Sci-Fi Private Eye

PDF-file by Charles G. Waugh

Sci-Fi Private Eye PDF ebook download Genre: Science Fiction, Mystery

This is a collection of short-stories, all written between 1950 and 1970. For me the oddest and most interesting thing about the stories is the world-view. I haven't read a whole lot of classic sci-fi, and the gender stereotypes were extremely blatant and hard to swallow. In all the stories the only competent/smart woman among 'em had been born a man. In fact, in the stories it was almost entirely a male world. Very strange. However, despite that the stories were much more readable then I expected. One of 'em completely cheated, by pulling out what would now be classified as a fantasy element as the reason for the murders as well as the method, without the fairness of suggesting that such might be possible in that world. However, other then that, the stories played fair with the mysteries, the sci-fi elements, and did not use techno-babble to solve the crime. Each had an interesting take on the future and future technology. (For all the mentions of slide-rules and room-size computers were amusing, they do not actually distract from the stories).

My (very short takes) on each of the short stories:

Larry Niven's "ARM" - This is the longest story in the book, and had the most interesting (albeit somewhat bleak) view of the future. The story follows the investigation of the murder of an Einstein-like(or more accurately a Thomas Edison-like) famous inventor, by a detective from the ARM branch of government, who's job is to police the population to make sure the reproductive laws are followed (which our hero hates doing), track down organ theft (since in this tech you can apparently easily transplant an arm, etc. from one person to another), and follow the advent/use of fancy new technological weapons - which is the classification that the murder of the inventor seems to fall into.

Isaac Asimov's "The Singing Bell" - I think this was my favorite of the stories, very much a puzzle story without much action; but it was short, played fair and had an apropos resolution.

Wilson Tucker's "Time Exposures" - A completely fair mystery that involves a time-lapse photographer. Except in this universe photography apparently can take pictures _backwards_ in time. Highly satisfying.

Poul Anderson's "The Martian Crown Jewels" - almost feels like a Sam Spade pot-boiler crossed with Retief.

Donald Westlake's "The Winner" - I'm not sure this is a mystery so much as a political statement along the lines of _Brave New World_ or _1984_. Quite readable, despite the agenda.

Robert Silverberg's "Getting Across" - more an exploration of a future society then a mystery. Interesting in a vaguely post-apocalyptic "Mad Max and the Thunder dome" kind of way.

Philip Jose Farmer's "A Scarletin Study" - think Sherlock Holms, if Holms were a genetically engineered intelligent dog.

Tom Reamy's "The Detweiler Boy" - This is the one story I didn't like, and which I felt cheated as a mystery.

Philip K. Dick's "War Game" - This is the first Philip K. Dick story I've actually read, and I remember being pleased with it, but I'm afraid it was unmemorable, as I can't remember anything else about it.

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