While this is overall a strong collection, it includes a number of stories that could have been much stronger with just a touch more work. In many of them, like “Hunch”, about an alien that helps a blind man see, Simak edges right up to touching moments or endings, but doesn’t quite pull them off. The intent is clear, and the path is visible, but Simak didn’t follow them to the end. It’s unfortunate, because while the stories are mostly good, a handful could have been excellent.
The best stories were:
- Aesop – part of the City sequence, this is a slow-moving, slow-building story with a strong ending.
- Univac 2200 – an unusual story for Simak with a clear focus on the projected implications of virtual reality.
- The Spaceman’s Van Gogh – about the search for a painter, this story verges on, but doesn’t quite make it over the line into greatness.
I received a free copy of this
book in exchange for an honest review.