The Menace From Earth by Robert A. Heinlein
This collection of short fiction by Robert A. Heinlein, first published in 1959, collects eight stories from various sf magazines of the forties and fifties. The stories are as follows:
‘The Year of The Jackpot’ — a statistician’s graphs of unrelated phenomena, from stock market prices and rainfall to people stripping in public, all point to a peak on the same date, and indicate that the whole world is in for a bad year. Unfortunately, there also seems to be something wrong with the Sun.
‘By His Bootstraps’ — probably one of Heinlein’s most well known stories, it tells of a man who interacts with multiple versions of himself by means of a time portal. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
‘Columbus Was A Dope’ — two barflies and a bartender debate space travel and exploration, with one patron contending that exploration is pointless and Columbus should have stayed at home. The location of the bar provides a neat twist ending.
‘The Menace From Earth’ — a teenage girl, living on the Moon, finds her love life under threat when a femme fatale arrives from Earth on vacation.
’Sky Lift’ — a spaceship pilot must undergo a long period of high-G acceleration on a mission to Pluto to deliver a cure to a plague ravaging a research station.
‘Goldfish Bowl’ — two scientists investigate two massive waterspouts which have appeared in the Pacific. During the investigation, they disappear and find themselves in a featureless prison, being kept as study specimens, or perhaps pets, by some unknown intelligence.
‘Project Nightmare’ — the Soviet Union has planted atom bombs in multiple US cities, primed to explode at the same time if the US does not surrender. A secret team of psi-enhanced people must use their telekinetic and clairvoyant abilities to prevent the bombs from exploding until they are found and disarmed.
‘Water Is For Washing’ — a man with a phobia of water finds himself fleeing for his life when an earthquake allows the Pacific to flood an area of California which is below sea level.
Despite the age of these stories, they all hold up reasonably well, with none being unreadable. You have to allow for the attitudes prevalent at the time of writing, especially with regard to the female characters, but even here, ‘The Menace From Earth’ gives us an unusually-strong-for-the-time female protagonist.
‘By His Bootstraps’ was an entertaining romp, despite the ending being obvious a mile off, and ‘Project Nightmare’ was a genuinely tense thriller.
All in all, a decent Heinlein collection. Nothing outstanding, but worth your time.