In Space No One Can Hear You Scream

THE UNIVERSE MAY NOT BE A
NICE
NEIGHBORHOOD . . .

“The oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown,” the grand master of horror, H.P. Lovecraft, once wrote. And the greatest unknown is the vast universe, shrouded in eternal cosmic night. What
things
might be on other planets—or in the dark gulfs between the stars?

Giving very unsettling answers to that question are such writers as Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Sheckley, Philip K. Dick, James. H. Schmitz, Clark Ashton Smith, Cyril M. Kornbluth, Alastair Reynolds, Neal Asher, Sarah A. Hoyt, and more, all equally masters of science fiction and of terror.

One might hope that in the void beyond the earth will be found friendly aliens, benevolent and possibly wiser than humanity, but don’t be surprised if other worlds have unpleasant surprises in store for future visitors. And in vacuum, no one will be able to hear your screams—as if it would do any good if they could . . .

BAEN BOOKS

EDITED BY HANK DAVIS

The Human Edge
by Gordon R. Dickson

We the Underpeople
by Cordwainer Smith

When the People Fell
by Cordwainer Smith

The Technic Civilization Saga

The Van Rijn Method
by Poul Anderson

David Falkayn: Star Trader
by Poul Anderson

Rise of the Terran Empire
by Poul Anderson

Young Flandry
by Poul Anderson

Captain Flandry: Defender of the Terran Empire
by Poul Anderson

Sir Dominic Flandry: The Last Knight of Terra
by Poul Anderson

Flandry’s Legacy
by Poul Anderson

The Best of the Bolos: Their Finest Hour
, created by Keith Laumer

A Cosmic Christmas

A Cosmic Christmas 2 You
(forthcoming)

In Space No One Can Hear You Scream

IN SPACE NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM

This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional,

and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental.

A Baen Book

Baen Publishing Enterprises

P.O. Box 1403

Riverdale, NY 10471

ISBN 13: 978-1-4516-3941-4

Cover art by Bob Eggleton

First Baen printing, October 2013

Distributed by Simon & Schuster

1230 Avenue of the Americas

New York, NY 10020

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

In Space No One Can Hear You Scream / edited by Hank Davis.

     
pages cm

  
ISBN 978-1-4516-3941-4 (pbk.)

1. Science fiction, American. I. Davis, Hank, editor of compilation.

PS648.S3I53 2013

813'.0876208--dc23

                                                          
2013032754

Printed in the United States of America

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

(copyrights of stories in
In Space No One Can Hear You Scream
)

Introduction: “It’s Dark Between the Stars” © 2013 by Hank Davis

“A Walk in the Dark” by Arthur C. Clarke first appeared in
Thrilling Wonder Stories
, August 1950 © 1950 by Standard Magazines, Inc. Reprinted by permission of Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency, Inc. for the author’s estate.

“Frog Water” by Tony Daniel appears here for the first time. © 2013 by Tony Daniel. Published

by permission of the author.

”Lost Memory” by Peter Phillips first appeared in
Galaxy
, May, 1952. © 1952 by Galaxy Publishing Corp. Reprinted by permission of Andrew Dibbon, executor of the author’s estate.

“Dragons” by Sarah A. Hoyt appears here for the first time. © 2013 by Sarah A. Hoyt. Published

by permission of the author.

“The Last Weapon” by Robert Sheckley originally appeared in
Star Science Fiction
Stories
, © 1953 by Ballantine Books, Inc. Reprinted by permission of Donald Maass Literary Agency for the author’s estate.

“Mongoose” by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette first appeared in
Lovecraft Unbound
, Dark Horse Comics, 2009. © 2009by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette. Reprinted by permission of the authors.

“Medusa” by Theodore Sturgeon originally appeared in
Astounding Science Fiction
, February 1942.

© 1996 by the Theodore Sturgeon Literary Trust. Reprinted by permission of the Theodore Sturgeon Literary Trust.

“The Searcher” by James H. Schmitz originally appeared in
Analog
, February 1966. © The Conde Nast Publications, Inc. Reprinted by permission of Barry Malzberg for the author’s estate.

“The Rhine’s World Incident” by Neal Asher originally appeared in
Subterfuge
, NewCon Press, 2008.

© 2008 by Neal Asher. Reprinted by permission of the author.

“Nothing Happens on the Moon” by Paul Ernst first appeared in
Astounding Science-Fiction
, February 1939, © 1939 by Street and Smith Publications, Inc. All attempts to locate the holder of rights to this story have been unsuccessful. If a holder will get in touch with Baen Books, payment will be made.

“Visiting Shadow” by Hank Davis appears here for the first time. © 2013 by Hank Davis. Published

by permission of the author.

“The God of the Asteroid” by Clark Ashton Smith first appeared in an abridged version as “Master of the Asteroid” in
Wonder Stories
, October 1932. Reprinted by permission of William Dorman, executor of the author’s estate.

“Sandkings” by George R. R. Martin originally appeared in
Omni
, August 1979. © 1979 by Omni International, Ltd. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Dedication

This one is for my brother, Charles Richard Davis,

known to some as Richard, and to others as Charles,

with whom I watched
Shock Theater
on Saturday nights

in the late 1950s. Golden hours.

