Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"A Gift for Terra" – 1954 first contact story by Fox B. Holden

Thanks to Tinkoo Valia of the blog Variety SF and the industrious folks at Project Gutenberg and ManyBooks.net, you can read or download “A Gift for Terra,” a short story penned by American science fiction writer Fox B. Holden (his real name!) and illustrated by Paul Orban. Originally published in the September 1954 issue of If: Worlds of Science Fiction magazine, the plot revolves around Johnny Love, sole survivor of the first manned mission to the Red Planet, child-like Martians, and the prospect of giving to Earth knowledge humanity won't discover on its own for at least 1,000 years! Here are the opening lines of the story:

HIS head hurt like blazes, but he was alive, and to be alive meant fighting like hell to stay that way.

That was the first thing returning consciousness told him. The next was that his helmet should have been cracked wide open when the bum landing had wrenched the acceleration hammocks out of their suspension sockets and heaved his suited body across the buckled conning deck. It should've been, but it wasn't.

The third thing he knew was that Ferris' helmet had been smashed into a million pieces, and that Ferris was dead.

Sand sifted in a cold, red river through the gaping rent in the side of the ship, trying to bury him before he could stand up and get his balance on the crazily tilted deck. He shook loose with more strength than he needed, gave the rest of the muscles in his blocky body a try, and there wasn't any hurt worse than a bruise. Funny. Ferris was dead...

I haven’t read “A Gift for Terra” but Tinkoo Valia of Variety SF rates the story a “B.”

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