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The Big Front Yard: And Other Stories

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Tales of the unknown in which a fix-it man crosses into another dimension—and more Hiram Taine is a handyman who can fix anything. When he isn’t fiddling with his tools, he is roaming through the woods with his dog, Towser, as he has done for as long as he can remember. He likes things that he can understand. But when a new ceiling appears in his basement—a ceiling that ap Tales of the unknown in which a fix-it man crosses into another dimension—and more Hiram Taine is a handyman who can fix anything. When he isn’t fiddling with his tools, he is roaming through the woods with his dog, Towser, as he has done for as long as he can remember. He likes things that he can understand. But when a new ceiling appears in his basement—a ceiling that appears to have the ability to repair television sets so they’re better than before—he knows he has come up against a mystery that no man can solve.   Winner of the Hugo Award for Best Novelette, “The Big Front Yard” is a powerful story about what happens when an ordinary man finds reality coming apart around him. Along with the other stories in this collection, it is some of the most lyrical science fiction ever published.   Each story includes an introduction by David W. Wixon, literary executor of the Clifford D. Simak estate and editor of this ebook.


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Tales of the unknown in which a fix-it man crosses into another dimension—and more Hiram Taine is a handyman who can fix anything. When he isn’t fiddling with his tools, he is roaming through the woods with his dog, Towser, as he has done for as long as he can remember. He likes things that he can understand. But when a new ceiling appears in his basement—a ceiling that ap Tales of the unknown in which a fix-it man crosses into another dimension—and more Hiram Taine is a handyman who can fix anything. When he isn’t fiddling with his tools, he is roaming through the woods with his dog, Towser, as he has done for as long as he can remember. He likes things that he can understand. But when a new ceiling appears in his basement—a ceiling that appears to have the ability to repair television sets so they’re better than before—he knows he has come up against a mystery that no man can solve.   Winner of the Hugo Award for Best Novelette, “The Big Front Yard” is a powerful story about what happens when an ordinary man finds reality coming apart around him. Along with the other stories in this collection, it is some of the most lyrical science fiction ever published.   Each story includes an introduction by David W. Wixon, literary executor of the Clifford D. Simak estate and editor of this ebook.

30 review for The Big Front Yard: And Other Stories

  1. 5 out of 5

    Metaphorosis

    Metaphorosis Reviews 4 stars The Big Front Yard is a strong but somewhat mixed bag - mostly strong stories, some that don't feel completely thought out, and one that just doesn't work. The one fairly experimental story is the one that doesn't work, but when Simak sticks closer to familiar ground, he does very well indeed - stories about ordinary people who deal with extraordinary things without breaking a sweat. The best stories include: The Big Front Yard - A small-town handyman receives unusua Metaphorosis Reviews 4 stars The Big Front Yard is a strong but somewhat mixed bag - mostly strong stories, some that don't feel completely thought out, and one that just doesn't work. The one fairly experimental story is the one that doesn't work, but when Simak sticks closer to familiar ground, he does very well indeed - stories about ordinary people who deal with extraordinary things without breaking a sweat. The best stories include: The Big Front Yard - A small-town handyman receives unusual and generous visitors. Classic Simak - small-town doesn't mean foolish or naive. Junkyard - A human ship breaks down on a strange planet, and finds signs it's not the first to do so. The focus wanders a bit, but the overall theme is strong. Mr. Meek - Musketeer - A mild-mannered accountant finds an unexpected talent for adventure. The genius of Simak is that he doesn't transform to macho hero at the end. Neighbor - An odd neighbor moves into a small-town. Nothing startling, but a nice encapsulation of what Simak did so well. So Bright the Vision - A writer struggles to get by in a time when most creation is automated. The understanding, supportive woman could stand to be updated, but the concept is nice, and it's one of Simak's relatively few stories with pointed social commentary. A strong collection with just a few weak points.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Norman Cook

