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The human experience is a visual one. While each of the five senses has its function and importance, we rely primarily on our eyes to navigate the world. Sighted people take this fact for granted – even the verb "to see" means "to understand." Inability to see is considered (by the sighted) to be a devastating plight, the resulting world of darkness unbearable.

But is it? In his latest book, Dark Universe, Daniel Galouye takes the horror out of blindness, putting us in the viewpoint (or more accurately, the "hearpoint") of a post-apocalyptic civilization of humans that has lived for generations underground without any sources of light. While their eyes may technically still work, they are useless. Hearing and smell have become the operative senses for interpreting the world. Over the generations, even the memory of sight has become forgotten, and many inhabitants of this subterranean world spend their lives with their eyes tightly shut, their hair grown long over their face. Yet they live, even thrive, in a beauty that goes beyond the visual.

It is a fascinating set-up, and it's rendered beautifully by Galouye...

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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As promised, a surprise article from a surprising source. Victoria Silverwolf has been an asset to this column for three years, providing commentary that might as well have been an article in and of itself (not to mention being 95% in alignment with my views). Imagine my joy when Ms. Silverwolf offered to contribute an article every month. Since to date I have only been able to cover four of the six major science fiction digests, we decided that Vic's greatest contribution would be in the coverage of another. And so, for your viewing pleasure, a review of the October 1961 Fantastic from our newest Mistress of the Weird...


by Victoria Silverwolf

Greetings from the night side. Our esteemed host has invited me to step out of the shadows and offer some thoughts about the literature of the uncanny, of the unnatural, of the unimaginable. Shall we proceed? Take my hand, and don't be afraid of the dark.



Fantastic magazine – or, to use its complete title, Fantastic Stories of Imagination, not to be confused with Fantastic Adventures or Fantastic Universe -- has had a checkered career during its nine-year lifetime. Started as a publication dedicated to literate fantasy fiction, much like The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, it soon had to attract readers from its older sister, Amazing Stories, by printing more science fiction. Unfortunately, low payment rates, the glut of science fiction magazines during the 1950’s, and indifference from management resulted in contents of poor quality.

This situation showed signs of improvement a little less than three years ago when Cele Goldsmith, originally hired as a secretary and general assistant, rose to the position of editor for both magazines. She has improved the quality of the publications by introducing readers to talented new authors such as Keith Laumer, Ben Bova, and David R. Bunch, as well as bringing Fritz Leiber out of retirement with a special issue of Fantastic featuring no fewer than five new stories from that master of speculative fiction. It remains to be seen whether Goldsmith’s editorship will lift the magazines’ sales out of the doldrums. One sign of hope is the fact that, for the first time since the Hugo Awards were initiated, Amazing Stories was nominated for Best Professional Magazine in 1960 and 1961.



With an optimistic mood, therefore, let’s take a look at the latest issue of the younger sibling.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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Science fiction digests are a balancing act. An editor has to fill a set number of pages every month relying solely on the stories s/he's got at her/his disposal. Not to mention the restrictions imposed if one wants to publish an "all-star" or otherwise themed issue.

Analog has got the problem worst of all of the Big Three mags. Galaxy is a larger digest, so it has more room to play with. F&SF tends to publish shorter stories, which are more modular. But Analog usually includes a serialized novel and several standard columns leaving only 100 pages or so in which to fit a few bigger stories. If the motto of The New York Times is "All the news that's fit to print," then Analog's could well be, "All the stories that fit, we print."



How else to explain the unevenness of the October 1961 Analog?

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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August may have started with cool weather but it ended with a bit of heat wave for the August Bank Holiday weekend. So I did get to sit on the beach eating ice-cream and reading a good book, and in this case having the pleasure of reading Arthur C. Clarke’s latest A Fall of Moondust, of which John Wyndham has said, “The best book that Arthur C. Clarke has written.” A high praise indeed.

I have been a fan of Arthur’s work after reading his novella, which first appeared in Startling Stories, called Against the Fall of Night. I’ve also been fortunate to have had the pleasure of meeting him. For those of you who follow my writing here I can also recommend, if you want a taste of the man’s humour, his short story collection Tales from the White Hart. The title of which is play on the name of the original pub that The London Circle used to frequent.

