Tuesday, June 1, 2010

“The Old Martians” 1952 short story written by Roger Phillips Graham

Thanks to the folks at Project Gutenberg, you can read or download "The Old Martians," a short story written by American science fiction author Roger Phillips Graham (1909-1965). Originally published in the March 1952 issue of If: Worlds of Science Fiction magazine, the story revolves around a secret government agent who follows a tourist around strange ruins on the Red Planet, trying to determine if the tourist was a Martian in a previous life or if he is simply insane. Here are the opening lines:

THE MAN WITH THE PITH HELMET had his back toward me. Hunched forward, he was screaming at the girl in the lens of his camera. "Don't just stand there, Dotty! Move! Do something! Back up toward that column with inscriptions on it..."

The girl was tall and longlegged with ideal body proportions, her features and skin coloring a perfect norm-blend with no throwback elements. Right now she seemed confused and half-frightened as she tried to comply with the directions of the man with the movie camera. She smiled artificially, turned her head to look at the fragment of a wall behind her, reached out with a finger and started tracing the lines of an almost obliterated inscription in its stone surface...

[via Tinkoo Valia of Variety SF]

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