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


by Gideon Marcus

We hear a lot about the Soviet Union these days, but usually in the form of an unflattering cartoon of Premier Khruschev or photos of people trying to defect from Communism. Occasionally a hopeful reprinting last year's meeting between Jack and Niki in Vienna or a scornful reprinting of Khruschev banging his shoe on the United Nations podium.



If we think about the Soviet people, head-scarfed Babushkas, gray-suited apparatchiks, uniformed goose-stepping soldiers, and accordion-playing dancers come to mind. We just don't get many glimpses from behind the Iron Curtain. So when we do get a peek, it's an exciting opportunity. For instance, Time-Life just released a new picture-book on Russia, which sheds a little light on a hidden section of the world.



Another surprise is a new collection of Soviet science fiction called (appropriately enough) More Soviet Science Fiction.



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

At last, the levity that I so desperately needed has been provided. Prior to reading The Drowned World I was only aware of J. G. Ballard as a name. He was well published, I knew, but ultimately a background figure to my science fiction library. That all changed on June 30th, however, when I went to the town bookstore and purchased The Drowned World. The bookseller said that it would take me no time at all to read. I found this to be true, although the time it took me to process the book was far longer than than I had expected.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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Marion Zimmer Bradley is an odd duck.

As a writer for a niche genre (science fiction), as a woman in a male-dominated field, as an occultist mystic in a stolidly Judeo-Christian world (she founded the Aquarian Order of the Restoration), and as someone who pines for the days when the genre was more fantastic, Bradley is many times over a breed apart.



That dislocation from the mainstream of society, even the mainstreams of rarefied slivers of society, has acted as a sort of crucible on her imagination. At the risk of engaging in unlicensed psychoanalysis, it seems that all this pent up desire to escape the real world has turned into a torrent she's focused at her writing. In the past several years, I've marked a focus of her work toward the psychic and the pulpy. It's hardly hidden – she said as much in the introduction to her first book:

While I was still collecting rejection slips for my early efforts, the fashion changed. Adventures on faraway worlds and strange dimensions went out of fashion, and the new look in science-fiction — emphasis on the science — came in...I think, there is a place, a wish, a need and hunger for the wonder and color of the world way out. The world beyond the stars. The world we won’t live to see.

Except her far futures don't have many futuristic trappings. Her settings are invariably medieval in flavor, with swashbuckling sword-wielders, hot-blooded heroes and beautiful damsels. It's pretty clear that this is the world she wants to live in, one of duels and kin-loyalty, where women, while they may be strong, also yield to a man's will.

We saw it in A Door Through Space, and we see it in the new Ace Double, #F-153. It's two Bradleys for the price of one (40 cents), and it, beginning to end, has Bradley's stamp upon it.

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

After a short hiatus following the death of a dear family member I was in desperate need of some levity. Avoiding the non-fiction section, and especially the news stand, I made my way to the science fiction shelves of my favorite book store and picked up a novel that had originally caught my attention back in April. Raiders from the Rings is latest story from experienced science fiction writer and physician Alan E. Nourse.

Following a near cataclysmic world war, Earth has separated genetically and culturally from those who live out an exiled existence in space. This space-bound society, appropriately called the Spacers, squeak out a living by occasionally raiding food stores and supply depots on the technologically-lagging Earth. But when a newly built secret Earth armada confronts a raiding party of Spacers, all out war is declared once again. Like the conflict that nearly wiped out humanity before, both Earthmen and Spacers seem to be on a trajectory of mutual destruction. It will be up to Ben of the Martian house of Trefon and his two Earthling hostages, Joyce and Tom Barron, to keep their people from pyrrhic victories.



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

A hundred and fifty years from now, the stars are finally attainable. With the invention of a reliable and quick interstellar drive, the galaxy is now ripe for colonization. But humanity is too fat and happy to leave the nest; the world government is forced to conscript candidates to become unwilling pioneers. Six thousand men and women are sent on sixty starships every day toward some farflung world. The goal: to ensure that the human race can be spread as widely as possible.



