galacticjourney: (Default)

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!)
galacticjourney: (Default)

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!)
galacticjourney: (Default)

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!)
galacticjourney: (Default)
[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!)
galacticjourney: (Default)

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!)
galacticjourney: (Default)


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!)
galacticjourney: (Default)


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!)
galacticjourney: (Default)


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!)
galacticjourney: (Default)

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!)
galacticjourney: (Default)


Have you ever wanted to throw yourself into a fantasy world? Tour through Middle Earth? Plan a trip in Narnia? Who hasn't imagined themselves rubbing elbows with Robin Hood or Jason's Argonauts?

Some folks have gone so far as to write their own cross-world adventures , much to the delight of their readers. L. Frank Baum made it a common practice to feature immigrants from the "real world" to Oz. L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt, in their Incomplete Enchanter, detailed the travels of Earth-dweller Harold Shea through Norse Mythology and The Faerie Queen.

And now, the esteemed Poul Anderson has taken a stab at the genre with Three Hearts and Three Lions.

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


Take a look at the back cover of this month's Fantasy and Science Fiction. There's the usual array of highbrows with smug faces letting you know that they wouldn't settle for a lesser sci-fi mag. And next to them is the Hugo award that the magazine won last year at Pittsburgh's WorldCon. That's the third Hugo in a row.



It may well be their last.

I used to love this little yellow magazine. Sure, it's the shortest of the Big Three (including Analog and Galaxy), but in the past, it boasted the highest quality stories. I voted it best magazine for 1959 and 1960.

F&SF has seen a steady decline over the past year, however, and the last three issues have been particularly bad. Take a look at what the August 1961 issue offers us:

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




1961 has definitely been a fine year for fan gatherings, thus far. It doesn't seem like a month goes by without one fan circle or another throwing a science fiction convention. Some are tiny affairs, little more than an expanded club meeting. Others, like WorldCon (coming up in a little over a month, in Seattle), clock in attendances of several hundreds. It's a great way to pass the time, learn inside dope on the doings of fans and writers, alike, and it sure beats the Summer reruns!

I've just come back from "Comic Con," a San Diego convention of considerable size. A good many notables from both the comics and science fiction genres were there including Marvel Comics' Stan Lee and Allen Bellman (he drew Captain America during the Golden Years), D.C.'s Ramona Fradon (Aquaman), superfans Trina Robbins, Bjo Trimble and John Trimble, and Twilight Zone actor William Shatner (who you may recall from the excellent episode, "Nick of Time").



There were at least a hundred fans there, many of them in costume. Guarding us all was the U.S.S. Midway, a modern aircraft carrier:



For your viewing pleasure, here are all the shots I managed to snap before my Kodak ran out of film:

(see the rest )
galacticjourney: (Default)

By Larry Klaes

After three failed attempts just this week, yesterday (July 21, 1961), astronaut Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom finally became this nation’s second (and the world's third) man to reach outer space. Grissom achieved another sort of milestone when his spacecraft unexpectedly sank after splashdown – and almost took the astronaut with it to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean!



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
galacticjourney: (Default)

By Ashley R. Pollard

This month, our London correspondent looks upon the rifts in the British science fiction community and despairs for the world as a whole...



Fans gathered at The White Horse in the 1950s—before we moved to The Globe

I have previously mentioned that London science fiction fandom is engaged in a feud that started three years ago, but which hasn’t stopped us from all meeting up at the pub once or twice a month for a drink and a chat. The feud is rather boring and has become increasingly tedious with disputes and tempers flaring over trivial things like membership cards -- who needs membership cards anyway?

I mention this again apropos of this month’s title: A Cultural Divide.

For those who don’t know me, I’m a psychologist, and therefore people interest me, and understanding their behaviours is all part and parcel of my job. Still, I’m amazed at what I see happening within fandom when quarrels break out. Given science fiction fans have a lot in common with each other you might think that a sense of community would lessen divisions rather than stir them up.

Still, there’s always a Gin & Tonic with ice and a slice for when things get too hot and bothered in the pub. Besides, as a woman, my opinions are rarely sought by the men who are arguing away over the various trivialities that consume them.

Our perennial fannish tempest in a teapot proved a fine backdrop for the larger one described in C. P. Snow’s famous 1959 Rede Lecture The Two Cultures, which transcript I was able to recently secure, and which I read with great interest in a quieter corner of the pub.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
galacticjourney: (Default)
And here is Ms. Rosemary Benton with her monthly report, this time on a subject near and dear to my heart: Japan...



July 14th was a red letter day for me. Not only did I receive word that my uncle was marrying his long time Japanese girlfriend, Mika, but Alakazam The Great was released in theaters across America. This film is a beautiful piece of animation from Toei Animation Company Ltd.



