cover image John Brunner Presents Kipling's Science Fiction: Stories

John Brunner Presents Kipling's Science Fiction: Stories

Rudyard Kipling. Tor Books, $17.95 (178pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85355-6

Genre aficionados are fond of finding literary antecedents in unlikely places, and science fiction devotees' latest rediscovery is the Nobel laureate Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936). Hugo and Nebula winner Brunner's ( Maze of Stars ) view of Kipling as an SF ancestor is by no means unfounded, although some of the tales in this slim volume qualify only marginally as science fiction. For example, both ``The Ship That Found Herself'' and ``.007'' (referring not to James Bond but to a type of locomotive) derive whatever SF identity they have from the personification of machines: steel plates and cargo hatches think, feel and converse in the former, while train engines display workerlike camaraderie and competitiveness in the latter. Kipling generally keeps matters closer to metaphor than most contemporary SF practitioners would, but on occasion he emerges as a master of the genre, leaving his unique stamp on even the creakiest concepts. The slow-building ``Wireless'' tells of a time-spanning psychic influence; ``The Eye of Allah'' is an alternate history set in the Middle Ages; ``Unprofessional'' involves astrological medicine. All in all, an unexpectedly interesting offering. (Oct.)