January 29th, 2016


Authentic Western Gibberish

I was idly poking around Supreme Court decisions about ranching land. As one does. And stumbled across this great description of authentic Zane Grey era cattle ranchers versus sheep ranchers sorta stuff. McKelvey v. United States (1922). The legal stiffs just need to punch up the word choices a little bit.

"One of the defendants then requested his comrades to line up with their rifles, which they did, whereupon he proceeded to make a hostile demonstration against one of the employees and to chase him about, obviously as a matter of intimidation."
Early the next morning, before the employees started the sheep again, one of the defendants returned and inquired what was going to be done and, on learning what the owner had directed, said: "You can't go through there." "Something will happen to you this morning." "Are you willing to take the consequences?" This defendant then rode away and a little later others of them rode up on a gallop, ordered the employees to put up their hands, which was done, and then began shooting. They shot and seriously injured one of the employees, threatened to finish him, and did other things calculated to put all three in terror."

"... and some were human." by Lester del Rey

I know Lester del Rey more for his work alongside his wife at Del Rey books. If you had looked at my shelves in 1980, the proportion of Del Rey and Ballantine on there would be considerable.

But of course, he was a writer in his own right, and this is his first anthology from 1948 by Prime Press, a short-lived specialty sf press out of Philly.

Some of the shorter ones have some vim and life, and definitely stand out for their focus on the human condition, rather than just being rocketships going whiz. But the longer ones seem to be written for the word count. Among the former is "Helen O'Loy" (should I say Spoilers! for an 80 year old story?) which was voted by the SFWA as one of the best stories from the pre-Nebula Award period. The story has aged a bit--or maybe it's because I've read it before.

Fun fact: my brain files Helen O'Loy right next to Teela O'Malley, so I can't think of one without the other and vice versa.