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by John Boston

Life is full of happy surprises! At long last Amazing has crossed a line: nothing in the the February 1962 issue is worse than three stars, and the average is a little higher. Read on; I think you'll agree that there is much to enjoy in this, the first magazine of the month:



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

At the end of a sub-par month, I can generally count on The Magazine and Science Fiction to end things on a positive note. F&SF has been of slightly declining quality over the past few years, but rarely is an issue truly bad, and this one, for January 1962, has got some fine works inside.



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

Our effort at the Journey to curate every scrap of science fiction as it is released, in print and on film, leaves us little time for rest. Even in the normally sleepy month of December (unless you're battling Christmas shopping crowds, of course), this column's staff is hard at work, either consuming or writing about said consumption.

I try to write my annual Galactic Stars article as close to the end of the year as possible. Otherwise, I might miss a great story or movie that had the misfortune to come out in December.

Fortunately for that report, but unfortunately for us, neither of the films in the double feature we watched last weekend had any chance of winning a Galactic Star.

Both of them were low budget American International Pictures films. This is the studio best known for making B-movie schlock for the smaller Drive-Ins. However, they also brought us the surprisingly good Master of the World as well as the atmospheric Corman/Poe movies. So I'm not inclined to just write them off. This time, however, we should have.






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



Everyone knows that the great American pastime is Baseball. Most fans enjoy watching the drama on the diamond, the crowds, the cheers, the hot dogs. But there is a dedicated minority for whom the sublimest pleasure is compiling Baseball stats. How well did each team do this year? Each player? Year over year, what are the trends? What are the chances of the Cubs ever winning the World Series again (hah!)

So here's my confession: I love statistics. A lot of the reason I read so much science fiction and maintain this column is so that, every year, I can keep track of every story, every magazine, every novel. In December, I compile these numbers and determine the annual recipients of the Galactic Stars. It tickles my mathematical brain, and it lets me see, graphically, how things are going not just in the careers of my favorite writers, but in the genre as a whole.

Plus, you get a slew of recommendations in the bargain. I mean, why wait for the Hugos? They're just going to echo what I say, anyway, right?

1961 was a better year than 1960, which saw an absolute nadir of 5-star stories. As a result, there was some stiff competition in nearly every category. I've listed the winners in bold, followed by the runners up and the honorable mentions (where applicable). Read on – I'm sure you'll agree that I had tough choices to make:



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

I read a lot of stuff every month. I consider it my duty, as your curator, to cover as broad a range of fiction as possible so that you can pick the stories most likely to appeal to you. What that means is I wade through a lot of stones to find the gems.

Analog is the magazine with the highest stone/gem ratio, I'm afraid. Nevertheless, it's rare that an issue goes by without something to recommend it, and the January 1962 edition has at least one genuine amethyst amongst the quartz.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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[Several months ago, I put out the call for someone to help me review the two science fiction digests I didn't have time to read: Fantastic and Amazing, both edited by young Cele Goldsmith. I've generally considered them the least of the sff magazines, but given how few of them are left these days, I reasoned that they could not be entirely worthless. Moreover, I want Galactic Journey to provide as complete a picture of the genre as I can, covering virtually every story produced in this country (and many in the UK as well!) Hence, my delight when super-fan Victoria Silverwolf took up the pen and started reviewing Fantastic.

Now, a second long-time Journeyer, John Boston, has also responded. As 1962 begins, we now have all of the big periodicals presented. Read on and see what's you've missed...
]


by John Boston

As a a maladjusted high school freshman in a reactionary and pious small town, I'm always glad of the opportunity to get away, if only for a little while. Mostly, that means a flight of fancy facilitated by a trip to the library stacks or, if I've got a couple of bits, the newsstands. And now, the Journey affords me a chance to reach all of you, the fellow travelers who follow this column.

What I have for you today is the January 1962 Amazing Stories, subtitled Fact and Science Fiction. For some years, this magazine has been slowly digging itself out of a hole of purposeful mediocrity, with much improvement — but it's not quite at ground level yet.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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By Ashley R. Pollard

I find December, in fact all the winter months, a tad difficult because it’s dark in the morning when I get up to go to work, and dark when it’s time to come home. To add to the misery it’s cold too. However, a piece on the misery of Christmas is, I feel, not congruent with the general feeling of excitement and good cheer that emanates from seeing people shopping, and of course the switching on of the Oxford Street lights. A tradition that started in 1954 and seven years later is still going strong.



