Eric Frank Russell: Like Nothing on Earth

This collection of seven short stories was first published in the seventies though the stories themselves first appeared in "Astounding Science Fiction" magazine in its glory days. The stories are packed full with interesting ideas and they are often very funny. Having said that, it is important to point out also that modern readers will find that the stories themselves have a rather dated feel. The author's novels have stood the test of time far better than have his shorter works.

My favourite story from the collection is "Allamagoosa" which projects a "Sgt Bilko" view of military life into a future of interstellar space ships and hyperspace drives. The stories are not all humorous: "Ultima Thule" lands its protagonists in a pretty bleak scenario with no light relief.

If you are a fan of period SF, then you may well enjoy this but, if you are new to the author, I'd suggest that you try some of his novels first. "Wasp" and "Three to Conquer" would be a good place to start.

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My rating

Seven out of ten. Still a good read if a little dated.

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Detailed Contents

A navy spaceship is scheduled for inspection and, on thecking the inventory against the list, the commander discovers that one item is missing. What is worse, nobody knows what it is. The name, offog is a mystery. What is to be done? Funny, 6/10.
A lone explorer, complete with parrot stumbles upon a strange planet filled with a weird assortment of life all of which is overseen by a luminous keeper. 5/10
The Mechanical Mice
An inventor steals a glimpse of the future and creates copies of what he seems. But one day, he builds something whose deadly purpose he fails to perceive. 5/10
Into Your Tent I'll Creep
Alien visitors discover that mankind is being secretly ruled by a master race. Woof, it's the dogs. 5/10
Nothing New
Human explorers visit an ancient race without realising that they have been there before. 4/10
Shape changing alien scouts land on Earth and attempt to learn about the planet by imitating humans as they investigate the planet. But they picked the wrong people to imitate. 5/10
Ultima Thule
A spaceship, powered by a faster than light drive falls outside spacetime and is stranded wherever it is, which appears to be nowhere. The crew can do nothing and seem doomed to oblivion. 5/10