‘Davy Jones’ Ambassador’ by Raymond Z. Gallun
Proper old school hard SF with an engineer hero and everything. You properly wouldn’t want to read ‘Davy Jones’ Ambassador’ more than once but it is a perfect example of the early form (it was published in 1935).
At some point I might grow weary of knocking lumps out of H&C’s mini-intros. But not yet:
Like the “locked-room” mystery, the “first contact” (with an alien being) tale has become a special pleasure for sf readers – another example in sf is the “time paradox” story. (144)
The quote marks are ugly and unneccessary and that goes double of the parenthesis. Even ignoring this, it is a very awkward sentence. Locked room mysteries are a special pleasure for SF readers? No more so than for any other readers, surely? And why bother with that needless addendum – irrelevant to the story at hand – after the hyphen? Who on Earth are these introductions aimed at? H&C continue:
Gallun’s innovation was to locate the story not in outer space but at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean (as James White did later in his novel The Watch Below)… Aliens under the oceans are a central element still in the eighties, in Gregory Benford’s “Swarmer Skimmer”. (144)
The first sentence is actually helpful, it tells us that Gallun was the first to set a first contact story in Earth’s depths. Unfortunately this slides straight into another irrelevent digression. Why are we meant to care that thirty years later White did the same? Then we have a sentence which is not only a digression but, for me at least, pretty much unintelligible. What do H&C – writing in 1994 – mean when they write oceanic aliens “are a central element still in the eighties” and why are they telling us this?