Thunder And Roses — The Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon, Volume 4
This fourth volume of ‘The Complete Stories’ series consists of stories written between 1946 and 1948, when Sturgeon had recovered from his writers’ block and regained his confidence as a writer following his competition win with ‘Bianca’s Hands’ in Argosy magazine.
The volume contains the following stories:
A savant, suffering from infantilism, undergoes hormone treatment to give him a more mature personality. Fearing that loss of his child-like wonder at the world will stunt his creativity, the man suspends treatment. The resulting hormonal imbalance results in his mind maturing to a level never seen before in humanity, with tragic consequences.
Considered one of Sturgeon’s best and most critically acclaimed stories.
Tiny And The Monster
A lighthearted story of a metallurgist, whose dog appears to be able to read her mind and seems to be trying to tell her something.
The Sky Was Full of Ships
A cave is discovered containing an alien recording device, which has been recording the whole of human history since pre-historic times. The device begins transmitting its information to its creators when the first atomic bomb is used.
The story was adapted for radio in 1950 as an episode of Beyond Tomorrow under the title Incident at Switchpath.
A violinist, being exploited by his manager and obsessed with his manager’s wife, composes a musical masterpiece which he uses to get revenge.
Thunder and Roses
Following a devastating nuclear attack on the United States, with everyone in the Western hemisphere dead or dying of radiation sickness, a soldier must decide whether to launch a retaliatory strike at the enemy, which will sterilise the entire Earth, or hold off and allow humanity to survive.
It’s Not Syzygy
A man falls in love with his ideal woman and finds that he is also the man of her dreams.
The Blue Letter
A short, unpublished story about a man who receives a letter from his wife requesting a divorce, leading him to re-evaluate his relationship with his new girlfriend.
A drummer in a jazz band tries to sabotage his rival’s chance of being spotted by a big-time talent scout.
One of the few Sturgeon stories, other than his early work for newspaper syndication, not published in a science fiction magazine. This was published in Varsity, a magazine aimed at high school boys.
Another of the few non-sf Sturgeon stories. This one was published in Zane Grey’s Western Magazine and follows a cook in a western frontier town who uses his culinary skill to expose a fraud in a neighbouring town, which is competing to become county seat and attract the railroad.
A man is killed in a car crash with a parked flying saucer on a lonely country road. Restored to life by the aliens, with a new, improved mind and body, the man re-assesses his relationship with his wife and the woman he was contemplating leaving her for.
Written in a more literary style and originally with no SF content, this story was intended for sale to the ‘slick’ magazines, but it didn’t sell. The story was rewritten, with the SF element added, and sold to Galaxy Science Fiction magazine a few years later.
A failure visits a psychic to see what his future holds before deciding whether to kill himself.
A tale of industrial espionage, as a two-man family business must fend off a giant conglomerate determined to steal their idea of how to fit more plastic pipe into the limited space in a cargo spacecraft’s hold.
There Is No Defence
Following an interplanetary war between Earth, Mars and Jupiter, a fragile peace holds, overseen by The Joint Solar Military Council. When an unknown, invincible spaceship enters the Solar System and begins a series of devastating attacks on colonies and bases, the Council must decide whether to use the ultimate weapon — The Death. But first, they have to persuade the pacifist delegate to the Council to agree, as a unanimous decision is required. And why is the Jovian delegate abstaining from voting?
The Professor’s Teddy Bear
A monster, disguised as a child’s teddy bear, manipulates the mind of a child such that he has waking dreams of his future self. The monster then feeds on the knowledge provided by the child’s adult self in the dream.
A Way Home
A boy decides to run away from home, and imagines various scenarios for his future life and how he would return home as an adult.
All together, another well worthwhile collection of Sturgeon stories. The quality of the author’s writing is now consistently above average, as this volume shows with Hurricane Trio and A Way Home, both originally intended for the higher paying non-SF market, and Maturity, with it’s definite Flowers For Algernon vibe.
Highly recommended for anyone wanting an introduction to Sturgeon.