by Keith Laumer
Edited by Eric Flint
Cover Artist: Richard Martin
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Baen Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781451638615
Date: 25 December 2012 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Nobody knows what the future holds. That is as true today as it was when these tales by Laumer were first penned during the sixties. Editor Eric Flint combines seven of Laumer's stories of the future which show many possibilities.
"Catastrophe Planet" is a tale of Earth on the edge of ecological disaster. Malcome Irish is not a hero. He gets by gambling and grifting. A chance stop leads to the start of a world crossing adventure. He faces the elements and an ancient race, but he might not get the girl.
"The Walls" is a prescient tale about a crowded world and what people want. When Harry Trimble buys a wall TV for his wife Flora, it seems they have arrived. Tolstoy once asked, "How much is enough?" Now Flora will discover that there can be too much of a good thing.
"Cocoon" is a tale of virtual reality. Sid Throndyke gets by every day going to work and keeping things going. When a strange message comes in, Sid's world changes and so does his perceptions of how he has been living. IN the end, he must decide how to live the rest of his life.
"Founder's Day" starts with a crowded Earth and a young man wanting to get away and have opportunities. Gus decides to join one of the exploration and colonization teams. The process isn't what he expects. When something goes wrong on the voyage, the future of the colony is jeopardized.
"Placement Test" is a story about a highly regulated society. Mart Maldon is a student who has his world turned upside down by a change. No longer able to finish his coursework, he must get a job, but he can't seem to pass the test as he is currently. He must find a way to beat the system.
"Worldmaster" is a tale of global domination. Captain Maclamore is one of the few survivors of a major battle that decimated the ships on both sides. All the ships, except his side's flagship. The Admiral is an old friend, but he has ambitions. The only thing between a military takeover is Maclamore.
"The Day Before Forever" is a tale of survival. Steve Dravek is a hard man. He wakes with a gap in his memory and the authorities chasing him. As he follows a string of clues he comes to realize, he is facing the toughest opponent he can imagine.
This is a nice collection, with a good range of stories. There aren't a lot of bright futures, but there are many possibilities. The best thing is that 50 years later, the stories still resonate. Fans of dystopic futures will find something to enjoy here. Many thanks to Eric Flint for bringing Laumer to a new generation of readers.