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Posts Tagged ‘hilbert schenck

‘The Morphology Of The Kirkham Wreck’ by Hilbert Schenck

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I didn’t much like Schenck’s previous story in the anthology and whilst this better, it is still a puzzling choice. Again it is a story about the ocean, this time centred around a rescue mission to save the Kirkham, a ship stranded off Nantucket. This is framed and interspersed by a narrative from an alien observer who is surprised to find that Walter Chase, the captain of the life boat, can alter time with the sheer force of his will. The rescue attempt is relatively gripping; it is set at the beginning of the last century so it is man and oar against the sea. The alien narrative has a good go at being hard:

What became evident when the Kirkham stranded was that extreme-value probability theory could not set a limit on such activity by an energy-user totally motivated and having what Keeper Chase’s people would incorrectly call a high level of “psychic” ability but what in fact is simply the ability to make information transfers within an altered time domain.

But no, sorry, it doesn’t wash.

Quality: **
Hardness: **

Written by Martin

5 February 2011 at 18:06

‘Send Me A Kiss By Wire’ by Hilbert Schenck

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A weird selection this. Schenck was a professor of ocean engineering and his story deals with a squid hunt. It is pretty hard – “The officer shrugged. “We’re generating a thirty-megawatt blue-green laser pulse, maybe a nanosecond long”” (p. 202) – but not very SF. Schenck gives us a sour, passive observer as the protagonist which is presumably why H&C describe it as a “blistering satire on academic life” but it is no more satire than it is science fiction.

Quality: *
Hardness: ***

The years have not been kind to Hilbert Schenck. He wrote a string of award-winning short stories in the Eighties – in fact, he won the both the Hugo and the Nebula for two stories, ‘The Battle of the Abaco Reefs’ and ‘The Geometry of Narrative’ – but I’d never heard of him before and critically he seems to have been forgotten. Perversely H&C have included two stories by him (compared to one a piece for Heinlein and Clement) but still didn’t have room for any of his award winners.

Written by Martin

17 March 2010 at 08:19