Sometimes you just forget how great a writer was. Once a writer dies and his work stops appearing, his work may go into a little lock box in your mind, the one labeled, "I enjoyed this," and end up in a pile of other lock boxes, eventually gathering dust and being pushed toward the rear to make room for other, newer lock boxes. Mention the author's name and you might respond, "Yeah, he was great," but a part of you forgets just how great.
Case in point: Theodore Sturgeon (1918-1985). It's been a while since I read any of his stories. Silly, stupid me.
Killdozer! gives us fifteen stories that Sturgeon wrote between 1941 and 1946, beginning with "Blabbermouth" and ending with "Mewhu's Jet." There has never been another writer quite like Sturgeon; his optimism. his humanity, his open love, his power with words and emotions, all put him in a separate class. I am thankful that the late Paul Williams started the ball rolling in providing a permanent home for all of Sturgeon's stories. Included in the fifteen stories in this book are three previously unpublished stories (Williams mistakenly said four, correcting that mistake in the next volume), the original ending of "Killdozer," an unpublished alternate ending of "Mewhu's Jet." and several stories that took years to appear in print. The stories covered in Killdozer! mark the end of Sturgeon's early career and the beginning of his more mature phase. Here are stories that I had read and loved in Without Sorcery, Caviar, Beyond, A Way Home, and other Sturgeon collections. Here are some stories that remind you just how great a writer Sturgeon was.
- Blabbermouth (Amazing Stories, February 1947)
- Medusa (Astounding Science Fiction, February 1942)
- Ghost of a Chance (as "The Green-Eyed Girl," Unknown Worlds, June 1943)
- The Bones (with James H. Beard, Unknown Worlds, August 1943)
- The Hag Saleen (with James H. Beard, Unknown Worlds, December 1942)
- Killdozer! (Astounding Science Fiction, November 1944; this version has the slightly updated ending the author wrote for the story's inclusion in 1959's Aliens 4; the original magazine ending is included in the Story Notes)
- Abreaction (Weird Tales, July 1948)
- Poor Yorick! (previously unpublished)
- Crossfire (previously unpublished)
- Noon Gun (Playboy, September 1963)
- Bulldozer Is a Noun (previously unpublished)
- August Sixth, 1945 (Paul Williams mistakenly thought this was an unpublished story and included it in this volume. It was actually a letter in the Brass Tacks column in Astounding Science Fiction, December 1945. The error was acknowledged in Volume IV of the series, Thunder and Roses.)
- The Chromiun Helmet (Astounding Science Fiction, June 1946)
- Memorial (Astounding Science Fiction, April 1946)
- Mewhu's Jet (Astounding Science Fiction, November 1946; including in the Story Notes is a previously unpublished ending to the story)
In addition, there's a Foreword by Robert Silverberg, and Afterward by Robert A. Heinlein, and copious story note by Paul Williams.
It was great to spend time with some old friends, which is what many of these stories are.
A fine book. Highly recommended.