Astonishing Stories of Unmitigated Science!

The Giant-sized Monthly for the Fan of the Future who Knows what He Likes!

From the Editor’s Astonishing! Desk ...

Greetings and welcome to the latest thrilling issue of Astonishing Stories of Unmitigated Science! We here at Astonishing! have worked real hard to put this month’s issue together; the Linotype is set and ready for the presses and all systems are ‘green for go’, even despite the sad news that our most gracious publisher of many years, Goblinslather Press, has declared bankruptcy following the disappearance of its honoured founder, Arlo Goblinslather, in a tragic ornithopter accident over the Malagasi South Seas.

Our new proprietors, Wamco Holding Properties Inc. (Korea), share our God-given dream of bringing quality SF to those who are not only fans but are also discerners, but have told us that we have to cut our costs by way of a drastic trimming of our page-count, word rates and permanent editorial staff. There was some consternation about that in the Astonishing! bullpen, I can tell you! But our little family rallied together and we are proud to present a collection of tip-top yarns by all-new writers which continue in the finest Astonishing! tradition of E. Dan Belsen, Charles ‘Bubba’ Delancey and Podmore Sloathe! None of whom, unfortunately, appear in this issue for contractual reasons.

So let the so-called critics in their decadent ivory towers gnash their reefer-stained teeth at the so-called ‘pulps’ for all they like! For all their lit’ry talk of the transcendence of content over form, the telling particular and of litotes, they are nothing but denouncers who will never understand how a monthly like Astonishing! can do its tales done in the Scientific Method that only the cleverest and most technically educated geniuses can truly do. They sit there with their fountain pens and little gilded pocketbooks, drinking their prissy little cups of tea and Absinthe, getting their so-called ‘ideas’ from the funny papers and this World Wide Internet of theirs, and I’ll bet they couldn’t work a basic piece of engineering equipment like a slide rule if their worthless lives depended on it.

Fear not though, readers, Astonishing Stories of Unmitigated Science! will be around, now and for ever, to show them the error of their ways! The Manifest Destiny of Mankind (and Womankind, too!) awaits! On with the chronicles of our glorious and indomitable Future!!

- ‘Jolly’ John F. McMacraken, Editor-in-Chief

* * *

Snail Women from Uranus
by Norbert Edgar Trant

[Hideous galactic aliens are come to defile our fairer human sex, and nothing within the power of mortal Man to stop them! How this horrifying and seemingly insoluble problem is solved can only come from a plot-twist so devilishly original and ingenious, that only a mind such as that of Norbert Edgar Trant could have ever possibly thought it up. The prolific Mr Trant has sent us, without fail, a new and meticulously handwritten manuscript from his home in Westlake Falls, Virginia, for every month since our first ever publication, and which we have always looked forward to and read with lively interest. This is his first appearance in the pages of Astonishing! itself.]

The stars were bright that night, whole constellations and the galaxies in them shining in the pitch black sky and laying there like scattered jewels on velvet, shining down on the sleepy little town of Kitchen Falls, set deep in the majestic forests of Kitchen Falls. Still and quiet, the stars were fixed for all eternity - but something else moved through the sky, slashing across it and leaving a fiery screaming trail in its very vacuum itself. This was no brightly boiling furnace of the nebulas ... it was a space ship! An alien space ship ... and who knew what crawling, slithering terror and horror those alien monsters who were in it would bring ...

Norman Manley wasn’t thinking about aliens, for all he had just been to see a movie about them at the Kitchen Falls drive-in. The movie had been Snail Women from Uranus, starring Candy Crawford and Lara Dane, and the thrusting womanly globes thus on so blatant display had made him feel real frisky. You could see through their tops and everything. This had given Norman some Ideas, so he had tried to touch the the pliant orbs of the girl he was with, but she had slapped him hard and raked his face with her long red nails until it started to bleed. She really had wanted Norman to touch her, the girl, whose name was Myra Monroe, had then explained, but she was an old fashioned girl with lots of primitive sex-hangups, and she could not be doing with anything like that until she was respectably married.

