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2017-09-22 04:31 pm

[September 22, 1962] Cat and Mouse Game (October 1962 Fantastic)

[if you’re new to the Journey, read this to see what we’re all about!]


by Victoria Silverwolf

One of the most notable events this month, at least to those of us who look to the stars, was a speech by President Kennedy at Rice University.

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.



Fittingly, the second team of NASA astronauts was announced this month, captured here in a lighter moment.


Clockwise from top right are Frank Borman, John Young, Tom Stafford, Pete Conrad, Jim McDivitt, Jim Lovell, Elliot See, Ed White and Neil Armstrong.

Will one of these men become the first human being (or at least the first American) on the moon? We'll have to wait some years to find out.

Meanwhile, back here on Earth, the airwaves are dominated by the smash hit, Sherry, by the Four Seasons. Personally, lead singer Frankie Valli's falsetto makes me want to leave the planet myself.

A more practical form of escape can be found in the pages of the October 1962 issue of Fantastic.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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2017-09-20 05:17 pm

[Sep. 20, 1962] Out of this World (the British Summer SF hit!)


By Ashley R. Pollard

The end of summer has come, and autumn is upon us. The result of the Earth’s journey around the sun, and as my esteemed colleague Mr. Mark Yon said, the weather here has been wet. Sometimes we get good summers, but this year was not one of those, the icing on the cake being a miserable August Bank Holiday weekend after the weekend before’s promising sunny day. But, Whether the weather be fine, Or whether the weather be not, here on Galactic Journey we will weather the weather to bring you the latest Sci-Fi news from soggy Britain.



This coming Saturday will see the last episode of Out of this World, which has made staying in on a Saturday night something to look forward to, rather than something that indicates one has no friends or better things to do...

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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2017-09-18 05:03 pm

[September 18, 1962] On the Precipice (October 1962 Fantasy and Science Fiction)


by Gideon Marcus

Are the times changing?

Summer threatens to change to Fall, and the kids are going off to high school and college. Is this just another turn of the wheel, or are we on the verge of something different, what Historian of Science Thomas Kuhn might call a new "paradigm?"



I had this feeling once before. In '53, right after Korea, and after Stalin died, America seemed poised on the edge of an unprecedented era of stability. Well, really stagnation. The pendulum had swung heavily in the direction of conservatism. Black soldiers had come home from the war and were being treated worse than ever. Ditto women, who had for a while gotten to enjoy some of the rights of men while they were off to war. The swing from the prior two decades had gotten overripe and shmaltzy, only somewhat mitigated by the western, blues, and latin music I was able to tune into on nights with clear reception. The one really bright spot was science fiction, which had been booming since the late '40s.

Then rock and roll hit, and boy was it a breath of fresh air. Sure, you couldn't hear Black songs on White stations, but there's no color bar on the airwaves. Fragile 78 records gave way to durable 45s. The vacuum tube started to step aside for the transistor. We were building the missiles that would soon blast us to orbit. At the same time, sf started to wane. We went from forty magazines to six over the course of the decade.



This, then, has been the recent paradigm. Here we are nine years later, but Elvis and the Everley Brothers still dominate the airwaves. A new President has asked us what we could do for our country, not what it could do for us; tasking us to go to the Moon before the decade is out, but Black men must still fight even for the right to go to school or ride a bus in much of the nation. There are now ten thousand Russian troops in Cuba and ten thousand American soldiers in South Vietnam, but are these transitory brush fires or the tip of a belligerent iceberg?

Are the 1960s going to be a continuation of the 1950s? Or are we overdue for a new epoch? You tell me. I'm no soothsayer.

I suppose in one way, the shift has already happened. The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction has become quite different since new editor Avram Davidson took over earlier this year. It's not bad, exactly, but it has meandered even further into the literary zone. This has rendered one of my favorite mags almost unreadable on occasion. The October 1962 issue does not have this problem, for the most part, but it's not great.

