- Ballantine Books
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The Abominable Earthman contains five short stories, and one long-ish one (taking up the bulk of the book).
The Abominable Earthman, the titular story, is about what happens when green-skinned aliens conquer Earth in a short span of time, and the adventures of a small group of people who are trying to overthrow them.
We Never Mention Aunt Nora is about a most curious pregnancy and an aunt who we don't talk about...
A Life and a Half is about a very bleak future which runs very efficiently, alright, but about which something else is off.
Punch is a strange little story about benevolent aliens.
The Martian Star-Gazers reads like an anthropology report on the previous inhabitants of Mars.
Whatever Counts, the longest of the stories, is about a group of colonists and the crew who are hauling them to Aleph Four, a satellite of a Jupiter-like planet a long way off (the journey takes eighteen years). There's also a rhinoceroid alien race of graceful and fast creatures who lack any kind of subconscious who feature prominently (to say more would spoil).
Three Portraits and a Prayer is a very short story about a dying scientist, his doctor, and an evil millionaire.
Unfortunately, almost all the short stories fell rather flat for me. It's all very well written, but some of the stories left me wondering what the point was. The Martian Star-Gazers stood out for me. There's not a whole lot of action in it, but the way it's written made it very interesting to read. It's written almost as thought it were a piece of anthropology, describing Martian mythology and the stars in their skies and what it meant to them. Whatever Counts, the longest story in the collection, also stood out. There aren't too many main characters and Pohl develops them in style: In the end, one really does care about them and their motives, and the aliens, the Gormen, are enigmatic and fit the story very well.
I can't recommend this one unless you really want those two stories. However, you're probably better off buying another Pohl collection with those two in them.
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- Table of Contents:
- The Abominable Earthman
- We Never Mention Aunt Nora
- A Life and a Half
- The Martian Star-Gazers
- Whatever Counts
- Three Portraits and a Prayer