Grow has only seven credits at isfdb, and five of them, including "The Fastest Gun Dead," are in the "Dr. Hiram Pertwee series." The story at hand today is the first in this series, and appeared in If.
A humorous story that is played more or less straight and has technology at its core, I'm calling this one marginally good, a little better than "acceptable."
Our narrator for "The Fastest Gun Dead" is the aforementioned Hiram Pertwee, a physician in the Wild West. Our hero is Jacob Niedelmeier, who moves to the little western town in which the tale is set from New Jersey, the greatest state in the union! Why would anyone leave the Garden State for the land of six-guns and scalpings? Well, our man Jake has come to make his fortune prospecting gold. Unfortunately, as Doc Pertwee tells us, Jake is a "boob" and a "ninny" who finds no gold and gets a job as a store clerk.
The weakest element in the story is how Jake's career as top gunslinger comes to an end. I guess the pistol's brainwave detectors can only detect aggressive thoughts in the left side of a brain, so when a left-handed cowboy tries to kill Jake the space gun doesn't work. I wish Grow had come up with something better with which to end his story, as "The Fastest Gun Dead" cruises along very smoothly all the way to the last page and then hits this pothole and one of the wheels flies right off into the ditch. Perhaps because of this problem the story has not been anthologized outside of Merrill's anthology here and its British equivalent, which is somewhat confusingly entitled Best of Sci-Fi Two.
In her little intro to the story, Merril praises Bretnor for being one of the members of the respectable intellectual elite and literary mainstream, like Anthony Boucher, who has been working to improve the reputation of SF; Merril tells us that until recently "s-f reading was something almost everybody did, and practically nobody talked about." (The relationship of SF to mainstream culture is one of Merril's themes throughout these intros.)
"All the Tea In China," from F&SF, is a kind of shaggy dog story, a bunch of meandering details that add up to little, in the form of a piece of rural folklore. When, as a poor New England farm boy, our narrator's grandmother caught him blackmailing another kid, she scares him straight by telling him the story of one of his no-good great-great-uncles, a Jonas. Jonas was a successful man of business but had few friends because he was malicious and made much of his money by blackmailing people. A series of events involving a shipment of goods from the Far East and Jonas's attempts to strong arm a woman into marrying him lead to Jonas negotiating with Satan himself. The narrator and Jonas both commonly utter the cliche "not for all the tea in China," and the climax of this story is when Satan offers Jonas "all the tea in China" in heavy wooden chests. When Jonas accepts the deal the multitude of chests falls from the sky and crushes Jonas.
I can't recommend this thing. The final joke is lame and doesn't have any connection to the story's theme that you shouldn't blackmail people. Endorsing my dim view of it, no editor has anthologized it since Merril did.
Here is a story that first appeared in a mainstream publication, The Saturday Evening Post, complete with a Norman Rockwell cover celebrating diversity. When we last saw Young he was lamenting America's automobile and TV-obsessed culture; let's see what he sold to what was once one of America's most influential publications.
The title of "The Dandelion Girl" immediately made me think of the hyacinth girl from T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land, but the first line of this story name checks Edna St. Vincent Millay. Forty-four-year-old Mark is on a vacation in the woods without his wife (she has jury duty!) when, on a hill with a picturesque view, he encounters a beautiful woman of twenty-one with "dandelion hair" who reminds him of Millay. Young tries to get a poetic vibe going in the story's first paragraphs, telling us about the autumn leaves ("burning gently with the first pale fires of fall") and the wind in Mark's face and all that. We also get to hear again and again about Mark smoking his pipe and how his hands are trembling or tingling, depending on what Young is trying to convey. After his first meeting with Julie we learn that one of Mark's favorite poems is Millay's "Afternoon on a Hill." (Go ahead and read it--it is very short.)
The woman, Julie, claims to be from the future when all these woods are part of a huge city. Her father invented a time machine and she comes back to this hill every day. Mark and Julie meet on the hill over three successive days, talking about Bishop Berkeley and Einsteinian relativity, and Mark falls in love with her. Julie fails to appear for two days, and when she reappears tells him her father has died. Also, she doesn't know how to maintain her father's illegal unlicensed private time machine and it probably only has enough juice for one more trip and maybe not even that! The last thing she says to Mark is that she loves him.
Anyway, Julie doesn't appear again, and Mark is depressed and starts neglecting his wife. Then a few weeks later he finds a clue and realizes that his wife is Julie, that she must have used her last time trip to go back to the 1930s when he was her age so she could meet him and marry him. Somehow Mark didn't recognize his own wife's face or voice or personality because she was twenty years younger, even though he knew her when she was that age.
I have to give this thing a thumbs down; it is sappy, overwritten, and tries too hard to appeal to an educated mainstream audience with all that extraneous Millay and Berkeley and Einstein business, and the idea of a guy not remembering what his wife looked like or sounded like when he met her 20 years ago has me rolling my eyes. If you'll allow me to put on my feminist hat, I'll tell you that "The Dandelion Girl" appeals to the desire of the typical man to have sex with a woman half his age, and to common man's lament that his wife doesn't look like she did when he met her--the problem with this aspect of the story from an entertainment point of view is that Mark is absolved of all guilt for having these anti-social thoughts, so the story has no tension or edge, there is no meaningful interpersonal conflict or interior psychological conflict, none of the risk or nastiness which makes stories of sexual impropriety compelling.
Despite my groans, people, foreigners in particular, seem to like this story, and it has appeared in Young collections (including as the title story of a Japanese Young collection) and anthologies of stories about time travel.
You guessed it, another teeny tiny story from Brown. This one is the teeniest, taking up just like a third of a page! "Nightmare in Time" first appeared in a men's magazine, Dude ("the magazine devoted to pleasure"), I guess a sort of Playboy knock off. At time of writing, the internet archive provides free access to three issues of Dude from the late '50s; these offer pictures of topless young ladies, off-color cartoons, and fiction, including stories from people we have talked about a little here at the blog, Harlan Ellison and Michael Shaara.
Anyway, this story is something akin to a palindrome, the few dozen words that make up the tale's first half being repeated in reverse order to create the second half; Brown does this to simulate the operation of a machine that can make time run backwards. I don't appreciate these kinds of technical tricks.
"Nightmare in Time" has appeared in many places and in many languages, often under the title "The End."
Not the best batch of stories, but it's all part of our SF education. More SF short stories in our next episode!