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Chapter I PERFUMED PLANET Dane Thorson, Cargo-master-apprentice of the Solar Queen, Galactic Free Trader spacer, Terra registry, stood in the middle of the ship's cramped bather while Rip Shannon, assistant Astrogator and his senior in the Service of Trade by some four years, applied gobs of highly scented paste to the skin between Dane's rather prominent shoulder blades. The small cabin was thickly redolent with spicy odors and Rip sniffed... more...

1. Harry Collins—1997 The telescreen lit up promptly at eight a.m. Smiling Brad came on with his usual greeting. "Good morning—it's a beautiful day in Chicagee!" Harry Collins rolled over and twitched off the receiver. "This I doubt," he muttered. He sat up and reached into the closet for his clothing. Visitors—particularly feminine ones—were always exclaiming over the advantages of Harry's apartment. "So convenient,"... more...

The Captain peered into the eyepiece of the telescope. He adjusted the focus quickly. "It was an atomic fission we saw, all right," he said presently. He sighed and pushed the eyepiece away. "Any of you who wants to look may do so. But it's not a pretty sight." "Let me look," Tance the archeologist said. He bent down to look, squinting. "Good Lord!" He leaped violently back, knocking against Dorle, the Chief Navigator. "Why did we come all... more...

The human race was expanding through the galaxy ... and so, they knew, were the Aliens. When two expanding empires meet ... war is inevitable. Or is it ...?   At 04 hours 10 minutes, ship time, the Niccola was well inside the Theta Gisol solar system. She had previously secured excellent evidence that this was not the home of the Plumie civilization. There was no tuned radiation. There was no evidence of interplanetary... more...

THE CRYSTAL EGG There was, until a year ago, a little and very grimy-looking shop near Seven Dials, over which, in weather-worn yellow lettering, the name of "C. Cave, Naturalist and Dealer in Antiquities," was inscribed. The contents of its window were curiously variegated. They comprised some elephant tusks and an imperfect set of chessmen, beads and weapons, a box of eyes, two skulls of tigers and one human, several moth-eaten stuffed monkeys... more...


Ambitious Brill slid smoothly into her berth in the Brooklyn Navy Yard after far too many weeks at sea, as far as her crew were concerned. After all the necessary preliminaries had been waded through, the majority of that happy crew went ashore to enjoy a well-earned and long-anticipated leave in the depths of the brick-and-glass canyons of Gomorrah-on-the-Hudson. The trip had been uneventful, in so far as nothing really dangerous or exciting... more...

Talk of heat—or better not—on Xecho. This water-logged world combined all the most unattractive features of a steam bath and one could only dream of coolness, greenness—more land than a stingy string of islands. The young man on the promontory above the crash of the waves wore the winged cap of a spaceman with the insignia of a cargo-master and not much else, save a pair of very short shorts. He wiped one hand absently across... more...

From above came the sound of men singing. Captain Duke O'Neill stopped clipping his heavy black beard to listen. It had been a long time since he'd heard such a sound—longer than the time since he'd last had a bath or seen a woman. It had never been the singing type of war. Yet now even the high tenor of old Teroini, who lay on a pad with neither legs nor arms, was mixed into the chorus. It could mean only one thing! As if to confirm his... more...

CHAPTER ONE The girl came toward him across the silent room. She was young. She was beautiful. Her red hair curled like a flame round her eager, heart-shaped face. Her arms reached for him. Her hands touched him. Her eyes were alive with the light of pure love. I am yours, the eyes kept saying. Do with me as you will. Forrester watched the eyes with a kind of fascination. Now the girl's mouth opened, the lips parted slightly, and her husky... more...

The slovenly wub might well have said: Many mentalk like philosophers and live like fools. They had almost finished with the loading. Outside stood the Optus, his arms folded, his face sunk in gloom. Captain Franco walked leisurely down the gangplank, grinning. "What's the matter?" he said. "You're getting paid for all this." The Optus said nothing. He turned away, collecting his robes. The Captain put his boot on the hem of the robe. "Just a... more...