Enough dilly-dallying. Here's the review:

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2017-09-15 06:56 am
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[Sep. 15, 1962] Communist Defector (Roger Corman's Battle Beyond the Sun)

[if you’re new to the Journey, read this to see what we’re all about!]


by Gideon Marcus

Roger Corman, the Savant of Schlock is back with a most unusual motion picture. With incredible puissance, Corman stretches a dime such that he makes "A" quality out of "B" films (q.v. House of Usher, Little Shop of Horrors, Panic in Year Zero, etc.) But Corman takes a different tack with his latest flick, Battle Beyond the Sun. From what I've read, it was originally a Soviet film, which Corman then redubbed and edited for American consumption. The result is...interesting, and not an unrewarding experience.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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2017-09-13 04:25 pm

[September 13, 2017] GRAZING THE BAR (the October 1962 Amazing)

[if you’re new to the Journey, read this to see what we’re all about!]


by John Boston

Space! Mankind’s dream! Well, some people’s dream. A lot of us seem to be more concerned with making a living, taking care of families, trying to keep a straight face at school, and other highly terrestrial activities. But even in this small town in the boondocks, people mostly seem to take pride in the first human ventures off the planet, though you do hear the occasional grumble that all that money could be better spent right here on Earth.

I wasn’t so confident a couple of years ago, when I witnessed the second most remarkable thing I have seen here. (First place is claimed by the man I saw walking a raccoon on a leash. Raccoons do tend to have their own agendas.) I was downtown on a Saturday morning, which is when the farmers come into town to take care of their business. The banks are open then, which I am told is not the case in larger cities. The farmers come in their cars, their pickup trucks, and in some cases their horse-drawn wagons, all parked around the courthouse square. On this Saturday, a man was preaching from the back of one of the wagons . . . against the evils of space travel. “If Man reaches out to touch the face of God’s Moon,” he thundered, “God will BLAST HIM FROM THE EARTH!” But no one paid any attention, and I’ve heard nothing further about his prophecy.



I was reminded of this episode by the cover story of the October Amazing, Poul Anderson’s Escape from Orbit...

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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2017-09-10 04:02 pm

[Sep. 10, 1962] Leading by Example (the terrific October 1962 Galaxy)

[if you’re new to the Journey, read this to see what we’re all about!]


by Gideon Marcus

Thirteen years ago this month, amidst the post-war boom of science fiction digests, Galaxy Science Fiction was born. Its editor, H.L. Gold, intended his brainchild to stand above and apart from the dozens of lesser mags (remember those days of abundance?) with progressive and smart strictly SF stories. He succeeded -- Galaxy has showcased some of the best the genre has to offer, as well as a fine science fact column penned by Willy Ley. The consistency of quality has been remarkable.

Two years ago, Fred Pohl, a bright authorial light already, took the helm from the ailing Gold. If anything, he has improved on excellence, continuing to coax fine works from established authors and interesting pieces from new ones. It helps that he, himself, can fill the pages with good material and often does....though I have to wonder if he gets paid when he does that.

If you were to pick any single issue to turn someone on to Galaxy (or to science fiction in general), you could hardly do better than to give them the latest issueM.a< (October 1962) of Galaxy. Not only isn't there a clunker in the mix, not only does it feature a new Instrumentality story by the great Cordwainer Smith, but it includes part one of an incredible new novel by the editor.

Wow. I think I threw in more superlatives in the last three paragraphs than I have in the last three months. I guess it's time to show you what all the hubbub's about:



(see the rest at
Galactic Journey!)
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2017-09-08 07:48 am

[Sep. 8, 1962] Navigating the Wasteland (1961-62 in (good) television)

[if you’re new to the Journey, read this to see what we’re all about!]


by Gideon Marcus

The Fall season of television is nearly upon us, so it is appropriate that we pause to reflect on what the Idiot Box has brought us recently. May of last year, Newton Minow, our (relatively) new FCC chief, described television as "The Vast Wasteland." While it may have its moments of education, quality, and even sublimity, he argued, the majority of the stuff you see, network or syndicated, will turn your brain to mush.