This is the premise of Robert Silverberg's newest piece, a short novel published in the :June 1962 Galaxy called The Seed of Earth. It's really two novellas in one, the first half dealing with the lives of four conscriptees as they are selected and prepared for departure, and the second half about what happens to them once they reach their destination.

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

There's a change a comin'. I'm sure you've seen heralds of its passage. Last summer, hundreds of Whites and Blacks took to the buses and rode into the South, flauting the segregated busing laws. Leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X are rallying their brethren to fight centuries of oppression. For the first time, the Democrats look to be out-Civil Rightsing the Republicans (who would have predicted that in 1948?) Yes, the country is heading toward a long overdue shift, a final resolution of the crisis born in the original Constitution and only half-fought in the bloodiest war of American history.



It's no surprise, then, that we're seeing this war play out in science fiction as well as reality. Speculative literature constitutes our thought experiments, letting us see worlds like ours, but with allegorical players or, perhaps, a great time shift. Some authors approach the topic tangentially, for instance depicting Blacks as fully integrated in a future setting. Others, approach the subject head-on.

SF author J.F. Bone is a bit of a cipher. I have little biographical information about him. I do know that he started writing a few years ago, and his works have a certain thoughtfulness that elevates it above the run of the mill. His recent Founding Father was a fascinating look into the mindset of a slavemaster, made particularly chilling by its light tone.



Bone's latest work is a novel called The Lani People. It is a more straightforward investigation of prejudice and discrimination, set 5000 years in the future.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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I love the bookstore in my town. Not only do they have a news stand in front that provides me with the latest world events and developments in the US space program, but they have a very comprehensive science fiction section front and center as you walk in. I'll occasionally look at the newsstand's selection of comic books when I hear that there is a new series from Marvel Comics, but every trip to the bookstore must come with at least thirty minutes spent in the science fiction section. This month part of my book budget went to an Ace Double Novel containing the third publication of A. Bertram Chandler's The Rim of Space as well as the first edition of John Brunner's Secret Agent of Terra.



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

It's an interesting premise: what would a meeting between Apaches and Tartars be like in a “wild west-esque” science fiction setting? And what if the Apaches were American explorers while the Tartars were from the Soviet Union? Andre Norton sets out to explore this idea in The Defiant Agents, her third installment in the Time Traders series.

This time it's not agents of the future who are being sent physically into the past, but rather the minds of a select group of volunteer Apache explorers who are on a rushed mission to reclaim the alien planet Topaz from the Communists...



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

Science fiction is a wonderful genre in that it allows an author the opportunity to pick a discipline – religion, economics, etc. - and create scenarios that are free to play out completely beyond any current restrictions or known facts of nature. Consider James Blish's The Star Dwellers with its sentient energy creatures or Andre Norton's Catseye with its telepathic animals.

But then there are the science fiction authors who try to ground their scenarios as close as possible to the discipline they are examining. For H. Beam Piper, it seems as if he wrote his most recent novel with a mission to accurately play out the issues and triumphs of an anthropologist. The results is the well written (if slightly dry) young adult novel, Little Fuzzy, the story of one interstellar prospector's journey to protect the small, furry family he has adopted, cared for, and believes to be as intelligent as any group of humans.



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

I mentioned last time I find December winter difficult. In January it snowed, which reminds me of the song Let it Snow! by Vaughn Monroe, though the cover version sung by Dean Martin may be more familiar to younger readers of Galactic Journey. So with the frightful weather outside I had a good reason to stay indoors and read, and thanks to the Traveller's influence I have laid hands on preview copy of Eric Frank Russell’s, The Great Explosion, soon to be available at the end of May / beginning of June in hardback from all good bookstores.



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

The Earth is dead, its verdant continents and azure oceans replaced with a roiling hell. The crew of the Benjamin Franklin, humanity's first interstellar ship, gaze on the holocaust in horror. Are they only humans left? Do any of Terra's other ships (particularly the all woman-crewed Europa) still survive? And most of all, who is responsible for this, the greatest of crimes?



