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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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It doesn't take much to make me happy: a balmy sunset on the beach, a walk along Highway 101 with my family, Kathy Young on the radio, the latest issue of Galaxy. Why Galaxy? Because it was my first science fiction digest; because it is the most consistent in quality; because it's 50% bigger than other leading brands!

And the latest issue (October 1961) has been an absolute delight with a couple of the best stories I've seen in a long while. Come take a look with me – I promise it'll be worth your while.

(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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Thanks to Galaxy's new oversized format, we can read serials over just two issues rather than seeing them spread across three or four. Of course, there's a longer gap between installments now that Galaxy has gone bi-monthly.



As a result, I'd completely forgotten that Fred Pohl had left Drunkard's Walk half-finished as of the end of the June 1960 issue. It's a good thing magazines provide synopses!

Actually, it all came back to be reasonably quickly. Drunkard's Walk is a good read, like much of what issues from Pohl's pen. Here's the skinny:

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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I'm glad science fiction digests haven't gone the way of the dodo. There's something pleasant about getting a myriad of possible futures in a little package every month. You can read as much or as little as you like at a time. The short story format allows the presentation of an idea without too much belaboring.

Every month, I get several magazines in the mail: Astounding and Fantasy and Science Fiction are monthlies; Galaxy and IF are bi-monthlies, but since they're owned and edited by the same folks, they essentially comprise a single monthlie. I don't have subscriptions to the other two digests of note, Amazing and Fantastic (again, both run by the same people); they just aren't worth it, even if they occasionally publish worthy stuff.



This month, IF showed up last; hence, it is the last to be reviewed. As usual, it consists of several moderately entertaining stories that weren't quite good enough to make it into Galaxy. Let's take a look:

(read the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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It's that happy time of year when the sun is up late and the weather is perfect. Of course, the weather is usually perfect here in the nicest unincorporated part of northern San Diego County (though there are rumors that our little farming community is going to vote on incorporation soon).



One of my favorite Spring-time activities is to lounge on the veranda (well, my daughter's tree house) with a portable radio, a cup of coffee, and good book. Today's entree is the newest issue of Galaxy. It's a double-sized issue, so I'll be breaking it out over two articles. A body needs time to digest, after all.

See the rest at Galactic Journey!
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Galaxy editor Horace Gold is hard up for writers these days now that he's cut payment rates. In this month's (February 1960) editorial, he notes that he's getting all kinds of low-quality stuff, and would these would-be authors please try reading a scientific journal or two to get better ideas!



Be that as it may, thus far, this double-sized issue of Galaxy is quite enjoyable. I'm splitting the book into two columns so as not to overwhelm you and give you a chance to follow along at home.

Bob Sheckley has a new story out: Meeting of the Minds. I think I've mentioned in an earlier column how one of my best friends has a profound aversion to stories involving a take-over of the body a la Heinlein's The Puppet Masters. He'd have to give Meeting a miss, because that's its central theme: the bug-like Quedak, psychic coordinator for the extinct hive-mind species of Mars, hitches a ride back to Earth where he intends to conduct a similar conquest.


Dick Francis

While Bob tends to write in a flip sort of way, he also is capable of some downright creepy prose. I particularly like how the Quedak is portrayed in glances through other characters' eyes. The use of limited viewpoints is quite effective. Moreover, it would be interesting to viscerally feel what a bird or pig or other human feels, were the cost not losing one's individuality to a hive-mind.

Unsettling, but good.

Margaret St. Clair has been a busy bee, with stories appearing both here and in IF this month. The Nuse Man is a shaggy dog story about a brick salesman from the future, and how he ran afoul of political intrigue in ancient Mesopotamia. You won't remember it long after you read it, but you will enjoy it.


Wallace Wood

Newcomer James Stamers is another author who is filling the pages of two Golden magazines in one month. Dumbwaiter is cute, but eminently forgettable (clearly, as I had to rack my brain for several minutes to remember what it was about!) It opens, excitingly enough, with a master smuggler attempting to secret an extraterrestrial animal through customs. That half of the story is a pleasant cat and mouser. The remainder, wherein the animal turns out to be a sort of eager-to-please teleport, who charms the smuggler's fiancée by bringing her numerous treasures, is not as engaging.


