edward blishen

Science Fiction Stories by Edward Blishen

Science Fiction Stories is a collection of science fiction stories compiled by Edward Blishen. It is a part of Kingfisher Publication’s Red Hot Reads series, aimed mainly at adolescent readers.

The book starts with The Boy, the Dog, and the Spaceship (1974) by Nicholas Fisk. The story is perfect for the book’s intended adolescent audience.

The next two stories, Invisible in London and The Dragon of Pendor are excerpts from H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man (1897) and Ursula Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea (1968) respectively. Invisible in London, even though an excerpt, manages to create a feeling of apprehension. The Dragon of Pendor is very good too.

Bobo’s Star (1979) by Glenn Chandler is a story laced with dark humour. It is a strange mixture of tragedy and comedy.

The next story The Yellow Hands is once again an excerpt from a larger book. This time it is from The Master (1957) by T.H. White. I don’t know about the original story but this excerpt doesn’t work for me. It felt disjointed and dull.

The Specimen (1979) by Tim Stout is good. I ended up feeling sorry for the alien in it.

The plot of the story Of Polymuf Stock (1971) by John Christopher isn’t anything new. I felt that I had read similar stories before.

The next three stories are once again parts of larger books. Hurled Into Space is from Jules Verne’s Around the Moon (Autour de la Lune, 1870), Goodbye to the Moon is from Crisis on Conshelf Ten (1975) by Monica Hughes and The Shot From the Moon from Islands in the Sky (1952) by Arthur C. Clarke. Nothing by Jules Verne, often referred to as the father of science fiction, can ever be bad in my opinion. Hurled Into Space is a pretty decent excerpt. Goodbye to the Moon is okay. The Shot From the Moon is engrossing.

The Fun They Had (1951) by Isaac Asimov is a simplistic children’s story. It didn’t particularly appeal to me.

And once again, we are back with the extracts from larger novels. From A Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864) by Jules Verne we have A Fight Between Lizards at the Center of the Earth, The Purple Cloud (1901) by M. P. Shiel produces The Last Man Alive, from The White Mountains (1967) by John Christopher How We Were Tracked by a Tripod and The War of the Worlds — an extract by H.G. Wells. A Fight Between Lizards at the Center of the Earth and The Last Man Alive are okay. How We Were Tracked by a Tripod is pretty exciting. The War of the Worlds — an extract is insipid.

Homecoming (1983) by Stephen David tries to be exciting but is strangely dull.

I didn’t expect All Summer in a Day (1954) by Ray Bradbury to be such a serious story. Its tragic tone took me by surprise.

Grenville’s Planet (1952) by Michael Shaara was quite creepy. This is one of the better stories of the book.

The Fear Shouter (1979) by Jay Williams tries to be funny but I found it uninteresting.

The last story is Arthur C. Clarke’s The Wind From the Sun (1963). It was a tad long but it was a true science fiction story where the impossible seems possible.

The book is way too full of excerpts from larger works. I feel that filling up a book that promises us science fiction ‘stories’ with such excerpts is cheating. As far as I know there are a lot of wonderful science fiction stories out there. Why not use them?

Karin Littlewood’s illustrations are very shoddy. Just because the book is aimed at the children doesn’t mean the drawings have to be childish.

The cover is looks good as do all of the other book covers from the Red Hot Reads series.

Frankly, I am disappointed with Science Fiction Stories. After reading another book from the same series called Detective Stories I had expected much more from this one.

Overall, Science Fiction Stories is entertaining only in parts. Most of it feels disjointed. It’s a pity really. A science fiction collection aimed at adolescent readers could have been much richer and engaging than this.

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The Friday 56

The Friday 56 is a bookish meme hosted by Freda’s Voice.

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Link up at Freda’s site

Today’s sentence comes from Science Fiction Stories by Edward Blishen.

“Whole civilizations would be destroyed by his creation in a single gulp. That made him feel kind of good, kind of important.”

Teaser Tuesdays (Sept.27)

Teaser Tuesdays asks us to:

Grab our current read

Open to a random page

Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like our teaser!

 My Teaser:

“He spoke to the dog’s brain.

‘Kill,’ said the Captain. ‘Kill that other creature there.”

p. 18, Science Fiction Stories chosen by Edward Blishen.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

Welcome Home: Books that Arrived in July & August 2011

” ‘Tell me what you read and I’ll tell you who you are’ is true enough, but I’d know you better if you told me what you reread.” – François Mauriac.

I love to re-read old favourites. They shape who I am. They also tell what I am likely to read in the future. The list of books I bought in the months of July and August  do have a lot in common with my frequently re-read books, plays, classics and of course, mysteries. Hope fully these books will also become a part of my frequently re-read books.

Here are the books I bought in the months of July and August.

July 20, 2011.

The Chronicles of Narnia.  C. S. Lewis.

This is a paperback edition of the complete Narnia saga. As a child, the TV series The Chronicles of Narnia was one of my favourites. I haven’t seen the recent big screen version of it but the buzz generated by the movies and the fond childhood memories have finally made me buy this. But who knows when I would be able to actually read this gigantic volume!

August 9, 2011.

By the Pricking of My Thumbs. Agatha Christie.

Science Fiction Stories. Edward Blishen (ed.)

It’s Only a Movie : Alfred Hitchcock – A Personal Biography. Charlotte Chandler.      

A Midsummer Night’s Dream. William Shakespeare.    

Twelfth Night. William Shakespeare.    

I have yet to try any of my favourite Agatha Christie’s Tommy and Tuppence books. I have decided to start with By the Pricking of My Thumbs.

I picked up another from the Red Hot Reads series. I had enjoyed their Detective Stories so much that I couldn’t resist their Science Fiction Stories compiled by Edward Blishen.

It has been ages since I read any non-fiction so picked up It’s Only a Movie : Alfred Hitchcock – A Biography by Charlotte Chandler. I have always admired Alfred Hitchcock’s work. His Rear Window and Rope are two of my favourites. His biography might be interesting to read.


A bunch of Penguin Popular Classics editions of Shakespeare’s plays were going for real cheap at another book store. Picked up A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Twelfth Night.

So, these are my books for the months of July and August. Hoping to read them soon!