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The Big Front Yard (Astounding Science Fiction. Vol. LXII. No. 2. October 1958)

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A handyman named Hiram Taine who runs a shop in a little village to fix broken things and collects antiques finds out that things are being fixed while he is away. The situation get stranger when his dog Towser finds a buried ship in the woods. - Winner of 1959 Hugo Award for Best Novelette Subsequently published in a number of anthologies.


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A handyman named Hiram Taine who runs a shop in a little village to fix broken things and collects antiques finds out that things are being fixed while he is away. The situation get stranger when his dog Towser finds a buried ship in the woods. - Winner of 1959 Hugo Award for Best Novelette Subsequently published in a number of anthologies.

30 review for The Big Front Yard (Astounding Science Fiction. Vol. LXII. No. 2. October 1958)

  1. 4 out of 5

    A Mig

    I loved the first half but the story then departed from my expectations: I was somewhat misled by the early Tommyknockers atmosphere. The idea of the “big front yard” is great but its description and the following action were somewhat flat. I loved the first half but the story then departed from my expectations: I was somewhat misled by the early Tommyknockers atmosphere. The idea of the “big front yard” is great but its description and the following action were somewhat flat.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    Probably Simak's best-known story. It's my favorite. Read several times, over the years. I wonder if there's a copy online? OK, not entirely sure this is authorized, but it's a 1958 story: http://mysite.du.edu/~treddell/3780/S.... Includes the properly-lurid (and very silly!) magazine cover art, by Kelly Freas. RIP for all involved, sadly. I have an anthology copy somewhere, and now this pdf. "Towser was barking and scratching at the floor. "Shut up," Taine told the dog. ..." Probably Simak's best-known story. It's my favorite. Read several times, over the years. I wonder if there's a copy online? OK, not entirely sure this is authorized, but it's a 1958 story: http://mysite.du.edu/~treddell/3780/S.... Includes the properly-lurid (and very silly!) magazine cover art, by Kelly Freas. RIP for all involved, sadly. I have an anthology copy somewhere, and now this pdf. "Towser was barking and scratching at the floor. "Shut up," Taine told the dog. ..."

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dmk

    Little bit overated, but good. And final line is so ridiculously genial.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    My review of "The Big Front Yard" is excerpted and slightly revised from my review of the October, 1958 issue of Astounding Science Fiction, in which it first appeared. I love Clifford Simak's Hugo Award winning novelette, "The Big Front Yard," but I think it has one terrible flaw. One of the characters is an intellectually challenged man, Beasly, who does have an important part in the story, but who seems to be primarily used for comic relief. Hiram Taine is a rural handyman and antique dealer. My review of "The Big Front Yard" is excerpted and slightly revised from my review of the October, 1958 issue of Astounding Science Fiction, in which it first appeared. I love Clifford Simak's Hugo Award winning novelette, "The Big Front Yard," but I think it has one terrible flaw. One of the characters is an intellectually challenged man, Beasly, who does have an important part in the story, but who seems to be primarily used for comic relief. Hiram Taine is a rural handyman and antique dealer. Taine finds that there are some strange alterations being made to his house and to some of the things in it, and has no idea how this is happening. Then he sees creatures leaving his house: A line of tiny animals, if animals they were, came marching down the steps, one behind the other. They were four inches high or so and they went on all four feet, although it was plain to see that their front feet were really hands, not feet. They had ratlike faces that were vaguely human, with noses long and pointed. They looked like they might have scales instead of hide, for their bodies glistened with a rippling motion as they walked. And all of them had tails that looked very much like the coiled-wire tails one finds on certain toys and the tails stuck straight up above them, quivering as they walked. (This is the only part these creatures play in the story. I quoted the whole description just because I like it. This seems to me to be as precise and evocative a written portrait of alien creatures as I have ever read.) And, miraculously, the front door of his house no longer opens on to the community of Willow Bend. Instead, there was just a desert - a flat, far-reaching desert, level as a floor, with occasional boulder piles and haphazard clumps of vegetation and all of the ground covered with sand and pebbles. A big blinding sun hung just above a horizon that seemed much too far away and a funny thing about it was that the sun was in the north, where no proper sun should be. It had a peculiar whiteness, too. And from the desert comes a creature that looks something like a giant woodchuck. It turns out that Taine's friend Beasly can communicate telepathically with the woodchuck-like creature, and that creature can communicate with other visitors who come across the desert. For what the little rat-like creatures had done was establish a link between Earth and other worlds, a doorway that leads from Taine's front door to other doorways, going to other planets and civilizations. And visitors come to Taine's door, looking to trade, not for things but for ideas, trading concepts never thought of on those worlds for concepts never thought of on Earth. Simak wrote a wide variety of science fiction and fantasy but "The Big Front Yard" exemplifies the best of it, in which the people of Earth can meet in amity with the inhabitants of other worlds. Much of Simak's work is set, as this is, in the rural communities that he clearly loved.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sable

