by Victoria Silverwolf
In this age of Cold War tensions, it's a little disconcerting to discover that the United States made two failed attempts this month to detonate a nuclear warhead in space. The project, whimsically known as Operation Fishbowl, launched Thor missiles from Johnston Island, a tiny atoll in the middle of the Pacific Ocean under the command of the US Air Force. The missiles launched on June 2 (Bluegill) and June 19 (Starfish) had to be destroyed in flight due to technical problems. (Radar lost track of Bluegill, and the Starfish rocket engine stopped prematurely.) Some of the debris from Starfish landed on Johnston Island, potentially contaminating persons stationed on the atoll with radioactive material.
If that weren't scary enough, the three inmates who escaped from Alcatraz a couple of weeks ago are still at large. It's probable that they drowned in San Francisco Bay, but I'd advise those of you who live in the area to keep your doors locked.
Raising the alarm in these troubling times are two newly published documents drawing attention to the problems we face. The left-wing organization Students for a Democratic Society released a manifesto entitled The Port Huron Statement a week ago, promoting universal disarmament and other social and political reforms through non-violent civil disobedience.
(It's interesting to note the cover price is the same as that of the magazine I'll eventually get around to reviewing.)
At the same time, The New Yorker (which costs ten cents less than Fantastic or The Port Huron Statement published an excerpt from Silent Spring, an upcoming book from marine biologist Rachel Carson which discusses the danger posed to the environment by chemical pesticides.
With all of this depressing news, it's not surprising that a melancholy ballad of loneliness and lost love has been at the top of the charts for the entire month. Ray Charles isn't the first musician to have a hit with Don Gibson's 1958 country song I Can't Stop Loving You -- besides Gibson himself, Kitty Wells released a popular version the same year, as did Roy Orbison in 1961 -- but his version is by far the most successful. It seems likely that this unique combination of rhythm and blues with country-western will have a powerful impact on popular music.
In keeping with this mood, it's appropriate that many of the stories in the current issue of Fantastic feature characters haunted by loneliness, isolation, and lost love.
(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)