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by John Boston

This September Amazing continues the magazine’s slide into mediocrity after the promise of the year’s earlier issues.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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[if you’re new to the Journey, read this to see what we’re all about!]


by Gideon Marcus

It's a hot, doldrumy summer. My wife and I are hard at work. Our daughter has headed to the North for a vacation. There's hardly anything in the news but sordid details of the Sol Estes case (if you've been living under a rock this whole year, he's the Texas financier fraudster with dubious dealings with the US Department of Agriculture, not to mention Vice President Johnson).



About the only item of interest is that the island of Jamaica is finally achieving independence. I visited the place before the war. I don't remember much but lush beauty and friendly people. The music coming out of the Caribbean is pretty interesting to my ear, too – some post-Calypso stuff including innovative steel drum work and a fledgling new genre that as yet has no name (q.v. Lord Creator and Robert Marley).



So in this languorous time, about the only consistent pasttime I can enjoy, aside from my records, is the ever-growing pile of stf (scientifiction, natch) magazines. One of the ones I look forward to is IF, which, if it is not always stellar, usually has a few items of interest. This month, the September 1962 issue has a lot of lousy stories, and editor Pohl cunningly placed the best one in front so as to dull the impact of the sub-par stuff that follows. But the last tale is a fine reprise of the first, quality-wise. See if you agree:



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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[if you’re new to the Journey, read this to see what we’re all about!]


by Mark Yon

Hello to all Travellers - greetings from Europe.

I’ve been asked by our Traveller to tell you of the British magazine situation as it appears here in England. There are some differences between the British & the American markets, as you may know. Generally US magazines are quite difficult to get here, due to the cost of transportation and the fact that there import restrictions to this fair isle. One of the consequences of this is that although we do get UK editions of your main magazines such as Analog, Fantasy & SF and Galaxy here, they are often different to the American editions you see. What this has meant in actuality is that the British editions often have less content than their American equivalents, with editorials, stories and serials removed altogether. To add to the confusion even more, different stories from different American editions are often mixed together in one British issue. This can mean that my view of what you are reading in America is slightly different, or at least a few months behind, yours.

Nevertheless, we do have some interest in new science fiction in England. Our co-traveller Ashley Pollard has mentioned much of this already in her articles here. Our most popular ‘home-grown’ SF magazine is New Worlds, which Ashley has already given a wonderful summary of already. The intention of New Worlds’s editor, Mr. John (Ted) Carnell seems to be to not only produce a magazine that shows British talent off but to also push the boundaries of science fiction (s-f).

It seems to be a time of change for s-f here in England. Generally the situation at the moment seems to be one of decline for British magazines. The actual number of publications available is much smaller than it was five years ago, though there are some that seem to survive. There are four by Nova Publications, of which, and currently in its 16th year of publication, New Worlds is the most popular British magazine at the moment. I do like Nova Publications’s Science Fiction Adventures and Science Fantasy as well, but I think that my purpose here is to discuss New Worlds with you.



I can see that, even with New Worlds, there have been some drastic changes in the last few months. The glorious colour covers of the last few years by artists such as Bob Clothier, Gerard Quinn, Sidney Jordan and Brian Lewis have since the June issue (that’s number 119) been replaced by covers with black & white photographs on a coloured background. Whatever reason editor John Carnell has had for the change – I’m assuming to reduce printing costs, but of course, it could be a number of things - to my mind it makes the magazine less attractive as a science fiction magazine (One rumour is that it is meant to be a radically different cover style to try and attract a wider, less specifically science-fiction readership). Colour pictures on the front cover would have made this new look so much more attractive. I do hope that this is nothing to worry about from our leading British magazine.

The magazine contents are as variable as ever, though. New Worlds has a reputation of being the publishing place of many of our British authors such as Mr’s Brian W. Aldiss, J. G. Ballard, James White, and John Brunner, names you may recognise. Some of the work of other lesser known authors can vary in terms of quality and consistency, though I must say that there’s something worth reading in each issue. As well as the fiction, the magazine occasionally covers book, film and television reviews, usually by Mr Leslie Flood.

With all of that out of the way, what about the latest issue, #122?



(see the rest at Galactic Journey)
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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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[if you’re new to the Journey, read this to see what we’re all about!]


by Victoria Silverwolf

July isn't quite over yet, and already I feel overwhelmed by all that's been going on in the world:

Two new nations, Rwanda and Burundi, have been created from the Belgian territory of Ruanda-Urundi. Similarly, France has recognized the independence of its former colony Algeria.



