Thursday, January 6, 2011

"Machine of Klamugra" – 1950 short story by Allen K. Lang

Thanks to the industrious folks at the Internet Archive, you can read or download "Machine of Klamugra," a short story penned by American science fiction writer Allen Kim Lang (1928- ) and illustrated by an artist known as Mayan. Originally published in the November 1950 issue of Planet Stories magazine, the storyline revolves around the trial of two Earthmen, Captain Jan Barnaby and Lieutenant Kim Teajun of the Extraterrestrial Service, who are accused of murdering a Martian priest named Klaggchallak. Here are the opening lines of the story:

KLAGGCHALLAK, his fur nose-flaps pulled tight against his nostrils, stumbled up to the gleaming pinnacle of steel that seemed to offer shelter against the night. He felt a dust-storm gathering in the west, and knew that not even the tough skin of a Martian priest could withstand the angry whippings of sand lashed up by the wind-warlocks of the desert.

The old priest drew a tiny, folded mal-skin tent from his back-pack. Without haste, for he knew that the elder gods of Mars were watching his safety, Klaggchallak pitched the tent against the west stabilizer of the rocket, drawing the tough hide down to form a floor-flap and fastening it to the steel of the stabilizer with tough mal-hoof glue, which would hold fast in the fiercest winds of Mars. He looked for the sun and found it low in the evening sky, then crawled leisurely into the yurt, pulling the door-flap down after him and gluing it to the floor. He had for himself a secure cocoon into which the sand-devils could not force their probing fingers. Before he slept, the old priest fingered his beads, reciting his evening invocation to various benevolent and protective gods...

Thanks to Tinkoo Valia of the blog Variety SF for the tip!

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