Thursday, March 11, 2010

"Nine Shadows at Doomsday," 1958 short story by S. M. Tenneshaw

Thanks to the folks at the Internet Archive, you can read or download "Nine Shadows at Doomsday," a short story written by S. H. Tenneshaw (pseudonym of John W. Jakes). Originally published in the Vol. 5, No. 6, November 1958 issue of Space Travel magazine, the plot revolves around a space outlaw and two academics from the Alphanus Historical Foundation who undertake a secret expedition to Thor Peak on the distant and forbidden planet of Mars to find out what eradicated life in the desolate Sol system three thousand years before. Here are the opening lines:
          HIS name was Mark Chan. He was a tall rough-jawed vaguely almond-eyed man, a thief and a hunted criminal. Son of an Anglo-Polynesian mother and an Alphan father, born in the inhospitable half-world between two recognized stratas of society, he had drifted into crime and become so expert that half the law forces in the Alphan system did not believe he existed and the other half drove itself frantic trying to locate him so that he could be sentenced to social reconditioning. His last job had been a big one, and the legal heat had grown intense. That was the only reason he'd tackled this offer...
[via Tinkoo Valia of Variety SF]

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