COPYRIGHT �, 1980, BY ISAAC ASIMOV AND MARTIN H. GREENBERG. All Rights Reserved. Complete list of copyright acknowledgments for the contents will be found on the following pages. Cover designed by Jack Gaughan FIRST PRINTING, MARCH 1980 123456789 DAW TRADEMARK REGISTERED PRINTED IN CANADA COVER PRINTED IN U.S.A. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS LIAR!--Copyright � 1941 by Street & Smith Publications; copyright renewed 1968 by Isaac Asimov. Reprinted by permission of the author. NIGHTFALL�� Copyright 1941 by Street & Smith Publications; copyright renewed 1968 by Isaac Asimov. Reprinted by permission of the author. ADAM AND NO EVE Copyright 1941 by Street & Smith Publications. Reprinted by permission of the author. A GNOME THERE WAS--� Copyright 1941 by Street & Smith Publications, and � Copyright 1968 by Henry Kuttner. Reprinted by permission of the Harold Matson Company, agents for the author's estate. MECHANICAL MIC O Copyright 1941 by Street & Smith Publications. Reprinted by permission of the agents for the author's estate, the Scott Meredith Literary Agency, Inc., 845 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022. SHOTTLE BOP�� Copyright 1941 by Street & Smith Publications; copyright renewed � 1968 by Theodore Sturgeon. Reprinted by permission of the author and his agents, Kirby McCauley Ltd. MICROCOSMIC GO s O Copyright 1941 by Street & Smith Publications; copyright renewed � 1968 by Theodore Sturgeon. Reprinted by permission of the author and his agents, Kirby McCauley Ltd. HEREAFTER, INC.�Copyright � 1941 by Street & Smith Publications. Reprinted by permission of the author and his agents, The Scott Meredith Literary Agency, Inc., 845 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022. SNULBUG�Copyright � 1941 by Street & Smith Publications. Reprinted by permission of Curtis Brown, Ltd., agents for the author's estate. EVOLUTION'S END�Copyright � 1941 by Standard Magazines, Inc. Reprinted by permission of the agents for the author's estate, the Scott Meredith Literary Agency, Inc., 845 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022. ARMAGEDDON�Copyright � 1941 by Street & Smith Publications. Reprinted by permission of the agent's for the author's estate, the Scott Meredith Literary Agency, Inc., 845 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022. JAY SCORE�Copyright � 1941 by Street & Smith Publications. Reprinted by permission of the agents for the author's estate, the Scott Meredith Literary Agency, Inc., 845 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022. THE SEESAW�Copyright � 1941 by Street & Smith Publications; copyright renewed � 1969 by A. E. van Vogt. Reprinted by permission of the author and his agent, Forrest J Ackerman, 2495 Glendower Ave., Hollywood, CA 90027. WORDS OF GURU�Copyright � 1941 by Albing Publications. Reprinted by permission of Robert P. Mills, agent for the author's estate. ROCKET OF 1955�Copyright � by Albing Publications. Reprinted by permission of Robert P. Mills, agent for the author's estate. SOLAR PLEXUS�Copyright � 1941 by Fictioneers, Inc. Reprinted by permission of Richard Curtis, agent for the author's estate. TIME WANTS A SKELETON�Copyright � 1941 by Street & Smith Publications; copyright renewed 1969 by Ross Rocklynne. Reprinted by permission of the author and his agent, Forrest J Ackerman, 2495 Glendower Avenue, Hollywood, CA 90027. Table of Contents Introduction The Editors 9 MECHANICAL MICE Maurice A. Hugi 13 SHOTTLE BOP Theodore Sturgeon 38 THE ROCKET OF 1955 C. M. Kornbluth 66 EVOLUTION'S END Robert Arthur 70 MICROCOSMIC GOD Theodore Sturgeon 86 JAY SCORE Eric Frank Russell 113 LIAR! Isaac Asimov 131 TIME WANTS A SKELETON Ross Rocklynne 149 THE WORDS OF GURU C. M. Kornbluth 203 THE SEESAW A. E. van Vogt 211 ARMAGEDDON Frederic Brown 231 ADAM AND NO EVE Alfred Bester 237 SOLAR PLEXUS James Blish 251 NIGHTFALL Isaac Asimov 263 A GNOME THERE WAS Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore 298 SNULBUG Anthony Boucher 324 HEREAFTER, INC. Lester Del Rey 339 Introduction In the world outside reality, it was yet another very bad year. On February 9 Field Marshal Rommel led his troops from Italy to Africa, where they soon began to blunt the British offensive designed to protect the Suez Canal. German U-boat attacks increased in intensity all through the year. On April 13 the U.S.S.R. signed an agreement with Japan promising neutrality and tacitly allowing Japanese expansionism to continue. The House of Commons was destroyed in a German air raid on May 10, the same day that Rudolf Hess flew on his mysterious "peace" mission to England. On May 24 the German pocket battleship Bismarck sank H.M.S. Hood and was itself sunk three days later by the Royal Navy. Not unexpectedly, except by the Russians, Germany invaded the Soviet Union on June 22 in one of the most fateful moves of the war; by the end of the month they had control of a large portion of European Russia and the Ukraine. On August 11, Churchill and Roosevelt signed the "Atlantic Charter" on a ship in the ocean of the same name. On September 8, Leningrad was surrounded and a long siege had begun�German annies were sixty miles from Moscow by October 16. The Russian counteroffensive began on November 29. On December 7, "a day that will live in infamy," Japanese carrier-based aircraft attacked Pearl Harbor and surrounding military installations. The United States declared war on Japan one day later and on Germany and Italy on the 11th, one day after H.M.S. Prince of Wales and Repulse were sunk in the Indian Ocean. Hong Kong surrendered to the Japanese on Christmas Day. During 1941 Edmund Wilson published his major study of utopian and socialist thought, To The Finland Station. The "Manhattan Project" leading to the atomic bomb was initiated at the end of the year. Leger painted "Divers Against a Yellow Background." Bruce Smith of the University of Minnesota won the Heisman Trophy as college football's outstanding player. Benjamin Britten composed his "Violin Concerto." The Fall of Paris by Ilya Ehrenburg was published. Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children was produced. Minnesota repeated as National College Football Champion. The year's outstanding films included Citizen Kane, How Green Was My Valley, The Big Store (the Marx Brothers' last film) and The First of The Few, one of the last films of Leslie Howard, who was to die over the English Channel. The population of the United States was 131,000,000; China's was estimated at 450,000,000. The record for the mile run was still the 4:06:4 set in 1937 by Sydney Wooderson of Great Britain. Nathaniel Micklem published The Theology of Politics. William Walton's "Scapino Overture" was performed. Bobby Riggs won the United States Tennis Association Championship. F. Scott Fitzgerald published The Last Tycoon. Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit was a hit. Whirlaway, with Eddie Arcaro on board, won the Kentucky Derby, while Wisconsin had the top basketball team. There were 38,800,000 private cars in the United States. The Yankees won the series from the Dodgers, Ted Williams led the majors with 37 home runs and an incredible .406 average, but Joe DiMaggio won the Most Valuable Player Award in the American League. Franz Werfel's The Song of Bernadette was published. Gary Cooper (for Sergeant York) and Joan Fontaine (for Suspicion) won Academy Awards. Joe Louis was still the heavyweight champion, but he almost lost the title to Billy Conn, saving his crown with a late-round knockout. Death took Henri Bergson, James Joyce, Sherwood Anderson, Virginia Woolf, Kaiser Whilhelm II, and Ignaz Paderewski. Mel Brooks was still Melvin Kaminsky. But in the real world, it was a super year. In the real world the third World Science Fiction Convention (the Denvention) was held in Denver, Colorado, continuing (you should excuse the expression) its trek westward. The first "Boskone" was held in Boston. In the real world "Methuselah's Children" by Robert A. Heinlein and the long awaited "Second Stage Lensman" by "Doc" Smith appeared in Astounding. More wondrous and sad things occurred in the real world: Stirring Science Stories and Cosmic Stories began their too brief lives, but Comet Stories died. Unknown changed its name to Unknown Worlds without damage or effect. But as compensation, many more wonderful people made their maiden flights into reality: in January�Fredric Brown with "Not Yet The End"; in February�Cleve Cartmill with "Oscar," William Morrison with "Bad Medicine," and Damon Knight with "Resilience"; in May�Wilson Tucker (aka Bob) with "Interstellar Way-Station"; and in November�Ray Bradbury with the co-authored "Pendulum." On August 1, while riding the subway to visit John Campbell, Isaac Asimov first thought about the fall and rise of intergalactic empires (with a little help from Gibbons) and the first hint of the Foundation rose mistily in his mind. And distant wings were beating as Gregory Benford and Jane Gaskell were born. Let us travel back to that honored year of 1941 and enjoy the best stories that the real world bequeathed to us. EDITORIAL NOTE The reader should note that selections by Robert A. Heinlein are missing because arrangements for their use could not be made. We regret their absence and direct the reader to The Past Through Tomorrow (New York: Putnam, 1967, paperback edition by Berkley), which contains all the stories. MECHANICAL MICE Astounding Science Fiction January by Maurice A. Hugi (Eric Frank Russell, 1905-1978) The late Eric Frank Russell is the most underappreciated of the major science fiction writers of the "second generation" (his first story was published in 1937). His 1939 Unknown novel Sinister Barrier thrust him into prominence for a time, and he did win the Hugo Award in 1955 for his story "Allamagoosa," but he has been badly neglected by the academic community. This clever story caused some confusion because Maurice G. Hugi was a real person, but the story was Russell's. (I never could understand the trick of using pseudonyms. I know that there are reasons for it, like not wanting the neighbors to know you are disgracing yourself by displaying an imagination, or not wanting the Dean to know you are making money on the side�but, my goodness, you lose credit. For instance, I enormously enjoyed "The Mechanical Mice" when I first read it and I always thought of it as a beautifully crafted story and I never knew E. F. Russell had written it until quite recently. Terrible�I admit I wrote the Lucky Starr stories under a Paul French pseudonym, but I had overriding reasons for that, and I put them under my own name as soon as I could. But then, I am so self-appreciative; I would never consent to give up an atom of credit.