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This is Klon Calling   By: (1917-)

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When last heard from, Captain Sheldon was preparing to return to Japan on the not unreasonable claim that the Island Empire was the only place where he was able to write undisturbed. Considering this two time Air Force officer's output, however ranging from upper bracket love and auto racing tales to a brilliant new novel, TROUBLING OF A STAR, that has won major bookclub distribution, and including scores of fine science fiction stories we wonder whether this peripatetic author may not be planning to flood all markets. Not a bad idea.

this is klon calling

by ... Walt Sheldon

One sure way to live dangerously is to become a practical joker. Should you have any doubts about it you might ask Professor Dane.

You didn't have to be a potential Einstein to take Professor Dane's course. For one thing you got a few easy credits and for another you were entertained without letup by Professor Lyman Dane's celebrated wit.

Take the time he was illustrating terminal velocity. He jumped out of the open third story window, horrifying the class, until they learned he'd rigged a canvas life net on the floor below. Or the time he let a mouse loose among the female students to illustrate chain reaction. Or the afternoon he played boogie woogie on the Huyler Memorial Carillon.

"The absorption of knowledge," he used to say, "increases in direct proportion to the sense of humor the belly laugh, measured in decibels, being constant."

He could say a thing like that and make it sound funnier than anybody else could. It was partly the way he looked tall and mournful and sly, with wispy hair that had once been blond, drooping like a tired willow over his forehead.

But for all his vaudeville tactics he was by no means a second rate scientist. Which was why he had gained his position at Southwestern Tech in the first place. He refused to work directly for the government (no sense of humor, just initials, he said) but this way he could at least be called upon for consultation at the nearby Air Force Development Center, just at the foot of the mountains to the west.

Now the AFDC, as it was called, didn't advertise what sort of thing it was developing but everybody knew that Lyman Dane was an expert on reactive propulsion of rocket motors. He could tell you and frequently would without being asked exactly what mass ratio, nozzle diameter and propulsive velocity would be needed for the first trip to the Moon. He knew how many hours a round trip would take, both for landing there or merely circling the body of the satellite.

He had the courses to Mars and Venus thoroughly charted but considered a trip to Jupiter somewhat impractical. So, what with Dane's presence and the mysterious white streaks that so often shot up into the sky like fuzzy yarn from the AFDC base, it wasn't hard to guess what was going on.

Nevertheless Professor Dane was surprised and somewhat offended when the young man from the Federal Bureau of Investigation came to call on him one afternoon. And the worst part of it was that the young man didn't have much sense of humor.

"As you know, sir," the young man said, "we've been sighting and tracking these unidentified objects in the sky. You must have read about those they chased near Atlanta yesterday."

"Ah," said Professor Dane. "Martian through Georgia, no doubt."

The young man stared at him blankly. He seemed to Professor Dane one of the most nondescript young men his eyes had ever beheld. He had a clean shaven, pleasant face without exactly being handsome and his eyes were sincere and mild. He wore a neat gray tropical worsted suit and an unobtrusive tie. He was about thirty. Professor Dane supposed that all this was an advantage in his profession.

The young man went on earnestly. "Without forming any theories about these things we've been asked to take certain precautions. I don't know whether they suspect a hostile power, or what... Continue reading book >>

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