    The Big Front Yard (Astounding Science Fiction, October 1958 - novella - Hugo Award winner) 5 Stars A wonderful tale of exotic aliens juxtaposed with the commonplace environment of rural America, and how one man is able to avert an interstellar war. The Observer (Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, May 1972 - short story) 4 Stars This story of an entity (whose identity is only revealed at the end) who wakes up with no memory, but begins to piece together its history bit by bit. The modern style of t The Big Front Yard (Astounding Science Fiction, October 1958 - novella - Hugo Award winner) 5 Stars A wonderful tale of exotic aliens juxtaposed with the commonplace environment of rural America, and how one man is able to avert an interstellar war. The Observer (Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, May 1972 - short story) 4 Stars This story of an entity (whose identity is only revealed at the end) who wakes up with no memory, but begins to piece together its history bit by bit. The modern style of this story shows that Simak was able to evolve his writing style over time. Trail City's Hot-Lead Crusaders (New Western Magazine, September 1944 - novelette) 4 Stars This is a pure Western that reminded me of Shane, in this case where a small-town newspaper publisher goes against a ruthless gang of conspirators. The gang is truly evil, murdering innocent people and destroying town property simply to intimidate the residents. Junkyard (Galaxy Science Fiction, May 1953 - novelette) 4 Stars This is a problem story that was popular in the 1950s. Humans encounter strange events on an alien planet and must figure out the truth before all is lost. The solution is interesting and different, perhaps even ingenious. Mr. Meek – Musketeer (Planet Stories, Summer 1944 - novelette) 3 Stars This is a Western set in space, with humorous elements. A milquetoast (Mr. Meek, get it?) accidentally fights off some crooks while just wanting to do some sightseeing on exotic worlds. As a result, he gets embroiled in conflict that he would rather not be a part of. Neighbor (Astounding Science Fiction, June 1954 - novelette) 4 Stars This is the type of story that The Twilight Zone loved. An alien family disguised as humans comes to backwater middle America and assimilates with the natives, who suspect something's amiss, but are too polite to say anything. When an East Coast reporter comes to investigate, the aliens make sure their secret stays safe, but in a gentle way apropos of the gentle folk around them. Shadow World (Galaxy Science Fiction, September 1957 - novelette) 4 Stars A human exploration team is surveying an alien planet, but are shadowed by mysterious beings who don't seem to be alive. The problems escalate when aliens arrive, but fortunately one of the crew has a prohibited piece of equipment that can be used against them, if used correctly. So Bright the Vision (Fantastic Universe, August 1956 - novelette) 4 Stars This is a fun vision of how writing could change with the advent of AI machines that can produce any kind of story. It's a tale that subtly criticizes the literary establishment and the publishing industry. In the end, an alien "life blanket" holds the key for writers to break out of their writing ruts.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Joe Stack

    This is a wonderful collection of stories. They’re entertaining and fun and masterly written. Based on these stories, I regret I had not read anything by Simak before reading this collection. But now I look forward to him on my go to list of authors. If you’re like me and haven’t read Simak, do so for you’re in for a treat. I was hoping to pick one or two stories that stand out, but I enjoyed them all. The last story in the collection, “So Bright the Vision,” about yarn writing machines that repl This is a wonderful collection of stories. They’re entertaining and fun and masterly written. Based on these stories, I regret I had not read anything by Simak before reading this collection. But now I look forward to him on my go to list of authors. If you’re like me and haven’t read Simak, do so for you’re in for a treat. I was hoping to pick one or two stories that stand out, but I enjoyed them all. The last story in the collection, “So Bright the Vision,” about yarn writing machines that replace the imagination of writers is, as the editor comments, a criticism of sci-fi in the 1950s, but I think the story is relevant to our growing reliance on computerization and AI, especially AI. The story’s main character asks, “Was this the end and all of Man—the moving gear, the clever glass and metal, the adroit electronics?” This is a question pertinent to our current advances in technology and AI, and I imagine it will apply for a long time. Simak’s tale is fun, and a hopeful perspective.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Karen A. Wyle

