298Q: A solitary confinement no one seemed to mind

In 1981, in a Utopian literature class at the Univ. of Hawaii at Hilo, I read a book that haunts me because of its prescient look ahead. People live in sealed homes, connected digitally by video and audio to interact with friends and clean versions of the world outside. The interior walls of homes fill up with these images. A kind of solitary confinement no one seemed to mind. Food and goods were delivered to homes through portals by a working class of people exposed to a toxic world outside. I don’t remember details beyond that except that it was written by a man. My online searches for it have failed me!

296W: Sci-Fi Retelling of Homer’s The Odyssey

I read this in the late 1970s. A 12ish year old boy living in a rural area of the US notices small lakes are disappearing in his area. He deduces that aliens are stealing the water to use for fuel and starts watching for their ship, which he boards when he sees it. The ship takes off while he is aboard and the rest of the book is his adventures in trying to return home. There are other abductees from other planets already on board who become his crew. It is a loose re-telling of Homer’s The Odyssey in that the boy travels from planet to planet aboard the ship and encounters people who are recognizably the Lotus-Eaters, the Cyclops, Circe, etc. Because it’s a children’s book, many of the details are toned down. For example, the Cyclops had poor vision and thus needed to wear a thick lens to see, which the adventurers broke to “blind” him. I remember very well there was a full-page painting of the boy in the Cyclops cave, which might have been the cover of the book.

 

296M: A machine called a “Spindizzy”

1960’s/70s cheap science fiction. It involved a colony that had female creatures who had evolved pink skin, and tails. Several of these creatures were featured in what appeared to be a painting on the cover of the mass market paperback I had. The main male character was sent by his company to check up on/audit the colony in some way. The female creatures were a second class of citizens who had small tattoos who indicated the type of work they did at the colony. The main male character falls in love with one of the female creatures and they attempt to escape the colony. Their attempt to escape involved a machine called a “spindizzy”.

 

296J: A bad guy decides to kill a good guy

A short story published in one of the well known Sci-Fi magazines- I believe in the 1950’s. The bad guy is able to control people’s minds. He decides to kill a good guy and announces to the victim that he will, at a later time, force the victim to shoot himself. The victim rigs up a gun that shoots backwards at the holder. As the bad guy forces the good guy, through mind control, to point the gun at himself, the good guy struggles to keep his mind clear and not give away his plan. He points the gun at himself, pulls the trigger, and the bad guy is killed as the gun fires backwards. Super cool story!

295F: Convicted US Businessman Organizes Mars Colony

I do not know the title. I am looking for a Sci-Fi book published in paperback in 1991. The story is that of a very powerful businessman who is unjustly convicted of disposing of toxic chemicals off the eastern US coast. Fumes from the chemicals come onshore and kill a lot of people. As penalty he is shipped off to Mars where (unknown to him) the colony needs someone with significant organizational skills. He is able to provide those skills and builds a successful life there. A memorable scene is where the bad-doer, who has taken over command of the earth business, goes into a room where ribbons hanging from the ceiling are able to generate electrical charges. To prove his manhood, the bad-doer goes into the room; the good businessman’s valet turns up the electrical charge and kills the bad-doer.

295B: Aliens coming to earth and taking people’s pets

What is the name of the book about aliens coming to earth and taking people’s pets so that there were many postings of lost dog signs? Other very strange things, electrical, are happening which causes the main character to search for their source. This same author wrote a story about a man who left his family and went to work in the city as a blind man selling pencils on the street corner.

295A: Plants feeling pain

Looking for paperback science fiction collection of short stories (probably from about 1958-65) with a story about plants and trees being able to cry out (at a pitch not audible to humans) when they feel pain. A scientist, who devises a way to convert the sounds to those audible to humans, goes mad when he is able to “hear” the effects of mowing a lawn.

294Q: Time travel in red

A book read in the 1970s – then in paperback – set in New York City about 1870 – on the upper East Side, perhaps 58th Street, near Bloomingdale’s Department Store. The first chapter opens with a crime committed on the block. It might have been winter time – not sure. It might have been a murder or it might have been some other type of crime on a person. Chapter two describes a similar crime. Same block. But 100 years later – now in the present period. Thereafter each chapter alternates the time periods – 100 years earlier, then the current period. Subsequent action took place on or around the same city block in New York. The “aha” moment came close to the end of the book when the connection was made between the two time periods. The word “Red” may have been part of the title but Google and other searches on “Red” and time warp or time shift or time travel have not revealed the title.