Friday, March 02, 2007

Reach for Tomorrow

Reach for Tomorrow, published back in 1956, was Arthur C. Clarke's second collection of his short stories. I read it about forty years ago but the other day I picked up a nice new copy on the sale table at the newsagents.

Like most modern paperbacks, it doesn't give you details on the date or origin of the stories, but fortunately these are easily accessible on the web:
--Rescue Party, 1946. (novelette) (Astounding, May, 1946.)
--A Walk in the Dark, 1950. (Thrilling Wonder Stories, August, 1950.)
--The Forgotten Enemy, 1949. (New Worlds, #5, 1949; Avon Science Fiction and Fantasy Reader, January, 1953.)
--Technical Error, 1950. (as The Reversed Man, in Thrilling Wonder Stories, June, 1950.)
--The Parasite, 1953. (Avon Science Fiction and Fantasy Reader, April, 1953.)
--The Fires Within, 1947. (as by E. G. O'Brien in Fantasy, August, 1947; Startling Stories, September, 1949.)
--The Awakening, 1951. (Future, January, 1952.)
--Trouble with the Natives, 1951. (as Three Men in a Flying Saucer, in Lilliput, February, 1951.)
--The Curse, 1953. (short short) (Cosmos, #1, September, 1953.)
--Time's Arrow, 1952. (Science Fantasy, #1, Summer, 1950; Worlds Beyond, 1952.)
--Jupiter Five, 1953. (novelette) (If, May, 1953.)
--The Possessed, 1952. (Dynamic Science Fiction, March, 1953.)

It's a bit strange to look at these stories again after such a long time. The one I remember best is the first story "Rescue Party", which was Clarke's first sale and still one of his best. Aliens discover Earth is doomed and come to our rescue, only to find that the human race has already made its own arrangements.

"The Forgotten Enemy" I remembered really well, but I sat down and re-read it anyway. A very low-key end-of-the-world story.

What I didn't remember was that some of Clarke's early stuff was horror stories. Tales like "The Parasite" and "Walk in the Dark" are far from typical Clarke, and some of the other stories (like "The Possessed") depend on the twist in the last line that was often found in genre magazines of the time.

However I enjoyed re-reading "The Fires Within" and I look forward to re-reading "Jupiter Five", which was written decades before space probes actually told us anything about this distant body.

I've been saying for years I'd like to go back and re-read all my early Clarke. Fortunately if I want them, I have them all still on the shelf in my library.

For some time I've been aware that replacing my collection of SF would be expensive or (in some cases) almost impossible. When I began collecting around 1965 there was simply less SF on the bookshelves and the classics of the field were reprinted regularly.

But today there is just so much in paperback that the famous names tend to be crowded out by wave after wave of new authors writing enormously thick trilogies. I saw a Murray Leinster collection in the shops last year for the first time in about 20 years.

Congratulations to Jazztrack on its 30th birthday: a vital part of the jazz landscape in Australia since it began in 1976 on ABC Classic FM.

Its first and longest serving presenter Jim McLeod brought sounds both new and old to listeners and also featured many exclusive recordings of local and international artists. Mal Stanley has continued that tradition since Jim's retirement a few years ago.

To celebrate 30 years of the country's flagship jazz radio program, ABC Classic FM presented a week long festival of jazz and jazz inspired programs, culminating with a live concert broadcast from Melbourne's legendary Bennetts Lane on Sunday 25 February.

Jazztrack aims "to cover the increasingly diverse styles of jazz from both international and Australian artists, and has been a beacon for music lovers for over 30 years." Long may it continue!

There's nothing the average Australian likes better than a good meat pie, but some of those ones you get in the supermarket freezer can be a bit mediocre.
But lately I've taken a liking to Sargents' Premium Steak brand. 23% beef, 5% mushrooms and 3% red wine. Not too bad.

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