The Black Star Passes

John W. Campbell, Jr.
The Black Star Passes, by John
W Campbell

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Title: The Black Star Passes
Author: John W Campbell
Illustrator: Jerome Podwil
Release Date: February 27, 2007 [EBook #20707]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

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A sky pirate armed with superior weapons of his own invention....
First contact with an alien race dangerous enough to threaten the safety
of two planets....
The arrival of an unseen dark sun whose attendant marauders aimed at
the very end of civilization in this Solar System....
These were the three challenges that tested the skill and minds of the
brilliant team of scientist-astronauts Arcot, Wade, and Morey. Their
initial adventures are a classic of science-fiction which first brought the
name of their author, John W. Campbell, into prominence as a master
of the inventive imagination.

JOHN W. CAMPBELL first started writing in 1930 when his first short
story, When the Atoms Failed, was accepted by a science-fiction
magazine. At that time he was twenty years old and still a student at
college. As the title of the story indicates, he was even at that time
occupied with the significance of atomic energy and nuclear physics.
For the next seven years, Campbell, bolstered by a scientific
background that ran from childhood experiments, to study at Duke
University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wrote and
sold science-fiction, achieving for himself an enviable reputation in the
In 1937 he became the editor of Astounding Stories magazine and
applied himself at once to the task of bettering the magazine and the
field of s-f writing in general. His influence on science-fiction since
then cannot be underestimated. Today he still remains as the editor of
that magazine's evolved and redesigned successor, Analog.


ACE BOOKS, INC. 1120 Avenue of the Americas New York, N.Y.

Copyright, 1953, by John W. Campbell, Jr.
Copyright, 1930, by Experimenter Publications, Inc.
An Ace Book, by arrangement with the author.
Cover art by Jerome Podwil.

Printed in U.S.A.

Introduction 7
Piracy Preferred 11
Solarite 71
The Black Star Passes 145

These stories were written nearly a quarter of a century ago, for the old
Amazing Stories magazine. The essence of any magazine is not its
name, but its philosophy, its purpose. That old Amazing Stories is long
since gone; the magazine of the same name today is as different as the
times today are different from the world of 1930.
Science-fiction was new, in 1930; atomic energy was a dream we
believed in, and space-travel was something we tried to understand
better. Today, science-fiction has become a broad field, atomic
energy--despite the feelings of many present adults!--is no dream. (Nor
is it a nightmare; it is simply a fact, and calling it a nightmare is another
form of effort to push it out of reality.)
In 1930, the only audience for science-fiction was among those who
were still young enough in spirit to be willing to hope and speculate on
a new and wider future--and in 1930 that meant almost nothing but
teen-agers. It meant the brightest group of teen-agers, youngsters who
were willing to play with ideas and understandings of physics and
chemistry and astronomy that most of their contemporaries considered
"too hard work."
I grew up with that group; the stories I wrote over the years, and, later,
the stories I bought for Astounding Science Fiction changed and grew
more mature too. Astounding Science Fiction today has many of the
audience that read those early stories; they're not high school and
college students any more, of course, but professional engineers,
technologists and researchers now. Naturally, for them we need a
totally different kind of story. In growing with them, I and my work
had to lose much of the enthusiastic scope that went with the earlier
science fiction.
When a young man goes to college, he is apt to say, "I want to be a
scientist," or "I want to be an engineer," but his concepts are broad and
generalized. Most major technical schools, well knowing this, have the
first year course for all students the same. Only in the second and
subsequent years does specialization start.

By the sophomore
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