Despite protests, the United States continues to test atomic weapons. The USA also detonated a hydrogen bomb in outer space, hundreds of miles above a remote part of the Pacific Ocean. The explosion created a spectacular light show visible from Hawaii, more than seven hundred miles away. It also disrupted electronics in the island state. An underground nuclear explosion created a gigantic crater in the Nevada desert and may have exposed millions of people to radioactive fallout.



AT&T launched Telstar, the first commercial communications satellite (which we'll be covering in the next article!)

The world of literature suffered a major loss with the death of Nobel Prize winning author William Faulkner.

In Los Angeles, young artist Andy Warhol exhibited a work consisting of thirty-two paintings of cans of Campbell's Soup.



The Washington Post published an article revealing how Doctor Frances Oldham Kelsey, a medical officer for the Food and Drug Administration, kept thalidomide, a drug now known to cause severe birth defects, off the market in the United States.

Even popular music seems to be going through radical changes lately. Early in the month the charts were dominated by David Rose's raucous jazz instrumental The Stripper. It would be difficult to think of a less similar work than Bobby Vinton's sentimental ballad Roses are Red (My Love), which has replaced it as Number One.



It seems appropriate that the latest issue of Fantastic offers no less than nine stories, one long and eight short, to go along with these busy days:

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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[if you’re new to the Journey, read this to see what we’re all about!]


by Gideon Marcus

We hear a lot about the Soviet Union these days, but usually in the form of an unflattering cartoon of Premier Khruschev or photos of people trying to defect from Communism. Occasionally a hopeful reprinting last year's meeting between Jack and Niki in Vienna or a scornful reprinting of Khruschev banging his shoe on the United Nations podium.



If we think about the Soviet people, head-scarfed Babushkas, gray-suited apparatchiks, uniformed goose-stepping soldiers, and accordion-playing dancers come to mind. We just don't get many glimpses from behind the Iron Curtain. So when we do get a peek, it's an exciting opportunity. For instance, Time-Life just released a new picture-book on Russia, which sheds a little light on a hidden section of the world.



Another surprise is a new collection of Soviet science fiction called (appropriately enough) More Soviet Science Fiction.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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[if you’re new to the Journey, read this to see what we’re all about!]


by Rosemary Benton

The complex range of anger, fear, acceptance and love that characterize the relationship humans have with robotic life is hardly new ground for science fiction. You have stories that explore societies controlled by artificial intelligence like in Jack Williamson's With Folded Hands, stories in which robotic life works in service to their human superiors in accordance with Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics, and stories that span every possible combination.

The newest addition to the science fiction sub-genre dealing with the evolution of humanity and its integration with robots came out this month in the form of the movie The Creation of the Humanoids. Following its premier in Los Angeles on July 3rd, this intriguing film made its way into theaters across America, including the theater in my city. It suffers from several weaknesses, but more than makes up for them with solid dialogue, interesting characters and a plot that makes the audience think.

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New to the Journey, reference this summary article to see what we’re all about.]


by Gideon Marcus

There's a war going on in our nation, a war for our souls.

No, I'm not referring to the battle of Democracy versus Communism or Protestants against Catholics. Not even the struggle between squares and beatniks. This is a deeper strife than even these.


(from Fanac)

I refer, of course, to the schism that divides science fiction fans. In particular, I mean the mainstream fans and the literary crowd. The former far outnumber the latter, at least if the circulation numbers for Analog compared to that of Fantasy and Science Fiction are any indication.

Devotees of editor Campbell's Analog, though they occasionally chide the editor's obsession with things psychic, appreciate the "hard" sf, the focus on adventure, and the magazine's orthodox style it has maintained since the 1940s. They have nothing but sneering disdain for the more literary F&SF, and they hate it when its fluffy "feminine" verbosity creeps into "their" magazines.

F&SF, on the other hand, has pretentions of respectability. You can tell because the back page has a bunch of portraits of arty types singing the magazine's praises. Unfortunately for the golden mag (my nickname – cover art seems to favor the color yellow), many of the writers who've distinguished themselves have made the jump to the more profitable "slicks" (maintstream magazines) and novels market. This means that editor Davidson's mag tends to be both unbearably literate and not very good.

