Thursday, October 21, 2010

1950’s short fiction: "Duel on Syrtis" by Poul Anderson

Thanks to the industrious folks at Project Gutenberg and, you can read or download "Duel on Syrtis", a short story penned by American science fiction writer Poul Anderson (1926-2001). Originally published in the March 1951 issue of Planet Stories magazine, the piece follows Riordan, an interplanetary big-game hunter, who travels to Mars to bag the forbidden game that roams the red deserts. Here are the opening lines:

THE night whispered the message. Over the many miles of loneliness it was borne, carried on the wind, rustled by the half-sentient lichens and the dwarfed trees, murmured from one to another of the little creatures that huddled under crags, in caves, by shadowy dunes. In no words, but in a dim pulsing of dread which echoed through Kreega's brain, the warning ran—

They are hunting again.

Kreega shuddered in a sudden blast of wind. The night was enormous around him, above him, from the iron bitterness of the hills to the wheeling, glittering constellations light-years over his head. He reached out with his trembling perceptions, tuning himself to the brush and the wind and the small burrowing things underfoot, letting the night speak to him...


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