Dillion

Finally, in The Day the Icicle Works Closed, we have a solid extraterrestrial whodunit by Fred Pohl featuring body-swapping, kidnapping, politics, and a reasonably compelling detective. It starts out rather prosaic, but the pace accelerates as the pieces fit together, and the end is worth waiting for. I shan't spoil any more in the event you want to take a crack at some armchair sleuthing.


Dillon

Stay tuned for Part 2, in which I'll discuss Willy Ley, Zenna Henderson (two women in one Galaxy!) and more.

P.S. Galactic Journey is now a proud member of a constellation of interesting columns. While you're waiting for me to publish my next article, why not give one of them a read!







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Hello, fellow travelers! As promised, here's a round-up of this month's Galaxy magazine.

Or should I say Galaxy Science Fiction? According to editor Horace Gold (and I somehow missed this), Galaxy was misprinted last month with the old logo and the old price! They really lost their shirt on that issue, sadly. On the other hand, Gold is going to try not being ashamed of what he peddles and see if it affects sales positively or adversely. I'm hoping for the former.

Diving into the stories, George O. Smith continues to write in a workmanlike fashion. His The Undetected is part thriller, part who-dunnit, part romance, and features a psionic detective looking for a psionic criminal. And you thought it could only happen in Astounding.


Virgil Finlay

The often-excellent Phillip K. Dick has a lackluster story in this ish: War Game. In the future, the tricky Ganymedians are constantly trying to sneak subversive toys past our customs censors. In this case, they succeed by occupying the attention of a pair of said censors with a sort of automated toy soldier kit. It's the sort of throwaway tale I'd have expected ten years ago.


Wallace Wood

On the other hand, it provides an excellent segue to an exciting new arena of gaming. A hundred years ago, the Germans invented sandbox "wargaming," wherein they simulated war with a set of rules and military units in miniature. A half-century later, H.G. Wells proposed miniature wargaming as a way of scratching the human itch for violence without bloodshed. Fletcher Pratt, popularized the naval miniature combat game in World War 2, playing on the floor of a big lobby.

A fellow named Charles Roberts has taken the concept of miniature wargaming and married it to the tradition of board-gaming (a la Scrabble and Monopoly or Chess, perhaps a prototype wargame). Thanks to his revolutionary Tactics, and its sequel Tactics II, two players can simulate war on a divisional scale between the fictional entities of "Red" and "Blue" using a gameboard map, cardboard pieces, and dice. While perhaps not as visually impressive as facing off thousands of tin soldiers against each other, it is far more accessible and inexpensive.



War leaves me cold; I am a confirmed pacifist. But there is fun in the strategy and contest that a wargame provides. I look forward to seeing what new wargames Roberts' Avalon Hill company comes up with. Perhaps we'll see games with a science fictional theme in the near future—imagine gaming the battles depicted in Dorsai! or Starship Soldier!

To the next story: Jim Harmon is a fine writer, and his Charity Case, about a fellow hounded by demons who cause his luck to be absolutely the worst, starts out so promisingly that the rushed ending is an acute disappointment. Maybe next time.


Dick Francis

Fred Pohl's The Snowmen is a glib, shallow cautionary tale covering subject matter better handled in Joanna Russ' Nor Custom Stale. In short, humanity's need to consume compels it to generate power from heat pumps that accelerate the process of entropy leaving Earth in a deep freeze.

I did like Robert Bloch's Sabbatical, about a time traveler from 1925 who quickly determines that the grass is always greener in other time zones, and one might as well stay home. I enjoyed the off-hand predictions about the future—that Communism will no longer be the big scare, to be replaced with Conservativism; the patriarchy will be replaced with a matriarchy; the average weight of folks will be dramatically higher. I guess we'll see which ones come true.

Finally, we have Andy Offut's Blacksword. I had hoped for an epic fantasy adventure. Instead, I got one of those satirical political romps wherein one man plays chess with thousands of inferior minds, and things work out just as he planned. And then it turns out he's just a pawn (or perhaps a castle) in a bigger political chess game. Inferior stuff.


Wallace Wood

All told, this issue tallied at three stars. The problem is that this issue wasn't a mix of good and bad but rather a pile of unremarkable stories. With the exception of the Sheckley and the Ley article, and perhaps Bloch's short story, it was rather a disappointment.

