galacticjourney: (Default)


I was recently told that my reviews are too negative, and that I should focus on telling the world about the good stuff; for that hopeful fan, I present my assessment of the July 1960 Fantasy and Science Fiction. There's not a clunker in the bunch, and if none of the stories is a perfect gem, several are fine stones nevertheless.

My receipt of this month's issue was accompanied by no small measure of eagerness. The cover promised me two stories by female authors (Zenna Henderson and Miriam Allen deFord) as well as a novella by Wilson Tucker, who wrote the excellent The City in the Sea.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
galacticjourney: (Default)
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?
(Confused? Click here for an explanation as to what's really going on)


galacticjourney: (Default)


Every so often, I find a piece of fiction so compelling that I hate to give away too much about it for fear of spoiling the experience. Going through my stack of Galaxy novels, the ones I picked up cheaply not too long ago, I came upon The City in the Sea, by Wilson Tucker, published eight years ago in 1951. I had not heard of him before, but a quick polling of my friends determined that not only is he a BNF ("Big Name Fan"), but he is also quite an accomplished science fiction author. Interestingly, he coined the term "space opera."

Sometimes one can judge a book by its cover. In fact, the scene depicted is right from the novel. In short, several thousands of years from now, after an atomic holocaust destroys civilization, and global warming floods the continents, a resurgent matriarchy in England (having reached a Roman level of technology) establishes a colony on the American eastern seaboard. Finding only lackluster specimens of native humanity there, they are surprised when a clearly superior fellow (male, no less) strides purposefully into the colony from beyond the Appalachians. He is mute but compelling, and the colony's Captain accompanies him back across the mountains, along with a company of woman soldiers, in search of the man's settlement.

The ensuing story is told entirely from a female viewpoint (one of three: the efficient Captain Zee, her wry and charming doctor, Barra, and, briefly, the Captain's adjutant, Donnie). It is suffused with a sense of wonder, the kind you get in a good Pellucidar story, and it is satisfying from beginning to end. City also has that good, timeless quality that will keep it a classic in decades to come.

So read it already! I'm sure you can find a copy somewhere. If you like it, drop me a line. Fair readers, be advised that vital plot elements may be discussed in the correspondence below.

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


Profile

galacticjourney: (Default)
galacticjourney

September 2017

S M T W T F S
      12
3 45 67 89
101112 1314 1516
17 181920212223
24252627282930

Links

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 20th, 2017 12:14 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios