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Girdling the Earth are bands of deadly radiation, the Van Allen Belts. They form a prison, an egg shell that humanity can never pierce. Embittered, the human race turns inward. Psychic powers come to the fore. At first, the psychically endowed paranormals ("parries") use their gifts for a lark or for profit. Over time, the world comes to hate these deviants, forcing them into ghettos and isolated towns.

All except for the rare few employed by Fishhook, an agency that has opened up the stars through other means. Fusing technology and innate power, the "Fishermen" project their minds across the light years and explore other worlds. They bring back wondrous gifts of technology, which are sold in Fishhook-owned centers called "Trading Posts." The Fishermen encounter a riot of experiences: things of incomprehensible beauty, things of unspeakable evil. The most rigidly enforced rule is that the Fishermen must retain their humanity; any taint of alien, any hint of going native, and they are cloistered in a community that is, for all intents and purposes, a gilded cage.

All of which are just abstract concerns to Blaine, a veteran Fisherman, tourist of a hundred worlds, until the day he encounters the pinkness: a sprawling, shabby, impossibly old creature who tells him, "Hi Pal. I trade with you my mind..."

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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I've got a long-running feud going on with Mike Glyer, editor of the popular fanzine, File 770. Well, feud is probably too strong a word given that we're good friends and avid mutual readers. In fact, we usually get along quite well. All fans are united by love for the genre and our status as oddballs, after all. But Mike and I just can't seem to agree on Analog, a monthly science fiction magazine.

Here are the indisputable facts: Analog is the elder statesman of the digests; it pioneered real sf back when all the other outlets were pushing pulp adventure. Analog has the biggest circulation of any of the current digests, somewhere around 200,000 per month.

Now for the disputable ones. Analog is the most conservative of the mags. It's generally Terran-centric, with Earthlings portrayed as the most cunning, successful beings in the galaxy (which is why, of course, most aliens look just like us). While the serialized novels in Analog are often excellent, the accompanying short stories tend to be uninspiring. The science fact columns are awful. Editor John Campbell's championing of psionics and reactionless engines (in real-life, not just fiction), crosses into the embarrassing. All these factors make Analog the weakest of the Big Three magazines, consistently lagging in quality behind Galaxy and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Of course, Mike disagrees He's even wagered that Analog will take the Hugo award for Best Science Fiction Magazine this year. I think he's dreaming. F&SF has won three years in a row, and barring some unexpected decline in quality, it will do so again.

I'll take that bet, Mike Glyer! Two beers to your one.

As evidence for my case, I present this month's Analog, dated June 1961.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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Analog (my errant fingers keep wanting to type "Astounding") was even better than last time. This particular copy is a seasoned traveler, having ridden with me to the lovely shores of Kaua'i and back. At long last, I've finished reading, and I can tell you about it. A sneak preview: there's not a bad piece in the book!

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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If you are in the accounting profession, you are familiar with the concept of "closing the books," wherein you complete all your reconciliations and regard a month as finished. Here at the Journey, Month's End does not occur until the last science fiction digest is reviewed. Thus, though the bells have already rung for the new year of 1961, December 1960 will not officially end until I get a chance to tell you about the latest issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction!

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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With Astounding so good this month, I suppose it was too much to ask that Fantasy and Science Fiction would also be of high caliber. While it's not a bad issue, it's not one of the better ones, either.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)

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