Of course, this month's Astounding prominently features Randall Garrett, again. Out of the frying pan, into inferno.

See you in two! Try not to get involved with any rigged quiz shows...

---

Note: I love comments (you can do so anonymously), and I always try to reply.

P.S. Galactic Journey is now a proud member of a constellation of interesting columns. While you're waiting for me to publish my next article, why not give one of them a read!







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We left off on a cliff-hanger of sorts, half-way through my review of the second issue of IF under Gold and Pohl’s management. In brief, it ends as it began: with a strong start and a fairly middlin’ finish.

Gordy Dickson is back to form with Homecoming, a quite nice novelette about a fellow running afoul of Earth customs agents when he tries to declare his pet. If you had a beloved companion, would you sacrifice your chances at immigration by refusing to part with it? The deck is extra stacked in this case—said “animal,” an enhanced kangaroo, is near-sentient. It’s a page-turner, and over too fast.

I’ve never heard of Kirby Kerr, but his An Honest Credit, about a down-on-his-luck fellow with nothing to his name but a priceless, ancient coin (with which he refuses to part) is pretty good. A bit maudlin and short on much that would identify it as science fiction, but I enjoyed it.

I normally don’t include book-review columns in these reviews, but Fred Pohl takes his column a step further, making it a sort of essay. Worlds of If discusses the appearance and non-appearance of gadgetry in science fiction stories, and whether or not it adversely affects the story (or makes it less “science-fictiony.” What do you think? Do you require whiz-bang inventions, or do you prefer a more subtle kind of s-f?

The penultimate tale is Escape into Silence by Australian Wynne N. Whiteford. I enjoyed most of it, this tale of a colony world that has slowly but inexorably ended up under the strict and paternalistic dominion of another colony, one that has risen to supremacy. The protagonist tries to escape, is given the opportunity to emigrate lawfully, but ultimately embraces the confined, noisy enclosures of his home town. I suppose people are loathe to give up what they know, even if they have a chance at something better. Something about the end rang false, however.

Finally, we have Hornets’ Nest by a Mr. Lloyd Biggle Jr. (which suggests there is a Lloyd Biggle Sr. roaming about; that makes me smile). Nest could have been written in the 1930s. A human starship returns to the solar system and finds all of humanity dead for having DARED TO PROBE THE HEART OF JUPITER, THE PLANET WITH THE BALEFUL EYE OF DEATH! It’s not quite so hackneyed; it’s actually a decent read, but I take my amusements where I can.

IF continues to be a solid, if uninspiring, magazine. Lacking the utter dreck of Astounding, it is, nevertheless, not as consistently good as its sister, Galaxy. It feels like what it is—a repository for the second-rate Galaxy stories (though, to be fair, they are not bad so much as often mediocre, and some are quite good). Three stars, and that makes it one of the better mags this month, sad to say.

---

P.S. Galactic Journey is now a proud member of a constellation of interesting columns. While you're waiting for me to publish my next article, why not give one of them a read!



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I really enjoy the broadness of Galaxy's 196-page format. It allows for novellas and novelets, which is a story size I've come to prefer. F&SF has lots of stories per issue, too, but they tend to be very short. Astounding likes serials, which can be fine if they're good, but dreary if they're not. I mentioned last time that this month's issue was looking to be a star all through. Let's see if that prediction held true.


All pictures by Dick Francis

Wilson Tucker's King of the Planet certainly did not disappoint. You may remember that Tucker wrote the excellent Galaxy novel, The City in the Sea. His writing skills are on full display in the instant story, about a old old man who has outlasted all of his comrades. and now lives a solitary existence in a mausoleum, the one remaining survivor of a colony of humans. Every so often, he is visited by other humans from faraway stars. They question him, conduct surveys, and then they leave, puzzled at the self-styled king's longevity and solitude. King is the story of one such visit. There is an interesting, religious twist at the end; what is your take? Let me know, would you?



Silence, by Englishman John Brunner, is also fine reading. Abdul Hesketh has been the captive of the inhuman Charnogs, with whom humanity has been at war with for decades, for 28 years. When he is at last rescued, his mind has been thoroughly damaged by the ordeal, and his treatment at the hands of his saviors, which amounts to near-torture as they attempt to pry useful intelligence from him, is anything but therapeutic. A little let down by the ending, but a fascinating psychological exploration.