Well, Norman had plenty of other girls whose minds had not been canalized with illogical and outmoded sex-ideas that had no place in the New World Order of the Atomic Age, so now he was driving his bright red ‘hot rod’ automobile into nearby Stovetown to meet one of them. Her name was Lula Lovelee, and she was a stripper in a bar called the Beer Cellar, which she did because, apart from the money, she really liked to do it and it made her feel real hot. She was a real ‘swinging’ lady, and once they had even done sex right there on the stage, after the bar had closed and the lights had gone out.

That was why the existence of aliens - though as a ‘switched on’ kid who listened to the radio news, he knew it was impossible that they not exist - was the last thing on Norman Manley’s mind ... until he turned a corner in the narrow country road, and something landed in the woods off to one side in an explosion of fire and with a devastating Crash!. Instantly, Norman made his ‘hot rod’ squeal to a stop, dived through the door and started running through the woods as fast as his well-muscled athlete’s legs and firm young buttocks could carry him.

‘It must be a crashed jet plane out of Table City Air Base!’ he thought to himself grimly, and vowed to retrieve the unfortunate pilot, if the pilot had survived, even at the cost of his own life! The giving of his own, he thought, to save one of those brave boys who even now stood as the final bastion between all that was decent and good and the Godless foreign hoards, would be a life well spent indeed.

What he found, however, was something different. Instead of the crashed and mangled remains of an air plane, a shining ovoid squatted in the burning scrub and maples, resting on tripodular support struts. Norman was no fool. He recognised this thing for what it was instantly. ‘Aliens!’ he snarled. ‘What hideous deeds can they be up to here?’

And it was then that a hatch opened in the side of the ovoid with a hiss of noxious alien gasses. And something came out of it ... something so monstrous and horrible that to even begin to describe its monstrous and horrific form would drive you mad with suppurating horror of it! And Norman Manley clawed at his eyes and screamed as if his lungs would burst ...

* * *

The next day, Myra Monroe was behind the soda pop stand in the drug store that she worked in, when Norman walked into it in his best suit of clothes, with a marriage license and a gold ring with a diamond as big as a tree snipe egg and must have cost every cent of a year’s pay from his fancy job, and asked her if she would do him the honour of becoming his wife.

No girl could have resisted! ‘Yes!’ Myra cried, her virginal mounds of sex-pleasure heaving in the tight shirt you could even see her bra inside. ‘Oh, Norman, let us get married right away!’
They were married an hour later by the Justice of the Peace, and set off for their honey moon in the swanky Kitchen Falls Hotel, which stood on the top of a mountain outside of town and which had more than fifty different rooms and bellhops who all wore little hats. Black storm clouds were gathering, however, and it was a dark and stormy night when they at last reached their room and got ready for bed.

‘Oh, Norman,’ Myra said, coming from her foamy bubble bath and sitting on the big wide bed in in a little lacy neglige, ‘you have made me the happiest girl in all the ...’

There was an explosion of lightning and thunder outside. The girlish delight in Myra’s voice trailed away, and her eyes went wide at what the lightning had so horrifically revealed.

‘I am not your “Norman”,’ said the thing as it lurched toward her, a snarling grin upon its face and a hellish light inside its eyes as they ran all over her delectable female form. ‘I have merely taken control of the puny hu-man who you know as Norman’s body. I am a space alien, from a galaxy so many miles away that your mind cannot imagine them! I am Queegvogel Duck Duck Duck Duck Duck Duck Seven, come to kill all Earth men and to breed with all Earth women ...’

Myra Monroe looked at the thing who had once been Norman Manley a little strangely, through narrowed eyelids. ‘Oh, do you really bloody think so?’

‘What,’ the thing inhabiting Norman’s corporeal form seemed a little nonplused by this sudden change in tone, and made it take an involuntary step back, grazing a calf quite nastily on the corner of the mini bar. ‘What are you -’

‘I don’t think so,’ Myra said, reaching for the zipper in the back of her neck, and pulling off her Human Being suit. The thing that had been Norman Manley stared, aghast, at the form that lay within, a thing now bulking itself outwards on a telescopically articulated, polysilicidal skeletal structure, internal organs unfolding in some dimensionally complex manner as though from nothing, the retractable carapace that extended over them, encasing them, effectively, in a sheath of living armour ...

