Reading Around in Old SF Magazines

JunkMonkey

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The hardest Astoundings to get are the WW2 and late forties vintage here in the UK, the magazines were used as ships ballast from US to UK so some must have been sunk by u-boats I would imagine, don't know if fewer were printed because of paper shortage in the US which unfortunately killed its sister magazine "Unknown".
The thirties are pretty hard to get as well given the length of time they were printed, sadly they are all slowly disintegrating because of the cheap acidic wood pulp paper used, if not saved there could be stories completely lost because of this, I hope some effort is made to save them like they are doing with the old nitrate stock silent films which have the same problem.
I do have a few of each period but sadly there are large gaps in my collection from that time.

I once found a copy of the July 1939 Astounding in a derelict house I was exploring. That's the issue with Van Vogt's Black Destroyer and Isaac Asimov's first published story. It was just lying there on the floor sodden and rotting. Unsalvageable. I was a bit upset.
 

DeltaV

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The stories as you described them sounded pretty good.

From a writing viewpoint, they are fine ... well, maybe not the serial as I think the author tried to tackle too many plot points. However I tend to judge the stories in Analog according to their philosophy as being "the bastion of "hard" SF, meaning SF that takes its science seriously". And, although I'm prepared to be pretty flexible about what could be called 'hard' SF, I'm not sure that the plots and tropes used in this issue match up with that.
 

DeltaV

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November 1996

IMG_6592.JPG



This month the novella is Fugue on a Sunken Continent by G. David Nordley. On the planet Epona, the human mission to the alien Uthers is planning a withdrawal to the outer system as tension grows between the two species. However the Uthers have been quickly learning from their human visitors and some of them have other plans.

There is also a special feature, Epona by Wolf Read, that looks at the development of the world featured in Fugue on a Sunken Continent.

The novelette is Voice of the People by John K. Gibbons. A political candidate uses technology to sway the opinions of the voters, but also has to counter old-fashioned hijinks with the ballot box. In 2021 I'm not even sure this would count as fiction.

The first short story is The Spectral Stardrive by Jerry Oltion. The ghost of Unfinished Business returns.

The second is Foggery by Mark Rich. A junior reporter, Fogg, stops a misguided alien invasion with the help of a local farmer, and makes the headlines of the local newspaper.

The Alternate View looks at the Alcubierre warp drive.



Nothing else worth noting in this issue. And only the novella held my interest.
 

DeltaV

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December 1996

IMG_6594.JPG



Somewhat disturbing cover. The little girl is killed by the creature in the tree, and this forms the background for the short story A Replant Day Carol.


Three novelettes:

The Lily Gilders by Joseph H. Delaney. Giant modified lilies are used in the Amazon river to remove contaminants. And, as usual, there are unforeseen effects.

The Best is Yet to Be by H.G. Stratmann. An elderly couple take rejuvenation therapy, in spite of the wife's concerns.

Gerry Boomers by A.J. Austin & Daniel Hatch. An EMP detonates off of the US East Coast. With all electronics dead, Millennials and Gen Xers panic; Boomers come to the rescue.


The short stories are:

A Replant Day Carol by John Vester. On a planet where humans indirectly depend on the local alpha predator for their food supply, a woman is plagued by the memories of the death of her daughter.

The Widower's Wife by Jayge Carr. A woman has a brain transplant when her body dies. However her new body causes complications.

The Shaper by Rick Shelley. A young man dying of cancer meets a strange old man in the middle of a maze.


The Alternate View is on the use of jargon, slang and buzz words,


Issue Notes

Janet Aulisio has a couple of illustrations in this issue, the first I've seen of her work in 1996...there is also a four page *colour* ad for The Science Fiction Book Club...and an ad for a SF book! Seafort Saga by David Feintuch. But the ad for the self-cleaning litter box is still running so no other major changes in the advertising dept...Jack McDevitt has a few fans here at Chrons and Tom Easton in The Reference Library recommends his short story collection Standard Candles.


Does anybody have the Analytical Laboratory (poll results) for 1996? I would be interested in seeing the choices.
 

Bick

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Great stuff, thanks Delta. What would you say were the best short stories, best novelette and best novella from this year?