Arthur C. Clarke’s latest book probably cements his reputation as one of the key science fiction authors of our age; the others being Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein. His breakout novel, if you will indulge me in describing it as such, was arguably Childhood's End, which was released in 1953. It describes the arrival of the Overlords on Earth to guide humanity and ends with the transcendence of mankind into something more than human. This was followed by my favourite novel of his The Deep Range in 1957, which tells how a former astronaut becomes an aquanaut, and describes the adventures arising from farming the sea.



So the question is, does A Fall of Moondust live up to John Wyndham’s effusive praise?

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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It's is a red-letter day for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and for America as a whole. For today, we finally got a Mercury space capsule into orbit! The flight, dubbed "Mercury-Atlas 4," began this morning in a blast of fire on a Florida launchpad and lasted one hour and fifty minutes. At its conclusion, the Mercury capsule deorbited and parachuted safely into the Atlantic ocean. By all standards, it was a picture-perfect mission.



Except that there wasn't anyone in the capsule...

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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by Gideon Marcus



The Bomb. Since its creation and use in 1945, it has overshadowed our world. For the first time since we descended from the trees a million years ago, humanity had the means to destroy itself in one blow. It can't help but influence our culture, our politics, our nightmares. It is no surprise that atomic holocaust has figured prominently in our visual and printed media.

Last weekend, at a pre-premiere in Los Angeles, my daughter and I watched The Flight that Disappeared, the latest film to draw inspiration from the universal fear that is nuclear annihilation.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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It doesn't take much to make me happy: a balmy sunset on the beach, a walk along Highway 101 with my family, Kathy Young on the radio, the latest issue of Galaxy. Why Galaxy? Because it was my first science fiction digest; because it is the most consistent in quality; because it's 50% bigger than other leading brands!

And the latest issue (October 1961) has been an absolute delight with a couple of the best stories I've seen in a long while. Come take a look with me – I promise it'll be worth your while.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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It's that time of the year, again, when hundreds of sf fans (or 'fen') converge from around the world. Their goal is not just to converse upon matters science and fictiony, but to determine the genre's brightest stars. Yes, it's Hugo time!

This year, some three hundred fen gathered in Seattle Hyatt House Hotel for the 19th Annual WorldCon (appropriately dubbed "SeaCon" this year) over Labor Day weekend. Wally Weber organized the shindig, and the silver/acrid-tongued Harlan Ellison served as Toastmaster. It's a convention I should have, by all rights, been able to have attended given my frequent travels to that jewel city of the Northwest. A family wedding got in the way, however, so details of this, the year's most important sf fan event, had to be gotten second-hand. Luckily, I got them via phone and some photos via 'fax for you all to enjoy!



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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Galactic Journey is all about spotlighting the exotic, from science fiction to the Space Race. Sometimes, the far out stuff can be found right here on Earth. I'm talking about music, man. Music.

Music is a weird thing. Unlike evolution in animals, which scientists believe is a smooth, unbroken process, music seems to evolve in sudden spurts. A genre will be born, flourish, and then become overripe. That's when another will spawn out of nowhere and supplant the old one.

For instance, in the 30s and 40s, popular music was all about Big Band Jazz. Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, they all peaked pre-War and kept us dancing while our boys (and ladies) went to fight the Axis. After the War, that music evolved into a syrupy, schmaltzy mess. By 1954, the radio was almost unlistenable, filled as it was with crooning and orchestras.


Unless you tuned into the Black stations. There, a fusion of Western and Blues called "Rock n' Roll" was catching fire. The Crows and Chuck Berry were joined by White performers like Bill Haley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and, of course, Elvis Presley. All of a sudden, music was alive again. The late 50s, right around the time I started this column, were an exciting time for listening.



(Don't get me wrong -- Jazz was and is still a thing. Coltrane, Gillespie, Brubeck...just look at the recent popularity of Take Five, for instance. But it's for hipsters and hepcats, not for the hoi polloi.)

