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The Wailing Asteroid

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  170 ratings  ·  28 reviews
THE PUBLIC ABRUPTLY ceased to be interested in news of the signals. Rather, it suddenly wanted to stop thinking about them. The public was scared. Throughout all human history, the most horrifying of all ideas has been the idea of something which was as intelligent as a man, but wasn't human.

The first sounds came at midnight, a plaintive keening from an unknown voice in th
Paperback, 160 pages
Published June 1st 2004 by Kessinger Publishing (first published 1960)
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Average rating 3.64  · 
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 ·  170 ratings  ·  28 reviews

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May 28, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Three and half stars.

A classic science fiction story of discovery, with a touch of hard. Very entertaining, with some really good ideas and also some classic tropes (the most significant, the role of women in the plot). And some sense of wonder too, in the wailling asteroid mentioned in the title. This novel was published in 1960, thirteen years before "Rendez-vous with Rama".
Julie Davis
Nov 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Mark Nelson's latest narration at Librivox is this Murray Leinster, which I haven't read. Love both Nelson and Leinster, so this will be a treat.

Not one of Leinster's best but entertaining enough. When an asteroid enters our solar system, emitting odd warbling "wails", scientists soon figure out that Earth is being hailed by another civilization. Are they friendly or enemies? What is the warble saying? Can the Cold War stop long enough to work together? As is so often the case in Leinster's stor
Roddy Williams
‘As the earth party wandered through the rock-hewn corridors, they had no doubt about the purpose of the asteroid.

It was a mighty fortress, stocked with weapons of destruction beyond man’s understanding. It seemed as if it was deserted by some ancient race and yet in a room high in the asteroid a powerful transmitter beamed its chilling sounds toward earth. Near it, on a huge star-map of the universe, ten tiny red sparks were moving inexorably toward the center – moving at many times the speed o
Allen McDonnell
Nov 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
I have had the paperback book edition of this novella since I was a young boy and read it many times over the decades because I love the story. The story is set at the very end of the space race era when a mysterious radio signal suddenly starts arriving at receiving antennae all around the earth as they face the correct direction. I won't spoil the story by telling any more except to say our adventurous crew are led by a very driven engineer who owns his own small specialty firm which lets him ...more
Mar 14, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
read.. but very very partially... it's very dated but this was not a problem and I love to read of imaginary futures that never happened. But there was a huge problem just a few pages into it, I don't know if it was because of the translation or not, anyway, I read the following sentence: "a few miles east from the equator"... and I really couldn't go further. ...more
Oct 02, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was at my favorite used bookstore (Dunaway’s in St. Louis), and was browsing the S-F section, looking for something by Murray Leinster, came across this one, from 1960. It tells of what appears to be an asteroid from deep space, which emits radio signals. The protagonist, Joe burke, is an engineer, who recognizes the signals, which he had heard in dreams when he was a child, in which he was on a mysterious planet with two moons, and he is holding a strange weapon. Joe plays the tape of the rad ...more
Phil Giunta
A signal from outer space reaches Earth and is broadcast over the radio, interrupting Joe Burke just as he is about to propose to his secretary and longtime friend, Sandy Lund. As it turns out, the signal is comprised of sounds resembling those of a flute. They are eerily familiar to Burke from a recurring dream he had as a child after his uncle gifted him with a number of relics found in a Cro-Magnon cave.

Though disappointed, Sandy returns to Burke's engineering office where he plays a recordin
Bhakta Jim
May 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
I first came across this story when watching the move The Terrornauts, which was (loosely) based on this book. The movie was just awful. However, just as bad books sometimes make good movies, sometimes lousy movies are based on good books. I got this for free from Project Gutenberg, and I have to say I enjoyed it. Not the best science fiction ever, but a decent effort with some pretty neat ideas.

The story begins when radio signals start coming from an asteroid that are clearly intelligent. The h
Tommy Verhaegen
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ebook_en, sci-fi
This may well be my personal favourite of all the books that master Murary Leinster has written.
Except for the treatment of woman - not allowed in times of "women should behave like men" - and the woman liking that!, you cannot deduce from the plot or full text of the story that it was written almost a centiry ago.
It has everything: a lone scientist that builds his own spacecraft, its launch with unexpected passengers, signals from space, discovery of ancient technology, a threat to the whole of
Oct 27, 2020 rated it liked it
I did not like the ending. Found the tone and treatment of the female characters to be too misogynistic. The women's role of keeping house was mentioned too many times for my taste. Three stars for the premise of the story. ...more
Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this story.
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Uno dei miti della fantascienza della mia personalissima selezione. L’ho letto ancora adolescente, ma anche rileggendolo oggi, nonostante alcune ovvie ingenuità, sempre avvincente.
Jun 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Fast moving, enjoyable throwback to 1950s - 1960s. fast moving and satisfying. It brought me back to some of the first science fiction novels that I read as a kid.
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
Pretty good sci fi tainted by an irritating vein of misogyny.
Jan 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
Enjoyed it a lot - it felt like the fifties, but the science fiction was excellent...
Carlos Trujillo
Dec 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in 1970, when I was 10; much later, in 1986, I read "Contact", by Carl Sagan, and I was very much impressed by the resemblance "Contact" had with the book by Murray Leinster. Maybe I am being too suspicious, but many of the details in both books are so close, that it becomes very difficult not to think that Sagan's book was inspired, in some way, on Leinster's book. For example, in both books, the main character is obssesed with some shocking event in their childhood (the recurr ...more
Jan 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf12
I really enjoyed this book--it was fun and suspenseful, it had interesting technological developments that seemed optimistic, but plausible, and told frighteningly realistic predictions of psychological responses to world-shaking events. This could make an excellent movie (probably with a title change) [I just looked this up, and apparently, a 1967 movie, "The Terrornauts" was loosely based on this book]! Briefly: a self-employed inventor has had a otherworldly recurring dream since encountering ...more
Jim Mcclanahan
Mar 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the best of Murray Leinster's output, this short novel is one of his most interesting tales. For me, everything he wrote ultimately gets measured by the yardstick of his Med Service stories. This one surpasses them. Faced with an alien menace as presaged by a cryptic signal from a rocky body in the asteroid belt. Once the main characters investigate the enigmatic asteroid, the details of the story are told against the background of duplicitous and poorly conceived actions and words from t ...more
Anthony Ragan
A fun example of 1950s/early 60s science fiction. A "first contact" story, it has elements reminiscent of Verne (the heroes build their own spacecraft to fly off to adventure). Character development is minimal; the real star is the asteroid itself and the mystery of why it is suddenly signalling Earth. The answer is clever, calling to mind some of Piper's work from the time. There is also some cynical, wry commentary on society's reaction to the news and our heroes that had me chuckling. However ...more
Chris Aldridge
Jan 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Librivox audiobook. Good story, well read with some lovely and extremely dubious scientific explanations together with a appropriately paranoid and dated attitude to first contact.
The treatment of women was particularly amusing as the author was understandably a product of his era, trying to give his female characters equality but unconsciously confining them to their stereotypical roles.

That said, I enjoyed his speculations on how humanity was going to overcome unknown aliens with superior te
Stephen Theaker
A signal from space is received, a signal that's meaningless to everyone on Earth - everyone except the man who's been dreaming of it since childhood! He starts to build a spaceship to go and investigate, while the girl who'd be his girlfriend does her best to catch his eye.

Most of this book is a science fiction screwball comedy along the lines of Monkey Business, which was a good thing. More sf novels should star Cary Grant! It was very entertaining.

Things get more serious as it goes on, as the
Oct 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of Leinster's delightful puzzle-stories, similar to a Heinlein story but without the preaching. It was one of my favorites when I was young, though the lack of any characterization and some of the social attitudes made me wince a time or two upon re-reading it now. It was nicely filmed as The Terrornauts fifty years ago, with a screenplay by John Brunner (!) and a budget which must have been in the dozens of dollars. Leinster was one of the fine old masters of the early days of the g ...more
Jun 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A decent bit of classic SF. Yeah, its dated terribly and the relationships presented are borderline caveman but that was the state of things when this was written. Leinster is an old-time great and this book is a decent one by him. I have others that I favor more but this is worth a read. You can find this at Gutenberg and other places for free but be warned there are some typos or OCR issues.
Alessio Premoli
Oct 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Libro pieno di validissimi spunti (alcuni davvero affascinanti) analizzati, però, con eccessiva semplicità e velocità. L'impianto narrativo è molto piacevole, ma si perde qua e là su passaggi al limite della sospensione dell'incredulità. Una lettura piacevole per alcuni elementi di sicuro interesse, ma che spesso fa sorridere alcune soluzioni discutibili ...more
Robert Schneider
A little repetitive, makes me wonder if it was serialized and then collected here.
Feb 21, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: scifi
1983 grade C
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see also:
Will F. Jenkins
William Fitzgerald Jenkins

Murray Leinster was a nom de plume of William Fitzgerald Jenkins, an award-winning American writer of science fiction and alternate history. He wrote and published over 1,500 short stories and articles, 14 movie scripts, and hundreds of radio scripts and television plays.

An author whose career spanned the first six decades of the 20th Century. Fr

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