Does anybody have the Analytical Laboratory (poll results) for 1996? I would be interested in seeing the choices.
Indeed:

Best Novella
1 Primrose and Thorn - Bud Sparhawk
2 Symphony in a Minor Key - H. G. Stratmann
3 Fugue on a Sunken Continent - G. David Nordley
4 A Pillar of Stars by Night - Alexis Glynn Latner

Best Novelette
1 The Three Labors of Bubba - Bud Webster
2 Amateurs - Tom Ligon
3 Gerry Boomers - A. J. Austin and Daniel Hatch
4 Martian Valkyrie - G. David Nordley
5 Alexandrian Librarians - Stephen L. Burns

Best Short Story
1 Living It Is the Best Revenge - Ian Randal Strock
2 The Content of Their Character - Doug Larsen
3 Fluffy - Jeffery D. Kooistra
4 When There's a Will, There's a Way - Grey Rollins
5= A Replant Day Carol - John Vester
5= Appointment in Sinai - Ben Bova

Best Fact Article
1 The Coming of the Money Card: Boon or Bane? - Ian Randal Strock
2 Prospectus - Tom Ligon
3= Population, the Demographic Transition, and "Biological Imperatives" - Stephen L. Gillett, Ph.D.
3= Trapped Between Damnations: The True Meaning of the Population Crisis - Thomas A. Easton
4 Will They Let the Spaceships Fly? - G. Harry Stine
5 The Future of Computers - Robert A. Freitas, Jr.

Best Cover
1 May 1996 - George H. Krauter
2 November 1996 - Wolf Read
3 August 1996 - Terri Czeczko
4 June 1996 - Todd Lockwood
5 October 1996 - Jim Burns
 

Bick

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Continuing the slow read through Astounding from 1958...

Astounding, May 1958

AstoundMay58.jpg


Hal Clement - Close to Critical (Part 1 of 3)
As with the Poul Anderson serial that ran from Feb-Apr in this year's Astounding, I read all three parts of this Hal Clement novel directly after each other. This story is typical Clement, as the concept is based on the nature and challenges provided by a very un-Earth-like planet. In this case, the planet has a high gravity (approximately 3-4 G), surface temperatures of about 380 ˚F and extremely high atmospheric density (approximately 800 atmospheres). The end result is a world in which water is a superheated liquid with a density very similar to the air, and which that falls each night as slowly descending 50-foot raindrops. Living on the planet are 8-legged sentient beings at a stone-age point of development. A robot was sent to the planetary surface by human researchers circling the planet, and this robot 'raised' a collection of the indigenous 'people' to act as go-betweens for the humans and rest of the population. Set against this 'hard-SF' background, a shuttle craft crash-lands on the planet with two children on-board, and with no apparent way to get back into orbit, it takes the help of the natives to solve the problem. This serial started rather ponderously in this May issue, with lots of background, rather confusingly presented, and not a lot of excitement. It improved somewhat in the following issue, but ultimately ended rather weakly. It's strength is the concept of the planet, but this is not enough to sustain a novel-length serial, which was otherwise rather sterile. It didn't seem reasonable that the robot could raise the natives, the relationships between different aliens was simply not that interesting and the kids who had to be rescued were paper thin characters we don't care about that much. Characterisation was not one of Clement's strengths, as others have noted before, and overall this was not an especially good story. The illustrations by H. R. van Dongen were pretty nifty though.

Gordon R. Dickson - The Question
This was great. A small band of humans are on the retreat on an inhospitable rocky world from a full platoon of the alien race they are warring against. The men hole up in an armoured and defendable redoubt in the mountains, but they don't have supplies to last for long and one of their number is wounded. The dialogue, pace, and alien setting is all well handled, making this highly readable and engaging. Dickson rarely seems to trip up in his tales, which tend, like this one, to have something to say about humanity's warlike nature and strength of purpose. This tale explores how the men all come to the same conclusions and implacable aims, each from completely different philosophies, suggesting there is an essential truth we all understand, even if we get there in different ways.

