PREPARE TO SAVE THE EARTH!
Don’t just leave it to the grown-ups. Heck, some of them can’t even pack for vacation without having a meltdown. Some of them can’t even watch the news on TV without going ballistic. How are they going to have the wits to jump aboard a hostile flying saucer or outsmart aliens that look like giant spiders? You know who has to show them how to use their new electronic gadgets. That’s right, so you’d better get prepared.
The Doom Machine: a Novel / by Mark Teague
When Commander Xaafuun of the Skreepian Empire lands her flying saucer in rural Vern Hollow, New York in 1956 she’s intent on capturing The Special Item. Unfortunately, she doesn’t know exactly what it looks like or what it’s supposed to do. But she has her orders directly from the Queen. Get the Special Item and bring it back to Skreepia, and don’t stir up the native ooman bings. Unfortunately for Xaafuun, the saucer flew in low over the town and was seen landing nearby by quite a few ooman bings. Plus, since skreeps look like giant spiders, searching inconspicuously for the Item is difficult.
More bad news for the skreeps comes when Dr. Shumway’s station wagon breaks down on her way back to Boston from Utica, stranding the scientist and her daughter Isadora in Vern Hollow. Fortunately they stop at Creedle’s garage. Jack Creedle, in spite of his age, is one of the best mechanics around. Unfortunately, his Uncle Bud, who owns the garage, is the inventor of the Special Item that the skreeps want so desperately. Also, the Creedle family, as a clan, has a very unsavory reputation with the police. Nevertheless, these are traits that come in handy when Jack, Uncle Bud, Dr. Shumway, Isadora and the police are all scooped up by the skreeps and taken off planet.
Interstellar Pig / William Sleator
The beach house Barney’s parents have rented for two weeks is too far from town for him. There’s no one for a sixteen-year-old to hang out with. He’s been staving off boredom by re-reading his old science fiction books, but then the landlord stops by and tells them that people used to say that the house was haunted, but before he finishes his story he rushes off to greet the new tenants of the house next door – tenants that were extremely disappointed when they learned that the house Barney’s staying in was already rented.
They make quite a favorable impression on his parents, who think that Zena, Manny, and Joe, are older and more sophisticated then Barney does; he thinks they may be college students. They’re all in excellent physical shape, but all they seem to want to do is play a board game called Interstellar Pig. It’s a science fiction role-playing board game. Each player is dealt a card with an alien character, you might be an arachnoid nymph from the planet Vavoosh or a species of carnivorous lichen from Mbridlengile, or an octopus-like gas bag, or a water-breathing gill man from Thrilb. Once you have your character you travel from planet to planet until the timer signals the end of the game, collecting cards for laser guns or for hyperspace drive, or a card to boost or lower your intelligence, or to force you to land on a poisonous planet. But the most important card is called the Piggy, and if you don’t have it in your hand at the end of the game, your planet is sucked out of existence and your species exterminated. It’s a cool game, with a very realistic board, by Barney doesn’t understand why his new neighbors are so obsessed with it, that is, until they all take a day trip to a nearby island and he finds a small box containing a small pink object. On it is carved a smiling face with one eye. “The vertical iris, inlaid in bright silver, gave the eye a piercing alertness. Crude as it was, the thing seemed alive. And it was the brutal wrongness of it, the mouth smiling with such placid idiocy, noseless, under the solitary eye, that made the face so repellent.”
Interstellar pig is a deliciously creepy read, like the chill you might get from an ice cube drawn down your sunburned back.
Have Space Suit—Will Travel / Robert A. Heinlein
Kip Russell is working in the soda shop hoping to earn some money for college. He enters the Skyway Soap contest that promises him a trip to the moon, a place he’s always wanted to go. He calculates that he can increase his chances with more entries, so he enters a few thousand. His reward is not the grand prize, but a prize nevertheless, a used space suit. The space suit turns into Kip’s summer before college hobby. He patches it up, uses the air compressor in the garage to pressurize it, adds a few improvements, and takes strolls though the back yard in the evening when the stars are out. It’s not quite like being on the moon, but it’s still fun, and he plans to sell the rebuilt suit back to the manufacturer for some tuition money in the fall. He even gives the suit a name, Oscar.
One late summer evening Kip gets into Oscar for a last walk around the yard. Just for fun he flicks on the radio, tuned to the frequency used by astronauts and calls out. Imagine his surprise when he gets an answer. And not just an answer, the next thing he knows a spaceship crashes in his back yard and out of it stumbles a very unworldly creature. She (Kip later comes to know her as the MotherThing) promptly collapses. Kip rushes over to offer assistance to a fellow astronaut. As he does so another spacecraft lands and out jump some very different aliens. They grab Kip and the MotherThing and hustle them off. They’ve been abducted by the worst sort of aliens, gangster aliens led by the evil crime boss known as Wormface. The prisoners are joined by a third victim, PeeWee, a spoiled rich, pre-teen girl who, incidentally, is also a genius. Next stop: a frigid cave on Pluto, but it’s not their last stop.