I imagine anyone exposing themselves 24 hours a day to every game show, every variety act, every soap opera would make a similar assessment. But what about the selective viewer? The one who rewards only quality with her/his eyeballs? And has there been improvement since Minow made his judgment?

Now, I normally restrict my reviews to things SFnal (science fictional for the non-fan), but over the last year, I've found myself in front of the small screen more hours than I'd normally care to admit. And since a subsection of my followers are, perversely, as interested in my humdrum 1962 life as they are in my analysis, I thought I'd give you insight as to what shows keep the Traveller's tube aglow.

So here are the Galactic Stars, 1961-62 TV edition, covering the television season that ended back in June and has since been in summer reruns. Many of these programs will continue into the Fall season, so consider this a Galactic Readers' Digest:




(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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2017-09-06 06:02 pm

[Sep. 6, 1962] Unfunny Papers (The Second Coming and San Diego Politics)

[if you’re new to the Journey, read this to see what we’re all about!]


by Victoria Lucas

Erudition enshrined

Well, here’s something I hadn’t run into before. I don’t spend much time in bookstores or newsstands because I can’t afford to go wild in them as I’d like. Better to step away than to spend a mortgage-payment worth of money for a few books and/or magazines.

However, I couldn’t resist this one. Drawn by a bookish magnet into a little cubbyhole crowded with books from floor to ceiling and overseen by a disheveled person near the front door with a cat on his desk, I stumbled onto a literary magazine I hadn’t seen before, apparently created while I was busy with school in 1961. The Second Coming (not of Christ, of American intellectualism) is now on its third issue, or at least it was in June.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey)
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2017-09-04 10:57 am

[Sep. 4, 1962] Differences of opinion (the 1962 Hugo Awards!)

[if you’re new to the Journey, read this to see what we’re all about!]


by Gideon Marcus

Once again, the best and the brightest of the fans (and many of the rest of them) congregated for the biggest SFnal shindig of the year: WorldCon. This year, Chicago won the bid to hold this prestigious event. The Pick-Congress Hotel saw more than 700 fen gather for a Labor Day weekend of carousing, shopping, costuming, and voting.



You see, every year these fans select the worthiest science fiction stories and outlets of the prior year to be recipients of the Hugo, a golden rocketship trophy. It's the closest thing one can get to a curated list of the best SF has to offer. Winning is a tremendous honor; even getting on the nominees ballot is a laudable achievement. In fact, we have been informed that Galactic Journey was the Nominee-Runner Up this year in the Best Fanzine category -- thanks to all of you who got us to one rank below the ballot. Perhaps next year will be the breakthrough!


The Chicon III fanquet, where the award ceremony was held

So let's see what the fans decided was 1961's best, and in particular, let's compare it to my list of favorites, the ones I gave at the end of last year.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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2017-09-01 03:58 pm

[September 1, 1962] Facing East (a view from the UK: October 1962 New Worlds)

[if you’re new to the Journey, read this to see what we’re all about!]


by Mark Yon

Hello, all: greetings from Britain, again.

The October issue of New Worlds has arrived, so I guess that must mean that it is time to send my thoughts across the teletype.



Here things are turning Autumnal. We’ve had one of the coldest August Bank Holidays on record. The Meteorological Office tells us that it was the coldest in Kew (London) on record since 1888. Here it was just wet and rainy, which is how most Bank Holidays tend to go if I’m honest. It is perhaps ironic that we’ve got a tune by Carole King in the pop charts here called It Might As Well Rain Until September.



In pop music it seems that that catchy instrumental record, Telstar, by the Tornados is quite popular. It certainly sounds different, with that electronic sound giving it a real Space Age appeal to me. I was very pleased to see it reach Number 1 in the UK charts. I suspect it may do well with you across the Atlantic as well.



Film-wise, here’s a little heads-up. Earlier this week, I learned of a movie coming out which I guess will go down a storm in the US when it gets to you next year. I suspect queues will be quite long when it opens in early October.

