Eric Frank Russell: Deep Space

This book is a collection of stories that were originally published between 1941 and 1952. With settings including Venus and Mars both populated by natives, some of these stories do have a distinctly period feel but, they are just so well written and so interesting despite that that they still merit a read.

The reason is that Russell is simply a great storyteller. My favourite story here is "First Person Singular" which describes a planetary expedition which ends in a neat twist. "Last Blast"and "The Undecided" are also really good stories.

The tales are all pretty simple and straightforward and they would make an interesting introduction to sf for younger readers but they also provide a light alternative for mature readers. If this book appeals to you, I'd suggest short story collections by Robert Sheckley for material from the same era or by Eric Brown for more contemporary sf.

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My rating
Seven out of ten. Still a good read if a little dated.
This book is out of print but you can get other books by Eric Frank Russell from amazon.co.uk.
Detailed Contents
First Person Singular
A variant on the Adam and Eve theme but this is a very fine story. The twist is neat but the story leading up to it is also interesting, well told and well paced. It also contains one truly memorable quote: "But if ever the time comes to weep for me it would be well to remember something." "Such as?" "I shall be laughing." 9/10
The Witness
An alien lands on Earth and, claiming to be a refugee, is put on trial as a illegal immigrant.An interesting slant on how we might view such an arrival. 6/10
Last Blast
Aliens attempt to conquer mankind by the simple expedient of putting a stranglehold on the food supply and letting people fight it out amongst themselves. They seem set for complete success but one man has an idea. 7/10
Homo Saps
Set on Mars and featuring telepathic camels who can communicate with the local population. 6/10
The Timid Tiger
This tale loses a little for current times as it is set on Venus populated by green men but if you can simply make a mental shift to place it on another planet it's still a good story. 6/10
A Little Oil
How to keep men from going mad on long tedious space voyages? You use a little coco oil. 6/10
Rainbow's End
An exploration party lands on a new planet. They will set to explore and report back to Earth on the booty to be had. They are not prepared for the defence put up by the natives. 6/10
The Undecided
A spaceship crewed by an assortment of (mostly) Earthlings is forced to make temporary landfall to effect repairs to their ship. An impressive force from an alien civilisation sets out to land on the same planet to take advantage of the Earthlings temporary problem. Of course their intended victims turn out to be rather more resourceful than expected. 7/10
Second Genesis
Man fouls it up but a returning spaceman gets that chance to try again. 5/10