This may be a purely subjective view, but the 60s seem to mark another transition period for popular music. It seems to be floundering, torn between the classic (and now stale) riffs of the last decade and...something else. Of course, one rarely knows how a revolution will work itself out until its over, but there are a couple of movements might be indicative of where things are going.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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Did you ever eagerly wait for Christmas only to be disappointed by what you found under the tree (or, for my fellow Jews, under the menorah)? That's what this month must feel like for fans of the American space program. While the Soviets achieved a huge success in August with the multiple orbiting of Gherman Titov, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration had a lousy 31 days.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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by Gideon Marcus

My, what a pleasant surprise this weekend turned out to be! The group known as the North Escondido Rarities Devotees (NERD) put on a little gathering at a local venue. It was supposed to be an informal party, but attendance ended up over several dozen! It was essentially a little convention -- NERD-CON, if you will. It looks as if there are far more weirdoes in my town than I thought...



I met a lot of wonderful people. There was Angel, the flautist; Chris, the camera collector; Jay, the photographer; and many, many more. The highlight of the event (for me, anyway, and perhaps a few others) was my hour-long presentation. I talked about the state of science fiction, and which of our current predictions might become future realities. It was something of a Mort Sahl stand-up routine, and by the end of it, I was both elated and exhausted.

I can't wait to do it again!

If there is anything that unites us fans beyond an abiding love for the genre (one charming fellow buttonholed me to discuss the comparative virtues of Space Opera legend, Doc Smith, versus the offerings of today), it is our love of dressing up in bizarre costumes. I've developed my film and hereby devote the rest of this article to the outrageous cast of characters that brightened up my weekend...

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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by Gideon Marcus

Just what is the Galactic Journey? Who is this mysterious "Traveler"?

Every so often, it's good idea to remind my readers who I am and why I do what I do. This weekend, I am presenting at a local science fiction gathering, so it makes sense that the first article they see makes sense of all of this.

My twin passions are science fiction and outer space. I live with my wife and daughter in San Diego, the fairest city in the Golden State of California. From 9 to 5, I run a mid-sized electronics company. In my off time, I maintain this column, writing about current books, magazines, movies, and science news (as well as other miscellany).

Oh yes. I live in 1961.



Normally, I wouldn't have cause to mention this fact. For the longest time, I was the under the impression that we all lived in the same time. Some of the mail I've been getting, however, suggests that a few of you come from the future -- 55 years, to be exact.

It's quite exciting to have a fan-base from the far-flung time of 2016. They report on all sorts of far out advances, some of which have been conceived in science fiction, others of which are beyond our wildest dreams.

Happily, they report that global overpopulation has not been realized. On the other hand, global warming has. They say that Pluto is not a planet; well, that's nothing new.

I suspect, of course, that this is all a fannish game. No one really can know the future. The best we can do is write down our speculations and hope we're right (or in the case of scary visions, wrong!)



And that leads nicely into the subject of this article, the September 1961 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

(See the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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by Rosemary Benton

I enjoy my science fiction in the evenings, when I can open the windows and let my tortoise, Mabel, out of her cage to meander around my condominium. Both of us love these night time relaxations as a way to expunge stress and enjoy new environments. For me, I get the opportunity to stretch my mind with speculative fiction, while Mabel enjoys the more humble tortoise pleasure of exploring nooks and crannies.

On one such recent evening I looked at Mabel and felt a coincidental connection between our activities. For whatever reason, she was choosing to repeatedly walk in a wobbly circle from the couch to the table, to the wall, to the bookshelf, and then back to the couch. This wouldn't have struck me so powerfully except for the fact that I was reading Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein. Like Mabel, I was not only willingly subjecting myself to drudgery, but I was engaged in a circular story that felt like it was going nowhere.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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by Gideon Marcus


"Wake me when it's over, willya?"

In this month's Fantasy and Science Fiction, Isaac Asimov describes the dread he felt when his children suggested they all go see a "science fiction" film. The kids thought the mention of that term would sway him positively, seeing how sf is Asimov's bread and butter. Asimov knew better, though. Sci-fi films generally aren't very good, replete with scientific-sounding mumbo jumbo, giant monsters, and nonsensical plots.

Of course, in service to my readers, I make sure to see them all. Every so often, a gem slips through. Witness The Time Machine and The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. They may not be scientifically rigorous, but they are worth watching.

Galactic Journey's latest cinematic outing, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, is neither scientifically rigorous nor worth watching.


