit interrogating one due to its obsessive fear of the dark. At night they come under attack and many are captured and led away on a sort of Bataan Death March to who knows where. Thankfully the Martians save them again as they have a running battle before they escape, the deadly plants and strange creatures, again with casualties.
- "Mesmerica" (written for the collection): The final story starts with many of the crew questioning why they returned for another mission. The planet they arrive on seems to be empty except for a strange village. Strange happenings begin after the scout crew is sent out. Suspicious they decide to send two parties out to explore more. Eventually they realize they are facing a race of mind benders and manage to escape before the creatures become capable of stronger illusions.