�I. A.) It's asking for trouble to fool around with the unknown. Burman did it! Now there are quite a lot of people who hate like the very devil anything that clicks, ticks, emits whirring sounds, or generally behaves like an asthmatic alarm clock. They've got mechanophobia. Dan Burman gave it to them. Who hasn't heard of the Burman Bullfrog Battery? The same chap! He puzzled it out from first to last and topped it with his now world-famous slogan: "Power in Your Pocket." It was no mean feat to concoct a thing the size of a cigarette packet that would pour out a hundred times as much energy as its most efficient competitor. Burman differed from everyone else in thinking it a mean feat. Burman looked me over very carefully, then said, "When that technical journal sent you around to see me twelve years ago, you listened sympathetically. You didn't treat me as if I were an idle dreamer or a congenital idiot. You gave me a decent write-up and started all the publicity that eventually made me much money." "Not because I loved you," I assured him, "but because I was honestly convinced that your battery was good." "Maybe." He studied me in a way that conveyed he was anxious to get something off his chest. "We've been pretty pally since that time. We've filled in some idle hours together, and I feel that you're the one of my few friends to whom I can make a seemingly silly confession." "Go ahead," I encouraged. We had been pretty pally, as he'd said. It was merely that we liked each other, found each other congenial. He was a clever chap, Burman, but there was nothing of the pedantic professor about him. Fortyish, normal, neat, he might have been a fashionable dentist to judge by appearances. "Bill," he said, very seriously, "I didn't invent that damn battery." "No?" "No!" he confirmed. "I pinched the idea. What makes it madder is that I wasn't quite sure of what I was stealing and, crazier still, I don't know from whence I stole it." "Which is as plain as a pikestaff," I commented. 'That's nothing. After twelve years of careful, exacting work I've built something else. It must be the most complicated thing in creation." He banged a fist on his knee, and his voice rose complainingly. "And now that I've done it, I don't know what I've done." "Surely when an inventor experiments he knows what he's doing?" "Not me!" Burman was amusingly lugubrious. "I've invented only one thing in my life, and that was more by accident than by good judgment." He perked up. "But that one thing was the key to a million notions. It gave me the battery. It has nearly given me things of greater importance. On several occasions it has nearly, but not quite, placed within my inadequate hands and half-understanding mind plans that would alter this world far beyond your conception." Leaning forward to lend emphasis to his speech, he said, "Now it has given me a mystery that has cost me twelve years of work and a nice sum of money. I finished it last night. I don't know what the devil it is." "Perhaps if I had a look at it�" "Just what I'd like you to do." He switched rapidly to mounting enthusiasm. "It's a beautiful job of work, even though I say so myself. Bet you that you can't say what it is, or what it's supposed to do." "Assuming it can do something," I put in. "Yes," he agreed. "But I'm positive it has a function of some sort." Getting up, he opened a door. "Come along." It was a stunner. The thing was a metal box with a glossy, rhodium-plated surface. In general size and shape it bore a faint resemblance to an upended coffin, and had the same brooding, ominous air of a casket waiting for its owner to give up the ghost. There were a couple of small glass windows in its front through which could be seen a multitude of wheels as beautifully finished as those in a first-class watch. Elsewhere, several tiny lenses stared with sphinx-like indifference. There were three small trapdoors in one side, two in the other, and a large one in the front. From the top, two knobbed rods of metal stuck up like goat's horns, adding a satanic touch to the thing's vague air of yearning for midnight burial. "It's an automatic layer-outer," I suggested, regarding the contraption with frank dislike. I pointed to one of the trapdoors. "You shove the shroud in there, and the corpse comes out the other side reverently composed and ready wrapped." "So you don't like its air, either," Burman commented. He lugged open a drawer in a nearby tier, hauled out a mass of drawings. "These are its innards. It has an electric circuit, valves, condensers, and something that I can't quite understand, but which I suspect to be a tiny, extremely efficient electric furnace. It has parts I recognize as cog-cutters and pinion-shapers. It embodies several small-scale multiple stampers, apparently for dealing with sheet metal. There are vague suggestions of an assembly line ending in that large compartment shielded by the door in front. Have a look at the drawings yourself. You can see it's an extremely complicated device for manufacturing something only little less complicated." The drawings showed him to be right. But they didn't show everything. An efficient machine designer could correctly have deduced the gadget's function if given complete details. Burman admitted this, saying that, some parts he had made "on the spur of the moment," while others he had been "impelled to draw." Short of pulling the machine to pieces, there was enough data to whet the curiosity, but not enough to satisfy it. "Start the damn thing and see what it does." "I've tried," said Burman. "It won't start. There's no starting handle, nothing to suggest how it can be started. I tried everything I could think of, without result. The electric circuit ends in those antennae at the top, and I even sent current through those, but nothing happened." "Maybe it's a self-starter," I ventured.