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

Fate has been very kind to me throughout 1961. I was able to find a niche for myself as a university archivist, and I came across many people who shared my interest in all things science fiction. I have had the pleasure of publishing my thoughts on such amazing creators as Zenna Henderson and Andre Norton, and have even taken daring adventures to the shadier side of the science fiction entertainment industry. Finishing out the year with James Blish's The Star Dwellers was the cherry on top of a very delicious ice cream sundae.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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War is still a ripe subject for fiction. It has been a constant part of the human existence since there were nations. For six thousand years, we've glorified it, hated it, resolved ourselves to it. There's no reason to expect it will go away any time soon, and it's no wonder that war is a common theme in science fiction.

A couple of years back, Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers made a big splash with its interesting take on interstellar combat and the character of patriotism. It was a jingoistic piece that I'm sure resulted in a small spike in enlistments. Gordy Dickson's war novel Dorsai also came out in in 1959. Dorsai was a fairly straightforward war story of a genius mercenary with the temperament and training to become a renowned general. Like Troopers, it was a runner up for the 1960 Hugo (Troopers won).



Both are what I'd call "typical" of the genre. I find it interesting how often war is positively portrayed: exciting, filled with tales of cunning, guts, and derring-do. I suppose it's because World War Two was a "good" war. Democracy vs. Tyranny with clear villains to fight. Sure, we lost some of our boys, but we made the world safe again. And so we have a stream of war movies which are by turns dramatic, gripping, even comedic, but rarely overtly anti-war. A Walk in the Sun, a candid film that even included a portrayal of battle fatigue in the midst of action, is one of the few exceptions.

Pacifist sci-fi novels have been similarly rare. Given the nature of Dickson's Dorsai, I was thus surprised (and delighted) to see that his recent Naked to the Stars, serialized over the last to months in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, is a thoughtful and engaging anti-war book.



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

Author Harry Harrison has been around for a long time, starting his science fiction writing career at the beginning of the last decade (1951). Yet, it was not until this decade that I (and probably many others) discovered him. He came into my view with the stellar Deathworld, a novel that was a strong contender for last year's Hugo. Then I found his popular Stainless Steel Rat stories, which were recently anthologized. The fellow is definitely making a name for himself.



Harrison actually occupies a liberal spot in generally conservative Analog magazine's stable of authors. While Harry tends to stick with typical Analog tropes (psionics, humano-centric stories, interstellar hijinx), there are themes in his work which are quite progressive – even subversive, at least for the medium in which they appear.

For instance, there is a strong pro-ecological message in Deathworld. I also detect threads of pacifism in Harrison's works, not to mention rather unorthodox portrayal of women and sexual mores. Harry isn't Ted Sturgeon or anything, but he is definitely an outlier for Analog, and refreshing for the genre as a whole.



Harrison's latest novel, Sense of Obligation (serialized over the last three issues of Analog) continues all of the trends described above.

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

The nice thing about writing reviews for an immediately published medium, like a newspaper or a daily column, is the currency of the information you convey. Most reviewers get their books just before release from the publishers, and by the time their reviews are in print, their subjects are several months old. At Galactic Journey, you can be guaranteed a presentation of the very newest material.



Ironically, my offering for you this time around is Raymond Z. Gallun's The Planet Strappers, which while a brand new novel, reads like something written several decades ago. I'd gotten used to the out there stuff by Sturgeon and Farmer and Henderson, so it was a little jarring to find something so old-fashioned. But it makes sense: like the legendary "Doc" Smith, Gallun is a grizzled veteran of the 20s and 30s pulps. In fact, he hardly turned out a thing in the last decade.

Strappers is the story of The Bunch, a gang of young space enthusiasts from Jarviston, Minnesota who live some time in the mid-distance future...

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

Catseye is the short, but very well written, science fiction novel from the pen of the legendary Andre Norton. I'm ashamed to say that I haven't experienced much of Norton's writing myself, although her fans sing her praise joyfully and have repeatedly recommended her titles to me. Reading the back cover of Catseye while in my town's book store, I had to berate myself for not looking into her before. If half of what her book promised was true, then here was an author that I could fully invest in. I was not disappointed.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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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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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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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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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!)

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