It is the story of a secret agent called James Bond and the movie is called Dr. No. The movie looks great, especially the parts in the sunny Caribbean - miles away from rainy England! – and, as anticipated, there’s lots of fast paced action. The lead, a young actor named Sean Connery, is very charismatic. There is, of course, a foreign bad-guy with access to nuclear weapons threatening the world – guess what happens? However the pace is so fast and the setting so good I suspect we will see more of Mr. Bond in the future. The books, by Mr. Ian Fleming, are very popular here too. There are ten of those, so there’s plenty for the movies to have a go at!



On television I was sorry to see the end of the ITV s-f series that started at the end of August. Miss Pollard has mentioned this one as well, I think. Called Out of this World, it’s been essential viewing on Saturday nights for those of us with a television set. I guess that it is our British equivalent of your Twilight Zone. There’s been a good selection of s-f stories by Mr. Isaac Asimov (Little Lost Robot), Mr. Philip K. Dick (Impostor) and Mr. Clifford D. Simak (Immigrant and Target Generation) and, perhaps unsurprisingly to those of us who know of these writers, they have been very well received. I look forward to a second series, should it happen.





Enough preliminaries. Now for this month’s look at New Worlds. Many thanks for your comments about the September issue: they were much appreciated.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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2017-08-30 06:14 pm

[August 30, 1962] Flawed set (September 1962 Analog)

[if you’re new to the Journey, read this to see what we’re all about!]


by Gideon Marcus

In the Soviet Union, they have an interesting grocery practice. Food production is, of course, nationalized. Thus, there are quotas that manufacturers are supposed to reach. Provided you have enough klass (social clout in the "classless society"), you can order a great many desirable foods for your office, your restaurant, your institute. Sausage, chocolates, and so on. However, you generally can't order these items individually. Rather, you request a set of items.



For instance, one might want coffee, but the set also includes chocolate, sugar, and cookies -- whether you need them or not. The cookies might be several years old, the chocolate might be stale, or there might not even be any coffee. Or you could get lucky.

Maybe you want a kilo of fresh beef, but you can only get it with two cans of pressed meat, a kilo of hamburger meat, and a kilo of frozen vegetables. Well, why not? But when it arrives, the vegetables are freezer burned and the hamburger is green on the inside. At least you got the beef and the SPAM, right?

The science fiction digest, Analog, is much the same. For the past few years, the general pattern has been for the magazine to include a serial of high quality, and the rest of the space larded out with substandard shorts and ridiculous "science" articles on crackpot topics.

So enjoy your September 1962 Analog -- it's what you ordered...and a lot more that you didn't:



(see the rest at Galactic Journey)!
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2017-08-27 10:37 am

[August 27, 1962] Bound for Lucifer (the flight of Mariner 2)

[if you’re new to the Journey, read this to see what we’re all about!]


by Gideon Marcus

If familiarity breeds contempt, then enigma must breed fascination. So it has been with the planet Venus. "Earth's twin" in size and density, the second planet out from the sun is, in fact, the closest planet to us. Yet, thanks to its shroud of clouds, very little can be determined of its nature. At least, such was the state when I wrote my first article on the planet just three years ago.

Things are changing.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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2017-08-25 09:37 pm

[August 25, 1962] Two Gallons of Adventure, Extra Pulp (Ace Double: F-147)

[if you’re new to the Journey, read this to see what we’re all about!]


by Gideon Marcus

Science fiction is often profound. It provides cautionary tales; it explores thorny social issues that are difficult to discuss without metaphor; it glimpses the future.

But much of the time, science fiction is just an escape, a genre ripe for stories of adventure. The vast frontiers of space or under the sea or the frozen arctic wastes have been the setting for countless such tales since the dawn of the Pulp Era.

The prolific Andre Norton had made this type of story her stock in trade. Whether set in a fantasy world, an historical setting, or in a far-flung galactic tableau, her works typically feature a young man gallivanting in a rough-and-tumble environment, surviving by virtue of wit and physical exertion.