    Read for the 12 in 12 Challenge and the Big Fun in a Little Package Novella Challenge. This story won the 1959 Hugo Award for Best Novelette. This story is a fun speculation about what happens when ordinary folks in a small town are the first to make contact with an alien intelligence. It's lighthearted, fun and perfectly plausible. I see that someone else here was reminded of The Tommyknockers, and I was as well, so I suspect that, like with many other classic science fiction stories, Stephen Kin Read for the 12 in 12 Challenge and the Big Fun in a Little Package Novella Challenge. This story won the 1959 Hugo Award for Best Novelette. This story is a fun speculation about what happens when ordinary folks in a small town are the first to make contact with an alien intelligence. It's lighthearted, fun and perfectly plausible. I see that someone else here was reminded of The Tommyknockers, and I was as well, so I suspect that, like with many other classic science fiction stories, Stephen King read it and then said, "And what if it had gone a different way?" I enjoyed it quite a lot! It didn't blow my mind or anything, but I suppose that's probably because the idea has been revisited since many times, although never has it been as done as well. Well worth the read!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tom Britz

    This 1959 winner of the Hugo in the novelette category is pure Clifford D. Simak. Simak's universe was at the same time both infinite and just outside of your front door. Hiram Taine is a local fixit man and antique salesman who happens to be in the right place at the right time as an alien presence lands and uses his house as the base for their interplanetary/interdimensional transport. This tale still reads as fresh and homely as when it came out of Cliff's typewriter.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Neal Wilson

    Oldtime Science Fiction by one of the Grand Masters. Very enjoyable. I read this as a teen, and all these years later it is still a pleasure. Backwoods folks encounter aliens, in a treatment only Simak could provide.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    - Space warps, other dimensions, very alien creatures, capitalists and Yankee Traders. Big ideas, brought home to express important values.

  9. 5 out of 5

    David Antis

    Another great story from Simak - easy to identify with the protagonist - Hiram Taine. I count reading these novellas in their original publication format (pulp magazines) as a book as I also read the rest of the stories in the issue(s) as well for some historical perspective.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Justin Goodman

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kristijan Kis

  12. 5 out of 5

    Radzhel

  13. 4 out of 5

    Harpal Singh

  14. 5 out of 5

    René Beaulieu

  15. 5 out of 5

    David Lutkins

  16. 4 out of 5

    James

  17. 5 out of 5

    Marissa

  18. 4 out of 5

    Meira (readingbooksinisrael)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Trish

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mark Walsh

  21. 4 out of 5

    Glennie

  22. 4 out of 5

    Urmas Liivas

  23. 4 out of 5

    Landan

  24. 4 out of 5

    Vladimir Sal

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jaguar

  26. 5 out of 5

    Edward Woeful

  27. 5 out of 5

    Frikitiva

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jon Dayton

  29. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mckinley

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