galacticjourney: (Default)
[personal profile] galacticjourney

I've found the bottom, and it isn't the Mariana Trench.

They say fifty cents won't buy you what it used to, and that's certainly true of Astounding, a science fiction digest. The November issue, which has a hastily pasted price of four bits on its cover (replacing the original 35 cents) is, without a doubt, the worst pile of garbage I've read in a very long time.

I'll spare you the gory details and give you a quick thumbnail sketch of its contents. Opening the ish is the first part of a two-part story, The Best Made Plans. I didn't even make it through the first half of this first part. So dull was the tale, so linearly and prosaicly was it told, that I can't even remember what it's about. I'll read the summary next month and, perhaps, try again.

Eric Frank Russell's Panic Button features two exploring aliens who happen across a lone Terran on an otherwise uninhabited planet. Upon finding him, the human pushes a blue button, which frightens off the aliens. This is all part of a brilliant human scheme to seed the planets of the universe with convicts equipped with panic buttons. The assumption (proven correct, of course; aliens are so dumb, says editor Campbell) is that the button must do something and the lone humans must be there for a reason, and the overactive imaginations of the would-be conquering aliens do the rest.

And this is one of the book's better stories!

Then you've got A Filbert is a Nut, by newcomer Rick Raphael. In this one, a crazy person makes atom bombs out of clay that work. Or does he? Passable--for 1953 Imagination, perhaps.

Randall Garrett's The Unnecessary Man should have been titled "The Unnecessary Story." Young man learns that democracy is a sham and the galaxy is run by a dictatorship. But it's a benevolent one, so that's okay. Bleah.

I've never heard of Richard Sabia before, and if his I was a Teen-age Secret Weapon is any indication, I hope I don't see him again. Yokel causes harm to anyone around him. He is eventually inducted into the army, dropped off to be captured by the enemy, and Communism's collapse ensues. Lousy.

Finally, we have Robert Silverberg's Certainty, which is almost decent. Alien ship lands on a human outpost planet, and the crew of the garrison ship is helpless against the intruders' mind-control powers. Again, it's the sort of thing I'd expect from a decade-old lesser mag.

As for the Analytical Laboratory for the far-superior August issue, the readers' results are well in line with mine, with Leinster's The Alien's a clear winner.

I'm sorry I don't have anything cheery to report. It took me most of the month to get through this awful, 1.5 star book. I'm about ready to cancel my subscription...


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Date: 2014-10-25 02:48 am (UTC)
glymr: (Default)
From: [personal profile] glymr
Ugh! Sounds quite dreadful. Thank you for slogging through this dreck so we don't have to. Though no one will blame you if you end up canceling your subscription!

One Out of Three Ain't Good

Date: 2014-10-25 03:01 am (UTC)
victoria_silverwolf: (Default)
From: [personal profile] victoria_silverwolf
Thanks for letting me take a quick peek at the contents of this issue. I only read one in full; the shortest one, of course.

I had no interest in reading part of a serial, so I didn't even glance at "The Best Made Plans." I doubt I'll bother when the next issue comes out.

I gave up on "I Was a Teen-age Secret Weapon" right from the start. Cornball dialect from one character and another shouting in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS was enough to convince me it would be a waste of time. (The "funny" title was a strong hint, too; and I actually enjoyed "I Was a Teenage Frankenstein" and "I Was A Teenage Frankenstein" on their own terms as drive-in fare.)

A very superficial scan of "The Unnecessary Man" led me to believe that it consisted of chunks of dialogue alternating with chunks of exposition, all of it leading up to a very minor political/philosophical point (if I can even call it that) at the end.

But I did read all of "A Filbert is a Nut" (another "funny" title!) It could have been condensed down to just a few sentences, since it's really just a shaggy dog story. I figured out the "twist" (if I can even dignify it with that term) right away, given JWC's obsessions.

Date: 2014-10-25 07:38 am (UTC)
laurose8: (Shiveria)
From: [personal profile] laurose8
The next one's bound to be better! I can't help wondering if the reject and accept pile got confused. A minute consolation: while Raphael's punchline was no surprise, it was a rather enjoyable image.

As Glymr says - Thank you for schlockslogging above and beyond.

Date: 2014-10-25 04:51 pm (UTC)
laurose8: (Shiveria)
From: [personal profile] laurose8
Actually, I read only the Raphael, and the beginning of the Cole.
solarbird: (dara)
From: [personal profile] solarbird
Young man learns that democracy is a sham and the galaxy is run by a dictatorship. But it's a benevolent one, so that's okay. Bleah.
You'd think people would've given up on Wells's scientific dictatorship theories by now - particularly after what the fascists did with the same ideas! Not to mention the terrible arc taken under the supposedly scientific socialism of Uncle Joe.

But apparently, no, the same mistakes must keep being made.


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