    I'm rounding up a bit, but not much. I'm loving this collection of Clifford D. Simak's short fiction, being doled out one volume at a time. Volume II has some of Simak's best stories, not all of which I'd read. There was one whose ending didn't work well for me (and which had apparently been rewritten after a rejection), but all in all, this is a don't-miss-it collection for fans of classic science fiction. I'm rounding up a bit, but not much. I'm loving this collection of Clifford D. Simak's short fiction, being doled out one volume at a time. Volume II has some of Simak's best stories, not all of which I'd read. There was one whose ending didn't work well for me (and which had apparently been rewritten after a rejection), but all in all, this is a don't-miss-it collection for fans of classic science fiction.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    What's fun about Simak's science fiction stories is the way they portray ordinary people confronting alien reality. In the title story, a repairman and junk dealer with a knack for "dickering" finds himself as the go between between humans and aliens who have made their connection to earth through his house. Other stories are similar: a small town grows to welcome visitors from another world, a bookkeeper saves his money and heads off for the asteroids, etc. What's fun about Simak's science fiction stories is the way they portray ordinary people confronting alien reality. In the title story, a repairman and junk dealer with a knack for "dickering" finds himself as the go between between humans and aliens who have made their connection to earth through his house. Other stories are similar: a small town grows to welcome visitors from another world, a bookkeeper saves his money and heads off for the asteroids, etc.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kay Smillie

    A nice collection of C D Simak stories of which I only recognise So Bright The Vision. I cannot believe that I have, until now, never read The Big Front Yard before. Classic Simak. This collection includes a western story and a western style story set near Jupiter. A must for fans of this wonderful writer. Ray Smillie

  7. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    Author Clifford Simak was one of the science fiction greats. This small sampling of his short stories is a wonderful example of the range of his imagination. The stories are now well over half a century old, but they hold up well to the passage of time. An easy, quick, and enjoyable read.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lawrence

    http://gnomeship.blogspot.com/2017/09... http://gnomeship.blogspot.com/2017/09...

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ian

    Ah - the golden age of SF - the 1950s western (misogyny, xenophobia, alcohol, and baccy) transposed into space (...or not in one case in this anthology). Guiltily enjoyable C-movie stuff.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jack Randall

    A great collection of SciFi yarns. Simak was a great writer with a down to earth touch.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Michael Buck

    Interesting stories from a sci-fi writer from the 50s and one of the stories is a western. Very nice.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Durandana

    4/5 - The Big Front Yard 3/5 - The Observer 2/5 - Trail City's Hot-Lead Crusaders 5/5 - Junkyard 3/5 - Mr Meek - Musketeer 3/5 - Neighbor 4/5 - Shadow World 5/5 - So Bright the Vision 4/5 - The Big Front Yard 3/5 - The Observer 2/5 - Trail City's Hot-Lead Crusaders 5/5 - Junkyard 3/5 - Mr Meek - Musketeer 3/5 - Neighbor 4/5 - Shadow World 5/5 - So Bright the Vision

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    Simak was a masterful SciFi Grandmaster whose stories hold up well, even today. Some great stories in this book, and a good way to get acquainted with this author if you haven't read him. Simak was a masterful SciFi Grandmaster whose stories hold up well, even today. Some great stories in this book, and a good way to get acquainted with this author if you haven't read him.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    Not as good as the first or the third in this collection series, but still better than most.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Neil Kimber

  16. 5 out of 5

    raymond st-jean

  17. 4 out of 5

    Gregory

  18. 4 out of 5

    Starmender

  19. 4 out of 5

    Suz

  20. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Weir

  21. 5 out of 5

    Hal DeVore

  22. 5 out of 5

    John Cook

  23. 4 out of 5

    James Yu

  24. 4 out of 5

    J Scotland

  25. 5 out of 5

    Drew

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mariusz

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dancho

  28. 4 out of 5

    Curiousaxis

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lumpy Dirtball

  30. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Reeves

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