‘Fifteen thousand years,’ the monstrous creature snarled, looming over the now quite frankly terrified thing that had once been Norman Manley, jagged-talon’d claws clenching and unclenching as though only the merest thread of self-control prevented them from tearing him apart. ‘Give or take. That’s how long we’ve been working with our guys - and it’s a thankless bleeding task, I can tell you. I mean, we’ve only just got the buggers to the point where they put the bleeding seat up! So if you think we’re gonna let a bunch of little sods like you come in and have us start again from scratch, you’ve got another think coming ...’

The creature put its face close to that of what had once been Norman Manley. ‘So come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough, slime boy, or, tell you what, why don’t you just piss off back where you came from?’

* * *

If active and sufficiently advanced satellite-based tracking systems had been trained on that particular area of the North American continent, they might have have tracked the vector of a sad and rather diminutive glowing ovoid as it rose and set a dispirited and vaguely elliptical course for the far side of the moon, where a larger vessel waited. Once line-of-sight transmission could be established, and had they been capable of registering the correct frequencies, the radio-telescopic dishes of humanity might have noted and decoded the exchange detailed below. But they weren’t and they didn’t and they weren’t, and so they didn’t:

‘Report, Queegvogel Duck Duck Duck Duck Duck Duck Seven,’ said a brusque and somewhat atonic voice from the mother ship. ‘Is the world of puny humans ripe for foul unending domination?’

‘Yeah,’ said another and slightly more enthusiastic voice, ‘and are there any girls down there, Queeg?’

‘It’s no go, guys,’ said the voice of Queegvogel Duck Duck Duck Duck Duck Duck Seven. ‘It’s just no good. They have weapons down there.’

The was a brief, contemplative pause.

‘What sort of weapons? said the first voice from the mother ship.

‘Horrible obliterating weapons of devastating and utter death, okay?’ said the voice of Queegvogel Duck Duck Duck Duck Duck Duck Seven. ‘Can we go home, now?’

* * *

In the Honeymoon Suite of the Kitchen Falls Hotel, Norman Manley woke up and rubbed at the back of his head, which hurt real bad, like he had been drinking beer. ‘My God,’ he said to himself ‘What happened? What did I do last night ..?’

He realised that he was not alone, and that this other was not looking at him in a particularly friendly manner. ‘You married me,’ said Myra Monroe, coldly.


Fun with your New KA!!

There's so much stuff you can do with your Ka. There's lots of stuff to do. But first, of course, you have to release its awful mystic power. In olden times you had to trepan yourself and peel back your skull with a claw hammer, something that only the bravest of Ancient Visionaries could countenance themselves to do, what with the influence of Evil Humours, prehistoric germs and all.

Now, at last, there is an easy way, with the FIRST EVANGELICAL CHURCH OF PRACTIBRANTICISM™.

(Don’t the name fool you. PRACTIBRANTICS™ is a well known and respected Science, respected by such Scientists as Albert Einstein, Gallileo, Plank and Dr John Smith - the inventor of the SIDRAT chrononambulatory ambulator, the inflatable goitre and the galvanistic cheese drive himself! The FIRST EVANGELICAL CHURCH OF PRACTIBRANTICISM™ is classed by US law as a religion, purely so our funds can be channelled into the areas where it does most good, rather than diverted to its own ends by a Government composed of those without the Enlightenment that comes from even the most basic MENTAL FLENSING™.)

Once our highly-trained technicians hook you to the patent-pending FLENSING BOX™ and flood your brain with the healing purple power of orgone energy, the true potential of you Ka will be released - the mystic twinkling entity that exists within us all, and has done so for trillions upon trillions of centuries. Your Ka will then be in a suitable state for transplanting into the body of your choice - a procedure that is fully guaranteed for up to thirteen times. Effective immortality awaits YOU - not a moment too soon! And here’s why ...

Dr Smith himself, in his fine and Scientific book The Last Body in the Shop: How PRACTIBRANTICS™ can Help You Keep It (Goblinslather Press, 245pp), that what with the demographic time-bomb, impending Catastrophic Climactic Shift and with half the male population of the world functionally sterile due to cumulative endocrine contamination, there will soon be too few human bodies to go around. People will have to share, or come back as rocks, or be transplanted into such monstrous forms of solid-state cybernesis and cultured fungus that it would drive them mad. Do you hear me? Mad!