(Actual voyages to the bottom of the sea not included)

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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[August 17, 1961] Voyages of Discovery (Explorer 12)



Every so often, a discovery comes along that shatters our conception of the universe. Galileo turned his telescope to the heavens and discovered moons around Jupiter – suddenly, it was clear that Earth was not the center of everything. Roentgen and Curie showed that matter was not entirely stable, leading to our modern understanding of physics (and the challenges that come with the harnessing of atomic energy). Columbus sailed to find Asia; instead, he was the first to put the Americas on European maps.

Until 1958, space was believed to be a sterile place, a black void in which the planets and stars whirled. Maybe there was an odd meteoroid or two, and far away, one might find a big cloud of gas, but otherwise space was synonymous with vacuum.

Then Explorer 1, America's first space mission, went into orbit around the Earth. Its particle detectors, designed to measure the free-floating electrons and cosmic rays whizzing around up there, quickly became saturated. Girdling the planet were hellish streams of energy, particles ionized by the sun and trapped by the Earth's magnetic field.



Overnight, our idea of space was revolutionized; a few scientists had speculated as to the existence of the Belts, but the idea was hardly mainstream. More probes were sent up to determine the nature of these belts. Pioneer 5 went beyond far into interplanetary space and sent back news of a solar atmosphere that extended far beyond the shiny yellow bits – a field of particles and rays that went beyond even Earth's orbit. Other probes returned maps of the turbulent region where the sun's field met Earth's.

Space was hardly empty – it was a new ocean filled with waves, eddies, and unknowns to be explored.



Yesterday, Explorer 12 zoomed into orbit, NASA's latest voyager to ply the charged sea of space.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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by Ashley Pollard

The month of August started with cool weather after a warm spring, which is disappointing for those of us who love to get out in the summer sun and lie on the beach. It is the time when the British newspapers are full of light-weight, fun stories in what is known over here as the 'silly season.'

Such fripperies were ended quite suddenly with an array of news from behind the iron curtain, starting with the announcement of Russia’s second manned spaceflight on Monday the 7th of August.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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Everyone who writes has got an agenda, but Science fiction writers may be the most opinionated of authors. That's because their pigeon involves prediction, which in turn, is a personal interpretation of current trends. They can't help but express their own biases in their work. And so we have Robert Heinlein and his penchant for plugging love of cats, libertarianism, and nudism (not necessarily in that order!). Dr. Asimov denounces anti-scientific themes in his works. It is no secret that I advocate for the equal representation of women and minorities.

John W. Campbell, editor of the monthly science fiction digest, Analog, is a big fan of psi – the ability of the human mind to alter matter.

Psi is one of those "pseudo-sciences." To date, I don't think there has been a scrap of compelling research as to the existence of ESP or telepathy or precognition, save in the parlors of the less reputable carnivals. Yet it can make for interesting storytelling, a sort of modern magic. I don't mind it so much in my stories, any more than I mind Faster than Light space travel, which is just as baseless.

That said, Campbell, who has more power projection than a single writer, is a psi fanatic. It's rare that an issue of Analog appears without at least one psi-related story, and most have several.

Like this month's, the September 1961 issue:

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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A woman on the City Council? Say it ain't so!

It's not news that there just aren't a lot of women in politics these days. Universal suffrage is now 40 years old, but women comprise just 18 out of 437 members of the House of Representatives and 2 of 100 Senators – about 4% and 2%, respectively. For most of us, that's not an alarming statistic. That's just the way it's always been. But for some of us (including this columnist), equal representation can't come soon enough. After all, when women make up half the population but only 4% of the government, that's a crisis of almost Revolutionary proportions.

I'm not the only one taking a stand, but sometimes support for the cause comes from the unlikeliest of places.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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For a few bright weeks, it looked as if the United States might be gaining in the Space Race. Now, the Reds have pulled forward again with a most astonishing announcement: their second cosmonaut, a Major Gherman Titov, orbited the Earth in his "Vostok 2" for an entire day before coming safely back to Earth this morning.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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by Ron Church

Summer is here! It's that lazy, hot stretch of time when the wisest thing to do is lie in the shade with a glass of lemonade and a good book. Perhaps if Khruschev did the same thing, he wouldn't be making things so miserable for the folks of West Berlin. Well, there's still time for Nikita to take a restful trip to the Black Sea shore.

As for me, I may not have a dacha, but I do have a beach. Moreover, this month's IF science fiction proved a reasonably pleasant companion during my relax time. If you haven't picked up your copy yet, I recommend it. Here's what's inside:



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)

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