Charles V. De Vet - Special Feature
De Vet came up with a corker of a novella in his collaboration with Katherine MacLean in March '58. In many ways, this continues his purple patch, as its a neat idea, and is engrossing and exciting. A viscous predatory alien, from a catlike race, lands in snowy Minnesota and immediately starts to attack and feed off the people of St Paul. Taking a disguise, the alien masquerades as a human woman and holes up in a hotel between her ventures outside to feed. But unknown to her... she's on camera! A vast number of cameras cover city streets and the interiors of buildings, and a TV company leaps into action to accept responsibility for the alien from the police, and film her every move. The idea of the media assuming a role in dictating morality and being inescapably everywhere was ahead of its time, and seems prescient now. The only downside to this tale is the degree of sexism, which sticks out these days like a sore thumb. But that aside, and taking this as a '50's SF tale, it's still superior. Perhaps a further collaboration here with MacLean would have smoothed the rough edges off on that front, which would have made this a potential classic.

Frank Herbert - You Take the High Road
In the far future, a great human interstellar empire broke apart from war, and led to many worlds regressing and then redeveloping in isolation, until they are rediscovered by new imperial investigators, seeking to reconnect lost worlds. One investigator on a seemingly peaceful world brings in a specialist as he doesn't trust that the people of the rediscovered world are genuinely peaceful. The idea is better then the execution, and would have benefitted from greater depth and world-building, perhaps in a longer tale. Overall, it's a little so-so.

Stanley Mullen - Fool Killer
An innocent man, convicted of murder is sent to work in the asteroid belt - effectively a death sentence from radiation poisoning - and after a few years there he is given the news he has cancer and has a month to live. He learns the State are going to overturn his conviction and pardon him, but it's too late... until he's given a new chance at coming back to life through experimental medicine. At this stage, the tale takes a dramatic turn. Having started as a fairly typical SF story off-world, it turns into a stone cold classic of SF drama and speculation. A computer is given the job of deciding the right justice for his unjust incarceration. It's deemed fair that, as he paid the price for a murder he didn't commit, and no-one can take that pain away, he now gets one 'free murder' he can commit without penalty. Will he kill anyone, how does everyone react to him, is he safe? The concept and exploration of ideas through SF here is absolutely top-notch. This is, I think, a classic SF story, though I'd not heard of it before, and makes an entry into my top 50 SF short story list. An absolute blinder.

foolkiller.jpg


John T. Phillifent - One-Eye
This was written under the pseudonym John Rackham, a name used by John Phillifent several times. I'm not sure why he would necessarily use a pseudonym here, because it's really good. A huge, strong, man of limited intelligence, a little like 'Lennie' in Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, can see into the future a few seconds ahead, prior to any violent injury occurring to others. But whenever he tries to warn people, they see him as a jinx, or the culprit of the accident. It's well written and an engaging premise. The idea presented here is that having any skill or ability outside the norm wouldn't necessarily be a good thing.

Overall Thoughts
This was a cracker of an issue. The serial was perhaps the weakest piece of fiction in it (with perhaps the exception of the Herbert), as the stories by Dickson, de Vet and Phillifent were all strong, good reads with great ideas, and the Mullen was exceptional. Overall, this was certainly the strongest issue of Astounding so far from '58. There was an interesting poll result feature toward the back that showed the demographic breakdown of Astounding readers. It made fascinating reading, especially as it recorded separate statistics for men and women. Looking at educational level, 47.2% of male readers and 47.7% of female readers were college graduates (the same) and of these 21% of men majored in a physical science, and 17% of women in physical sciences. The interesting differences come in education and biological sciences - both clearly higher for women - and in engineering which 29% for men majored in, and which no women undertook. Clearly engineering was still a bastion of male bias. Overall, 88% of reader poll responders were male.
 

alexvss

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I read Code Three by Rick Raphael earlier this year, for research purposes. In the future, hiper-fast highways cut across The U.S., and the story follows the highway patrollers who have to deal with the accidents and other stuff. I like the comedy and I've used some of its futurism in my own work. It's available on Project Gutenberg.

There are two other stories in the series, but I couldn't find them online. I know that "Once a Cop", which is part of the series, has been published in the may/64 issue of Analog. I found physical copies for sale but I didn't to pay and wait for the delivery. I e-mailed Project Gutenberg and they said they would forward my request to the volunteers who deal with pulp magazines. No answer yet.

21877.jpg
 

DeltaV

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Thank you, Bick, for posting the poll results.

