The Lift

Polly was late for work. Everything had been going wrong. She had slept through her alarm this morning. How could that happen. She felt grimy, because in all the rush she hadn’t hadn’t time to shower. She had laddered her tights, snagged on something on the tube. She had had to stand the whole way from Holborn.

Now she was waiting for the lift at her office building on Canary Wharf. A magnificent building that rose into the sky, floor upon floor, as it dominated this part of the London horizon. She was involved in the bizarrest of conversations.

“Believe me lady, you don’t want to catch this lift.”

“Yes. I do.”

“No Ma’am,” replied the smaller, compactor of the two, “not now, not this lift.”

“But this is my lift, I work here.”

“Not this lift Ma’am, try later, or that one over there.”

Polly wanted to scream, but she was still holding it together.

“Listen to me. This is my lift. I catch it everyday. I am very late. I am catching this lift.”

“Can’t let you do that Ma’am.”

“And stop calling me Ma’am. Are you Americans?” she asked exasperatedly.

“No Ma’am, we are adventurers.”

Polly paused for thought. They were two of the weirdest guys she had seen in a long time. It wasn’t the brightly coloured hair and beards or the alchemical symbols tattooed on their faces. It was their costumes. Like two guys from a SWAT team, but tie dyed instead of camouflage. Perhaps that was their camouflage. Both men carried large holdalls.

“Gentlemen, I am catching this lift.”

“Okay Ma’am,” replied the smaller, who now accepted that the persistent woman was going to share their ride. He had introduced himself as Walter. “And this is André,” he indicated his larger companion.

“Like the giant?”

“Yes, like the giant.”

“Weird,” she muttered to herself, “who are these nutters?”

“Not nutters Ma’am,” said André, in a voice that was decidedly silken for a man of his stature, adventurers.”

“Adventurers with supersonic hearing?” she muttered again embarrassedly.

“Yes Ma’am, it comes in handy.”

“On adventures?”

“Yes Ma’am, on adventures.”

Polly was saved from any more of this whack job conversation by the ding of the bell. The lift doors whispered open.

Standing either side of the door, the two mismatched, but identically dressed men bowed their heads and held out an arm, inviting her to enter first. With a few unexpected butterflies in her stomach, Polly stepped into the lift.

Copyright Jhedron Luckspar ©2017/18

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Slan by AE Van Vogt – Book Review

This is a book I first read over thirty years ago and thought I remembered well enough, but apparently not. I have just reread it and it’s still fantastic.

I was a bit worried when it brought technology in but apart from a woeful underestimation of a rapid travelling space ship, it wasn’t too bad. In 1946 I expect 300mph seemed fast.

The story is set in the future and the Slans of the title are mutated humans that have developed superior physical and intellectual ability and the telepathic ability of reading minds. As such they are hated and feared by humanity who are intent on destroying them. Young nine year old Jommy Cross, the Slan of the story, is quickly orphaned and has to survive in the brutal human world until he can come into his maturity and fulfil his destiny. Pitted against him are the “evil” humans who are mercilessly trying to destroy him and all his kind. Van Vogt’s writing is often beautiful with description which is almost Dickensian. Here’s a quote from early on in the story when Jommy is still a child and has been captured by the utterly evil and self serving Granny.

“It struck him that he had never seen a face that more nearly expressed the malignant character that lay behind the mask of old flesh. With rising disgust he compared her thin, lined, egg-shaped head with the mind inside; and it was all there. Every twisted line in that wrecked face had it’s counterpart in the twisted brain.”

This is a science fiction world written in a pre computer age, so his citizens still read newspapers. Now tablets and kindles are taking over, and I doubt if paper books will survive except on the library shelves of Lord Stiletto. However, it is available in both print and on kindle.

Will Jommy attain his destiny and save the Slan world? A hopefully not forgotten Sci Fi classic that is well deserving of your attention.