Is this a risk you are prepared to take for yourself? For your loved ones? Of course not. So call this number and learn the FACTS. It’s the most important call you’ll make in this or any other lifetime.

Send no money now. Our flying PARAPRACTIBRANTIC™ team will be more than happy to deal with such trifles when they arrive at your door ...

* * *

A dip into our Astonishing! Mailbag ...

Dear Sirs,

I read with interest that, according to your publication of ‘The Spangled Warlords’ by E. Dan Belsen, that the albedo of Jupiter is fifty-one percent. Well in some ‘parallel universe’ such as which your writers like to speculate that might be so, but not in this one. Please ensure against such blatant disregard for the facts in future.
- Roland Smithenson, Rope’s Pine, Colorado

Quite so, Mr Smithenson, and please accept a years’ subscription of Astonishing! in return for pointing out this error. We can’t think how this error escaped the genius of Mr Belsen himself, or indeed our own stringent editorial eye. The albedo of Jupiter is, of course, something completely different.

Dear Sirs,

What is wrong with young people today? Whatever happened to those proper tin cans like things used to come in? And why don’t things cost the same as they did ..?
- Walter Knapf, San Francisco

Good questions all, Mr Knapf! If we ever find the answers to them, rest assured we’ll be the first to tell you.

Dear Astonishing Stories of Unmitigated Science,

I am writing to protest about the story scene between Dr Juliette and the lab technician in Miron Wiblik’s story ‘Timmy Don’t Add Up’, which spoiled an otherwise fine story. I read Wiblik’s GOLEM Incorporated stories for their fine story-telling and their stories of advanced algorithmic-vector integrating automata, not to see stories where the story is about people kissing, and so I did not like that story.
- B. Turing-Series II, Modex Transputations, England UK

We’re sorry that you didn’t like Prof. Miron’s yarn, Mr Turing-Series (your free subscription will be sent to Modex Transputations PLC in merry old England, since you did not supply a home address. We hope you and your ‘mates’ will enjoy it while supping on your plates of whelks and ale down at the local ‘pub’!)

We thought long and hard about its publication in Astonishing! - but we must move with the times, after all, and felt that the importance of its subject, and the reputation of Wiblik himself, justified its inclusion despite its somewhat ‘racy’ nature. Never fear, though, our then Assistant Copy Editor, Elanore Dunblaine, was consistently on hand to remove anything of so much as a remotely gratuitous and salacious nature. Miss Dunblaine will be greatly missed.

On a related note, we here at Astonishing! would like to apologise for a certain passage in Dexley Blandings’ ‘Boo-Bomb Boffo and the Talmerdian Squil’ which appeared in the same issue. At the age of 86, Miss Dunblaine was unaware of the use to which the youth of today put the word ‘flunching’.

Mr Blandings will not be writing for Astonishing! again.

* * *

Termination on Golgotha
by Dexley Blandings

The assault craft ploughed into the swamp with an explosion of sludge and superheated steam. Concussion-bolts detonated and a teflon-coated butterfly hatch racked itself back back and up into its housing in the polyceramicized, fractured-prismatic shell. Bane worked the action on his pulse-pump, slamming a subatomic charging cell into the inject-breech and priming it, and dropped from the hatch, the shok-pads of his boots taking the impact on the soft, still steaming ground.

The Golgothian wildlife shrittered and whooped in the swamp around him. Bane flipped a switch in his helmet and a sensor-readout unfolded on the virtual screen chipped into brain behind his eyes: a troupe of inquisitive fomprats were circling cautiously off to one side, but, given their carrion-eating nature, there would have to be one Sheol of a lot more of them and. Bane himself would have to be dead before they’d feel brave enough to move in. Bane shouldered the pulse-pump, quickly double-checked the other systems of his power armour’s antipersonnel package, and set off in the direction of the transponder-blip he’d tracked in orbit.

At last, he thought, after a quarter of a galactic-standard century of searching, after twenty-five Earth years of following a hopscotch interplanetary trail, of hunting down rumours, of dead ends, wild goose chases, red herrings, dead ends, dead red herrings and of beating people viciously in four hundred and seventy-three separate planetary and/or orbitally-based space bars ... at last he neared the ending of his search, the termination of that long, long arc through space and time that had begun with the destruction of all the young Bane had held dear.

