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Something is changing over at Galaxy magazine.

Horace Gold, Galaxy's editor, started the magazine in 1950, near the beginning of the post-pulp digest boom. He immediately set a high bar for quality, with some of the best authors and stories, and including a top-notch science columnist (this was before Asimov transitioned from fiction). Galaxy only once won the Best Magazine Hugo (in 1953, and that one it shared), but it paid well, eschewed hoary cliches, and all-in-all was a pillar of the field. It was the magazine that got me into reading science fiction on a regular basis.

Warning bells started to clang in 1959. The magazine went to a bi-monthly schedule (though at a somewhat increased size). Author rates were slashed in half. Gold, himself, suffering from battle fatigue-induced agoraphobia, became more erratic. This new Galaxy was not a bad mag, but it slipped a few rungs.

Fred Pohl came on last year. He was not officially billed as the editor, but it was common knowledge that he'd taken over the reigns. Pohl is an agent and author, a fan from the way-back. I understand his plan has been to raise author rates again and bring back quality. While he waits for the great stories to come back, he leavens the magazines with old stories from the "slush pile" that happen not to be awful. In this way, Galaxy showcases promising new authors while keeping the quality of the magazine consistent.

The June 1961 Galaxy is the first success story of this new strategy.

Last issue, I talked about how Galaxy was becoming a milquetoast mag, afraid to take risks or deviate far from mediocrity. This month's issue, the first that lists Pohl as the "Managing Editor," is almost the second coming of old Galaxy -- daring, innovative, and with one exception, excellent.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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The nice thing about a science fiction magazine (or anthology) as opposed to a novel is, if you don't like one story, you might like the next. Once you start a bad novel, your only options are to drag yourself through it or give it up unfinished. And you can't very well review an unfinished novel, can you?

Galaxy's sister magazine, IF, is not as good, on the average, as the other members of the Big Four (including F&SF and Analog). But because it is a digest, occasional stories surprise and delight. There's one gem in this month's issue of IF, and few other diverting tales.


(read the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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As we speak, my nephew, David, is on the S.S. Israel bound for Haifa, Israel. It's the last leg of a long trip that began with a plane ride from Los Angeles to New York, continued with a six-day sea cruise across the Atlantic to Gibraltar, and which currently sees the youth making a brief landing in the Greek port of Piraeus. He's about to begin a year (or two) in Israel on a kibbutz. An exciting adventure, to be sure, though I will miss our discussions on current science fiction, even if his tastes were, understandably, a little less refined than mine.

So I hope, dear readers, that you will make up for his absence by sending me even more of your lovely comments!



Of course, you can hardly prepare your posts until I've reviewed this month's set of magazines. First on the pile, as usual, is the double-large issue of Galaxy, the biggest of the science fiction magazines with 196 pages packed with some of the biggest names in the field.

But is bigger always better? Not necessarily. In fact, Galaxy seems to be where editor H.L. Gold stuffs his "safe" stories, the ones by famous folks that tend not to offend, but also won't knock your socks off.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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The old saying goes, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." As you know, I am rarely reserved when I don't like a piece of work. Every once in a while, I get a gentle chiding. One reader said he didn't want to hear about stories I don't like--just the ones I do. Another opined that my fans might tire of my consistently negative reviews of a certain author.

I don't want to discount these criticisms as I think they are valid. On the other hand, if I am unreserved in my scorn, I am similarly effusive about what I like. My columns are rarely completely negative. Moreover, I recognize that even the works I don't like often appeal to others, and I love receiving letters from folks who disagree with my judgments.

Besides, you good folk likely come here to see me as much as to get reading recommendations. Alfred Bester said in F&SF last month that he prefers English non-fiction to American as English authors will intrude into the text. There are only so many ways to package facts; the only distinguishing character is the personality of the packager. Certainly, I read Asimov as much for the science lesson as for the fun anecdotes.

So, enjoy all of me, even the kvetching. And if you don't, feel free to tell me just how much you dislike me. I may even agree with you...



On to the task at hand--reviewing the first half of the February 1961 Galaxy!

(read the rest at Galactic Journey!)

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