Sleepers of Mars, by John Wyndham

Second paragraph of third story (“Invisible Monster”):

‘Look!’ said David.

I had meant to get to this book several years ago, the last surviving unread book on my shelves acquired in 2014, but it slipped into a weird corner of the bookshelves and I couldn’t find it. However it then came to light in a recent tidying-up exercise, so I picked it up again.

These are five stories by Wyndham in the space opera tradition, which is not what he is best known for. They each have a somewhat different twist on the format. I had read the title story back when it was up for the Retro Hugos in 2014, and noted then:

this is actually rather an attractive story, Bradbury before his time, with the central characters being the Russian cosmonauts (though in fact they include a Ukrainian, a Kyrgyz and a politically exiled Scot) and an opening-the-tomb narrative with a surprising and downbeat ending.

Wyndham however got the number of Soviet republics wrong.

I wasn’t so impressed with the second story, “Worlds to Barter”, about a time-traveller attempting to interfere with his own ancestor’s crucial decisions, but I enjoyed the rest. “Invisible Monster” has, er, an invisible monster from Venus landing on Earth with a decently paced bit of horror. “The Man from Earth” is a parable of the fall of humanity as a result of exploring Dangerous Places. The title of the last story is “The Third Vibrator”, which OK is a bit snigger-worthy these days but again has a time paradox at the core.

It is what it is. I think only “Worlds to Barter” even has a female character, so we don’t even get near the first step of the Bechdel test. But you can get it here.

This was my remaining unread book acquired in 2014. Back to usual run after this/i