the Luna stories by Dr. Ernest Taves (some assembly required)

These classic six stories of near-future Lunar exploration and survival have never been republished since their original Galaxy SF Magazine appearances in the early 1970s, so you will have to buy the magazines at or elsewhere for U$3-4 each, to read these stories.  Hence, “some assembly required.”  🙂

 Galaxy 1971 Mar – Pegasus Two, 14 pages

Galaxy 1972 Sept – True School of Modesty, 14 pages [Pegasus 4 & 6]

Galaxy 1972 Nov – Mayflower One, 22 pages

Galaxy 1973 Jan – Mayflower Three, 25 pages

Galaxy 1973 July – Luna One, 43 Pages

 Galaxy 1973 Nov – Mayflower 2, 18 pages

136 pages total – is this short, episodic novel worth U$30-35?  For me, the answer is “yes” since there is no other way to read and admire Taves’ Luna series.  [I just bought 2 sets to have accessable loaners for friends, even tho I have my own copies buried in the warehouse room.]  His son mentioned to me that his father had tried to work with Daw Books but hadn’t succeeded in writing bridging sequences to extend the Luna stories to novel length.  I hope and urge his family to publish these as one ebook, to get him the recognition for writing them, and to give readers the pleasure of reading them. 

I was saddened to find that Dr. Taves had died in 2003 when I sought out internet info about him.  “Dr. Ernest Henry Taves of Cambridge, a psychoanalyst turned fiction writer, died in Mount Auburn Hospital on Aug. 16 of complications following a heart attack. He was 87” – Boston Globe.  And from Ansible 197, “Dr Ernest Henry Taves (1916-2003), US psychoanalyst and co-author of the sceptical The UFO Enigma (1977, with Dr Donald H. Menzel), died on 16 August aged 87. His sf stories were published in Galaxy and If from 1969 to 1976. [JM] A tiny bibliographical point: until now Taves appeared in sf references as ‘Ernest Keith Taves’, his first Galaxy byline, though later sf story credits were to ‘Ernest Taves’ and Galaxy eventually profiled him as ‘Ernest H.Taves, M.D.’ [WC] ”

Working at the Science Fantasy bookstore, I learned to undersell books, saying “you might enjoy this” rather than “this is excellent.”  Otherwise, the potential reader’s expectations would be set too high.  However, I made exceptions … and this is one such case.

Dr. Taves’ half-dozen Luna stories are the finest near-future Lunar exploration series ever written.  Why?  He, as a psychoanalyst, knew the explorers’ truth – we bring ourselves with us to new terrain (or farther worlds) and have to interact with each other.  Taves’ explorers, under stress and on a harsh world, show us ambition, panic, murder, birth, and other events and reactions unplanned by Mission Design .  As the editor’s blurb for Mayflower One said, “The moon had been conquered.  But humanity was still a problem!”

A friend’s comment that she had the 1972 issues and was looking forward to reading them, makes me warn that while each of the stories are separate, with new characters, you shouldn’t read “School of True Modesty” without having felt the wrenching impact of the ending to “Pegasus Two.”  Then “School” hits like a sledgehammer – the scene described there is still one of my most memorable and emotional  sf scenes ever.  [I don’t want to spoil it – you’ll know which one I mean.]

One in Three Hundred didn’t seem like good odds, but if they’re the only odds you had? … In our next memorable phrase installment, the start of some numbers memories – a terrifyingly slim number, 1 in 300, a terrifyingly small number, 1.933 cm., and a terrifyingly large number, 1.5 times ten-to-the-twelfth…


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One Response to “the Luna stories by Dr. Ernest Taves (some assembly required)”

  1. Lamourie Says:

    The middle name “Keith” instead of his real middle name “Henry” came as a complete surprise to the author! Whether it was a random mistake or an editorial decision was never learned.

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