This is a shame because right up to last year, I'd sided with the eggheads. F&SF was my favorite digest. On the other hand, I'm not really at home with the hoi polloi Campbell crowd. Luckily, there is the middle ground of Pohl's magazines, Galaxy and IF.

Nevertheless, there is still usually something to recommend F&SF, particularly Dr. Asimov's non-fiction articles, and the frequency with which F&SF publishes women ("feminine" isn't a derogatory epithet for me.)

And in fact, if you can get past the awful awful beginning, there's good stuff in the August 1962 F&SF:

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By Ashley R. Pollard

I’m just back from watching the film adaptation of the Day of the Triffids, which brings John Wyndham’s popular novel to the big screen. You may remember I wrote about Wyndham’s work for the Galactic Journey last year, now I get the chance to discuss the film adaptation too. As I said in my previous article, Wyndham is widely known over here because of the success of his novel The Day of the Triffids, which was first published in 1951.



But first let me mention that this is not the first time his story has been adapted for another medium. While I missed the broadcast, it completely escaped me for reasons outside of my control, the British Broadcasting Corporation transmitted in 1957 a six-part radio dramatization of Wyndham’s story, presented by the BBC’s Light programme. I was able to find out that it had Patrick Barr voicing the roll of Bill Masen, and I really wish I had been able to listen to the production.

Also, while I was compiling my notes for this article, I discovered that in 1953 the BBC Home Service transmitted Frank Duncan reading the novel that was serialized in fifteen parts, each episode being fifteen minutes long. I mention this in part to emphasize both the importance of the story, and the impact it has had on the British public’s imagination. It cannot be stressed too highly that Wyndham’s standing is on par with H. G. Wells.



A brief reminder that the story centres on how people survive in a world where most have been blinded and who now have to deal with triffids, which were originally bred to produce oil using genetically modified seeds that may have come from space. These plants can move, and have stingers to attack prey. Yes, they’re alien vegetables from space that eat meat. From this premise Wyndham weaves a very British disaster story set in our green and pleasant land that grips one from beginning to end.

So how does this latest film adaptation fare?



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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[if you’re new to the Journey, reference this summary article to see what we’re all about.]


by Gideon Marcus

The specter of atomic destruction has been with us for more than a decade, ever since the Soviets detonated their first A-bomb in 1949. Both the US and USSR have developed vast bomber squadrons and now missile and submarine fleets rendering every place on Earth vulnerable. Not surprisingly, a new genre of fiction has been spawned – the post-apocalyptic story. Books like Alas, Babylon and movies such as On the Beach (originally a novel).



The latest example is a tiny-budgeted film by schlockhouse American Independent Pictures, Panic in Year Zero. The Young Traveler and I saw Panic at opening night, July 5. There was a big promotional event headlined by Frankie Avalon, and I understand the picture made back its budget in just the evening L.A. showings! The film has already generated some positive buzz, and I suspect it'll be the surprise hit of the summer.



(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

Since humans have been a species, there has always been a frontier. Whether it be Alaska for the first settlers of the Americas, or the New World (for Europeans), or the Wild West (for White Americans), there has always been an "over there" to explore. Today, our frontiers are the frozen Arctics, the deep seas, and the vastness of orbital space.

Science fiction has always stayed one step ahead. A hundred years ago, Jules Verne took us 20,000 leagues under the sea. A generation later, Edgar Rice Burroughs took us to Darkest Africa, lost continents, and fancifully rendered nearby planets,. Astounding and its ilk of the 30s and 40s gave us scientific jaunts through the solar system.

These days, one is hard-pressed to find stories that take place on Mars or Venus. Now that four men have circled the Earth and probes have flown millions of miles from our planet, tomorrow's frontier lies among the stars. Thus, science fiction has taken up residence in the spacious quarters of the Milky Way, light years away from home.

As you'll see if you pick up this month's most worthy issue of Galaxy:



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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by Rosemary Benton

At last, the levity that I so desperately needed has been provided. Prior to reading The Drowned World I was only aware of J. G. Ballard as a name. He was well published, I knew, but ultimately a background figure to my science fiction library. That all changed on June 30th, however, when I went to the town bookstore and purchased The Drowned World. The bookseller said that it would take me no time at all to read. I found this to be true, although the time it took me to process the book was far longer than than I had expected.



