by Randall Garrett
Reviewed date: 2018 Apr 12
247 pages
cover art

Gentlemen: Please Note
A narrow-minded professor and a thick-headed general browbeat Isaac Newton into giving up mathematics and science and turning to theology.

Backstage Lensman
Parody of E. E. "Doc" Smith's Lensman series

The Best Policy
Macgruder is kidnapped by aliens and interrogated under a lie-detector. Without lying, he cleverly convinces them that humans are immensely powerful beings who can manipulate time and space with the power of their minds, travel to other planets without spaceships, and have colonized millions of planets in multiple galaxies.

The Cosmic Beat
A riff on the beatnik generation
The Observer on Earth captures a band of alien invaders who intend to mess around and cause some global chaos and maybe kick off a nuclear war, just for, you know, fun.

Despoilers of the Golden Empire
In the style of pulp science fiction
The Empire needs the power metal, so the Commander takes a ship and a few hundred men and far too few supplies, and conquers an alien land that fairly teems with the metal. The invaders are few and the native civilization is vast, but with superior technology and a great deal of bluster, the Commander and his small army emerge victorious. The characters and action are over the top, and the whole escapade reminded me of an account of Spanish conquistadors.

Suspiciously like Spanish conquistadors.

My knowledge of South American history is essentially zero, but I was not at all surprised to find that this science fiction story is a cleverly disguised piece of actual history: Francisco Pizarro's conquest of Peru. Garrett doesn't cheat, either. A close re-reading reveals no science fiction elements at all--it's just a straight-up history with some names and terms obfuscated. "Power weapons" aren't laser guns, they're muskets. Gold is the power metal in economic terms, not energy. Carriers aren't robotic hovercraft, they are horses. The ships aren't spaceships, they are sailing ships.

The Horror Out of Time
H.P. Lovecraft pastiche

Look Out! Duck!
A shipment of duck eggs for a new colony runs into trouble when the spaceship breaks down. The crew must incubate, hatch, and raise the ducks for 16 weeks while waiting for a rescue ship to reach them.

Master of the Metropolis
with Lin Carter
Inspired by Hugo Gernsback's "Ralph 124C 41+"
A man's trip from Newark to New York City, by bus and subway, told in breathless wonderment at the technological marvel of a world we live in.

A cowboy captures a golden palomino that turns out to be a unicorn.

No Connections
set in Isaac Asimov's Second Empire
An archaeologist studying artifacts on Sol III uncovers thousands of ceramic domes, for which he can deduce no purpose. They're toilets.

On the Martian Problem
Garrett reconciles the Mars that we know with the Barsoom of Edgar Rice Burroughs by positing a theory of time travel that puts Barsoom 50,000 years in the past.

Prehistoric Note
Short short that ends in a pun.

Reviews in Verse
The plots of famous science fiction novels rewritten as poetry.

  • Isaac Asimov's The Caves of Steel
  • Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man
  • L. Sprague de Camp's Lest Darkness Fall
  • A.E. van Vogt's Slan
  • Poul Anderson's Three Hearts and Three Lions
  • John W. Campbell's Who Goes There?

The Adventures of Little Willie
More poetry.

Through Time and Space with Benedict Breadfruit
A whole bunch of groan-worthy feghoots, that is, short-short stories that end with terrible puns. E.g., "I gas 'em off" => Ike Asimov, or "a knot clock" => Art Clarke.

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