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[if you’re new to the Journey, read this to see what we’re all about!]


by Gideon Marcus

"I don't like science fiction."

How often have you heard this? Loved ones, co-workers, indignant acquaintances with noses reared up to the sky will happily give you their opinion of our degenerate genre. And it's a dumb opinion.

Why? Because science fiction isn't a magazine or a story or an author. It's a wide genre. Saying "I don't like science fiction" is like saying "I don't like red books" or "I don't like movies that have dogs in them." Sure, there's plenty of bad science fiction, in print and (especially) in film, but there's also, per Ted Sturgeon, about 10% gold – as in any genre.

Science fiction runs in quality from the humdrum, technical gotcha stories of the last two decades to the absolute peaks of sublimity (q.v. Cordwainer Smith, Zenna Henderson, etc.) Moreover, such ranges can generally be found even in individual sources; i.e. you can find both excellent and lousy stories in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Galaxy, or any other digest.

Of course, if anyone is going to be turned off of sf as a genre, it probably will be the humdrum, workmanlike stories that do it. Not bad enough to be noteworthy, not good enough to be recommended -- just dull, mediocre stuff.

And that's what we have a lot of in the August 1962 Analog, a magazine that will only contribute to the notion that science fiction just ain't that good.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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by John Boston

Summertime, and the living is . . . hot and sticky, here in the near-South. Also fairly boring, if one is not much interested in such local rustic amusements as hayrides and frog-gigging (if you have to ask, you don’t want to know.) There’s no better time to find a comfortable hiding place and read science fiction magazines, except possibly for all the other times. Of course the season—any season—doesn’t guarantee merit, and the August 1962 Amazing is the usual mixed bag.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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by Gideon Marcus

There are many ways to measure the strength of a story. Is the plot innovative? Does it resonate emotionally? Are the featured characters unusual? Does it employ clever literary devices?

As a writer, I am always particularly impressed by efficiency: the ability of an author to develop his tale with a minimum of exposition, unfolding a plot teasingly so as to keep the reader turning those pages with increased anticipation, and then delivering a solid conclusion at the end – where it belongs.

The July 1962 Analog Science Fiction delivers a series of object lessons in how (and how not) to write efficiently. In some cases, the execution can be admired even if the story isn't great shakes. And vice versa. Read on!:



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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by Victoria Lucas

I am so honored to be taking up space here! The Traveler thought enough of my letters to the editor that he asked me to become a regular contributor. In my letters I mentioned how I've just graduated from Stanford and am going back to my old job in the Drama Department at the University of Arizona, and my mother's home, where I'm typing on an old portable Smith-Corona that has seen far too many papers, dissertations, theses, and so on as I've struggled to work my way through college.

Last fall I tacked up on my bulletin board (unfortunately in the sun) a short column of news about somebody with whom I sometimes work in Tucson little theatre--Bob Hammond, a French professor at the University of Arizona who once won a Fulbright to Paris and never recovered. He writes his plays in French and English and translates from each language into the other. The blurb introduced Hammond as one of four playwrights who formed a producing group for their work. One of the other playwrights was a fellow by the name of Charles Finney who was supposed to produce a play of his this year.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)


The article reminded me that I may have met Finney as I house-managed and assistant-directed Bob's plays. Or I might have seen him in his workplace, the newspaper building downtown, where he has been editor of the Arizona Daily Star for 32 years (I spent my Saturdays at the Tucson Daily Citizen my senior year in high school helping to put out the "Teen Citizen," a section of the paper.) So when I ran across The Circus of Dr. Lao and Other Improbable Stories I picked it up. It's edited by Ray Bradbury and published by Bantam Books, first out 1956.

In the very first sentence of his introduction to this book of short and long stories, Bradbury asserts that the works in this book "are fantasies, not science-fiction." He goes on to list some adjectives and statements that contrast science fiction and fantasy as genres (or at least his idea of the genres). Then, in two short, strident paragraphs, like trochees in a poem, he argues:

"Science-fiction balances you on the cliff.

Fantasy shoves you off."

This book of short stories (and one long one) conforms to that opinion. At least the shoving-off-cliffs part.

galacticjourney: (Default)
September is almost over, and it’s not even the end of August.

Confused?  It’s standard practice to date magazines with the month that they are to be taken off the shelves.  Thus, I got all of my September 1959 issues in late June.  I also got my October Galaxy around then, too, but that’s because it’s a bi-monthly.



The September 1959 IF, now essentially Galaxy Jr., is the last September issue to review before moving on to the next month, and so far so good!

As with the last ish, the magazine opens strongly with a novelette by James H. Schmitz called Summer Guests.  At first, it seems like a bit of wish-fulfilment: bored, lonely working stiff encounters a pair of lovely fairies while at his summer retreat.  Very quickly, our protagonist learns that his guests are far more than they seem, and he finds himself an unwitting pawn in a struggle between races and dimensions.  It’s got a wicked sting in the tail, too.  Solid, 4-star tale.

On to number two.  Philip K. Dick never turns in a bad effort, but Fair Game is one of his lesser works.  A professor is hounded by extra-dimensional creatures who appear to be after his fine intellect.  In tone, it sounds a bit like a much better Dick story I read in Beyond many years ago (I can’t remember the title), but the ending is rather pat. 3 stars.

Margaret St. Clair (often known as Idris Seabright) has an entry in this month’s issue: The Scarlet Hexapod.  In short, if you like dogs, you’ll love the six-footed Martian version.  It’s all about how Jeff, the extraterrestrial Fido, risks all to save its owner from a murderous plot.  I found the story insubstantial, but not trying.  3 stars.

Finally, for today, we have Charles L. Fontenay’s Bargain Basement in which a pair of modern-day fellows frequent a little general store that is, literally, a slice of the future.  No one minds getting whiz-bang merchandise for cheap, but the pleasant situation collapses in a bit of paradox when one of the protagonists uses a love drug to steal the fiancée of the other (in a bit I found disturbing).  The subsequent change in history causes the future store to disappear… yet nothing else changes, including the marital status of the woman and her scoundrel new husband.  3 stars reduced to 2 for the poor treatment of the female character.

That leaves us at exactly 3 stars for the first half of the issue.  We’re doing better than this month’s Astounding, but will the luck hold out into Part 2?

(Confused? Click here for an explanation as to what's really going on)




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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