Released in Japan in August last year under the title Journey to the West, the story of Alakazam the Great is actually a retelling of a very old and popular tale from China known as Saiyuuki. Scholars of this 16th century morality epic will recognize Sun Wukong in our protagonist, Alakazam, as well as his dealings with the Buddha, named King Amo in the film. There are far fewer acts in the film than there are in the original story of Sun Wukong, but the writers did do an impressive job of compacting the four main arcs of the epic into an 88 minute movie.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
galacticjourney: (Default)


Recently, I told you about Campbell's lousy editorial in the August 1961 Analog that masqueraded as a "science-fact" column. That should have been the low point of the issue. Sadly, with one stunning exception, the magazine didn't get much better.

And yet...

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
galacticjourney: (Default)


My brother, Lou, used to tell me that the only way to beat a bully is to not fight fair. Jump the guy when he’s not looking, and fight like there are no rules. That’ll teach him that you’re nuts and not worth messing with.

He learned this lesson honestly. When Lou was in the navy, he immediately got flak for being Jewish. Someone tried to steal his bunk; Lou rammed the guy’s head into the wall. After that, whenever someone tried to take advantage of Lou, by cutting in the chow line, for instance, another sailor would restrain the miscreant. “Don’t do it! That’s Marcus. He’s crazy. He’ll kill you!”

The problem is that these days, there are just two kids on the block: The USA and the USSR. Each one’s the bully in the other’s eyes. If the Russians decide they can get in a sucker punch, they just might do it to get us out of the way, once and for all.

We have the same option, of course, but it is the avowed intention of our leaders that America will never start a nuclear war. The Soviets have not made such a pledge.

That’s why we have invested so much time and money in developing a strategic nuclear force. We want the Russians to know that we can strike back if they launch an attack, so that any attempt at a preemptive blow would be an act of suicide.

But we can’t retaliate if the first indication we have a Soviet attack is the sprouting of atomic mushrooms over our cities and missile fields.

To that end, we recently finished the construction of the Distant Early Warning (DEW) line, a string of radar installations along the northern coasts of Alaska and Canada. These can detect a missile some ten minutes from target. Still not a very good window of time in which to order a counter-strike.

Enter Midas...


(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
galacticjourney: (Default)


Has John W. Campbell lost his mind?

Twenty years ago, Campbell mentored some of science fiction's greats. His magazine, Astounding (now Analog), featured the most mature stories in the genre. He himself wrote some fine fiction.

What the hell happened? Now, in his dotage, he's used his editorial section to plump the fringiest pseudosciences: reactionless space drives, psionic circuits with no physical components, the assertion that the human form is the most perfect possible. The world hasn't seen an embarrassing decline like this since Sir Arthur Conan Doyle started chasing fairies.

But this month, Campbell has gone too far. This month, he replaced Analog's science-fact column with a rant on the space race, a full twenty pages of complete poppycock, so completely wrong in every way that I simply cannot let it lie.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
galacticjourney: (Default)


Human beings look for patterns. We espy the moon, and we see a face. We study history and see it repeat (or at least rhyme, said Mark Twain). We look at the glory of the universe and infer a Creator.

We look at the science fiction genre and we (some of us) conclude that it is dying.

Just look at the number of science fiction magazines in print in the early 1950s. At one point, there were some forty such publications, just in the United States. These days, there are six. Surely this is an unmistakable trend.

Or is it? There is something to be said for quality over quantity, and patterns can be found there, too. The last decade has seen the genre flower into maturity. Science fiction has mostly broken from its pulpy tradition, and many of the genre's luminaries (for instance, Ted Sturgeon and Zenna Henderson) have blazed stunning new terrain.

I've been keeping statistics on the Big Three science fiction digests, Galaxy, Analog, and Fantasy and Science Fiction since 1959. Although my scores are purely subjective, if my readers' comments be any indication, I am not too far out of step in my assessments. Applying some math, I find that F&SF has stayed roughly the same, and both Analog and Galaxy have improved somewhat.

Supporting this trend is the latest issue of
Galaxy (August 1961), which was quite good for its first half and does not decline in its second.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
galacticjourney: (Default)
Even months are my favorite.

Most science fiction digests are monthlies, but the twins run by Fred Pohl, IF and Galaxy, come out in alternating months. The latter is noteworthy for being the longest regularly published sf magazine, comprising a whopping 196 pages, so big that I need two articles to cover it. Galaxy also happens to be a personal favorite; I've read every issue since the magazine debuted in October 1950 (when it was a smaller monthly).

How does the August 1961 issue fare? Pretty good, so far!



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)

Profile

galacticjourney: (Default)
galacticjourney

August 2016

S M T W T F S
 1 234 56
789 101112 13
14 1516 171819 20
2122 232425 2627
28293031   

Links

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Aug. 27th, 2016 10:09 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios