Sucker Bait is the last of the four short stories in the collection of short stories
book called The Martian Way
by Isaac Asimov
. It is copyright 1954
by Street and Smith.
The story is set in the future as a ship, contracted by the Confederacy of Planets, is making a trip to the Lagrange system to investigate the death of the colony there. On board his ship (the Triple G standing for George G. Grundy) there are his crew, a compliment of scientists and a 20 year old Mark Annuncio who is from the Mnemonic Service. The story starts aboard the ship after they have finished the last Hyperspace jump they can make before getting to the Lagrange system. The ship's complement are wary at first because of the persistent fear of what killed the families on the planet they are to investigate. There is also tension as Mark conflicts with the other crew and the scientists have difficulty mixing with the ship's handlers.
In my opinion this is the best of the short stories in the collection. It is exciting and still retains the informative edge that good science fiction usually needs. For example, near the beginning in a dialog two scientists discuss the significance of a Trojan System. Being a short story some of the characters aren't revealed very deeply but there is enough depth to inform the reader of their traits and the main character, Mark Annuncio, is well known to the reader by the end of the book. One perculiar thing is the way that some of the characters are characterised; Asimov describes the cut of their hair. This seems pointless at first but it does add that extra human feel to the characters and does add more depth without frivilous decriptions or flashback.
What makes this book especially entertaining is the suspense that is built up from the beginning. You are slowly built up to breaking point with some parts making you almost jump in your seat and worry for the character currently being discussed. Throughout the book you are thinking along unusual lines until finally the mystery is revealed which is most probably not what you were expecting. I found the ending giving a sense of katharsis and makes a nice end to the collection of short stories.
I also liked the idea of a Mnemonic service. By the end of the book I was wishing that I could remember things in the same way that Mark was able to. Unfortunately we are not all blessed with that sort of mind and I personally knew that Mark was going to be the hero using his unique skill which seemed slightly boring since I like stories where you cannot predict the endings of. However, Asimov does mislead you in several places which makes this not so bad. You will start to doubt the preconceptions you may have built up at the beginning of the story.
My only real gripe with this story really is its length. I would of loved this to be more the size of a book but that may not of been achievable and it is still an enjoyable read.
The short of it is that one should definately read this if you are at all into science fiction. Not as mind bending and esoteric as the other stories in this collection, it is still a highly enjoyable read.