(Read the rest of Ashley's exciting report at Galactic Journey!)
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by Gideon Marcus



God help me, I've found a new medium for my science fiction addiction.

Before 1950, I was strictly a toe-dipper in the scientifiction sea. I'd read a few books, perused a pulp now and then. Then Galaxy came out, and I quickly secured a regular subscription to the monthly magazine. After I got turned onto the genre, I began picking up books at the stores, occasionally grabbing copies of F&SF, Imagination, Astounding, and Satellite, too. By 1957, my dance card was pretty full. I was reading up to seven magazines a month, and I'd already filled a small bookcase with novels.

Then I started this column.

Well, I couldn't very well leave magazines or books unbought. How then could I give an honest appraisal of the genre as a whole? By 1960, I was up to two large bookcases – one for magazines, and one for books. For me, the magazine bust of the late 50's was something of a blessing: fewer digests to collect!

I might have been all right with this load, juggling work, family, books and magazines. But then I discovered Ace Doubles.

Occupying that niche between single novels and story collections, Ace Doubles are two short novels bound back to back. It's a format that's been around since 1952, but I generally ignored them. I figured the material was either rehashes of magazine serials, or stuff too mediocre to warrant its own release.

I wasn't far off the mark, but at the same time, after plowing through a few of them, I determined that there was often solid entertainment to be had amongst the pages of these two-headed beasts. And so I start on my third set of bookshelves...and my first review of an Ace Double: serial number F-113.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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by Victoria Silverwolf

To be successful, a fiction magazine often needs to strike a balance between established authors and new blood. Experienced writers can generally be counted on to provide work of professional quality, while fledging storytellers may keep the magazine from seeming stale and predictable.

Such a strategy can be seen in the latest issue of Fantastic. Two famous names, one well known to readers of science fiction and the other familiar to almost anybody with a television set, appear on the cover. No doubt this will increase the sales of the magazine on the newsstand. Once the purchase is made, the reader might find the offerings from unknown authors more interesting.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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An alien cataloging our solar system for an Encyclopedia Galactica might summarize our home in this brief sentence:

"Solitary yellow dwarf, unremarkable, with a single planet of note; also, a few objects of orbiting debris."

That may strike you as an affront given the attachment you have to one of those pieces of debris (the Earth), but from a big-picture perspective, it's quite accurate. Of all the masses whirling around the sun, the planet Jupiter is by far the biggest. It is, quite simply, the King of Planets.

As we stand on the precipice of planetary exploration, it is a good time to summarize what we know about this giant world, especially in light of recent discoveries made by ground telescopes. Thus, here is the fourth in my series on the planets: Jupiter.

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

I feel badly, I really do. Earlier this year, I was given an award by Rod Serling's people. It's an honor I treasure tremendously. After all, Mr. Serling has given us some of the greatest television since the medium was invented.

But now the wheels are coming off The Twilight Zone, and I can't help but be candid about it. This half hour show that used to be the highlight of Fridays is now something of a chore, an event I might well skip if I hadn't committed to covering it in its entirety.



Serling himself confessed last Spring, "I've never felt quite so drained of ideas as I do at this moment. Stories used to bubble out of me so fast I couldn't set them down on paper quick enough – but in the last two years I've written forty-seven of the sixy-eight Twilight Zone scripts, and I've done thirteen of the first twenty-six for the next season. I've written so much I'm woozy. It's just more than you really should do. You can't retain quality. You start borrowing from yourself, making your own cliches. I notice that more and more."



The fact is, of this latest batch of four episodes, none of them are particularly worth watching.
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by Gideon Marcus

There is an interesting rhythm to my science fiction reading schedule. Every other month, I get to look forward to a bumper crop of magazines: Fantasy and Science Fiction, Analog, and the King-Sized Galaxy. Every other month, I get F&SF, Analog, and IF (owned by the same fellow who owns Galaxy).

IF is definitely the lesser mag. Not only is it shorter, but it clearly gets second choice of submissions to it and its sister, Galaxy. The stories tend to be by newer authors, or the lesser works of established ones. This makes sense -- Galaxy offers the standard rate of three cents an article while IF's pay is a bare one cent per word.