Best Novella
1 Primrose and Thorn - Bud Sparhawk
2 Symphony in a Minor Key - H. G. Stratmann
3 Fugue on a Sunken Continent - G. David Nordley
4 A Pillar of Stars by Night - Alexis Glynn Latner

Best Novelette
1 The Three Labors of Bubba - Bud Webster
2 Amateurs - Tom Ligon
3 Gerry Boomers - A. J. Austin and Daniel Hatch
4 Martian Valkyrie - G. David Nordley
5 Alexandrian Librarians - Stephen L. Burns

Best Short Story
1 Living It Is the Best Revenge - Ian Randal Strock
2 The Content of Their Character - Doug Larsen
3 Fluffy - Jeffery D. Kooistra
4 When There's a Will, There's a Way - Grey Rollins
5= A Replant Day Carol - John Vester
5= Appointment in Sinai - Ben Bova

It is odd that A Pillar of Stars by Night shows up in the Best Novella list, as it is listed as a novelette in the January issue. My preference would be Fugue on a Sunken Continent, but I'm fine with Primrose and Thorn.

In the novelette category, I would have voted for Beyond the Volcano by Ned Farrar (Sept 1996). The only entry that really surprises me is Gerry Boomers ... perhaps unconscious bias from a lot of Analog readers?

Of the short stories, the only one that sticks out is A Replant Day Carol. And I'm still undecided about that story. The others ... it would be really picking from a mediocre selection. The vast majority took place on Earth in the near future, usually involving the effect of some technological advance. And that covers five out of the six stories above. BTW, out of 33 short stories, only 7 were not located on Earth.

All in all, a number of the 1996 issues were a bit of a slog to finish, at least for me. But I guess that there were a lot of Analog readers that liked those types of stories, otherwise Schmidt wouldn't have published them. Right?
 

DeltaV

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I've recently picked up a set of Analog from 1969.

From what I have read here and there on the Internet, those were apparently dark days for Analog. According to some, Campbell's SF mindset was firmly fixed in the 1940's; that and his obsession with para-psychological phenomena was driving away both writers and readers. In the last days of his editorship, only second-rate writers wrote for Analog, turning out third-rate stories.

Well, I shall now see for myself ...


So here goes with January 1969


IMG_6791.JPG



Gosh. All I read must be true! This issue starts with a serial by some writer that no one has ever heard of: Gordon R. Dickson... :)

A three-part serial starts this month: Wolfling by Gordon R. Dickson. Earth has been re-contacted by the thousands year old Human Imperium. Several local systems (including Earth) put on a show of their local culture to impress an Imperial delegation visiting Alpha Centauri. Knowing the type of entertainment in favor in the empire, Earth sends a matador who causes a sensation with his performance in the ring. He is quickly sent to the Imperial homeworld to perform in front of the Emperor himself...however the bullfighter is more than what he appears.

There are also two novellas in this issue:

The Other Culture by Ted Thomas. Climate change has caused shortages of water everywhere on Earth, and the Weather Bureau is now all-powerful, allocating water resources amongst many competing factions. And then scientists discover that continental drift has increased. Dramatically.

Krishna by Guy McCord. The planet Caledonia, out of contact for centuries with the other human worlds, has developed a culture based on a blend of native north-American and Scots highland traditions. Then a space ship arrives with monks preaching peace and bringing a drug that grants health and happiness to all that take it.

The short stories are:

The Hidden Ears by Lawrence A. Perkins Alien bandits land on a remote farm to steal Earth's most valuable resource, a plant with powerful narcotic effects. Federation security forces try to figure out how to stop them, without alarming the local sentient species.

Classicism by Murray Yaco. Harold, trained in classical economics, is determined to invent the first matter transmitter in the Federation. Assigned by HR as a garbage engineer instead of an electrical engineer, Harold has a few hoops to jump through to reach his goal.

Both of these stories fall in the category of lighter fare that Analog occasionally publishes.


Corn cobs hold the narcotic. The alien bandits raid the corn crib and steal all of the cobs, leaving only the kernals. Much to the puzzlement of the local farmer.


Science Fact (and as much has changed since 1969, the word "fact" may not always apply) is on the mass and size of major asteroids, particularly Vesta. Interesting that Vesta is the only asteroid that is visible (barely) to the eye under favorable conditions (and I guess you have to know exactly where to look).



