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


by Gideon Marcus



Ah, Geek Girl Con. Every year, Seattle's clarion call of intellectual feminine fandom calls us to attend Washington's signature science fiction/fantasy event. It is an intimate (but growing) gathering of sff devotees with a fascination for things both creative and technical.

This year, as with last year, the Journey was invited to speak on the last 12 months in fandom, and boy did we have a lot to relate. From coverage of Marvel Comics' slew of new superheroes to a report on this year's Hugo winners, and with a special piece on the woman pioneers of space exploration, our four panelists ensured that our several dozen attendees left educated and excited.





(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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By Ashley R. Pollard

The end of summer has come, and autumn is upon us. The result of the Earth’s journey around the sun, and as my esteemed colleague Mr. Mark Yon said, the weather here has been wet. Sometimes we get good summers, but this year was not one of those, the icing on the cake being a miserable August Bank Holiday weekend after the weekend before’s promising sunny day. But, Whether the weather be fine, Or whether the weather be not, here on Galactic Journey we will weather the weather to bring you the latest Sci-Fi news from soggy Britain.



This coming Saturday will see the last episode of Out of this World, which has made staying in on a Saturday night something to look forward to, rather than something that indicates one has no friends or better things to do...

(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

Roger Corman, the Savant of Schlock is back with a most unusual motion picture. With incredible puissance, Corman stretches a dime such that he makes "A" quality out of "B" films (q.v. House of Usher, Little Shop of Horrors, Panic in Year Zero, etc.) But Corman takes a different tack with his latest flick, Battle Beyond the Sun. From what I've read, it was originally a Soviet film, which Corman then redubbed and edited for American consumption. The result is...interesting, and not an unrewarding experience.



(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

The Fall season of television is nearly upon us, so it is appropriate that we pause to reflect on what the Idiot Box has brought us recently. May of last year, Newton Minow, our (relatively) new FCC chief, described television as "The Vast Wasteland." While it may have its moments of education, quality, and even sublimity, he argued, the majority of the stuff you see, network or syndicated, will turn your brain to mush.

I imagine anyone exposing themselves 24 hours a day to every game show, every variety act, every soap opera would make a similar assessment. But what about the selective viewer? The one who rewards only quality with her/his eyeballs? And has there been improvement since Minow made his judgment?

Now, I normally restrict my reviews to things SFnal (science fictional for the non-fan), but over the last year, I've found myself in front of the small screen more hours than I'd normally care to admit. And since a subsection of my followers are, perversely, as interested in my humdrum 1962 life as they are in my analysis, I thought I'd give you insight as to what shows keep the Traveller's tube aglow.

So here are the Galactic Stars, 1961-62 TV edition, covering the television season that ended back in June and has since been in summer reruns. Many of these programs will continue into the Fall season, so consider this a Galactic Readers' Digest:




(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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By Ashley R. Pollard

Science fiction on British television used to be one of those once-in-a-blue-moon events. When it happened, what we got could often be very good. Certainly Nigel Kneale’s Quatermass series was compelling viewing, which drew in a large audience from the general population with millions tuning in each week to find out the fate of the infected astronauts.

The impact of Quatermass cannot be over stated, the name having taken root in the British public's imagination. And, now we have a sequel to A for Andromeda, which I reported on last year, to carry the torch for science fiction on British TV, which also looks like it will enter public’s lexicon. With the additional transmission of the anthology show, Out of this World, we seem to be entering a golden age of science fiction on television.

For those unfamiliar with A for Andromeda, let me do a recap. The first series, a story set in the future circa 1972, was about a group of scientists building a super computer for the military made from plans decoded from a signal sent from the Andromeda galaxy. This signal is a Trojan horse designed to take over our planet by creating an artificial human called Andromeda that the computer can control. It’s all very clever how this is revealed, and when the hero, Dr. Fleming, discovers that Andromeda is a slave of the computer he saves her by destroying the computer with an axe. Andromeda then burns the plans for the computer, and together they try to make their escape. Unfortunately, she falls into a pool and apparently dies, while Dr. Fleming is captured by Army personnel.

The Andromeda Breakthrough therefore has to square the circle of how to carry on the story without undermining the climax of the first series.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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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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[I am pleased to present an unusual piece from our fan-turned-columnist, Vicki Lucas. It covers one of the oldest fantasies, as presented by one of the newest musical artists. As we all have had a Classical education (do you remember your Latin declensions?) this review of a modern interpretation of Oedipus should be right up your alley...]


by Victoria Lucas

"The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."
Frederick Douglass 8/3/1857



Those of you who have read my previous columns may remember that I have strange tastes in music (hallucinating music as a tactile object when I heard a totally new form) and that I have a somewhat political slant on some things (my participation in a lie-in and my feminist musings last time). The above remark of the former slave Frederick Douglass is relevant to some music I’ve been listening to—and its composer.

Last year I was surprised and delighted to hear relatively modern music on television and see Igor Stravinsky’s 1927 oratorio Oedipus Rex. So when I returned from Stanford, I checked out of the library the 1952 record of Stravinsky conducting, with Jean Cocteau as narrator. I’ve been listening to it over and over. Stravinsky is best known for Rite of Spring, a ballet with a throbbing beat that caused a riot at its premiere in 1913, but this music is very different.

(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 Sea. An endless, mysterious expanse. A potential source for bountiful harvests of food. An untapped mine of vast mineral wealth. A battleground to be populated with underwater naval bases.

An inspiration for far too many lousy movies.

Frontiers are always ripe arenas for adventure stories. From Outer Space to the frigid poles to the watery depths, they lure us with the promise of riches and resources; they reward us with hardship and death. Man vs. Nature is one of the classic conflicts, and expertly handled, can be a thrill.

The makers of the latest summer sci-fi film, The Underwater City, were not experts.


(stills are in color, but the film was released in black and white for no explainable reason)

(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 Gideon Marcus

Sometimes, the future comes so fast, it bewilders.

This rushing feeling I've had all month must be similar to what my grandparents felt when the Wright Brothers first took off. For millennia, people have dreamed of flight, envying the birds. Yet flying was always the province of make-believe, of fanciful stories. Then, on one day in 1903, airplanes became a reality, and the world was transformed.



Ditto space travel. That dream has been alive since the Ancient Greeks, yet it was entirely a theoretical concern until the Soviets pierced the heavens with their first beeping Sputnik. It is easy to forget, now that there have been well over one hundred successful orbital missions, that just five years ago, there had been none.

The advances made just this month are tremendous, each one as significant as the breakthroughs I've just detailed. Let's review:

(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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