postheadericon Tomorrow Lies in Ambush Part I, Gollancz, Hardback, ISBN, 0-575-01602-7

While I try and rebuild the blogs I was working on that were lost due to corruption of files by Microsoft Word (I’m guessing version 2002 is the main culprit) I’ll post some notes on Tomorrow Lies In Ambush, Bob Shaw’s first short story collection, issued in 1973.

Tomorrow Lies In Ambush hardback

Tomorrow Lies In Ambush hardback

I’ll split it into two, this being the first part covering 5 stories. The further 6 stories will be covered in part two. (Oops, 4 now and 7 later; totally blindsided by The Cosmic Cocktail Party.) I want to ensure there are at least semi-regular blog posts here and that it doesn’t go dead for months at a time. I also want to ensure that blog posts aren’t too long. I’m not a fan of really long posts. I lose interest in them quite quickly. The equivalent of a couple of pages, under a thousand words, is a fine median methinks.

Tomorrow Lies In Ambush Paperback

Tomorrow Lies In Ambush Paperback

I recently received the hardback edition of this collection. I got the paperback edition and read the stories therein way back in the eighties. By the late eighties early nineties I had as much of Shaw’s output as was available. My copy of the paperback was signed by Bob Shaw, the first of his books that I bought that had his signature on them; I’ve bought a few hardbacks since that he signed. This one says it is ‘To Joan, with best wishes,’ but if I convince myself the ‘a’ is an ‘h’. …

Signed page

Signed page

Call me Dumbo is a short story where the dénouement arrives about two thirds of the way through. The rest of the story deals with the reaction of the character to the revelation, culminating in a calculated decision. The classic short story is to leave the reader with the twist at the end of the story, but Bob Shaw takes it a little further for a change. An idyllic setting is slowly deconstructed as the main character feels there is something wrong and investigates further to find the truth. Shaw does a good job of setting the story up and the execution is very well crafted. The pacing of this story is also pretty good although the characters – by definition and a little by necessity to the plot – are not as completely as fully drawn as could be.

Repeat Performance still sticks with me even after all the years since first reading it. This story is told in the first person and has a movie going theme. There’s a bit of Last Action Hero in this, with characters coming off the movie screen into real life, but Shaw puts in the Science Fiction twist – plus this was published long before Last Action Hero entered Production Hell let alone left it to become a movie. Cinema owner Jim is experiencing strange goings on at his cinema, with power outages and strange smells. Local reporter Bill Simpson thinks the aliens have landed.

What time do you call this? is a brief story with more than a touch of humour. Humour in stories was one of Bob Shaw’s specialities and something he did very well. A man planning a robbery is interrupted by a scientist from an alternate reality. Seeing an opportunity to use the other dimension as an escape route the robber goes ahead with the robbery with unexpected results. In truth if people think about it while reading the story the ending may be deduced but there are enough possibilities laid down by Shaw during the story to keep the reader guessing. This is a good little story with some neatly developed characters. That is quite an achievement considering the story is only a few pages long, and one of the shortest in the book.

Communication involves a computer salesman who makes a career – nay an art form – out of not selling computers; that is until a man literally knocks on his door and buys a computer for cash. But curiosity gets the better of him and he tracks down the man to see what he is really up to. The answer is a scam but the scam soon turns into something more real. I really enjoyed this story but felt a little let down by the ending. I don’t feel that it gelled properly, and there weren’t enough clues within the text of the story to point towards it as an ending.

Here endeth part the first.

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