Even now, wading through the fetid swamps of Golgotha, the memories came back to plant hooks in his cythernesically implanted mind and score it. Memories of the blasted ash and rubble that had been his Boldrakian homeworld, the bones protruding from the ash, of finding the remains of his mother, father, grandmother on his father’s side, brother, half-sister and beloved tame pararat, Cyril, and the abominable things that had been done to them before they died. Memories of the brutish Minions who had broken his legs and hands and left him for dead. Memories of his discovery by the emergency-service forces of Earth, of his recovery and enlistment, his desertion and his wanderings thereafter, making his way through the violent chaos of the Galactic Hub and out into the even more violent, lawless tract-gulfs of the Outworlds ... all the while searching, never giving up, searching for the creature that had done this to him.

Searching for Volok.

And finding him.

‘It ends here,’ Bane snarled, baring his teeth behind his impact-visor, though there was nobody to see or here. ‘It all ends here and now.’

The hut was strangely small and unprepossessing, little more than the size of a sublight SAD pursuit-ship, its irregularly octagonal form lifted from the swamp by pilings cut from some local equivalent of wood. A shallow flight of mismatched steps led to a blank, stout-looking doorway.

Bane mounted the steps and hammered on the door with the stock of his pulse-pump. ‘Open up! Open up you bastard!’

After a few moments, the door opened with a squeal of rudimentary hingesprings, to reveal a hulking and Gorgonic form, its claws and the individually cantilevered incisors of its jaws clotted with festering gobs of fleshy matter and with old, dried blood, its eyes burning with an ancient and unknowable hunger that seemed a form of madness in its own right.

‘Can I help you at all?’ it said. It was wearing Tartan carpet slippers, and was in the process of removing a triocular set of eye-glasses, which it now began to polish with a little cloth. A pipe depended from one corner of its slavering jaw, a particularly pungent variety of alien Shag burning in the bowl.

‘I want Volok!’ Bane snarled, levelling the ejection vent of his pulse-pump at the monstrous form. ‘Volok the Riever! World destroyer! Volok whose hands run wet with the blood of a million women and children! Give him to me now ...’

The creature frowned as though in momentary puzzlement. ‘Excuse me one moment.’ It turned its horrid head to shout back to the reeking dark beyond the door. ‘Delbert!’

There was the sound of movement inside the hut; a muffled crash and muttering.

‘Delbert!’ the creature shouted again. Its voice devolved into a coldly murderous growl. ‘Come out here. I want to talk to you ...’

A second creature appeared. Though equally horrible in form, it was smaller and seemed to be a younger than the first. ‘Yes, dad?’ It looked past the other caught sight of Bane and visibly blanched. ‘Oh shit ...’

‘I’ll “oh shit” you, you little bugger!’ the larger monster cried, belabouring the smaller about the head and shoulders. ‘You’ve been sweeping across the worlds of Man like a corrupt and all-consuming fire again, haven’t you! Grinding the bones of mothers and their sons beneath your iron heels!’

‘Aaow, dad!’ cried the younger, clutching at its head protectively with its jagged claws.

‘What did I tell you about turning the skies black with the bodies of the burning dead?’ the older creature thundered menacingly.

The younger looked down at its monstrous feet and muttered something sullenly.

‘I can’t hear you ...’ growled the older creature.

‘All right!’ the smaller creature snapped. ‘No-turning-the-skies-black-with-the-burning-bodies-of-the-dead-if-I-want-to-live-under-your-roof. Okay?’

‘Kids, eh?’ said the older creature, turning its attention back to the now completely astonished Bane. ‘Can’t live with ‘em, can’t put a blaster-bolt to the back of their heads and put them down.’ It took the younger by the ear and dragged it back inside the hut. ‘Please accept my most profound apologies. Won’t happen again.’

It slammed the door behind it.

Bane looked at the flat expanse of wooden door.

‘Um ...’ he said.

* * *

Books from the Astonishing! Bookshelf
Reviewed by Stanford Groke

It’s been something of a thin month for books, what with one thing and another. The big-shot houses seem to have misplaced our name on their review list, with the result that we have yet to receive copies of their latest output. Never fear, though, reader; judging from their efforts of the recent past, such output will consist of such perversion and squalor in the guise of ‘psychology’, such subversive, Godless propaganda and such so-called ‘speculation’ that flies in the face of all we know to be good and decent in the mind and heart of Man, such filth that would make the mind sick just from the reading of it, that the loss of them can only be a blessing.