That isn't to say IF isn't worth reading. Pohl's a good editor, and he managed to make decent (if not extraordinary) issues every month. The latest one, the January 1962 IF, is a good example.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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When I started this endeavor, I never expected to find so many fellow travelers. Each has provided an unique insight into the worlds of science fiction, comics, science, fandom. I have tried to balance staying true to my original vision (which is why I promise to keep writing at least a majority of the articles here) with showcasing all of these lovely perspectives.

A few months ago, I met a remarkable young woman with a keen eye for fashion as well as an uncommon understanding of geopolitics. The premise of Galactic Journey is that context matters. This is why I leaven the fiction with nonfiction. And it's why the Journey now has...a fashion column. Read on – I think you'll agree that Ms. Conaway is a worthy addition to our constellation of authors...



by Gwyn Conaway

This is a time of change and uncertainty, but we are full to the brim with ambition. We hope for a future of technological mastery. An age of abundance and exploration. We see our society as a beacon of moral and economic high ground. The Reds do too.

You see, I observe the world in patterns of psychology, fear, and desire. I'm a costume designer, and I glean more from fashion trends and wardrobe choices than any newspaper. This shadow of nuclear war hanging over our heads is worrisome, but it seems to me, across the distance of ideology and oceans, that we still dream the same dreams.

“It seemed clear proof that an atom smasher is a poor match for an attractive young lady in a well-fitted blouse.”
The New York Times, Style Show - SRO Soviet Exhibition, NY NY - July 2, 1961


First Lady Jackie Kennedy recently met with Nina Khrushcheva, wife of Nikita Khrushchev, the current Premier of Soviet Russia. While many of my cohorts discussed the new president and the premier’s first encounter in Vienna, I was captured by the meeting of the wives.


Jackie Kennedy and Nina Khrushcheva meet in Vienna, 1961.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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November 1961 been an exciting month for space buffs with several sequels to exciting missions as well as one brand new satellite.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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Erica Frank and I have both extolled the virtues of superhero comics; I pumped Marvel while she was a National fan. Now, famed comics expert Jason Sacks weighs in, mostly to tell us that Erica's taste is far better than mine. He's probably right...


by Jason Sacks

Several weeks ago, the Traveler posted a short, mostly complimentary review of the new Marvel Comic The Fantastic Four. He liked the comic’s heady mix of fact and science fiction, as well as its inclusion of a female character in its cast.

That review troubled me because it praises material I consider to be second rate. Marvel is, unfortunately, a schlock-house. Several years ago Marvel specialized in Twilight Zone-style twist-in-the-tail yarns (which the Traveler discussed in 1959). Recently, though, Marvel’s output has descended into juvie monster stories. The Fantastic Four #1 is not much more than a full-length version of those same moribund tales with the addition of derivative super-powers. The ugly art from Jack Kirby only makes things worse. He should go back to drawing love comics and leave heroes alone. I can confidently say Jack Kirby has no future in costumed-hero comics.

A look of the covers of any month’s releases from this second-rate publisher proves this point.  The enormous monster on the cover of The Fantastic Four#1 is similar to the titanic creature featured in nearly every other Marvel book released recently. The outrageous Monsteroso from the October Amazing Adventures #5, the Mohawked Brutto in the October Tales of Suspense #22, and the ridiculous green giant Fin Fang Foom in that same month’s Strange Tales #89 all fit the same general template.


the Marvel monster who wears shorts!

These Marvel creatures are all bites from the same rancid apple. They represent a juvenile collection of clichés and ridiculousness barely suited for even the most dilapidated drive-in.

Conversely, industry leader National Comics is delivering truly outstanding science fiction comics.

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

It's the end of the year! "What?" you exclaim, "but it's only November!" True that, but the date on my latest Fantasy and Science Fiction says December 1961, and that means it is the last science fiction digest of the calendar year that will go through my review grinder.

F&SF has been the best magazine, per my ratings, for the past several years. Going into this final issue, however, it has lagged consistently behind Galaxy. Would this final issue be enough to pull it back into 1st place? Especially given the stellar 3.8 stars rating that Galaxy garnered last month?

