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by Gideon Marcus

If "no news is good news," then this has been a very good week, indeed! The Studebaker UAW strike ended on the 7th. The Congo is no more restive than usual. Laos seems to be holding a tenuous peace in its three-cornered civil war. The coup is over in the Dominican Republic, the former government back in power. John Glenn hasn't gone up yet, but then, neither have any Russians. The Studebaker UAW strike ended on the 7th. The Congo is no more restive than usual. Laos seems to be holding a tenuous peace in its three-cornered civil war. The coup is over in the Dominican Republic, the former government back in power. John Glenn hasn't gone up yet, but then, neither have any Russians.



And while this month's IF science fiction magazine contains nothing of earth-shattering quality, there's not a clunker in the mix – and quite a bit to enjoy! Get a load of these headlines:

(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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There is an old saw: "Just when I got my mule to work without being fed, she up and died on me!"

At the end of 1958, Galaxy editor H. Gold announced that his magazine was going to a bi-monthly publication schedule. He did not mention that he was also slashing writer pay rates in half.

Last issue, Gold crowed about his stable of fresh new authors who would carry the torch of science fiction creation. And, of course, there is plenty of room for the new authors now that the old names have departed for greener pastures.

Is this how a great magazine dies? Not with a bang, but with a whimper? You may disagree with me, but the October 1960 issue of Galaxy feels like a throwback. A lesser mag from the mid '50s. Let me show you the first half of the issue, and you'll see what I mean.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!
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Good old Galaxy magazine. Dependable, occasionally brilliant, very thick.

So thick, that I traditionally break down my review of each bi-month's issue into two articles, and who am I to buck tradition? Without further ado, the April 1960 Galaxy.



First up is Earl Goodale's Success Story, a surprisingly entertaining satire on an interstellar soldier's life and career. It's sort of a cynical answer to Heinlein's Starship Troopers. I don't know much about Mr. Goodale—this is only his second story, as far as I can tell.

Clifford Simak must have a number of expensive bills to pay, for he's published quite a number of stories this year already. His latest, Condition of Employment, about a down-on-his luck engineer who is desperate to make one last flight home to Mars, is not as good as All the Traps of Earth, but better than The Gleaners, both of which came out last month (in F&SF and IF, respectively). I particularly liked the disdain which the story's protagonist felt for the ominpresent, oppressive greenery of Earth. I feel some empathy—I grew up in the desert, and I find an unbridled environment of foliage (and its attendant insect populations) unsettling rather than attractive.

The Nuse Man is back, compliments of author Margaret St. Clair. The Airy Servitor, about a thought-activated invisible butler much akin to Aladdin's genie, is a lot of fun. My favorite line: "Bert and Franny wore expressions suitable to persons who have just seen a dining room explode." Beware itinerant salesmen from the future bearing gifts they don't understand.

When I saw Cordwainer Smith's name on the cover, I became quite excited. After all, his No, no, not Rogov was a tour de force. The Lady Who Sailed the Soul has the trappings of a good story, it has the subject of a good story, but somehow it fails to be a good story. This tale of the first and only relativistic interstellar spaceship pilot is overwrought and somehow anti-feminist despite having feminist protagonists. Perhaps because they are such caricatures. I also dislike stories where women are motivated solely by love for their man.


by DILLON

Finally, we have James Stamers' Solid State, a dull tale of crystalline teleportation (as in using enlarged crystal lattices as vessels for instant transit) that I barely remembered even just after reading. They can't all be winners, I suppose.

That's it for this batch. See you when the other shoe drops!

---

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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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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I've finally finished the January 1960 IF and can report fully on its contents. January has been a decidedly uninspiring month for digests. They're all in the 3-star range (though for Astounding, that's actually a good month!) with no knockouts in the bunch. Perhaps this is the calm before the storm.

The reliable if stolid Mack Reynolds (writing as Mark Mallory) kicks off this issue with The Good Seed. Can a man trapped on a tiny island by a swelling tide escape before he is drowned? Perhaps with the help of a sentient, telepathic plant. It's actually quite a touching story.

James Stamers seems to be a newcomer, and it shows in his unpolished writing. Despite this, his The Divers, about psionic neutrals (essentially anti-telepaths) with the ability to astrally project, has some fascinating ideas and some genuinely evocative scenes. Had Stamers given the tale to Sturgeon to work over for a final edit, I think it could have been an epic. As it is, the story suggests that its author is a diamond in the rough waiting to be polished.

Two Ulsterians, Bob Shaw and Walt Willis, wrote the short Dissolute Diplomat, about an unsavory space traveler who crashes on an alien world, bullies the jelly-ish inhabitants into fixing his ship, and then gets what he deserves in a groan-worthy fashion that is truly pun-ishing.

The Little Red Bag, by Jerry Sohl, is a good piece of thrilling writing, at least until the somewhat callous and abrupt end. A fellow on a plane has the power of tactile clairvoyance—and he discovers a ticking time bomb in the luggage compartment. Can he save the passengers before it goes off? Having flown the route that the plane takes many times (Southerly down California into Los Angeles), the setting is quite familiar, which is always fun.

Daniel Galouye (how do you pronounce his name?) is up next with the interesting teleportation yarn, The Last Leap. Three military subjects have gone AWOL after artificially gaining the ability to materialize anywhere. Surely they were not killed--after all, even the vacuum of space poses no danger, for the 'porters reflexively snap back to a safe spot; moreover, they instinctively avoid teleporting into solid objects. What could have happened? You find out in the end...

To Each His Own, by Jack Sharkey, stars a team of Venusians who explore the Earth after a recent holocaust. The nature of said disaster is never made explicit until the very end, though it is alluded to subtly. I confess that I should have figured out the gimmick ending, but I didn't. I suppose that constitutes a point in the author's favor.

Margaret St. Clair has a fun story (The Autumn after Next) about a magical missionary whose job is to convert magic-less cultures into adepts at the Arts. He meets his match, and his end, attempting to introduce the most reluctant of tribes to the supernatural. Better than The Scarlet Hexapod, not as good as Discipline, both IF stories.

Finally, we have Cultural Exchange by J.F. Bone wherein a crew of space explorers meets a sophisticated alien race with both superior and inferior technologies. It is a first contact story of Cat and Mouse with both sides attempting to be the predator. Not stellar, but satisfying.

That's that! It's an unremarkable issue, slightly under the standards of its older sibling, Galaxy, I'd say. Worth a read, but you won't remember it next month (unless, of course, you review my column).

Note: If you like this column, consider sharing it by whatever media you frequent most. I love the company, and I imagine your friends share your excellent taste!

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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