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by John Boston



Last month, I asked: can they keep it up? Amazing’s marked increase in quality, that is. Well, no, not this month anyway.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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[The precocious Mr. Boston continues to take time from his busy high school schedule to provide coverage of Cele Goldsmith's marquee digest: Amazing, the longest lived of the sff mags. I am deeply grateful to John for his eloquent reviews. I understand that he lives in particularly dull and uninspired part of the country, so I shouldn't wonder that he has time to escape to lands of fantasy...]


by John Boston

The April Amazing opens with a bang: the cover is a startling departure from the usual humdrum machinery. There’s a spacesuit in the foreground, but badly used, missing a glove and a boot, stuffed with straw, and held upright on a pole like a scarecrow, against a surreal background of reddish and yellow desert, a vast cloud of violet smoke, and a washed-out greenish sky. Strikingly imaginative symbolic work by artist Lloyd Birmingham? No, mostly illustrative: this tableau is from the first paragraph of Mark Clifton’s lead short story Hang Head, Vandal! But it is unusual and eye-catching, and Birmingham does get credit (if that’s the word) for the garish color scheme.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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by John Boston

A couple of months ago I described Amazing, as “promising.” Now here’s the March 1962 issue, with two up-and-comers on the cover and a third on the contents page.

Verdict: promise partly kept.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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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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[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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If there is any innovation that defined the resurgent science fiction field in the 1950s, it is the science fiction digest. Before the last decade, science fiction was almost entirely the province of the "pulps," large-format publications on poor-quality paper. The science fiction pulps shared space with the detective pulps, the western pulps, the adventure pulps. Like their brethren, the sci-fi pulps had lurid and brightly colored covers, often with a significant cheesecake component.

Astounding (soon to be Analog) was one of the first magazines to make the switch to the new, smaller digest format. Fantasy and Science Fiction, Galaxy, and a host of other new magazines never knew another format. By the mid-'50s, there were a score of individual science fiction digests, some excellent, some unremarkable. It was an undisputed heyday. But even by 1954, there were signs of decline. By the end of the decade, only a handful of digests remained. The "Big Three" were and are Astounding, F&SF, and Galaxy (now a bi-monthly alternating production with a revamped version of IF). Also straggling along are Fantastic Stories and Amazing, the latter being the oldest one in continuous production.

My faithful readers know I don't generally bother with the last two titles. Although some of my beloved authors sometimes appear in them, their quality is spotty, and my time (not to mention budget!) is limited. Nevertheless, Rosel George Brown had a good story in Fantastic last month, and this month's Amazing had a compelling cover that promised I would find works by Blish, Bone, and Knight inside.



I bit. This article is the result.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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Has Rosel George Brown finally broken through?

For several years, I've kept an eye on this promising New Orleans native. Apart from being a woman writer in a predominately male field, she has brought a refreshingly feminine viewpoint to her stories. But they've never quite rung all of my bells. Some, like Virgin Ground have a real bitter tone to them. Others, like Car Pool and Flower Arrangement are overly domestic in feel. I want my heroines to be lantern-jawed and stalwart!



(See the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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When Galaxy came out in 1950, the old pulp magazines were still doing reasonably well, though they were clearly on the decline. Galaxy editor Horace L. Gold put out a one-page ad on the back of the first issue making fun of the Space Westerns that had typified the pulps since the 20's and promising that no such trash would appear between the covers of his fine magazine.



Gold kept his promise and seems to be having the last laugh. The pulps were pretty well gone by the time I'd gotten hooked on science fiction digests (1954), and the digests that continue the tradition of the Space Western seem to be dying out.



Except for Amazing. The first of the science fiction magazines has not changed its content in a long time, and reading an issue is like traveling back ten or twenty years. Tales of strong-chinned heroes and tough-talking thugs and beautiful damsels gallivanting around the planets like folks taking the stage from Pecos to El Paso, with terrain to match. This latest issue (November 1958) includes a story that takes place on the moon, which is adorned with volcanoes and vegetation. In 1958! Just to make sure I was with the times, I went into my daughter's room and leafed through Roy A. Gallant's fine hardcover, “exploring the planets,” (lower-case transcribed faithfully). Sure enough, the moon is dead and airless. Gallant's book was published this year, and I don't doubt its accuracy. I guess someone needs to tell Paul Fairman (Amazing's editor) what decade this is.



Now, I suppose I'm going to get a lot of negative comments such as the ones that I read in a similar magazine, “Imagination,” ("Madge" to its readers) before it, too, went out of print. "Madge" was filled with angry letters and defiant editorials denigrating “egghead sci-fi.” After a long day at work (the editor said) a guy just wanted some adventure yarns. He shouldn't have to think so hard.

(Of course, I only read “Madge” for Fandora's Box, Mari Wolf's excellent round-up of conventions and fanzines. I miss her. I believe her replacement on the column by Robert Bloch in '56 was the proximate cause for the magazine's recent demise. And the lousy stories. Oh, did I say that out loud?)



Anyway, back to Amazing. I can't imagine there is much of an audience anymore for the kind of backward stuff appearing in its pages. Anyone into such fare would be better served by the sci-fi movies coming out these days. I'll go out on a limb right now and predict that Amazing will be off the shelves before the decade is through.

Of course, I reserve the right to pretend I never made this prediction if Amazing does survive. My fans (bless both of you!) will be kind enough to burn their copies of this article, I'm sure.

(Confused? Click here for an explanation as to what's really going on)

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