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by Gideon Marcus

Science fiction is a broad genre. It includes hard scientific, nuts-and-bolts projections that read like modern tales with just a touch of the future in them; this is the kind of stuff the magazine Analog is made up of. Then you've got far out stuff, not just fantasy but surrealism. The kind of work Cordwainer Smith pulls off with such facility that it approaches its own kind of realism. In this realm lie the lampoons, the parables, the just plain kooky. They get labeled as "science fiction," but they don't predict futures that could actually happen, nor do they incorporate much real science. Rather, they end up in the sf mags because where else would they go? The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction showcases this type as a good portion of their monthly offerings (appropriately enough -- "Fantasy" is in the name).

Galaxy magazine has always trod a middle road, delivering pure scientific tales, fantastic stories, and pieces of psychological or "soft" science fiction that fall somewhere in between. It's that balance that is part of what makes Galaxy my favorite magazine (that and stubborn loyalty – it was my first subscription).

The first Galaxy of 1962, on the other hand, veers heavily into the fantastic. Virtually every story presented has a distinct lack of grounding in reality. Does it work? Well...see for yourself.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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My nephew, David, has been on an Israeli Kibbutz for a month now. We get letters from him every few days, mostly about the hard work, the monotony of the diet, and the isolation from the world. The other day, he sent a letter to my brother, Lou, who read it to me over the phone. Apparently, David went into the big port-town of Haifa and bought copies of Life, Time, and Newsweek. He was not impressed with the literary quality of any of them, but he did find Time particularly useful.

You see, Israeli bathrooms generally don't stock toilet paper...



Which segues nicely into the first fiction review of the month. I'm happy to report I have absolutely nothing against the June 1961 Galaxy – including my backside. In fact, this magazine is quite good, at least so far. As usual, since this is a double-sized magazine, I'll review it in two parts.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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On a walk down the block on a warm autumn afternoon, I finished the rest of the December 1958 Galaxy. I'd worked my way backward from the end, as I'd wanted to finish the next installment of "Time Killer." Thus, I got to the lead novella, "Join Us" by Finn O'Donovan, last.

Both the name and the style were familiar. 18 pages into the tale, I recalled that O'Donovan is a pen name for Robert Sheckley. It is obvious from the writing style that it's a Sheckley story, and given that Time Killer is being serialized in the same issue, I am not surprised Galaxy used a pseudonym.

Of course, this means that of the 142 pages, a good half of them were penned by Sheckley. Galaxy is becoming Satellite (a bi-montly magazine which features a full-length, though short, novel plus a short story or two)!

Being a Sheckley short, it's great. It's not science fiction, per se, or perhaps you might call it soft science fiction. This is the kind of stuff Galaxy pioneered and Sheckley excels at. This particular tale is about a "Splitter," one of class of people in the future who splits his/her personality into three parts: the aggressive "id," the conscientious and dull "superego," and the fun-loving "libido." The superego remains in its own body while the other two parts are put into super-realistic androids.

Traditionally, the polite superego stays on overcrowded Earth while the libido heads to Mars, which is mostly a fleshpot and tourist resort. The tough id heads out to Venus, a wide-open jungle frontier. Sheckley's tale follows superego-bearing Crompton, as he travels to Mars and Venus, desperate to re-unite with his other parts.

I think my favorite parts of the story involve Crompton's libido-bearer, Loomis, and his speeches justifying his hedonistic lifestyle by which he makes fine money as a gigolo and escort. There's compelling satire here:

"Today everything is biased toward the poor as though there were some special virtue in improvidence. Yet the rich have their needs and necessities, too. These needs are unlike the needs of the poor, but no less urgent. The poor require food, shelter, medical attention. The government provides these admirably.

But what about the needs of the rich? People laugh at the idea of a rich man having problems, but does the mere possession of credit exempt him from having problems? It does not! Quite the contrary, wealth increases need and sharpens necessity, often leaving a rich man in a more truly necessitous condition than his poor brother."

To the question, "Why doesn't the rich man give up his wealth," Loomis replies, "Why doesn't a poor man give up his poverty? No, it can't be done. We must accept the conditions that life has imposed on us. The burden of the rich is heavy; still they must bear it and seek aid where they can."

The poor, poor rich people. Also amusing is Loomis' justifications for engaging in adultery. He's quite convincing, too...

Finishing up this month's Galaxy is a short tale by the team of Fred Pohl and Cyril Kornbluth. This was obviously written some time ago since Kornbluth died quite unseasonably of a heart attack in March of this year. He was only 34 (places hand over heart).



The story is called, "Nightmare with Zeppelins," and it is less science fiction than an exercise in writing anachronistically. Specifically, it is a tale told by someone living during the Great War reminiscing about his travels in Africa in 1864. It is fun, ironic stuff; the point of such an exercise, of course, is really to comment on the present. I might try my hand at it some time.

Next up: December 1958's F&SF!

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