title: No Boundaries
author: Henry Kuttner & C. L. Moore
publisher: Consul Books
pages: 159reading time: 4 days (12/06/2009 to 15/06/2009)
Henry Kuttner was a briliant sci-fi, fantasy writer in the late fourties and early fifties. He died with barely forty years and the world lost one of the best early sci-fi writers... C. L Moore was his wife and they had a couple books written in coalition. She had several books on her own... One of them was published recently by Gollancz as as Fantasy Masterworks called Black Gods. I have the book and I must read it...
Well this book was bought in strange conditions... I was searching with my girlfriend for a book in portuguese by HG Wells or Philip K Dick for her. In a store I had been only a couple of times there was a sale of some small books that called my attention... before this I've never heard of Consul Books... I bought this one and another called The Devil Doctor by Sax Rohmer (a Fu Manchu story).
Well I started immediatly reading it... This book is a collection of six stories...
The first is called Vintage Season and it's about space travel. We have some space travelers trying to rent a house in a small city. Another group appear and try to buy the house and with the owner try to kick the previous renters out. The main character starts interacting with one of the first space traveler and starts seeing odd things... He finds out that they are indeed space travelers and they tell them how is the future and why they are there but they can't say anymore. The book then turns to speaking of space travelling and the pros and cons of it. Why they can't change anything and what it happenend if they did. The end was very interesting and I was suprised by it.
Rating 7.5/10 (51 pages)
The second story is The Devil we Know. For me was the pearl of them all. This is a short story about the pact between one human and a devil. The story itself is very straight forward and appealing but again as the previous one the devil and the main character start talking about paralele universes and the big differences between humans and devils and their feelings and notions. for example the meaning of evil or good. The meaning of natural and supernatural.
The story itself is simple... A devil makes a pact with a human to help it in everything. the Human (Carnevan) starts asking small things and his thinking of what is going to happen to him.. what the devil wants in enchange. In the end we know the devil only wanted to get to our universe because he is being persocuted by some being he doesn't understand and he thinks coming to our universe he is safe. In the end this being stays stalking Carnevan and the devil flees to his universe...
There is a interesting part where Carnevan asks if the demon enjoys hurting people and the demon asks him if he knows what evil is... The man answers that is a matter of semantics, it's an arbitrary term, humanity has set up its own standarts... The demon responds that the is answer is a moral anthropomorphism and egotism. That he hasn't considered enviromental, that the physical properties of our world caused good and evil as we know it. Carnevan responds that Morality comes from the mind and the emotions. Afterwards the demon says that humans and all other species on earth have two common instincts... Self Preservation and Propagation and the demon don't have because they can't propagate.
Then he starts telling differences between both universes and goals...
I think it was a interesting story and it says that if for us the demon are supernatural then there are things supernatural to them and so on...
Rating: 9/10 (27 pages)
Our ignorance is everlasting and the quest for knowledge is eternal... (it came from my mind... how deep...)
Home there's no returning is the third story. This one involves robots and wars... The plot is quite simple. In the middle of a war (we are not presented on what war except that it was on the pacific) the general in charge of a base wants to activate a robot (called Ego) that will win the war. That's it's order. Win the war. This robot is different from the others because he can think and its tottally independent. It doesn't need anyone to tell him what to do or how to do it. The robot is activated with the protests of it's builder and it goes berserk. It starts going from level to level destroying everything and obtaining knowledge. Meanwhile the only thing he says its "Want". In the end he desactives itself as he says "Want - To stop wanting."
He says that no machine can act on partial knowledge. You can't expect machines to face the unknown. Only human beings can do that. Steel isn't strong enough. Only flesh and blood can do it and go on... he thought that maybe win the war was impossible and maybe that consisted on a paradox for the machine and stopped it. But the General was human. It didn't stop him. He could accept the thought and push it aside, knowing that sometimes humans really do achieve the impossible. Maybe that was all that had kept us going this long...
Rating: 8.5/10 (31 pages)
Exit the Professsor was another pearl in this collection. First it's told in the first person by a person who can't write that good so it's kind of fun reading it. We read the words as we say it and not as we read it... (making sense am I?). The story involves on a family living on the suburbs of a small town in Kentucky. The family itself are mutants... They can fly, turn invisible, read other people minds and make strange things (in this case a weapon).
Well the plot involves a professor that wants to study them but they know that if they start being study they will become a circus show. The main character reveals that their grand-grand father was a miner in Cornwall in the time of the druids but it was poisoned and so it change their DNA. The professor starts blackmailing the family and the main character says that he will go to New York if they leave them alone. Meanwhile he gives the professor a kind of gun thingy...
The grandfather says that he mustn't go, so he confronts the professor and says it. The professor refuses to hear it and asks him to go or else he will bring a commision. Saunk (the main character) then decides he must stop the professor. Since he can't killed because of the sheriff he tricks the professor of using the weapon and everybody in sight now have toothache. The sheriff arrests the professor (Saunk was invisible) and in jail he appears and say to the professor that he will help him remove the toothache if he leaves them alone. The professor says that if doesn't help him he will bring the comission. Saunk asks the rest of family for help and in a great hall they fix the gun and remove the toothache from the sheriff. As he is trying to remove from everyone an invisbile member of the family do something to the gun that removes all clothes from the people on the hall, it shortened the hair of everyone and removes every gold from the tooths. The people try to lynch him but the family saves him and brings him to their house. There he agrees not to bring the commision if they help her. The grandfather reads his mind and says he is lying so they hide him on the basement inside a bottle....
This is a great story about science and seeing how far scientists are going to achieve new things... in one part the professor says they must go new york because they must be studied, for the glory of science and the advancement of mankind. This says it all... we humans are in hunger for knowledge. We must understand and control everything even it means destroy it or damage it.
Rating 8.5/10 (17 pages)
Two-Handed Engine is the last story of the book. And a nice one. This story focus on a future society were machines have been made to help humankind. The story begins with a guy asking another to kill someone so he can take his job. He knows (the man who is doing the killing) that if he kills someone a Furie (a machine who is police, judge and executioner) will come. This furies as they arrive near someone they don't kill it. They have another interestic tactic. They stand just beside the killer and stay like that for days or what time they deem necessary. And without warning they will kill. This way the machines "think" that this will persuade others not to the same.
The story them involves and we have a glimpse of the past. The man falling to anarchism as the machines do everything to us. The wars and then the trying to rise. Humankind as they fell into barbarism they became more and more individualistic.. this was ripping apart society as a whole. This is a good story and focus on society and evolution... I enjoyed it.
Rating 9/10 (29 pages)
In conclusion it was a great read. Every story focus on one theme and on science fiction or fantasy and that pleases me. I think books in a couple of decades early had something to make us think. I remember reading several yellow dust books by Daw that were printed in 70 and 80 and they were small.. almost no book surpassed 200 pages but they were good stories. They had a plot and then they and a thought of something... politics, nature, society etc...
I don't feel the same reading books from nowadays. They are fiction books with references but not as good as the earlier years... Bear in mind that doesn't mean they aren't good. They are or else I wouldn't read them.
I have to read something more by them... I pre-order another book by them from 1950. Let us see if it's as good as this...