Sadly, the last two stories are not up to the standard set by the rest of the magazine. Elizabeth Mann Borgese, polymath daughter of the famed German philosopher, Thoman Mann, has never written anything I really liked, and True Self is no exception. It is a story of plastic surgery and feminine beautification taken to an absurd level. A worthy topic of satire, but not a very engaging piece.



Lastly, "Charles Satterfield" (co-editor Fred Pohl, presumably working for peanuts) has a rather mediocre novelette (Way Up Younder) set on a future colony world with a decidedly Ante-bellum Southern culture with robots standing in for Black slaves. It’s not bad; it just sort of lies there.

Where does that leave us with the star tally?

Sadly, the last two stories dropped the issue from 4 to 3.5 stars. A pity, really. What’s better? A tight, good issue, or a less-good longer issue?
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Writing a column is 50% inspiration and 50% deadline. Normally, I get pleny of ideas for articles from the fiction I read, the movies I watch, the news I hear. But sometimes, nothing seems to spark that desire to put fingertips to typewriter, and I wrack my brain trying to thing of something interesting to convey to my readers (both of you) before the all-powerful deadline sweeps over me.

The problem, ya see, is that the rest of this month's Galaxy just isnt very good. Nevertheless, it's all I have to write about.

Robert Silverberg's Mugwump Four is, like most of his work, strictly mediocre. A poor fellow gets stuck in a temporal and interdimensional war between roly-poly mutants and baseline humans only to find himself in an endless time loop (though the protagonist jumps to that conclusion awfully quickly). About the most noteworthy aspect of the story is the illustration provided by Mad Magazine's Don Martin. The style is very recognizable.



License to Steal, by Louis Newman, is this month's "Non-fact" article, Galaxy's attempt at humor. I wish they'd stop bothering. In summary: alien obtains a License to Steal, abducts an apartment building from Earth, sells its inhabitants off as willing slaves (read "guests") to a very pleasant family, and then runs into legal troubles.

I did rather enjoy W.T. Haggert's Lex, about a fellow who invents an automated factory that ultimately develops intelligence and becomes his "wife." The science behind the invention seems pretty sound (a combination of organic and electronic computing), and I'm happy to see a robot story that doesn't end in disaster, though this tale's end is bittersweet.



William Tenn's The Malted Milk Monster, about a fellow who gets trapped in a deranged girl's dream world, is suitably horrifying but not terribly rewarding.

Finally, rounding out the issue is Fred Pohl's The Waging of the Peace, a "funny" story about the dangers of outlawing advertisement in conjunction with building automated factories. I skimmed, truth to tell.

The best part of the latter half of this month's book was Floyd Gale's review of Mario Pei's The Sparrows of Paris, a modern werewolf tale. For those of us who are fans of Pei's linguistic work, it's a treat to learn that he also does fiction.

Not that interesting today? My apologies. I'll be better next time...

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I mentioned last week that Satellite no longer prints full-length novels between its covers anymore. It looks like that role is now going to Galaxy, which, in its new, 196-page format, can accommodate longer works more comfortably. In short order, it looks like Galaxy will specialize in two-part serials, responding to reader requests for same.

I'm a fan of longer stories in my magazines. F&SF scratches my short story itch quite nicely, and there are lots of good science fiction novels coming out, so that intermediate length can only be found in the digests. I find that the novella/short novel length is quite good for adequately developing a concept without overly padding the matter.


Cover by EMSH

That length was certainly used to excellent effect in Fred Pohl's new space exploration/first-contact thriller, Whatever Counts. What a fine story. With the exception of some over-traditional gender roles (in the far future, I'd expect women to be more than secretaries and babysitters), Pohl paints a quite mature and sophisticated vision of tomorrow. Moreover, while the female characters have traditional roles, they also get to be intelligent and vital protagonists. Just skip over the rather exploitative art...

So what's the story actually about? The Explorer II, essentially a generation colony ship, though the journey "only" takes about seven years, is part of humanity's first gasp of interstellar expansion. Unfortunately, during the vessel's journey, our race (as a whole) makes contact with its first alien species, the technologically and biologically more-sophisticated "Gormen." Wherever we encounter the Gormen, we are able to offer but feeble resistance.

