Survival Kit by Frederik Pohl [Review]

Title: Survival Kit
Author: Frederik Pohl
Genre: Collection of science fiction short stories
Paperback: 190 pages
Publisher: Panther 1979

Order from: Amazon US | UK

I am not into short stories much but this is a book I picked up in a used-bookstore in London last summer. It was a collection of short stories by Frederik Pohl and I had fond memories of the Heechee series so why not. Being a bit outside my comfort zone I read them one by one when I had time. The stories all have survival as a theme.

The Knights of Arthur (1958)

This story takes place in a post-apocalyptic New York and portraits some unlikely companions of Arthur the teletyping computer. The story is a bit jaded but not without merit.

Mars by Moonlight (1958)

This is quite a surprising story that doesn’t end where you think at all. In the future Mars is a penal colony where the inmates all have had their memories erased. This story feels very fifties and the ending makes you want to know how it goes then.

The Haunted Corpse (1957)

Haunted is fitting for this military science fiction about a general in charge of protecting an eccentric scientist with an invention that can kill humans by removing their soul. I liked this one even if it was chilling.

The Middle of Nowhere (1955)

Another Mars story, this one about a colony that faces technology superior to their own when the Martians attack and it becomes a story about survival. Alien mysteries and first contact in a very time typical way.

The Day of the Boomer Dukes (1956)

Naive time traveler wants to hook up with the Mafia for some fun and games. It doesn’t go as he planed when the Boomer Dukes get hold of his weaponry. An entertaining cookie, could I have another?

Survival Kit (1957)

The title story for this collection is about an alien time traveler who hires a local guide for a futuristic New York. It is set in some kind of post event future where some things are different. The guide is a small time con man who tries to con the amazing and versatile survival kit off his employer and he gets what he deserves in the end.

I Plinglot, Who You? (1959)

The last story in the collection is about first contact. Plingalot contacts all the nuclear powers and make them believe they are the selected ones where the aliens are going to land and that he is a trusted intelligence officer. It is fun to read such an early story about aliens set out to eliminate all competition.

My View

Not a bad collection if you want some fifties vibe. I enjoyed the stories even if some of them where a bit jaded. They all have that special kind of simplicity and naiveté that seems to originate in the fifties but they are not as good as his Heechee novels in my opinion. I always feel hungry for more with short stories, it is like eating fast food; it satisfies for the moment but leaves you craving for more in a few hours.