Friday, October 21, 2016

Book Review: Tales of Terror from Outer Space

Book Review: 'Tales of Terror from Outer Space', edited by R. Chetwynd-Hayes

3 / 5 Stars

‘Tales of Terror from Outer Space’ (190 pp) was published by Fontana Books (UK) in 1975. The cover artist is uncredited.

Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes (1919 – 2001) was the British equivalent of Roger Elwood in the US; like Elwood, Chetwynd-Hayes edited a large number of anthologies on sf, horror, and other topics during the 1970s and 1980s. Critics considered the majority of these anthologies to be mediocre.

The entries in 'Tales of Terror from Outer Space' all were previously published in sf magazines and digests during the interval from 1953 – 1975.

My capsule summaries of the contents:

I, Mars, by Ray Bradbury: a man stranded on Mars finds himself ‘haunted’ by telephone calls from someone he knows very well……too well, it seems……….like all of Bradbury’s ‘Martian’ stories this one dwells on psychological tension rather than external threats. It’s not particularly rewarding.

Eight O’Clock in the Morning, by Ray Nelson: a man is convinced that aliens, using a mind-control ray to deceive everyone in the world, have taken over the planet. He takes action. This story first was published in ‘Fantasy and Science Fiction’ in November 1963, and was the basis for the 1985 John Carpenter film They Live.

Heresies of the Huge God, by Brian W. Aldiss: an alien creature 4,500 miles long, with eight legs, decides to lie atop the globe; the ensuing geographical disasters give rise to violent religious conflicts. This story is really more of a dark satire about religious dogmatism than a horror story per se; there is much dry humor.

The Head-Hunters, by Ralph Williams: an old school inspiration for the film Predator.

The Animators, by Sydney J. Bounds: a Terran expedition on Mars confronts a disturbing event. One of the better stories in the anthology.

The Night of the Seventh Finger, by Robert Presslie: walking home late at night, teenager Sue Bradley passes the old house that is rumored to be haunted…..

No More for Mary, by Charles Birkin: on holiday at an Italian villa, Toby Lewis spots something unusual in the garden.

Invasion of Privacy, by Bob Shaw: a boy named Sammy insists that he saw his recently deceased grandmother alive and well in an decrepit old house….although the sf element in this entry from veteran sf author Shaw is a bit contrived, this remains a good story.

The Ruum, by Arthur Porges: in the remote Canadian wilderness, a prospector comes upon a disturbing alien artifact. One of the better stories in the anthology.

The First Days of May, by Claude Veillot: first published in 1961, this story by French author Veillot was translated by Damon Knight. It’s a ‘buglike aliens take over Earth’ story that really works. It’s not a satire or an allegory, but a genuinely creepy tale, and one of the better sf horror stories I’ve ever read.

Specialist, by Robert Sheckley: a starship crewed by aliens needs a new member….and an Earthman can fit the bill. More of a humor story than a horror story.

No Morning After, by Arthur C. Clark: William Cross receives a telepathic message from the alien Thaar. This story relies more on sardonic humor, than horror.

Shipwreck, by R. Chetwynd-Hayes: when Sarcan the alien crash-lands on Earth, he’ll use whatever means are necessary to get back to his home planet………

The verdict ? Anthologies of sf-themed horror stories are quite rare, so it’s difficult to find other volumes to compare this one to. However, there are enough good stories in ‘Tales of Terror from Outer Space’ to make this anthology worth picking up if you see it on the shelves of a used bookstore.

1 comment:

Александр Минис said...


I have been looking for "No More For Mary" by Charles Birkin for a long time.

Would you be so kind to scan (or take photo) "No More For Mary" for me ?

I'd be very grateful for your attention