Book Report: Ancient, My Enemy by Gordon R. Dickson (1974)

Through some strange quirk of fate or ill-done packing when we moved, this book ended up on my to read shelves even though it became clear when I started it that I’d read it before. That didn’t stop me from reading it again, though, so that counts as a testament to my enjoyment of Gordon R. Dickson’s short fiction.

This book collects some of Dickson’s work from the 1950s and the 1960s, including:

  • “Ancient, My Enemy”: A prospector on a distant planet who finds that one of the primitive members of the regressed native civilization has found him to be an ancient enemy.
  • “The Odd Ones”: A pair of intergalactic observers and philosophers who try to glean the meaning and morality of a pair of humans they encounter.
  • “The Monkey Wrench”: A Venutian ne’er do well hides from his socialite wife in a remote meteorological outpost and enters a risky bet with a former classmate.
  • “Tiger Green”: A ship and its crew become ensnared by a jungle and confounded by the natives who live in it. The four who resist a strange madness struggle to understand its source and save themselves.
  • “The Friendly Man”: A time traveller from the past reaches a distant future and finds a friendly man awaiting him. Suspiciously friendly.
  • “Love Me True”: A soldier faces trouble when he brings back a ferret-like pet from a distant planet. As he should.
  • “Our First Death”: The first death in a colony threatens to destroy it.
  • “To the Bone”: A human explorer finds an extraterrestrial vehicle on an outlying planet, only to have that vehicle destroy his ship and survival gear. The extraterrestrial intelligence underestimates the nature and ability of man at his most primitive.
  • “The Bleak and Barren Land”: A Colonial Representative, banished from earth and sent to a backwater planet, must handle the conflict between an advanced and inscrutable native race and the first shipload of authorized colonists on the planet.

A quick and interesting read, these stories remind me of my youth when I ate up simple science fiction stories like this. Again, like the last Andy Rooney book I read, this reminds me of the kinds of things that inspired me to become a writer. Perhaps if I spend more time with them, they’ll inspire me to keep writing.

Books mentioned in this review:

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