Part of a series of collections first published in England, where Simak (190488) was always appreciated, this volume offers seven stories (though the copyright page actually lists eight) dating from 193969 and uncollected or very hard to find since their first appearance. In the title piece, Earth residents go through the motions of maintaining traditional culture while, out among the stars, new alien-tinged civilizations evolve. There's a Martian odyssey; some hostile Mercurians (featuring an embarrassing Negro stereotype—but then the yarn was written in 1941); equally warlike invaders from the vanished fifth planet; and an amusing alien trade that doesn't pan out. But the best of the bunch are ``Horrible Example,'' wherein a small town's notoriously shiftless, drunken bum is secretly a robot providing a role model for the townsfolk to avoid, and ``The Big Front Yard,'' Simak's 1958 Hugo Novelette Awardwinning tale of a Yankee trader's first contact with acquisitive aliens. Dated in places, but Simak's backwoods courtesy and charm are genuine and free of nostalgia.
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