Monday, 18 November 2013

Arena by Fredric Brown - The Science Fiction Hall of Fame Voume I

Humanity is on the cusp of inter-stellar war - mutual destruction in very likely.

Two representatives, one human one alien, are transported out of space and time to an arena by a god-like entity who is never seen and heard only once. 

They are instructed to fight to the death because the universe can only accommodate one of these races, there can be no middle ground.  Who ever wins the fight will ensure that his race will survive while the other will be wiped from existence.

I kept thinking, "I've read this before." and I may have; this story is a classic.  Then it struck me that it sounded very similar to an episode of the original Star Trek, where Kirk has to fight a giant lizard guy.

Not only did it sound familiar but Fredric Brown was credited for the episode.  You can read a quick story on how this came about at Memory Alpha:

After a bit of Wikipedia research I found that Brown had a very interesting writing career and I may have to dig out some more of his fiction, both SF and mystery.

The story was first published in 1944 and is quite a bit different in the details than the Star Trek episode.  In the story the alien is a red ball with tentacles and the two combatants are separated by a force field.  For those who complain that TV shows and movies are often nothing like the source material; think about the photo above.  In the 60's how would they have been able create the alien from the story?  The visual arts has its own limitations so sometimes they have to make adjustments but the basic story remains.  If I remember correctly the ending of the Star Trek episode is quite different from the short story.

In any case I am a fan of Fredric Brown.

Fredric Brown

Astounding Science Fiction - June 1944

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