Guy McCord is a pen name of Mack Reynolds, the second most prolific writer for Analog in the 1960's (thank you Bick for the excellent thread Author analysis from Astounding/Analog through the decades). And according to the ISFDB, a very busy writer indeed. Krishna appear to be the second story in a series of four, with two more set to appear later in 1969. Interesting that Reynolds was a member of the Socialist Labor Party when he began writing for Campbell in Analog. Perhaps Campbell wasn't as small minded in his choice of writers as some people now claim. Reynolds passed away in 1983.


Unlike Reynolds and Ted Thomas, the authors of the two shorts Lawrence A. Perkins & Murray Yaco only had a very limited output as writers, with only a handful of stores each.

According to the SF Encyclopedia, The Reference Library was written by P. Schuyler Miller from 1945 until he passed away. Pretty impressive run.



Issue Notes

The Analytical Library is posted monthly, not annually. This issue's version rates the stories in October 1968...Kelly Freas is the main illustrator, doing both the cover and a considerable number of the interior drawings...not a lot of ads in this issue. Several public service announcements, an ad for Analog magazine holders, and an ad for a book of collected Analog editorials edited by Harry Harrison...The Reference Library is by P. Schuyler Miller. The reviews cover this year's junior SF novels, and Miller has high praise for the Ace Books edition of World's Best Science Fiction: 1968 as being in the Analog SF tradition. He also reviews 2001: A Space Odyssey. Well before my time, I can only imagine the impact this story and film had when it came out...Heh heh. Brass Tacks was the same in 1968 as today; most letters are about the editorials!
 

DeltaV

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February 1969


IMG_6792.JPG



Second part of the serial Wolfling by Gordon R. Dickson (Wolfling is the term used by the Imperial ruling class for people from Earth). The bullfight makes a big impression on the Emperor and the wolfling James Keil is granted a commission in the Emperor's personal guard. Assisted by his aide-de-camp, Keil begins learning more and more about the Imperium and gets enmeshed in a dangerous power struggle.

The short novel is A Womanly Talent by Anne McCaffrey. In the near future, those with para-psychological talents are trained and used by a private center to avert and/or control disasters. Considered quite controversial by some, the center has political enemies seeking to shut it down. Adding to the director's difficulties, a most unusual baby girl is born causing complications for both the center and her parents.

The short stories are:

You'll Love the Past by J.R.Pierce. A man travels to the future and, although peace and security have been achieved, society is kept stagnant by a mysterious ruling class.

Extortion Inc by Mack Reynolds. A detective on the dole is hired by a government agency to recover secret plans for a miniaturized nuclear weapon, plans stolen by a company called Extortion Inc.

A Chair of Comparative Leisure by Robin Scott. A college history department chairman has to pick one of his professors to be endowed with a lucrative chair in the history department. But how to choose the lucky recipient?


Science Fact is a biography of a chap, Mr Ken Fagg, who made models of planets. This was quite interesting to read. He and his company made models of planets, moons and the Earth for museums, NASA, companies, etc.. He eventually sold his business to Rand-McNally.

Issue Notes

There is a tourism ad inside the front cover "Discover America. It's 3,000 smiles wide." Sadly, I don't think that this is still the case, judging from the news over the last few years...The Reference Library has an extensive introduction on The New Wave of SF which was a good read. My, some of those New Wave authors didn't think much of "traditional SF". One wrote that "science fiction is something that happened in the '40s and '50s in certain American magazines. Then the writers grew up and the readers didn't. Or vice versa. Or perhaps both. R.I.P." Gosh. Guess I'm still a kid then! As well, Miller looks at a collection of short stories by Laurence Janifer, including The Man Who Played to Lose (which rings a bell; I wonder if this has appeared elsewhere).
 

Bick

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Second part of the serial Wolfling by Gordon R. Dickson (Wolfling is the term used by the Imperial ruling class for people from Earth). The bullfight makes a big impression on the Emperor and the wolfling James Keil is granted a commission in the Emperor's personal guard. Assisted by his aide-de-camp, Keil begins learning more and more about the Imperium and gets enmeshed in a dangerous power struggle.
I'm interested in this story for several reasons: I like Dickson's work, I have an old paperback of this serial as a short novel, and its the story George Lucas got his idea for lightsabers from (probably). Have the Star Wars related features come to light in the story yet?
 

DeltaV

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I have several of Dickson's Dorsai novels and always enjoyed reading them. Pity that Dickson never finished the Childe Cycle.

