04 March 2010

Frederik Pohl - Platinum Pohl

A massive collection of Frederick Pohl short stories.  Fred Pohl is such an important writer in scifi, one of the true masters of the genre and an major influence not just on the writers of today, but on my own personal tastes.  Pohl is one of the places that I started out, along with Heinlein and Clarke.


Do yourself a favour, as that hatted fuckwit is known to say, and obtain by any means a copy of this book.  You will not at all regret it.


As per usual, there are SPOILERS after the jump.  If you don't want to know, the do not click here to

  • The Merchant of Venus - A Heechee story set on Venus, kinda a shot at rich people who cling to what they should have passed on to the next generation.
  • The Things that Happen - Mentalist seeks prize money from skeptics, with unexpected results
  • The High Test - Driving instuctor in space.  Rich kids, agressive know-it-alls, just like here on Earth really.
  • My Lady Green Sleeves - Prison in a class segregated society
  • The Kindly Isle - Biotech, hotels, mystery:  what more could you reasonably ask for?
  • The Middle of Nowhere - When we settle Mars, what if the Martians don't like us?  This story is completely redundant now, but is basically a How we overcame the natives and their weird weapons story
  • I Remember a winter - Life, thats all.  Just a story about life.
  • The Greening of Bed-Stuy - From  The Years of the City, a story about New York City in the future, and how business interests really don't want us to survive Climate change, because it might cost them some profit this year.
  • To See Another Mountain - Thinking about the limits, potential and abilities of the mind
  • The Mapmakers - One of those great classic space opera themes, where the first explorers of hyperspace get lost and have to laterally think their way back home.
  • Spending a Day at the Lottery Fair - This one really got me thinking.  A quite scary tale about population control and the value of life.  I wish I could say that the end was a complete suprise once I got the idea, but the idea was a suprise so I can't really complain too much.
  • The Celebrated No-Hit Inning - Baseball and time travel, the only worthwhile sports.
  • Some Joys Under the Stars - About time, aging and the cosmic scale.
  • Servant of the People -A story about politics.
  • Waiting for the Olympians - Alt History of Rome in the 21C
  • Criticality - Looks at how the USA is viewed by it's people and the rest of the world.  Everyone's a critic.
  • Shaffery Among the Immortals - An interesting story about the quest for greatness, and the legacy of man.
  • The Day the Icicle Works Closed - Space Opera/Mystery with a great twist.  I really liked this one.
  • Saucery - If you run a con about your contact with aliens, what the hell do you do when the aliens show up?
  • The Gold at the Starbows End - growth and decay, past and future, honour and betrayal.
  • Growing up in Edge City - Post apocalypse, kid escapes, not all is what it seems.  It's that kind of 1984/Brave New World type story, but thinks beyond the predictable "isn't this all terrible" outcome.  Really good.
  • The Knights of Arthur - Surviving the game in a post apocalypse world.  And you do have to play the game to survive, post apocalypse or Western Capitalist Democracy circa 2010
  • Creation Myths of the Recently Extinct - Humankind viewed from outside might look a bit like an infestation of dirty, diseased rodents.  What if someone out there decided to clean us up?  Purely for the good of the planet, of course.  Kinda like PestMasters doing pro bono termite spraying.
  • The Meeting (with CM Kornbluth) - This story is really sad and painful to read.  The choices we make, the values we hold, what constitutes a person, a life.  All these things called into question.  What the hell would you do in this situation?
  • Let The Ants Try - Seeding the past with mutated ants after we completely fuck it up, sure, why not.  But what if it doesn't go so great and you want to undo the changes?
  • Speed Trap - Systems and conspiracy theories
  • The Day the Martians Came - Change affects some people more than others, and each person in it's own unique way.
  • Day Million - How life might be in 1000 years
  • The Mayor of Mare Tranq - Cute alt history where writer John Williamson becomes an astronaut and changes the course of human space exploration.
  • Fermi and Frost - How Nuclear war might happen, it's outcomes (an examination of the third answer to the Fermi paradox.)
This was a really great collection, I am glad that I found it.