Reading Around in Old SF Magazines

hitmouse

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I have read all James White’s Sector General stories, which are gentle, humane, and quite funny in places.
I never really considered the fact that he might have written anything else.
 

Extollager

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The April 1955 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction reviews The Fellowship of the Ring, which was then a recent book: "may well be the major achievement of the year or even of the decade." Cover art is by Chesley Bonestell.

Marc Brandel's "Cast the First Shadow" has appeared in book form only in Sissons' anthology, as far as I know:
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Brandel's story would have fit the old Twilight Zone perfectly. Its theme is loneliness and conformity, and it has a typical Zoney twist. It takes just the time it needs to take to tell the story.

Later that year, C. S. Lewis praised the story in a talk "On Science Fiction."
 

Extollager

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The August 1955 issue of F&SF has a whimsical Emsh cover and praises The Two Towers -- and notes The Fellowship of the Ring is already OP.
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When the Twilight Zone series got going four years later, Charles Beaumont would be a contributor, and his story "The Vanishing American" in this issue would have been well-suited to the series. I generally liked the creepier ones more -- and this one has a bit of a creepy element but it's more one of those warm-hearted fantasies about a "loser" who comes out OK in the end. The protagonist realizes he's been becoming invisible to people for years, but, as a byproduct of something else, he discovers what it is that'll make him noticeable again. The story has a bunch of reprint entries, including in The Best of F&SF, Fifth Series.
 

Extollager

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The July 1956 F&SF features a Bonestell cover and reviews The Return of the King. The magazine's book service made the Tolkien books available by mail, and I wonder if there are still living some readers who got their copies of LotR that way, whether living in cities with bookstores or in small towns without any. The review praises LotR and estimates it's twice the length of Asimov's Foundation trilogy.
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Bryce Walton's "The Contract" was signed by an alcoholic who suffers memory gaps. The co-signers turn into balls of light as the rocket ship he promised to ride to the moon, but forgot about, takes off. If I'd assigned this story in a class, there'd have been students who said it's about a guy with bad DTs and that's what's going on at the end. I don't think I would've been able to cite evidence showing that the author had closed off that rationalistic explanation. I didn't think much of the story. Nor, apparently, did anthologists, as the story doesn't seem to have been reprinted.
 

Extollager

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I gather that, two hours after leaving Arthur C. Clarke (probably at a pub) and heading to a London hotel, C. S. Lewis wrote a letter to Clarke commenting on an issue of If (may 1953) that Clarke had given him. The cover story was Clarke's "Jupiter 5," which Lewis liked but not without some criticism. The issue contained several stories that Lewis didn't comment on, including "Pipe of Peace" by James McKimmey, Jr. A farmer talks to his wife, who urges him to get out into the field. No, he says, he and other farmers are refusing to work. But before he can pay a social call on another farmer, he's arrested and bundled away with other rebellious farmers, while a humanoid robot shows up in his clothes at his farmhouse to take over (with the implication that wars will go on). The end. This seemed to me an example of magazine filler, but other readers might like it more.

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Bick

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Bick’s Selective Reading of Analog 1979

Continuing the adventure, I’ve now started to read ‘through’ 1979 Analog. By which I mean, choose a single story from each. This was a good year in my youth as I recall – I have fond memories of 1979 in England as a kid. Here we go, back to the end of the seventies…

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January 1979
Orson Scott Card – Breaking the Game
This was an interesting and well told tale. Interesting, because it’s a story by Card about game playing – a theme he used to much success elsewhere of course. This wasn’t nominated for any major awards, but it was voted the 2nd best short story in Analog in 1979 by the magazine’s readers. In this tale, humans spend only part of the time awake – and much of their long lives in a form of deep sleep. Our protagonist wakes to play the game – a bit like Risk, but over real time and with the complexity of reality.

February 1979
Gary Alan Ruse – The Odds Man
This was a slightly daft story, ultimately, but it starts very strongly and is an engaging read. A man in a Soviet style gulag prison is released on the agreement that he’ll explore the other side of a trans-dimensional gate, on behalf of the State. It has a lot of promise as a serious story but has a jokey ending, when it could have been quite powerful throughout.

March 1979
Ted Reynolds – Can These Bones Live?
This was a good story. It placed first in the Analog reader’s poll at the end of the year for best short story and was also nominated for the 1980 Hugo Award. A lone human woman is resurrected by an alien race long after humankind has perished on Earth – should she and can she ask the alien race to resurrect other humans? It’s an ambitious piece and reads well, though I’d probably say it was a solid B+ kind of story, rather than being in the A-class bracket. The end was a touch too tidy for me for it to be considered great.

April 1976
Gregory Benford – Redeemer
This was terrific. I was glad to see a story by Benford, as I’ve been hoping I’d stumble on some of the well-known authors from this era in this read through of 1979. A pilot of a FTL ship catches up with a slow colony ship travelling to Tau Ceti, for a nefarious purpose. Well told, and gripping, this is top drawer SF from Benford. This story was nominated for the Locus Award for best short story, but not either of the two major awards; and yet it’s aged very well; recommended.
 