Well, no. I'm afraid the magazine that Bouchier built (and handed over to Mills) must needs merit 8 stars this month to accomplish that feat. That said, it's still quite a decent issue, especially given the rather lackluster ones of the recent past. So, with the great fanfare appropriate to the holiday season, I present to you the final sf mag of 1961:

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Here's a treat! Our Copy Editor, Erica Frank, is not only a demon at formatting manuscripts, but she is also an avid follower of our rich fan culture. She now takes up the quill for her first article for The Journey – I think you will be as glad that she did so as I am...


by Erica Frank

For some reason, comic books often aren’t considered science fiction, even though they’re full of aliens, time travel, futuristic weapons, genetic mutations, and villains with the goals and technology to destroy the planet, who have to be thwarted by heroes with fantastic powers and specialized training. There is no Hugo award for comic books, and comic book authors and artists are not usually asked to be guests at science fiction conventions. Many people, however, consider comics a perfectly valid medium for fantastic stories that touch on universal themes.

Around every medium of science fiction/fantasy, you've got Fanzines. Fanzines are amateur magazines published to discuss those stories and themes; they are generally available for the cost of postage and sometimes a small charge to cover printing. You've probably heard of or even read a few sf zines, but did you know that comics also have zines? Now you do...and many of them are well worth keeping an eye on.



For instance, Alter Ego, a new comics-themed fanzine, got its start earlier this year; it’s now on its third issue. Jerry Bails, the main editor, noted in the first issue that publication was likely to be irregular. As is the case with many amateur publications, production may slow down after the initial rush of enthusiasm fades. Currently, it has a mimeographed print run of over 300, and is available for 50 cents in coins or stamps, with unfolded “collector” copies available for a few cents more to cover the cost of the special envelope.

Issue 3 focuses on Green Lantern, a superhero of DC Comics fame, with a couple of side articles and the obligatory letters column. Like many classic characters, he had a heyday in the 1940s, disappeared, and returned to print recently. Alter Ego #3 includes a retelling of Green Lantern’s origin story by George Paul and two related articles from different authors; they discuss the history of the original Green Lantern from the 40s and what’s similar and different in the modern version.

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

Very little deters me from seeking out science fiction films. Even if the venue is a little disreputable I will still venture in. Even when a film is being trashed by critics I'll still give it a chance. But in the case of Valley of the Dragons I wish I had turned around at the entrance to the seedy theater I found it in. I wish I had heeded the warnings of fellow film reviewers. Valley of the Dragons is this month's science fiction B-movie and 1961's third Jules Verne inspired motion picture. It has everything including a story slower than my Greek tortoise, well known bit-role actors and of course copious use of stock footage. But is it still watchable? No.

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by Gideon Marcus

Every successful endeavor goes through the cycle of growth, stability, decline, and renewal (or death, in which case, there's no cycle). Science fiction magazines are no exception. A particularly far-sighted editor can plan for decline by setting up a successor. For instance Galaxy's H.L. Gold has turned over the reigns to Fred Pohl with no apparent drop in the digest's quality. Anthony Bourchier transitioned to Robert Mills at F&SF, and I understand that Renaissance Man Avram Davidson is waiting in the wings to take over. That event can't happen too soon, as F&SF has been lackluster of late.

Analog has had the same master since the early 30s: John W. Campbell. And while Campbell has effected several changes in an attempt to revive his flagging mag (including a name change, from Astounding; the addition of a 20-page "slick" section in the middle of issues; and a genuinely effective cover design change (see below)), we've still had the same guy at the stick for three decades. Analog has gotten decidedly stale, consistently the worst of The Big Three (in my estimation).

You can judge for yourself. Just take a gander at the December 1961 issue. It does not do much, if anything, to pull the once-great magazine from its shallow dive:



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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Now here's a special treat. Not long ago, the Junior Traveler began contributing as a co-author. This time around, she has decided to take center stage. My little girl is all growed up! Excuse me. I have something in my eye...


by Lorelei Marcus

Recently, me and my family thought we should take a break from time traveling (in fiction and movies) and do some real traveling! We decided to go to Japan! I was sad because we weren't going to be able to watch any Twilight Zone or new movies. Luckily, we were treated to a new Japanese movie called Mothra. Me and my father had the luxury to see it in theaters, in Japan! It was a very similar (but intriguingly different) experience to an American movie in various ways.



Mothra, similar to many of the American movies we've watched, is a monster movie – in this case, about a giant moth that attacks Tokyo. I noticed monster movies often start out the same, something or someone dear to the monster is taken from them to a big city, and the monster comes back to rescue it, destroying said city in the process. It happened in ; this movie did not break the mold.



(see the rest at
Galactic Journey!)

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