Old Man Henderson (1951) by Kris Neville – sf short story review

First appearance: in Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (June 1951).

The version I read: in The Science Fiction of Kris Neville (1984) – ed. Barry N. Malzberg.

Find a version here.

I really don't like the cover of the F&SF ish in which the story first appeared. So here's a nice, anodyne Chesley Bonestell for yas...

I really don’t like the cover of the F&SF ish in which the story first appeared. There is something deeply wrong with it I can’t quite put my finger on. So here’s a nice, anodyne Chesley Bonestell on the cover of its second appearance for yas…

The sting is in the tale of this story. Nothing new to see here, in the good old sf tradition (even then). But what a sting, and what a tale!

I can’t say much about this without revealing the wonderful gist, but it falls into what I call “near future realism”. The internal chronology puts it somewhere in the late 20th/early 21st century.

Kris Neville is a dab hand with psychological motivation and distress. I hear he is a harbinger of things to come, and I realise this fitfully (through my readings of the various new wave sters). More proximally James E. Gunn seems obviously influenced by him – particularly the Station in Space stories (the only ones I have so far read). Joachim Boaz notes an affinity with C.M. Kornbluth’s themes and excellent stories.

To bring a rapidly exploding short review to a necessary stop: Read this story!

Sadly I don’t have the dust jacket of this. But it’s a nice HB with lovely stitching. And a bonus library due date page with only one borrowing marked 2003… sniff…

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