New Ball Games for the Future by Gregory Benfod & Gordon Eklund

Tuesday, 01 May 2018 17:24 Chuck Rothman

New Ball Games for the Future




Gregory Benford & Gordon Eklund



(PS Publishing, January 2018, hc, 155 pp.)


"The Good of the Game" by Gregory Benford & Gordon Eklund

"Red Planet Reds" by Gregory Benford & Gordon Eklund

Reviewed by Chuck Rothman

New Ball Games for the Future is a chapbook with two stories about the future of baseball by Gregory Benford & Gordon Eklund that clearly show their love for the game.

"The Good of the Game" is clearly written with Red Sox fans in mind. Baseball is in difficult straits, with the leagues crumbling and the Red Sox one of the few current teams still surviving. Mel Crumley is an old fashioned newspaper reporter (as newspapers are barely surviving) who's been covering the Fenway Park beat for years. And a new player, Sean Mulroney, is starting to attract notice. He doesn't look much like an athlete, but keeps getting hits until he begins to challenge Joe Dimaggio's 56-game hitting streak. But Mel thinks something is fishy and begins to investigate. The story is filled with memorable characters and is clearly a paean to the Red Sox and Fenway Park and the mystique of the game. I can quibble, though, that it would be surprising that no one figured out something was fishy long before Mel does, and the ending undercuts the theme. But overall, the characters and writing manage to carry it.

"Red Planet Reds" moves the action to Mars in about the same era, as a pickup team readies itself for a game with the barnstorming New York Yankees. Annie Roe manages the team, and hopes to put together a lineup of local players in order to force the Yankees, and their star hitter, Veronica Wilde, billed as the female Babe Ruth. Much of the story entails getting the team together and setting up how to play in the lower gravity, as well as prejudices against the Martian born. Also an entertaining story, though it does stick to the conventions of the sports story genre.

If you're a baseball fan, you'll probably love these for the knowledge of the game and the references to it, and it's clear that Benford and Eklund have a great affection for the game. It's just two good stories about baseball in a science fiction context.

Chuck Rothman's novels Staroamer's Fate and Syron's Fate were recently republished by Fantastic Books.