The protagonist of Wolfling, James Keil, is definitely painted with the same brush as a Dorsai ... and the Imperial ruling class appears to share a few traits with the Exotics. I was not aware of the Star Wars - Wolfling connection ... but now you mention it light sabers show up in the final part of the serial. Interesting. And the Imperial troops in Wolfling, the Starkiens ... a foreshadowing of the Stormtroopers?

Going even further down the Dickson connection to Star Wars, what about the unusual abilities of Donal Graeme? A hint of a Jedi warrior perhaps?

And as we see in the third installment of Wolfling, we learn that Keil also has a strange history. And that too reminded me of Donal.

It is a good serial.
 

Bick

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I have several of Dickson's Dorsai novels and always enjoyed reading them. Pity that Dickson never finished the Childe Cycle.

The protagonist of Wolfling, James Keil, is definitely painted with the same brush as a Dorsai ... and the Imperial ruling class appears to share a few traits with the Exotics. I was not aware of the Star Wars - Wolfling connection ... but now you mention it light sabers show up in the final part of the serial. Interesting. And the Imperial troops in Wolfling, the Starkiens ... a foreshadowing of the Stormtroopers?

Going even further down the Dickson connection to Star Wars, what about the unusual abilities of Donal Graeme? A hint of a Jedi warrior perhaps?

And as we see in the third installment of Wolfling, we learn that Keil also has a strange history. And that too reminded me of Donal.

It is a good serial.
Sounds worth a read, thanks. I'm not sure there are other examples of Star Wars foreshadowing from Dickson than the 'lightsabers', but you never know. I think Lucas read Astounding/Analog and got various ideas from different stories, he was a bit of a magpie. It's been suggested he got his idea for Wookies and Chewbacca, from George RR Martin's And Seven Times Never Kill Man, see the Analog cover, below. The one at the back even seems to have a bowcaster!

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DeltaV

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March 1969

Opening illustration to part 3 of the series Wolfling. The artist is Kelly Freas.

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In the story, these personal energy beams are called rods. The fold in the book partially hides the rod of the combatant on the left, but the two are engaged in a "sword" fight with an energy burst at point of impact.
 

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Astounding, June 1958

astound_jun58.jpg


Robert Silverberg - Heir Reluctant
This issue of Astounding starts with a good length novelette from Silverberg. To suggest he was prolific around this time would be profound understatement: in 1958 alone he published 6 short novels and 65 short stories! Knocking them out considerably faster than one story a week might suggest the quality would be poor, but pretty much everything he wrote was bought and published, and this novelette confirms that Silverbob's minimal standard was higher than many of his contemporaries. Heir Reluctant has not been anthologised anywhere, so its unlikely to be among his best work, and yet... it's really quite good. A colony world is shaping up for revolution if the governor from Earth doesn't confer home rule on the colonists. But the governor is quite Machiavellian, and his plans run deeper than the colonists imagine to bring about orderly change. The premise is good, and the characters are well developed. The end is signaled some while before it concludes, so Silverberg doesn't quite nail the landing, but it was a fluid and enjoyable read nonetheless.

Stanley Mullen - Space to Swing a Cat
Mullen's tale in the previous issue was a corker, so I was interested to read this story. While Fool Killer was not nominated for any awards, this tale was actually a finalist for the '59 Hugo. That said, it's not as good. Different animal species have been experimentally mutated to express intelligence, so they can act as pilots in space. The improved reflexes and single-mindedness of different species are explored (dogs are too stupid, lions too lazy), and it's found that tigers are optimal. The story concerns the relationship between a test pilot and his 'tiger' trainee near the rings of Saturn. It's ultimately a bit so-so.

Randall Garrett - No Connections
This starts by presenting several interesting ideas, including dialogue discussing the potential to predict the future by the mathematical analysis of billions of people, which sounds a lot like a critique of Asimov's Foundation stories. It then turns into a story about a scientist who is trying to establish, archeologically, that Earth was the cradle of humanity, tens of thousands of years ago (again, similar to Asimov's 'Empire'). But then it ends with a whimper, with what is effectively a joke.

Theodore L. Thomas - The Law School
Very brightly and engagingly told, but ends up being nothing much at all. A man from a moon work crew is arrested for fighting, and defended on Earth by a young new lawyer, who turns the case on its head. Rather average.

