In this bi-weekly series reviewing classic science fiction and fantasy books, Alan Brown looks at the front lines and frontiers of the field; books about soldiers and spacers, scientists and engineers, explorers and adventurers. Stories full of what Shakespeare used to refer to as “alarums and excursions”: battles, chases, clashes, and the stuff of excitement.
Some of the best science fiction authors focused on shorter works, especially back in the days when magazines were the primary market for the genre. And unfortunately, many of those authors tended to disappear from the reading public’s attention far too quickly. One such author is William Tenn (the pen name for Philip Klass). In the days after World War II, he appeared frequently in the pages of magazines like Astounding, Galaxy, Planet Stories, and Thrilling Wonder Stories, becoming known for his wit, humor, and the quality of his writing.