Tor.com content by

Zachary Ricks

Mining the Hugos: Eric Frank Russell’s “Allamagoosa”

Science fiction is a genre with a unique danger—obsolescence. As advances in technology and our understanding of the universe change, this can create problems for stories later on. (For example, Asimov’s great short story “The Dying Night,” which relies on a particular understanding of the motion of the planet Mercury—one which we now know is incorrect.) It can become difficult for authors to maintain that sense of far future advances in science and technology, or even astrological conventions (for example, anything referring to Pluto as a planet—like Roger Macbride Allen’s Ring of Charon). While we aren’t yet up to the level of the Star Trek warp drive, the PADD system isn’t all that different from currently available cell phones. In fact, with new applications such as the location-aware browser Layar, it’s becoming more and more tricorder-like. Over 50 years of Hugo awards have come and gone, with major changes to the genre. With voting for the current round having recently completed, it seemed a fitting time to to take a glance back at the historical winners, and see how they have held up.

Fittingly enough, Allamagoosa is timeless, and should be as entertaining to today’s office worker as it was to kids in the 1950s when the story first appeared in Astounding Science Fiction over fifty years ago.

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Basic Geek Survival – Zombie 101

Hello, fellow citizens. Have you ever wondered how you’d survive the inevitable zombie apocalypse? Of course you have. Everyone knows 1) blunt objects, and 2) aim for the head. At least, that works with slow zombies. But what about fast zombies? That’s an entirely different problem. Werewolves? Vampires? Aliens? Intelligent Computers? Cloverfield-style-amphibious-giant-monsters-from-beyond-the-stars? If our beloved books, tv shows, movies, and video games are any indication, the world is not exactly a safe place.

So, what’s a survival minded geek to do? I mean, besides the obvious advice—“Do Not Panic”?

It’s a good question. After all, the typical geek is simply not stereotypical hero material. More often than not, we’re redshirts. Cannon fodder. We get killed in the first act to show the threat is serious. Maybe the second. But, defeat the alien menace and return to sweep your high school sweetheart off to rebuild the Starfighter legion because Xur is still out there and a threat? Well, okay, there was that one time that happened. But remember what happened to his robot double? Yeah. I thought so.

Well, that’s where I come in. I’m from the internet, and I’m here to help.

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