The same is true for several of the crew of the Explorer II, who are quickly captured by the Gormen upon touchdown. Their trials at the hands of the Gormen, and the nifty way in which they make escape, are all interesting and well-written. But what really sold me was the attention to detail. The colony ship is plausible, the Gormen truly alien, the characters well-realized, and the style both gritty and artistic. And I really like any story that takes the time to explain where characters are going to take care of their toilet needs...


illustration by WOOD

I'd hate to spoil any more than I already have. Just go read it! (Please note that the author has not given me permission to freely distribute this story. If you can, I'd buy a copy.)

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A bit of a grab bag today as I finish off the odds and ends before the new (diminishing) crop of magazines comes in.

Firstly, the sad news regarding Vanguard II has been confirmed: the wobbly little beachball has got the orbitum tremens and is unable to focus its cameras on Mother Earth. So much for our first weather satellite.

Secondly, the sad news regarding the April 1959 Fantasy & Science Fiction. Yes, Poul Anderson does have a story in it. The Martian Crown Jewels is a science fiction Sherlock Holmes pastiche. As a mystery and as a story, it is fairly unremarkable. Still, Doyle-philes may enjoy it. As can be expected, both for the genre and for the author, the only women's names are to be found gracing ships, not characters.



There are a couple of oddball pieces in this issue. One is a translated Anton Checkhov parody of a Jules Verne story called The Flying Islands. Perhaps it's better in the original Russian.

There is also a chapter of Aldous Huxley's new book, Brave New World Revisited, comparing the myriad of mind-altering substances available today to the simple and perfectly effective soma that appeared in the original Brave New World. It is an interesting contrast of prediction versus reality. It is also a great shopping list for some of us.

As I mentioned earlier, Damon Knight is out of an editorial job after just three issues at the helm of IF. F&SF has found him a new place to hang his reviewer's hat--as the new writer for the magazine's book column. Good news if you like damonknight.

Jane Roberts, an F&SF regular, contributes a two-page mood piece called Nightmare. It's another two-minutes-to-midnight fright.

But the real gem of the latter portion of the magazine is Fred Pohl's To see another Mountain about a nonagenarian supergenius being treated for a mental illness... but is he really sick? Interestingly, I never liked it when Pohl and Kornbluth teamed up, but Pohl by himself has been reliably excellent. This story is no exception.

Where does that leave us in the standings? There isn't a bad piece in the bunch (the Anderson and Chekhov being the least remarkable). Let's say "four", maybe "four-and-a-half" given the greatness of the lead story.

Two days to Asimov!





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Since the second decade of this century, humanity has been indiscrimately pouring out a star's worth of electromagnetic waves. First with radio and now television, there is a sphere of information heading out to the stars at the speed of light that has already passed Arcturus, Capella, and is just now reaching Alderamin. Imagine what conception an alien race must have of us judged solely on the basis of our advertisements, entertainment programming and news bulletins.



Now imagine an alien whose very form is shaped by these media. That's the premise behind Avram Davidson and Laura Goforth's cleverly titled Love Called This Thing. Like all of Davidson's stuff, it's short and brilliant (I have not heard of Ms. Goforth before; perhaps the story was her idea). Read it if you can.

Security Plan by Joe Farrell is no great shakes, but it is a cute and diverting tale of time travel involving the years 1959 and 1991. There is apparently a lot of profit to be had in inflation. My favorite parts dealt with the outré styles of the future; they are extreme extrapolations of modern beat culture. Absolutely sub-zero, o-daddy!

Fred Pohl's The Bitterest Pill is another science fiction potboiler involving an eidetic-memory drug. You'll see the ending a mile away. Possibly the weakest entry of the bunch.

Rounding out the issue is Gordy Dickson's The Man in the Mailbag, which I liked very much. Not quite a first contact story, in this one, humanity is trying to negotiate diplomatic and trade relations with a race that is singularly unimpressed with humans. It's not difficult to see why: the aliens (Dilbians) are all eight feet tall if they're an inch. Prideful, honorable, and incredibly strong, humans are comparatively puny and inspiring of mistrust. As it is put by one of the elder Dilbians (in my favorite passage of the story), "What if, when you were a lad, some new kid moved into your village? He was half your size, but he had a whole lot of shiny new playthings you didn't have, and he came up and tapped you on the shoulder and said, 'C'mon, from now on we'll play my sort of game?' How'd you think you'd have felt?"



