Friday, January 8, 2010

“Alien Equivalent,” a 1955 short story by Richard R. Smith about gambling on Mars

Thanks to the folks at the Internet Archive, you can read online or download “Alien Equivalent,” an older short story written by Richard R. Smith. Originally published in the Summer 1955 issue of Planet Stories magazine, the plot is set on the Red Planet and revolves around an Earthman from the Mars Mining Corporation who risks playing the Martian game of rhakal in order to save his life and return to his family back on Earth. Here are the opening lines of the story:

CHESTER FARRELL emerged from the narrow alley and paused before the barbed wire fence. Behind him, the Martian city was a maze of strange sounds, angular buildings, acrid odors and dark shadows.

Before him, beyond the fence, three spaceships pointed their bows toward a star-studded sky. The slender ships gleamed dully in the starlight as they rested on the red desert.

He touched the money in his pocket to reassure himself that at last, he had the fare for the trip to Earth. ...

[via Tinkoo Valia of SF Variety]

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