American publishing house, Ace Books, also makes this fare its bread and butter. They are perhaps best known for their "Ace Doubles:" For 45 cents, you get not one, but two short science fiction novels. These are often novelized serials from sf magazines. Occasionally, they are purpose-written pieces. Some are subjected to unfortunate edits to cram them into the 250-page format. In short, Ace is something of a bargain-basement venue -- the pulps of the book world, if you will.

Ace and Norton are, therefore, something of a match made in heaven. The recent Ace Double, F-147, features two Norton pieces back to back, one reprint novel and one new novella. While it's nothing to write home about, it will keep you entertained on a long round-trip car, boat, or plane ride.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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2017-08-22 05:06 pm

[August 22, 1962] State of Confusion (September 1962 Fantastic)


by Victoria Silverwolf

The world was shocked and mystified this month by the death of Marilyn Monroe, an apparent suicide at the age of thirty-six. The paradox of a young woman who was revered as a star but who led a troubled personal life may bewilder those of us who have never experienced the intense pressure of celebrity. Perhaps it is best to offer quiet sympathy to her friends and family and allow them to mourn in privacy.



The police are baffled, to use a cliché, by the robbery of a mail truck containing one and one-half million dollars in Plymouth, Massachusetts. This is the largest cash heist in history. The daring holdup men, dressed as police officers, stopped the vehicle while it was on route from Cape Cod to Boston.



Even listening to the radio can be a puzzling experience. The airwaves are dominated by Neil Sedaka's smash hit Breaking Up Is Hard to Do. At first, this seems to be a simple, upbeat, happy little tune, particularly considering the repetitive, nonsensical chant of down dooby doo down down comma comma down dooby doo down down. Listening to the lyrics, however, one realizes that this is really a sad song about the end of a love affair.



With all of this confusion going on, it's appropriate that the latest issue of Fantastic features characters who are perplexed, authors who seem a little mixed up, and stories which may leave the reader scratching her head.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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2017-08-20 09:16 am

[August 20, 1962] A Galaxy of Choices (British TV: The Andromeda Breakthrough)


By Ashley R. Pollard

Science fiction on British television used to be one of those once-in-a-blue-moon events. When it happened, what we got could often be very good. Certainly Nigel Kneale’s Quatermass series was compelling viewing, which drew in a large audience from the general population with millions tuning in each week to find out the fate of the infected astronauts.

The impact of Quatermass cannot be over stated, the name having taken root in the British public's imagination. And, now we have a sequel to A for Andromeda, which I reported on last year, to carry the torch for science fiction on British TV, which also looks like it will enter public’s lexicon. With the additional transmission of the anthology show, Out of this World, we seem to be entering a golden age of science fiction on television.

For those unfamiliar with A for Andromeda, let me do a recap. The first series, a story set in the future circa 1972, was about a group of scientists building a super computer for the military made from plans decoded from a signal sent from the Andromeda galaxy. This signal is a Trojan horse designed to take over our planet by creating an artificial human called Andromeda that the computer can control. It’s all very clever how this is revealed, and when the hero, Dr. Fleming, discovers that Andromeda is a slave of the computer he saves her by destroying the computer with an axe. Andromeda then burns the plans for the computer, and together they try to make their escape. Unfortunately, she falls into a pool and apparently dies, while Dr. Fleming is captured by Army personnel.

The Andromeda Breakthrough therefore has to square the circle of how to carry on the story without undermining the climax of the first series.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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2017-08-17 06:48 pm

[Aug. 17, 1962] The 90% rule (September 1962 Fantasy and Science Fiction)

[if you’re new to the Journey, read this to see what we’re all about!]


by Gideon Marcus

90% of science fiction is crap. But then, 90% of everything is crap.

The author of that statement, which seems to be supported by overwhelming evidence, is Ted Sturgeon. This is a fellow who has been writing since 1939, so he knows whereof he speaks. Sturgeon has, in his dozens of published works, established a reputation for thoughtful excellence, marking the vanguard of our genre.