Acknowledgements

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

My thanks to all the contributors,

as well as those who helped with advice, permissions,

email addresses, and other kindnesses,

including Andrew and Ann Dibben, Noel Sturgeon,

William Dorman, Moshe Feder, David Drake,

Barry Malzberg, Chris Lotts, Ann Behar,

Russell Galen, Cameron McClure, Katie Shea,

Kay McCauley, Ellen Datlow, Bud Webster,

Nicholas Steers, and Christopher Cifani.

And to Toni Weisskopf, whose idea the whole thing was,

including the title

Introduction: It's Dark Between the Stars

INTRODUCTION:

It’s DARK BETWEEN
THE STARS

So, you’re here to be scared, eh? No evasions, now. You saw the title. You saw the cover. You read the back cover copy. You knew this book was scary when you bought it. You didn’t come in here just to get out of the rain. No fair claiming intellectual curiosity, even if you’re in grad school and desperate for a thesis topic. You wanted to come in and get scared. Never mind that afterwards you’ll leave, looking over your shoulder on the way home—did something
move
in the shadows over there?—twitching at odd noises, noticing for the first time how dark it is between those unsettlingly wide spaced streetlights (the ones that aren’t burned out, that is), and of course when you walk home, it’ll be
long
after dark. The whole nine scary yards.

So why are you spending time reading this introduction, then. Introductions aren’t scary (though they may border on violence—hi, Harlan®). You should go right to the stories, without delay. Well, after you make sure all the doors are locked, all the lights are on, and there’s nothing hiding under the bed or in any of the closets. (Yes, I know I just had you outdoors, walking home in the dark—this is an introduction and doesn’t require rigorous consistency of scene, so there!)
Then
(did you look in
all
the closets?), you should go right to the stories.

Still here? An unkind person might think you were a bit scared of reading the stories. And I may be an editor, a contemptible breed known for being as lacking in kindness as lawyers, insurance executives, politicians, journalists, and other such bottom-feeders, but I’d never accuse one of the readers who pays perfectly good money for books of being scared. You haven’t read the stories yet—how could you already be scared? (Of course, there was that cover on the book . . .) You’re just not in the mood, probably. So let’s sit here (yes, all the doors are locked—just ignore that scrabbling at the door as if something wants in—and all the lights are on, and this is an imaginary room with no closets for things to hide in) and have a relaxed discussion about science fiction and horror stories. They’re not necessarily the same thing, you know, though some people seem to think so.

In fact, I’ve long been puzzled by how many people think science fiction is
scary . . .
These are mostly people who don’t
read
science fiction, of course. The idea isn’t so much wrong, as very incomplete, like other general notions the mass mind has about science fiction, such as that all science fiction is set in space or in the future, or involves dystopias or post-apocalyptic worlds . . . or is intended to frighten. But some of it
is
intended to frighten, and here’s a book full of tales by top writers who definitely intend to disturb your equanimity. (Are you sure you wouldn’t rather be reading those nifty spine-chillers than listening to me drone on? But it’s your choice.)

A friend of mine in college, who had observed my habit of consuming sf by the bushel, once mentioned that she didn’t read it because she didn’t want to be frightened. As it happens, she had been pushing me to read Agatha Christie, and I thought I’d expand her horizons by getting her to read the absolutely non-scary
Beyond This Horizon
by the Master, himself, Robert A. Heinlein (currently available from Baen Books, incidentally). In return I’d read one of Hercule Poirot’s exploits. I held up my part of the deal, but she wimped out on her end, and as far as I know (haven’t seen her in decades) she may
still
think sf is scary. (Maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned to her how underwhelming I found Christie in comparison with Rex Stout, Raymond Chandler, or Leslie Charteris, but that’s an introduction for a different book.) And her attitude was typical of a lot of people.

There might be a number of reasons for that. One might be the science fiction comic books of the 1950s (before the half-wit comedy team of Wertham and Kefauver ruined everything), which often had sf stories with a horror slant.
Weird Science
and
Weird Fantasy
from EC comics were a prime example, and probably the best done.

A more pervasive influence was in the many science fiction movies of the 1950s which were also horror movies.
Destination Moon
and
The Thing from Another World
debuted close together, but I think the latter movie stuck in people’s minds more than the Heinlein-Pal flick. Before long, for every movie like
The Day the Earth Stood Still
, which certainly was not a horror movie (even if the alien robot Gort gets a bit scary in spots if you don’t say the code words), there were several sf-horror hybrids, such as
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
or
The
Creeping Unknown
(originally titled
The Quatermass Xperiment
in England), along with a veritable deluge of giant ants, giant grasshoppers, giant leeches, giant snails (in
The Monster That Challenged the World
, featuring the inimitable Hans Conreid, though he wasn’t playing one of the snails), plus regular-sized or larger dinosaurs, as in
The Land Unknown
,
The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms
(which bore little resemblance to “The Foghorn,” the Ray Bradbury story that “inspired” it) and the ever-popular
Godzilla
(or
Gojira
, as the big guy is called on his home turf—did you know that Godzilla has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?).

