Menace of the Monster (British Library Science Fiction Classics) ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Menace of the Monster
Series: British Library Science Fiction Classics
Editor: Mike Ashley
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 266
Words: 98.5K



Synopsis:

From Isfdb.org

The War of the Worlds (abridgement) • (1920) • short story by H. G. Wells

The Cloud Men • (1911) • short fiction by Owen Oliver

The Dragon of St. Pauls • (1899) • short fiction by Reginald Bacchus and C. Ranger Gull

De Profundis • (1914) • short fiction by Coutts Brisbane

Dagon • (1919) • short story by H. P. Lovecraft

In Amundsen’s Tent • (1928) • novelette by John Martin Leahy

King Kong • (1933) • short story by Draycot M. Dell and Edgar Wallace

The Monster from Nowhere • (1939) • short story by Nelson S. Bond

Discord in Scarlet • [Space Beagle] • (1939) • novelette by A. E. van Vogt

Monster • (1950) • short story by John Christopher

Resident Physician • [Sector General] • (1961) • novelette by James White

Personal Monster • (1955) • short story by Idris Seabright

Alien Invasion • (1954) • short story by Marcia Kamien

The Witness • (1951) • novelette by Eric Frank Russell

My Thoughts:

I went into this knowing that Ashley was going to blab before each story. Thankfully, there was a LOT less sociocultural BS than in the previous book. He actually talked about the stories and authors as stories and authors instead of as representative of this or that modern idea. I didn’t want to stuff a sock down his throat and choke him to death so that was quite the improvement from last time 🙂

With that being said, the stories here weren’t quite as engaging, hence the 3.5star rating. The War of the Worlds abridgement was just too short. It did make me want to seek out the full version though, so that’s something. King Kong was a short story based on the screen play and man, did it feel like it. I’ll take Jackson’s Director’s Cut of the movie any day. I’d read several others of these throughout the years so that familiarity helped ease me along.

Overall, this series is exposing me to authors that have disappeared or fallen out of the knowledge of even the SF community and it is very interesting to read such things. I like the short story format, as I’m not getting bogged down because an author can’t shut the feth up. I didn’t even realize how much I am starting to hate modern authors because of their bleeding wordiness until I started reading more short stories and the distillation of an idea instead of an expansion of the idea. As much as I loved Sanderson when he started, I’m not sure I can read much more by him. And don’t get me started on jackasses like Gwynne who think they’re somebody and have the right to pen tomes as newbie authors.

To end, this one went MUCH better even while some of the stories weren’t as good. I hope things can stay at this level.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Currently Reading: Menace of the Monster

Whereas I complained like someone was killing my firstborn about the introduction to each story in Menace of the Machine, here I am finding it non-objectionable. Maybe because they’re shorter and the editor seems to be strictly talking about the history of the story instead of interjecting his political views into it?

Whatever the reason, this is on track as a 4star read. Keeping my fingers crossed this literary train doesn’t get derailed.

Menace of the Machine (British Library Science Fiction Classics) ★★★☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Menace of the Machine
Series: British Library Science Fiction Classics
Editor: Mike Ashley
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 257
Words: 95.5K



Synopsis:

Table of Contents

Moxon’s Master
Ambrose Bierce

The Discontented Machine
Adeline Knapp

Ely’s Automatic Housemaid
Elizabeth Bellamy

The Mind Machine
Michael Williams

Automata
S. Fowler Wright

The Machine Stops
E. M. Forster

Efficiency
Perley Poore Sheehan & Robert H. Davis

Rex
Harl Vincent

Danger in the Dark Cave
J. J. Connington

The Evitable Conflict
Isaac Asimov

Two-Handed Engine
C. L. Moore & Henry Kuttner

But Who Can Replace a Man?
Brian W. Aldiss

A Logic Named Joe
Will F. Jenkins

Dial F For Frankenstein
Arthur C. Clarke

My Thoughts:

I had not read, or even heard of, 3/4’s of these stories, so this was a good collection to expand my knowledge of classic SF. Considering that some them date back to the 1890’s, that’s as classic as you can get! Of course, there was also a reason I had not heard of most of these.

While not universally depressing, the tone is definitely set by the title. I had to remind myself several times that this was not a collection about the indomitableness of the human spirit but what humanity could let itself in for. It was interesting to see how almost every single author believed that man’s creation was somehow greater than mankind and they blithely threw out statements about how complicated and wonderful the machines were and how simple and primitive the human body was. It really showed a complete lack of understanding about biology and an acceptance of the roar of evolution that was just coming into being then.

The biggest reason this got 3 stars from me and no higher was because of the fething editor sticking in his nose. Just like in the collection Worst Contact, this editor (Mike Ashley) has a little chat with the reader about the author of the upcoming story. Maybe that works for a lot of people but when I saw that on the first story I gritted my teeth and groaned. Then when I saw it for the second story I knew this was going to be the format. Unfortunately, I am not disciplined enough to skip them and besides, why should “I” have to skip them, why didn’t the editor skip them? I believe I used a lot of words in my head like sycophant, lickspittle, buttkisser and useless sod. Instead of allowing me to read the stories and judge on their own merit, Ashley has to include a bunch of data that ruined the whole experience for me. Besides ruining the flow the collection! I’ve got 4 or 5 more of these British Library series edited by Ashley and I’m going to do my hardest to skip his idiotic blathering and useless drivel and generally disgusting toejam munching.

To summarize, the stories were enjoyable on a variety of levels but the editorializing ruined the whole thing for me.

Rating: 3 out of 5.