The Black Star Passes
John W. Campbell Jr.
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A sky pirate armed with superior weapons of his own invention.... First contact with an alien race dangerous enough to threaten the safety of two planets....The arrival of an unseen dark sun whose attendant marauders aimed at the very end of civilization in this Solar System.... These were the three challenges that tested the skill and minds of the brilliant team of scientist-astronauts Arcot, Wade, and Morey. Their initial adventures are a classic of science-fiction which first brought the name of their author, John W. Campbell, into prominence as a master of the inventive imagination.
early science-fiction tales explored the Universe; they were probings, speculations, as to where we _could_ go. What we _could_ do. They had a sweep and reach and exuberance that belonged. They _were_ fun, too.... John W. Campbell, Jr. Mountainside, N.J. April, 1953 BOOK ONE PIRACY PREFERRED PROLOGUE High in the deep blue of the afternoon sky rode a tiny speck of glistening metal, scarcely visible in the glare of the sun. The workers on the machines below
craft was practically complete within a week. Only the instruments remained to be installed. Then at last even these had been put in place, and with the aid of Fuller, Morey junior, and his own father, Arcot had connected their many complicated circuits. "Son," remarked Arcot senior, looking critically at the great switchboard, with its maze of connections, its many rheostats and controls, and its heavy bus bar connectors behind it, "no one man can keep an eye on all those instruments. I
time the machine had sunk to the roof of their apartment, and the men disembarked and entered. The next day they were to start the actual work of designing the space ship. II "When we start this work," Arcot began next morning, "we obviously want to design the ship for the conditions we expect to meet, and for maximum convenience and safety. I believe I've thought about this trip longer than the rest of you, so I'll present my ideas first. "We don't actually _know_ anything about
Look--we're in Sonor already! Land us, Fuller--right where we were, and then come back here. We're going to need you!" The gorgeous display of a Venerian dawn was already coloring the east as the great buildings seemed to rise silently about them. The sky, which had been a dull luminous gray, a gray that rapidly grew brighter and brighter, was now like molten silver, through which were filtering the early rays of the intense sun. As the sun rose above the horizon, though invisible for
till suddenly there was a rending crash, and they saw only a leaping column of earth and sand and broken granite flying up through the hole in the steel shell. There was a sudden violent crash, then a moment later a second equally violent crash as the window, having flown up to the ceiling, came thumping back to the floor. After the dust had settled they came forward, looking for the window. They found it, somewhat buried by the rubbish, lying off to one side. Arcot bent down to tilt it and