(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 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!)
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Marion Zimmer Bradley is an odd duck.

As a writer for a niche genre (science fiction), as a woman in a male-dominated field, as an occultist mystic in a stolidly Judeo-Christian world (she founded the Aquarian Order of the Restoration), and as someone who pines for the days when the genre was more fantastic, Bradley is many times over a breed apart.



That dislocation from the mainstream of society, even the mainstreams of rarefied slivers of society, has acted as a sort of crucible on her imagination. At the risk of engaging in unlicensed psychoanalysis, it seems that all this pent up desire to escape the real world has turned into a torrent she's focused at her writing. In the past several years, I've marked a focus of her work toward the psychic and the pulpy. It's hardly hidden – she said as much in the introduction to her first book:

While I was still collecting rejection slips for my early efforts, the fashion changed. Adventures on faraway worlds and strange dimensions went out of fashion, and the new look in science-fiction — emphasis on the science — came in...I think, there is a place, a wish, a need and hunger for the wonder and color of the world way out. The world beyond the stars. The world we won’t live to see.

Except her far futures don't have many futuristic trappings. Her settings are invariably medieval in flavor, with swashbuckling sword-wielders, hot-blooded heroes and beautiful damsels. It's pretty clear that this is the world she wants to live in, one of duels and kin-loyalty, where women, while they may be strong, also yield to a man's will.

We saw it in A Door Through Space, and we see it in the new Ace Double, #F-153. It's two Bradleys for the price of one (40 cents), and it, beginning to end, has Bradley's stamp upon it.

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



The July Amazing starts off ambiguously, with Stonehenge on the cover—often a bad sign, you could find yourself in Atlantis if you’re not careful. But it illustrates A Trace of Memory, a new serial by the reasonably hardheaded Keith Laumer, so we may be spared any deep wooliness. I’ll defer reading and comment until it’s complete.



So what else is there?

(find out at Galactic Journey!)
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by Gideon Marcus

I've said before that IF Worlds of Science Fiction is sort of a poor sister to Galaxy Science Fiction. Since 1959, they've been owned and run by the same team; IF pays its writers less; the quality used to be markedly lower on average (with occasional stand-outs).



We seem to be entering a new era. The July 1962 IF was a cracking read once I got past the first story, which was short anyway. Not only were the stories fairly original, but even where they weren't, the writing was a cut above. And not in that arty, self-indulgent way that F&SF deems "literary," but in a real way that emphasizes characterization. It's a departure from the mode of the 50s, particularly the lesser mags, where the focus was on the gimmick, with the actors playing second-fiddle to the plot. Plus, Ted Sturgeon has made a permanent home here, which is always a good sign.

So read on – I think you'll enjoy the trip.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!

((And don't miss your chance to see the Traveler LIVE via visi-phone, June 17 at 11 AM! A virtual panel, with Q&A, show and tell, and prizes!))
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by Gideon Marcus

Ah, and at last we come to the end of the month. That time that used to be much awaited before Avram Davidson took over F&SF, but which is now just an opportunity to finish compiling my statistics for the best magazines and stories for the month. Between F&SF's gentle decline and the inclusion of Amazing and Fantastic in the regular review schedule, you're in for some surprises.



But first, let's peruse the June 1962 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and see if, despite the new editor's best efforts, we get some winners this month (oh, perhaps I'm being too harsh – Editor is a hard job, and one is limited to the pieces one gets.)

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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by Rosemary Benton

After a short hiatus following the death of a dear family member I was in desperate need of some levity. Avoiding the non-fiction section, and especially the news stand, I made my way to the science fiction shelves of my favorite book store and picked up a novel that had originally caught my attention back in April. Raiders from the Rings is latest story from experienced science fiction writer and physician Alan E. Nourse.

Following a near cataclysmic world war, Earth has separated genetically and culturally from those who live out an exiled existence in space. This space-bound society, appropriately called the Spacers, squeak out a living by occasionally raiding food stores and supply depots on the technologically-lagging Earth. But when a newly built secret Earth armada confronts a raiding party of Spacers, all out war is declared once again. Like the conflict that nearly wiped out humanity before, both Earthmen and Spacers seem to be on a trajectory of mutual destruction. It will be up to Ben of the Martian house of Trefon and his two Earthling hostages, Joyce and Tom Barron, to keep their people from pyrrhic victories.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)

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