On a lonely beach, on June 25, 1962, a missing girl is stopped from wading out into the ocean to end it all. A flashback in voiceover is presented, and we find how her rescuers knows her from 5 years earlier. He was a reporter, and she had just seen a flying saucer. Does he really know her secret?
Suspicions and rumors fly about the girl, and who she really is. A spy? A lunatic? The reporter tries to befriend her, trusting she isn’t a threat to national security. Was there a message given to her from alien life forms? What could have aliens shared that she won’t tell? The saucer, and a communications device are found, and turned over to the government, but the girl clams up when asked about the coded message. Will she open up when grilled by prosecutors in a court of law? The result? Being convicted, and sent to prison for 5 years.
Back in the present of 1962, we learn about the girls troubles with people who still want to know what the flying saucer said. The government is back on the job to get her message, but isn’t she entitled to any privacy? Is she really such a threat to society? What lonely message might she have found? One for her alone?
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The time, just after the next atomic war. The place, somewhere in America. In a moment of weakness, Betsy wants to open the lead shutters that protect them from radiation. In voiceover, she tells about the 10 month war of unending H-bomb attacks that led to this moment. Hank is upset with her, and threatens to send her back to the basement tenements.
The news that she’s going to have a baby changes his mood, and standing with the counsel to have a healthy child born. They discuss the humans who weren’t so lucky to have made it to the shelters, and the mutants who dwell outside. Left to herself though, Betsy returns to her dream, and curiosity of the strange noises she heard outside.
Are the people living outside really as bad as Betsy has been told? Shouldn’t they look all scarred, and deformed? People and creatures sound so wonderful and good. All hate and ugliness has been burned away. If anything, its the people who shut themselves in who remain dirty and ugly. Does it take more than sheer bravery to survive the radiation outside? Has Patrick been telling the truth about life outside?
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In cooperation with Galaxie Science Fiction magazine, advance to the far flung year in the late 1960’s. Junior is the finest cybernetic being, born in 1962. The robotic brain calculates probabilities of all manner of world hazards, and statistics on demographics. The talking computer responds to voice commands, and warns of the extinction of the human race within a generation and a half. Hey, that’s like… any time now.
Is Junior any good at predicting what women want or like? His main scientist handler, Ray, is about to take on an important mission. Is Junior’s prediction of marriage accurate then? Why is it critical that Ray be married to go on his mission to the moon? Attended by the president himself, and at a ceremony conducted by the Supreme court, Ray is wed, and his cute astronaut partner soon blast off to save the human race.
The wedding, and honeymoon unites a world, in the hope that children might be born to survive the radiation fields on earth that has been preventing male children from being born. The couple get to know each other on the long flight to the moon, but something strange awaits among the supply rockets sent for their creature comforts.
Though aliens apprehend the astronauts, it isn’t all bad. They even grow to like each other… although he has hardly had a chance to kiss his new bride. Meanwhile, warring nations have found common ground to unite in peace. But there’s just one more round of questions Ray needs to ask of Junior. Startling revelations are in store for Ray about what his mission to the moon was really about.
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By Isaac Azimov.
A couple are to play host to a visiting alien dignitary. How does one make a guest comfortable who comes from a race of cyanide breathing creatures? The alien sits… er… stands because it isn’t anatomically constructed to sit, and relaxes in the home of the security official, enjoying a beverage laced with ethyl alcohol.
Why is the alien here? To study this queer planet we call earth. On Hawkins planet the aliens never stop growing, and don’t actually die, at least not unless outside forces are at work. What interest might the alien have in visiting a police station?
What unique features do humans that fascinate, and also are revolting to the Hawkins being? What is it that makes Mrs Smollot so suspicious of the alien… and her husband? What’s so important about knowing what the inhibition death is, and what does Rose know about it that her security force husband doesn’t?
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