Following the success of its Crime Classics range, the British Library started a Science Fiction Classics range in April 2018. I haven’t tried any of the novels but have enjoyed all the short story anthologies of which this is the tenth and most recent.
Elsewhen by Anthony Boucher
Mr. Partridge has invented the world’s first successful time machine. Its capability is limited, but Mr. Partridge has a sudden realisation that “the one completely practical purpose of a short-range time machine was to provide an alibi for murder.”
He commits the perfect murder but then has to contend with private eye Fergus O’Breen, who Boucher had introduced him in straight mysteries “The Case of the Crumpled Knave” before transferring him to more fantastical problems with “The Compleat Werewolf”.
A nicely constructed inverted mystery which as with the best time travel stories wraps itself up neatly by the end.
Puzzle for Spacemen by John Brunner
Plenty of pilots commit suicide by blowout (opening an airlock whilst unsuited) but Clore’s psycho-profile says that shouldn’t have happened and Jennings, the man who assessed him is determined to prove that this was a case of murder.
Legwork by Eric Frank Russell
“Harasha Vanash was a twenty-four carat hypno: if an alien could think and imagine, that alien was his meat.” With fifty missions under his belt, the fifty-first shouldn’t have posed him any problems, after all he could make anyone see what he wanted them to see, so how could anyone possibly track him down?
This is a brilliant story – it seems as if Vanash is invincible and yet little by little, through deduction, coupled with the titular legwork, maybe, just maybe he can be hunted down.
Mirror Image by Isaac Asimov
R. Daneel Olivaw calls upon his old friend Lije Baley (their first case is told in The Caves of Steel) to help avoid an academic incident. Two mathematicians each claim that the other had stolen his idea and each is supported in this by his personal robot. How will Baley, who is no robopsychologist, break down this symmetrical position?
The Flying Eye by Jacques Futrelle
A weak thriller rather than a genuine mystery. This was the third a final story to feature Paul Darraq, a new series begun shortly before the author’s death on the Titanic.
Nonentity by E. C. Tubb
A good, albeit predictable, take on the lifeboat dilemma as the survivors of an explosion have to decide when their hopes of rescue are slim and becoming slimmer by the hour.
Death of a Telepath by George Chailey
Could you murder someone who can read your every thought?
Murder, 1986 by P. D. James
A deadly disease was brought back to earth by space explorers in 1980 and six years later mankind is split into two groups: Normals and Ipdics (Interplanetary Disease Carriers). When one of the latter is found murdered it is up to Dolby, the worst man on the force, to try to give her some form of justice.
This story is even more chilling read during the time of covid.
Apple by Anne McCaffrey
An act of shoplifting committed by telekinesis threatens to undo the hard work of the North American Parapsychic Center in convincing the general public that those who possess the Talent are a benefit to society rather than a threat. The only solution is to help hunt down one of their own – but at what cost?
The scenario is very reminiscent of the mutant versus human dynamic of the X-Men films.
The Absolutely Perfect Murder by Miriam Allen deFord
The collection ends as it began with time travel being the means of committing the perfect murder, but once again something goes wrong for Mervin as he tries to get out of an unhappy marriage.
With only one duff story out of ten I recommend this to fans of either genre, but especially to those of both.