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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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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 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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[April 10, 1962] All the Difference (May 1962 IF Science Fiction)


by Gideon Marcus

The measure of a story's quality, good or bad, is how well it sticks in your memory. The sublime and the stinkers are told and retold, the mediocre just fades away. If you ever wonder how I rate the science fiction I read, memorability is a big component.

This month's IF has some real winners, and even the three-star stories have something to recommend them. For the first time, I see a glimpse of the greatness that almost was under Damon Knight's tenure back in 1959. Read on, and perhaps you'll agree.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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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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by Gideon Marcus

What if the South had won at Antietam? Or the Mongols had not been so savaged by the Hungarians at Mohi? If Hitler had grown up an artist? Time travel has been a staple of science fiction since the genre was formalized. One of the newer flavors of the time travel ouvre is the "sideways-in-time" story, where the "what-if" has become reality. Sometimes the tale is told in isolation, the characters unaware of any other history. Oftimes, the alternate timeline is just one of many.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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by Gideon Marcus

There is an interesting rhythm to my science fiction reading schedule. Every other month, I get to look forward to a bumper crop of magazines: Fantasy and Science Fiction, Analog, and the King-Sized Galaxy. Every other month, I get F&SF, Analog, and IF (owned by the same fellow who owns Galaxy).

IF is definitely the lesser mag. Not only is it shorter, but it clearly gets second choice of submissions to it and its sister, Galaxy. The stories tend to be by newer authors, or the lesser works of established ones. This makes sense -- Galaxy offers the standard rate of three cents an article while IF's pay is a bare one cent per word.

That isn't to say IF isn't worth reading. Pohl's a good editor, and he managed to make decent (if not extraordinary) issues every month. The latest one, the January 1962 IF, is a good example.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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Have you ever ordered your favorite dessert only to find it just doesn't satisfy like it used to? I'm a big fan of crème brûlée, and I used to get it every chance I could. That crispy carmelized top and that warm custard bottom, paired with a steaming cup of coffee...mmm.

These days, however, crème brûlée just hasn't done it for me. The portions are too small, or they serve the custard cold. The flavor doesn't seem as bold, the crust as crispy. I've started giving dessert menus a serious peruse. Maybe I want pie this time, or perhaps a slice of cake.

Among my subscription of monthly sf digests, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction used to be my dessert -- saved for last and savored. These days, its quality has declined some, and though tradition will keep it at the end of my review line-up, I don't look forward to reading the mag as much as once I did. This month's, the November 1961 issue, is a typical example of the new normal for F&SF:



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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by Gideon Marcus

A long time ago, back in the hoary old days of the 1950s, there was a science fiction magazine called Satellite. It was unusual in that contained full short novels, and maybe a vignette or two. Satellite was a fine magazine, and I was sorry to see it die at the end of the last decade.

Novels still come out in magazines, but they do so in a serialized format. This can be awkward as they generally extend across three or four magazines. Several magazines have started publishing stories in two parts, a compromise between Satellite and the usual digests. Fantasy and Science Fiction does that, but it also hacks the novels to bits, and they suffer for it.

IF, which is Galaxy's sister magazine, had not flirted with this format until this month's, the November 1961 issue. This means a novella-sized chunk of a story and a handful of shorter ones. That makes for a briefer article than normal this time around, but I think you'll still find it worth your time. Let's take a look!



See the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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by Ron Church

Summer is here! It's that lazy, hot stretch of time when the wisest thing to do is lie in the shade with a glass of lemonade and a good book. Perhaps if Khruschev did the same thing, he wouldn't be making things so miserable for the folks of West Berlin. Well, there's still time for Nikita to take a restful trip to the Black Sea shore.

As for me, I may not have a dacha, but I do have a beach. Moreover, this month's IF science fiction proved a reasonably pleasant companion during my relax time. If you haven't picked up your copy yet, I recommend it. Here's what's inside:



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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Human beings look for patterns. We espy the moon, and we see a face. We study history and see it repeat (or at least rhyme, said Mark Twain). We look at the glory of the universe and infer a Creator.

We look at the science fiction genre and we (some of us) conclude that it is dying.

Just look at the number of science fiction magazines in print in the early 1950s. At one point, there were some forty such publications, just in the United States. These days, there are six. Surely this is an unmistakable trend.

Or is it? There is something to be said for quality over quantity, and patterns can be found there, too. The last decade has seen the genre flower into maturity. Science fiction has mostly broken from its pulpy tradition, and many of the genre's luminaries (for instance, Ted Sturgeon and Zenna Henderson) have blazed stunning new terrain.

I've been keeping statistics on the Big Three science fiction digests, Galaxy, Analog, and Fantasy and Science Fiction since 1959. Although my scores are purely subjective, if my readers' comments be any indication, I am not too far out of step in my assessments. Applying some math, I find that F&SF has stayed roughly the same, and both Analog and Galaxy have improved somewhat.

Supporting this trend is the latest issue of
Galaxy (August 1961), which was quite good for its first half and does not decline in its second.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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With Halloween around the corner, one might have thought that there would have been an extra spooky issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction this month. Nothing doing. The current issue is nothing extraordinary, if not completely forgettable. Having covered the end novellette in my last article, it's time to cover the rest of the magazine.



(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)

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