Solving the diplomatic and economic impasse is left to the temperamental young redhead, John Tardy. It so happens that a young lady, nicknamed "Greasy Face" has been abducted by a Dilbian tough (with the ominous and deserved name of Streamside Terror), and Tardy's boss believes that sending a Terran out to rescue her is just the ticket to demonstrates humanity's pluck and worthiness. To ensure that Tardy makes it all the way to Streamside Terror without being waylaid, he is dispatched as a mail parcel to be carried on the back of a Dilbian postman. This is about the safest place to be as the proud Dilbian postal service has a work ethic that would be familiar to anyone who served in the United States (or Persian) Postal Service. Of course, this story has a twist, and the damsel in distress is not quite so distressed (and far more resourceful) than one might think.

What I really like about this tale is that this time, for a change, despite all our unquestionable technological prowess, humanity is on the weaker footing and the writer treats the aliens with respect. But then, this isn't Astounding. Or Cliff Simak.

Feeding the issue into JOURNEYVAC, this issue comes out a solid 3.75 stars. The magazine seems to be weathering the format change reasonably well, so far.

See you on the 10th! And if you're new to the column, leaf through the older entries. Feel free to share them with your friends, too.





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For your reading pleasure today, a piece in two parts. First a bit on fiction, and then a bit on the other stuff.

Plowing on through the new maxi-sized Galaxy, the first story after Installment Plan is a slight bit of atmospheric by Charles A. Stearns called Pastoral Affair. If you've read the Wells classic, The Island of Dr. Moreau, then you've essentially read this story. Stearns, I understand, largely wrote for the pulps and less prestigious magazines, and his work reads like something from the 30s. Not bad, just not much.

But the succeeding Fred Pohl piece, I Plingot, Who you?, is quite good. My father was a science fiction fan of “Golden Age” vintage before his untimely passing some twenty years ago. He once said, rather presciently, that the only way one could ever really unite the world would be the invention of an external threat, perhaps a world-destroying asteroid or (even better) an extraterrestrial invasion.

Pohl takes this concept and turns it on its head: What if someone convinced all of the world leaders separately that an alien race was approaching, and the first to encounter it would get an exclusive and most rewarding deal? And what if the race landed their spacecraft not in America or the U.S.S.R., but in the neutral powder-keg of French Algeria. Why, it might kick off a bloody competition resulting in an all-out atomic war! Now, what if that instigating someone were actually a representative of an alien species whose job was to fabricate the alien arrival to cause the destruction of Earth and ensure that interstellar competition was kept to a minimum? You'd get Plingot.



The pacing and the writing really make this story, as well as the unexpected ending (which is very Heinlein-esque). The story is from the eponymous Plingot's point of view, and his wording and mood are subtly and suitably alien. Interestingly enough, it is decidedly fixed in a very specific period of time—perhaps the next few months. For the flag of the United States has 49 stars, and it is pretty clear by now that Hawaii will be a state very soon, to balance Republican and Democratic votes in the Senate, if nothing else. Moreover, given the recent turmoil in France that brought DeGaulle back to the fore and created yet another French Republic (Number 5!), I can't imagine that France's hold on Algeria is anything but tenuous. This all works, however, since the story is not a prediction of the future but rather a prediction of how the present might deal with a futuristic threat.



Now the non-fiction. Willy Ley's article this bi-month wraps up his article on “The World Next Door:” the alien realm of the deep sea, and ties in nicely with the unusually large number of undersea accomplishments achieved by the United States this year. Did you know that the nuclear-powered submarine, the U.S.S. Seawolf stayed underwater for 60 consecutive days? The air its crew left port with was the air the crew breathed for two straight months. That kind of self-contained endurance is relevant to travel in Outer Space, where fresh air is even less accessible.

The Seawolf is the younger sister of the U.S.S. Nautilus, which made history in August by being the first ship to travel to the North Pole under water. I saw/heard in a recent newsreel that there is talk of opening up underwater polar trade routes between East and West. I don't know how feasible that would be, but it is exciting nonetheless.

So stay tuned! I predict that the undersea science fiction genre (heretofore severely underrepresented—Fred Pohl's Slave Ship serialized two years ago in Galaxy, is one of the few examples) will become a big component of published sci-fi in the near future.

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