Some of these were very good (the
Body Snatchers
and
Quatermass
movies in particular), and some weren’t (the giant grasshopper and giant leech flicks, also in particular), but they all gave the typical movie-goer, who, also typically, wasn’t reading the sf books and magazines of the time, the impression that science fiction equals horror.

Even sf movies which weren’t constructed as horror often had monsters obligatto, such as a one-eyed amorphous blob in
It Came from Outer Space
(another flick indebted to Ray Bradbury, who had wanted the aliens to remain unseen, ala Val Lewton’s
Cat People
),
This Island Earth
. with insect-like humanoids, and
The Incredible Shrinking Man
, with a regular-sized spider menacing a microscopic hero. Other movies felt the need to take a supernatural staple of horror movies and add a shaky science fictional rationale, as was done with two werewolf movies; though of the two only
I Was a Teenage Werewolf
is still remembered.

Nowadays, people are (I hope) more likely to think of science fiction in terms of
Star Trek
and
Star Wars
, which aren’t frightening (unless you have a phobia for pointed ears or loud breathing). Since both franchises are more like written science fiction, or at least the written sf of the 1940s and 1950s, than the cinematic variety, the masses (who, remember,
read
little or no sf) may no longer conflate science fiction with horror. But on the other hand, I’ve noticed that a lot of people think of
The Twilight Zone
(the original) as scary, apparently because of a few episodes which were (“Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” for one, from a story by the late, great Richard Matheson). The wife of a friend of mine will not watch reruns of the show because she thinks it’s scary, and mentions “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” as a case in point. Even though very few installments of
The Twilight Zone
could be called scary, the attitude is widespread: check out the opening of the seriously flawed Spielberg movie clumsily based on the TV show. And then, there’s
Alien
and its sequels.

Still here? Those are really neat stories you could be reading, you know? (Well, maybe except for one—something about a shadow.) I’m sure you didn’t buy the book so that I could pontificate on old, er, vintage movies and TV shows. But I’ll continue.

I may be focusing too strongly on movies and TV, even if most of the population get their impression of the sacred literature from the big and little screens. In the realm of the written word, there were all the covers of paperbacks of the 1950s and 60s, and even some of the hardcover dust jackets, on which anonymous and underpaid copy writers inscribed misleading descriptions. Their favorite word to use, of course, was “prophetic” (though sf is not, of course, prophecy), but the second, third, etc., most popular words with the cover copy writers were “frightening,” “terrifying” (that one was on the front cover of an early paperback of Orwell’s
1984
), “horrifying,” and so on. Maybe those copy writers were seeing the aforementioned movies.

And, let us finally admit, there have been literary crossovers between sf and horror, and this goes back to the beginnings of the genre.
Carmilla
and
Dracula
weren’t science fiction, but
Frankenstein
was. Stories about ghosts and werewolves weren’t science fiction (at least until Jack Williamson wrote “Wolves of Darkness” and
Darker Than You Think
), but
Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
was.
The War of the Worlds
can be read as a horror story—certainly, the first appearance of the tentacled Martians is meant to be frightening—and as far as Universal Pictures was concerned, Wells’
The Invisible Man
was definitely a horror story, even if the eponymous character never went on to meet Dracula or the Wolf Man. Almost everyone agrees that John W. Campbell’s greatest story is “Who Goes There?”—and it’s also one of the greatest horror stories in or out of science fiction. A bit earlier, H. P. Lovecraft, whose influence on the horror genre is incalculable, would introduce his Cthulhu mythos (though I believe he never called it that) in which the universe is a downright terrifying neighborhood, and unspeakable horrors, the very sight of which drives humans insane, have come to Earth from space in the distant past and still drop in unexpectedly, and will someday take the planet away from the pathetic humans who thought they ruled it.

Of course, though Lovecraft’s critters came from outside the Earth, Lovecraft himself never set any of his stories off the planet. That left possibilities open for other writers. Instead of waiting for nameless eldritch alien horrors to come to us, why don’t we go to them? And many writers sent their characters out to do just that. (What some of those characters might have thought about it is conjectural, of course, particularly with those who were never heard from again.)

So here’s a selection of stories old and new, three from the grand old days of the pulp magazines early in the last century, three new ones appearing here for the first time, and an assortment of blood-curdlers from the years in between, waiting for you to read them. You needn’t be so apprehensive, since sometimes the Thing from Outer Space doesn’t win. On the other hand . . . but you’ll have to read them to find out which stories are which. You
are
going to read them, surely . . .

I’m nearly finished now, and there’s nothing to keep you from the stories. In summary, science fiction isn’t scary all of the time, or even most of the time, but sometimes, as the immortal Mr. Fudd might put it, it’s vewwy, vewwy scawwy. John W. Campbell, the legendary science fiction editor, once wrote that science fiction stories are the dreams of a technological society such as ours. He also noted parenthetically that “some dreams are nightmares.”

Pleasant dreams.

—Hank Davis

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