LESTER del REY, Editor – Best Science Fiction Stories of the Year: Second Annual Edition. E. P. Dutton, hardcover. 1973. Ace, paperback, December 1975.

   #10. C. N. GLOECKNER “Miscount.” Vignette. First published in Analog SF, November 1972. Never reprinted.

   In his introduction to this story, Lester del Rey states his dislike for stories presented in the form of a diary or a series of communications (letters, emails, and so on) between two or more parties, but he decided to include this particular story as an exception to his rule.

   This one consists of a series of messages back and forth an operative for an alien salvage company and its headquarters, back wherever that may be. It seems that they picked up some discarded vacuum suits on the satellite of a planet of a developing culture in an area which was supposed to off limits.

   To correct their error and to stay out of trouble, they decide to replace them with facsimiles, but this serves only to make things worse. Read the title again, and you can easily figures out what goes wrong.

   This is short and cute, designed to give the reader a smile for just a moment before he or she moves on, but to include it in a Best of the Year anthology? Lester del Rey should have followed his basic instincts on this and said no.


Previously from the del Rey anthology: VERNOR VINGE “Long Shot.”