jueves, 15 de mayo de 2014

Bill Brown, "The Star Ducks"

     Bill Brown was born in 1910 in Oregon, USA. He worked as a journalist, a park ranger, and a techar of creative writing. As a young man in the 1930s, he made a voyage in a thirty-two foot schooner through the South Seas, and during World War II descended a Himalayan river by rubber boat. Two of his books, Uncharted Voyage and Roaring River, are based on these adventures. The short story I suggest today is "The Star Ducks", which was published in 1950 in the magazine Fantasy and Science Fiction. He was a brilliant science-fiction story teller, should you enjoy reading some other science-fiction stories by him, please read: "The Trunk and the Trumpet", "Medicine Dancer", and "Spunk Water". He died in 1961. Unfortunately He has not received the recognition he deserves yet, since he is not a well-known author nowadays. This mention is intended to be a humble tribute to his brilliant imagination.

     There is no reason to suppose that Earth is the only planet in the universe capable of supporting life in some form or other. Until we can communicate with other galaxies, however, we can only speculate and imagine. Science fiction offers us a rich range of alien life-forms, from the sublime to the ridiculous, and at the same time often shows humankind from a new, and sometimes unflattering, angle.
     The merest hint of a visitation from outer space and reporter Ward Rafferty would rush to the scene, keen to be the first wish a sensational scoop for his newspaper. The Alsops, on the other hand, are untroubled by the thought of wonders from space. They pursue their humdrum lives as farmers, raising chickens, milking the cows, doing a bit of friendly trade with a ny visitors that happen to drop by...

Extract from the story:

     "Suddenly the people from space turned their antennae toward each other for a second and apparently coming to a mutual agreement, got up and darted here and there about the room as quick as fireflies, so fast Rafferty could scarcely see them. They scattered out the door and off toward the barn. All Rafferty could think was: 'My God, they're part bug!'
Rafferty rushed out the door, on toward the barn through the mud, screaming at the creatures to stop. But before he was halfway there the gleaming plastic contraption slid out of the barn and there was a slight hiss. The thing disappeared into the low hanging clouds.
     All there was left for Rafferty to see was a steaming place in the mud and a little circle of burnt earth. Rafferty sat down in the mud, a hollow, empty feeling in his middle, with the knowledge that the greatest story in the world had gone off into the sky. No pictures, no evidence, no story. He dully went over in his mind the information he had:
      'Mr and Mrs Man-Who-Bends-Iron...' It slowly dawned on Rafferty what that meant. Smith! Man-Who-Bends-Iron on an anvil. Of course that was Smith... 'Mr and Mirs Smith visited at the Alfred Alsop place Sunday. They returned to their home in the system of Alpha Centauri with two crates of hatching eggs.' "

Nota Bene: It is really hard to find studies on the author and his writing. The bibliography on this author is really scarce or, unfortunately, "non-existent". Should anyone know about some study or biography on Bill Brown, please, let me know. I would be glad to post it here.


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