Archive for December 2nd, 2009

postheadericon Element of Chance

Three Bob Shaw paperbacks arrived to add to my collection.

Oops, edit: wrong link to a picture. And I meant to say that I recall the paperback edition of Fire Pattern being issued, with some comments that the person on the cover looked like Brian Aldiss.

I bought a paperback copy of Fire Pattern dirt cheap from eBay and it’s in pretty good nick.

I also bought the American editions of Cosmic Kaleidoscope and Tomorrow Lies In Ambush.

The copy of Tomorrow Lies In Ambush was also signed. This gives a little peculiarity in that both paperback editions of this book I have are signed copies.

These were bought mainly because the American editions have different stories than the UK editions. However only one of those stories is new to me: Element of Chance. The others have since appeared in Shaw’s third short story collection Dark Night In Toyland; Stormseeker appearing in all three of these collections.

Element of Chance itself is a short coming of age story which sounded very familiar as I started to read it, and I wondered if I hadn’t read it before. I hadn’t but the de ja vu was there. An alien being having spent thousands of years alone finds itself nearing the end of childhood and rebels against joining the grown ups. Bob Shaw uses the term skording in this story, which he used again and developed in The Ceres Solution. I don’t think the thanii are in any of Shaw’s other works but they may be.

The action takes place thousands of years before any life on Earth and as usual Shaw’s storytelling is vivid and descriptive, painting pictures with words of far off worlds and of inside a black hole. The ending is similar to one of Bob Shaw’s other stories, Well Wisher. There are a few similarities between the stories, it has the same play on words between story and title, revealed in the surprise ending. It has the same format of a story from the past which affects the future. Nonetheless it was an engaging little story and it was nice to read something ‘new’ from Bob Shaw.