JimC

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Post #4
That was the January 1963 issue of F&SF.
Which story did you like?
 

JimC

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It was. I think my F&SF collection is complete from the first issue to about the mid-seventies. I liked the early ones best.
 

Bick

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Continuing through Analog 1979...

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May 1979
Paul J. Nahin – Old Friends Across Time
This is a short little tale, that supposes that there was more to Maxwell, the discoverer of electrical field theory, than we know. It’s a nice tale, told through the eyes of an analyser of old photographs taken of the physicist, and I learnt a bit about Maxwell, an undoubted genius, so that was good.

June 1979
Larry Niven & Steven Barnes – The Locusts
This was voted the second-best novella in Analog in 1979. I like Niven and this had his usual big ideas on display. Colonisation of a planet around Tau Ceti doesn’t go as planned, as there’s something wrong with the offspring of the colonists that are born on the new planet. It’s quite nicely done, and it’s a novel idea.

July 1979
Michael McCollum – Beer Run
This was kinda great. It’s said that there are no new stories, and I as struck by this saying while reading this – but not because of any lack of originality on show here. This story contains two of the main features of the ‘Men in Black’ movies, to an almost uncanny degree, and then at the end along comes one of the key plot points from ‘The Terminator’, told almost exactly the same way. Now this was written and published some years before those films… hmm, did the filmmakers copy these ideas from this story, did they appear elsewhere before this, or is an example of convergent evolution of ideas? Who knows, but this was a decent story, and written in a clear engaging style.

August 1979
Edward Bryant – giANTS
This won the 1980 Nebula Award for Best Short Story and was also nominated for the Hugo and Locus awards. It’s pretty good but not perfect by any means. I liked the idea of the giant ants and the reason for their creation more than the execution of the story. It seemed rather disjointed in the telling, the prose is slightly laboured, and the reason for the very end is unclear (I guess you can make your own mind up), but I was left wondering whether there was more to this than met the eye, or less.
 

BAYLOR

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Continuing through Analog 1979...

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May 1979
Paul J. Nahin – Old Friends Across Time
This is a short little tale, that supposes that there was more to Maxwell, the discoverer of electrical field theory, than we know. It’s a nice tale, told through the eyes of an analyser of old photographs taken of the physicist, and I learnt a bit about Maxwell, an undoubted genius, so that was good.

June 1979
Larry Niven & Steven Barnes – The Locusts
This was voted the second-best novella in Analog in 1979. I like Niven and this had his usual big ideas on display. Colonisation of a planet around Tau Ceti doesn’t go as planned, as there’s something wrong with the offspring of the colonists that are born on the new planet. It’s quite nicely done, and it’s a novel idea.

July 1979
Michael McCollum – Beer Run
This was kinda great. It’s said that there are no new stories, and I as struck by this saying while reading this – but not because of any lack of originality on show here. This story contains two of the main features of the ‘Men in Black’ movies, to an almost uncanny degree, and then at the end along comes one of the key plot points from ‘The Terminator’, told almost exactly the same way. Now this was written and published some years before those films… hmm, did the filmmakers copy these ideas from this story, did they appear elsewhere before this, or is an example of convergent evolution of ideas? Who knows, but this was a decent story, and written in a clear engaging style.

August 1979
Edward Bryant – giANTS
This won the 1980 Nebula Award for Best Short Story and was also nominated for the Hugo and Locus awards. It’s pretty good but not perfect by any means. I liked the idea of the giant ants and the reason for their creation more than the execution of the story. It seemed rather disjointed in the telling, the prose is slightly laboured, and the reason for the very end is unclear (I guess you can make your own mind up), but I was left wondering whether there was more to this than met the eye, or less.
Interesting story premises. :cool:
 
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Don

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Paul J. Nahin – Old Friends Across Time
My Astounding/Analog collection goes back to the 1950s. It's a combination of a few large, cheap collections purchased from eBay nearly ten years ago. The Analogs were never read by me prior to their acquisition.

Anyhow, it's fun to pull an issue off the shelf to read a story in it for the first time. Previously Nahin was only known to me as the author of Time Machines.

The Hidden Truth
by Schantz made me aware of Maxwell's Matter and Motion. Besides writing science fiction, Dr Schantz writes nonfiction books about state of the art antennas. The Hidden Truth is a Young Adult story about a conspiracy to suppress the findings of Maxwell and Heaviside.

 

BigBadBob141

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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.
 

dask

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While not a magazine it could be a greatest hits collection of John W. Campbell's vision of sf spanning the years between 1946 and 1952 with eight of the ten stories appearing in Astounding and two obviously intended for Campbell but for some reason rejected. No turkeys in this bunch.
 
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