The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction has devoted nearly half of its pages this month to a new Sturgeon work and several biographical articles. This is fitting; Sturgeon's style of literary sf would seem most at home in the most literary of sf mags (though he has, in fact, appeared multiple times in most of the good ones). And given that much, if not 90%, of the latest issues of F&SF has not been very good, including a healthy dose of Sturgeon is a surefire way to being on the right side of Sturgeon's Law.

Without further ado, the September 1962 Fantasy and Science Fiction:



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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2017-08-15 07:24 am

[August 15, 1962] Four Feet Over (the dual flight of Vostok 3 and Vostok 4)

[if you’re new to the Journey, reference this summary article to see what we’re all about.]


by Gideon Marcus

America just can't seem to catch a break in the Space Race. Late last night, the latest Soviet spectacular came to a stunning conclusion: two Cosmonauts had circled the Earth for several days, at one point flying within just 75 miles of each other.



Major Andrian Nikolaev, 33 and a Chuvash Russian, kicked off the mission the early morning (our time) of August 11. His Vostok 3 ("Falcon") was in space for a full day before his spaecebound comrade, 32-year old Ukrainian Lt. Col. Pavel Popovich blasted off in Vostok 4 ("Golden Eagle"), morning of August 12. TV broadcasts of the two came frequently via Moscow; we saw the cosmonauts floating freely in their small cabins, chatting with each other over the radio, even singing songs. Breathless news reporters informed that the two craft had "rendezvoused" early on in the flight. The cosmonauts landed near midnight (our time) within just a few minutes of each other, both of them making the full journey in their ships (as opposed to Titov, who for some reason baled out of Vostok 2 before it reached the ground).

The flight of Vostoks 3 and 4 is a Big Deal.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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2017-08-12 09:26 am

[August 12, 1962] FEH (the September 1962 Amazing)


by John Boston

This September Amazing continues the magazine’s slide into mediocrity after the promise of the year’s earlier issues.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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2017-08-10 04:15 pm

[August 10, 1962] Eyes on Oedipus (Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex)

[I am pleased to present an unusual piece from our fan-turned-columnist, Vicki Lucas. It covers one of the oldest fantasies, as presented by one of the newest musical artists. As we all have had a Classical education (do you remember your Latin declensions?) this review of a modern interpretation of Oedipus should be right up your alley...]


by Victoria Lucas

"The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."
Frederick Douglass 8/3/1857



Those of you who have read my previous columns may remember that I have strange tastes in music (hallucinating music as a tactile object when I heard a totally new form) and that I have a somewhat political slant on some things (my participation in a lie-in and my feminist musings last time). The above remark of the former slave Frederick Douglass is relevant to some music I’ve been listening to—and its composer.

Last year I was surprised and delighted to hear relatively modern music on television and see Igor Stravinsky’s 1927 oratorio Oedipus Rex. So when I returned from Stanford, I checked out of the library the 1952 record of Stravinsky conducting, with Jean Cocteau as narrator. I’ve been listening to it over and over. Stravinsky is best known for Rite of Spring, a ballet with a throbbing beat that caused a riot at its premiere in 1913, but this music is very different.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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2017-08-08 08:52 am
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[August 8, 1962] Abysmal (The Underwater City)

[if you’re new to the Journey, reference this summary article to see what we’re all about.]


by Gideon Marcus

The Sea. An endless, mysterious expanse. A potential source for bountiful harvests of food. An untapped mine of vast mineral wealth. A battleground to be populated with underwater naval bases.

An inspiration for far too many lousy movies.

Frontiers are always ripe arenas for adventure stories. From Outer Space to the frigid poles to the watery depths, they lure us with the promise of riches and resources; they reward us with hardship and death. Man vs. Nature is one of the classic conflicts, and expertly handled, can be a thrill.

The makers of the latest summer sci-fi film, The Underwater City, were not experts.


(stills are in color, but the film was released in black and white for no explainable reason)

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)