Hugh B. Brous, Jr - Murphy's Law
The 'Brass Tacks" readers pages in Astounding around this time devoted a lot of letters to 'Murphy's Law', and this may be why this short piece was published by Campbell, as its all about what went wrong on a first trip to the moon. Told in a folksy, blasé fashion, the events are not remotely sensible, and the end is beyond daft, suggesting this was just a joke, but it's not a very good one. Brous published only this one SF story, until the early 1980's, when he published a couple more.

Hal Clement - Close to Critical
(Part 2 of 3)
The second part of Clement's serial was where it dragged rather. See previous month review for the full assessment of this hard science fiction serial.

Overall Thoughts
This was not nearly as good an issue as the previous, excellent month, and the Silverberg novelette was probably the high point of the magazine. The book reviews are not of anything very interesting either, and nothing especially stood out for Miller. Campbell's editorial on science fans was quite agreeable.
 

DeltaV

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March 1969

IMG_6795.JPG



Final part of the serial Wolfling by Gordon R. Dickson. The emperor is tricked into having his uncle replaced by a high noble who, unknown to him, is the leader of the insurrection. To save the Imperium, the wolfling Keil must engage the traitor in personal combat, a fight to the death. But even if Keil survives, other enemies wait for his return back to Earth.

The short novel is Trap, by Christopher Anvil. The alien Centran have bitten off more than they can chew with their invasion of an alien world. They call on their Terran allies for help in extricating their invasion forces. Both powers must now deal with aliens with quite an unusual talent ... and now also bent on conquest.

The novelette is Minitalent by Tak Hallus. Alice Culligan revealed to the authorities the trafficking of illegal arms to the alilen world of Heth,, arms that killed fifty million inhabitants. As the key witness in the criminal trial, she is at first bribed and then threatened. All she has to defend herself against powerful corporate enemies is an unusual talent.

The short stories are:

Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall by R.E. Allen. What actress can play the role of Helen of Troy? An agent proposes a rather ordinary looking girl, but claims that she can light the same desire in a man's heart as Helen.

From Fanaticism, or for Reward by Harry Harrison. A paid assassin is slowly but surely tracked down by a crime solving robot. Twenty years later, the assassin is caught, but the judgment of his crime is not what he expects.


Science Fact is on the *new* study of pulsars.


Issue Notes

Tak Hallus is a pen name used by Stephen Robinette. A quick search on isfdb shows Robinette wrote roughly twenty or so short stories including Helbent 4. This latter story has appeared in more SF 'Best Of' collections than you can shake a stick at and although I read it decades ago, I still remember it clearly. The Spacethings are coming! WooHoo! :) .. The Reference Library discusses some themes of late 1800's early 1900's SF, including the "lost race" trope. One of the reviews is of Larry Niven's book A Gift From Earth. Some of the planets in Niven's universe have quite colourful names: Lookitthat, We Made It, and Jinx. Ah, I only hope that when humanity makes it out to the stars we shall have the same creativity....No Brass Tacks in this issue.
 

Grognardsw

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Re: Astounding, June, 1958: Robert Silverberg is a favorite of mine, and the author I've collected most of particularly his many SF digest and magazine appearances. I haven't read Heir Reluctant yet, though I have that issue of Astounding. I recently purchased a Stark House Noir Classics double-novel re-issue of his Connie and Meg novels, two of his many sleaze novels of the early sixties written under his Loren Beauchamp pseudonym.

Bob gives an entertaining Worldcon speech and hosting of the Hugos at the '71 Worldcon:
 

AE35Unit

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I was cataloguing my sf books the other day and I came across an old magazine I bought from a second hand book shop years ago. Not one I'm familiar with, Original Science Fiction from 1960 ed by Robert A. W. Lowndes. I believe that was the year that mag folded. I'll have to photograph the cover tomorrow and upload it. I think its a hard to find mag, never come across another.
 

Bick

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I was cataloguing my sf books the other day and I came across an old magazine I bought from a second hand book shop years ago. Not one I'm familiar with, Original Science Fiction from 1960 ed by Robert A. W. Lowndes. I believe that was the year that mag folded. I'll have to photograph the cover tomorrow and upload it. I think its a hard to find mag, never come across another.
Sounds interesting - give it a read and let us know what you think of the contents!
 

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