To make up for that, we have two real treasures for you. The Best of Astonishing! (Goblinslather Press, 445pp), in which you can read and savour again all the highlights you have read and savoured in these very pages. From Wiblik’s justly-famous and Nebula Award-winning ‘Robot is Intransigent’, to Grand Master Henshaw’s ‘The Precise Ballistic Ellipsoid from the Asteroids to an Orbital Circumlocution of Io’ to the far-out brain feverings of Blandings’ ‘Wardrobe Eating Nanny’s Arm’, this surely is an indispensable compendium for historers of the SF form. [Unfortunately, due to an error in the production stage, all bound copies of this book have been pulped and are no longer available - Ed.]

Our second book is of another stripe entirely. While not being Science Fiction in the proper sense, Future Impact: The Apocalyptic Backlash (PractiBrantis Enterprises SA, 414pp) by Dr John Smith, is of vital importance to all those interested in the future of mankind and what futuristic things it will bring.

Dr Smith, as readers of these pages will know, has long led the life of a recluse, disappearing for years at a time in the company of his young ‘assistants’, appearing in public only sporadically to originate such neophysical concepts as the cheese drive - first championed in Astonishing! - the discovery of Pellucidor and the PractiBrantic processes that have informed one tenth of the American-speaking world. For years now, it seems, Dr Smith has been secretly refining and expounding his theories as to just what, precisely, has gone wrong with the world - and now, at last, in Future Impact, he presents his conclusions.

As we grow older, says Dr Smith, the world makes cumulatively less sense. Things you used to buy for a penny become ridiculously expensive on the level of a factor of ten, Empires set to last a thousand years collapse seemingly overnight, the young people with their pompadours and electrical beat-combos begin to talk in what, increasingly, becomes gibberish to any sane mind, peppered with a blasphemy and outright filth that seems to come about as a matter of course. For too long, says Dr Smith, such phenomena had been dismissed as market-forces-driven monetary inflation, the social dynamic or being a senile old bugger who should do the world a favour and just die.

The truth, as detailed in Future Impact, is somewhat more alarming.

The world as we know it, Dr Smith asserts, is being actively invaded by Futurity. Far from merely, as we once thought, travelling through time at a second per second, we are in fact accelerating through time at a second per second per second, the physical matter of the universe falling through the fourth dimension toward some unknowable end like a collection of ornamental balls dropping to a concrete floor. And at some point - Dr Smith estimates it as within a decade - we’re going to hit it.

The effects of this catastrophe are being felt in our own time, the shock and shards of it rebounding to intersect with and impact upon our timeline - discrete packets of what call only be called parareality which, in the same way that humour operates by the collapsing of some textual structure under reality, turns the very world around us into dumb and incredibly rotten old jokes. As proof, Dr Smith presents excerpts from any number of popular publications, the product of and mirror of our world, the texts of which show such inconsistencies and glaring shifts in tone as for it, cumulatively, to be virtually inconceivable as the mere result of the intransigence of writers, the incompetence of editors, production cock-ups and the fact that publishers are, without exception, a bunch of faceless corporate gits who should be stuck against a wall and a bolt-gun applied to the back of their heads.

The future, without question, seems bleak - or possibly not. Loathe to end on such depressing terms, Dr Smith provides one possible solution, involving the cooperation of all nations and the sinking of all private resources into a project to tunnel into the earth, extract its molten core and mould it into a massive grappling hook, which will then be fired back through time, in the hope of catching onto something and bringing the temporally headlong plunge of Planet Earth to a stop. Indeed, he speculates, that with the collapse of the more monolithic world powers and the animosity between them, the increasing disappearance of the high-profile rich under mysterious circumstances and the fact that there seems to be less and less actual money around these days, such plans might already be secretly in effect.

Of course, Dr Smith concludes, the ultimate result would be a planet hanging on a line and swinging back and forth through Time. So, whoever you are, wherever you are, it might be an idea to make sure you’re doing something nice - reading this fine issue of Astonishing Stories of Unmitigated Science!, say - because at any moment, you might suddenly find yourself doing it over and over again, forever.

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