Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Bonus FFB on Wednesday: Planets Three -- Frederik Pohl

Planets Three reprints three pseudonymous novellas by Fred Pohl from fairly early in his long career (late '40s to early '50s).  They're presented as "the good old stuff," as you can see by the blurbs at the top of the cover to the right.  The main problem is that they're not all that good.  It's not just that the science in them is outdated; it's that the ideas in at least a couple of them are just a little too goofy even for someone like me to believe.  

That's particularly of "Red Moon of Danger," the second one in the book.  It begins promisingly enough with a mystery: Someone's sabotaging the uranium mines on the moon, and Ellen Bishop, who owns them, wants Steve Templin to find out who and why.  He does, naturally, but the solution is so unbelievable that I couldn't swallow it.  I won't go into the reasons here because it's a huge spoiler, but you won't believe it, either if you ever read the book. 

The first story, "Figurehead," is the kind that irritates me because I'm so far ahead of the main characters that I want to scream at them and tell them what goobers they are.  It's not their fault, though.  They just haven't read enough fiction from the pulps to see the things a reader does.

"Donovan Had a Dream" is the final story (also the cover story), and it's set on Venus, which is perfectly suited for human habitation.  It's one of those "planet is ruled by a powerful group, but there's a secret group that's working to overthrow them" stories, and it was the best of the bunch, even though it has plenty of things in it that made me want to toss the book across the room.  I'm starting to think that maybe the Good Old Stuff might not be as good as I thought it was. 

5 comments:

George said...

I found better quality Good Old Stuff when I read the early stories of Robert Silverberg. Pohl got a lot better when he started writing with C. M. Kornbluth.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

I agree with George about Silverberg. Most of his early stuff that has been reprinted is very readable today.

Rick Ollerman said...

I think Pohl was a far better editor than writer. He had one good book in him, the wonderful "Gateway," and that was it. Everything else of his I have found virtually unreadable.

James Reasoner said...

That's not at all the kind of stuff Pohl was suited to write. Henry Kuttner probably would have done a bang-up job with those plots, though.

Bill Crider said...

I agree. In fact, I'd say he was striving for a Kuttner vibe.