NEW TALES OF SPACE AND TIME - edited by Raymond J. Healy.
Henry Holt and Co. $3.95
It is pleasant and unusual to review an anthology in which there are no mediocre stories. It is a little less than fantastic to read one in which the stories are not only new, but written especially for the anthology. The only difficulty facing the reviewer is that of finding the best story. This difficulty I shall avoid by merely pointing out that here is "God's plenty." There are stories for each reader, as the ten stories gathered here cover almost the entire range of science fiction. It is to be hoped that other publishers will follow this trend, for it offers tremendous advantages. Anthony Boucher noted this in the introduction he has written by saying that in this way the writers "escape even the very few taboos which exist in science fiction magazines. At least three of the stories here, for one reason or another, could almost certainly never have appeared in any magazine in the field -- including my own entry . . ."
There are stories by established authors, and several by relatively new authors. There is an excellent Bradbury, a good Van Vogt, and an amusing time travel story by P. Schuyler Miller. Asimov's In a Good Cause -- has an unusual twist. A flying saucer story by Gerald Heard, and a censorship tale by Cleve Cartmill are the weakest of the group, though they might have a far higher rating in less distinguished company. The best story I take to be Anthony Boucher's The Quest for Saint Acquin, although he who cares to differ may do so with good right. Of the stories by newer authors I thought Kris Neville's Bettyann best. Humor is provided by R. Bretnor's Little Anton, which stars Papa Schimmelhorn of "Gnurrs" fame. The tenth story, Tolliver's Travels, by Fenton and Petracca, offers a time travel plot, with a variation of the Ahasuerus tale as sub-motif.
This is a must read, and fans are advised to purchase a copy before the supply is exhausted, as it must be, and that rapidly.
Reviewed by David G. Spencer
THE SATURDAY EVENING POST FANTASY STORIES..........................................................Edited by Barthold Fles
Those who wish to read this collection need only seek out an Avon cover with a not-quite-nude lady crouched inside a bubble. The 9 Great Tales of Wonder and Weird Mystery prints science fiction equal to the best Amazing can offer. With one possible exception, Astounding or Galaxy would reject this collection.
The exception: Dr. Hanray's Second Chance is a passable specimen of the reflective-atomic-scientist-contemplating-his-handiwork theme. As for the rest . . . "He dared to ask a frightening question of the giant electronic calculator. And the machine supplied The Terrible Answer" (fatal, of course) .... And the Jungle Menace Which Threatens to Wipe out Mankind in Doomsday Deferred. But why go on? This cheap anthology was probably thrown together for the purpose of extracting stray quarters from stray morons. Let it be forgotten!
Reviewed by Wallace Liggett
THE BLACK FOX. by Gerald Heard.....................................................................................Harper and Brothers. $3.00
Against a background that Anthony Trollope might have created, Gerald (H.F.) Heard gives us a tale of the blackest and most foul magic. Prayers we might reasonably expect in a cathedral enclosure (Norminster), but not, in effect, prayers to evil powers. The origin of this strange situation and its eventual conclusion forms Heard's plot.
Canon Simpkins, a bit of a politician, and Canon Throckton, an ambitious scholar famed as an orientalist, are the logical candidates for a vacant Archdeaconate. Simpkins persuades the Bishop that he is the man. Throckton overhears and thoughts of revenge enter his mind. They grow until he feels "that cold hate which is of all passions the most soothing, that sedative which offers its opiate as the one escape from a condition of frustrated insult. . . the relief given by such hate is so great that recovery from addiction to it is rare. . ." In his desperation, in his desire for recognition he puts evil upon Simpkins, using an old Arabian formula -- half hoping it will work, half afraid it will not. It does. Simpkins sickens, and upon the occasion of a second curse, dies. Throckton obtains the desired place and persuades himself that he had nothing to do with the death.
This is in a sense prefatory to the real conflict in the book. Throckton is now haunted by the evil he originated. Since it could not destroy Simpkins through his mind -- he was not a bad man -- it attacked the body. Now, armed with the original intention it has returned to strike at the curser's mind. It is not merely disembodied evil which clings to him like a cat, but a visible representative of his sin -- a black jackal-form. As he compounds his sin the shadow's appearance changes; it becomes, as did Simpkins, mangy and leprous. The form is black with the shadow of a darkness caused by murderous death, and leprous with the sin Throckton committed when he lied as he murdered. Not only has his sin returned to ride him, but he cannot expiate it for his soul's sake because of the lie.
An Arabian Holy man describes this form to Throckton's sister, telling her that it is this variety which dogs the trail of those who have done murder by magic -- by intent, not by deed. It is the black form of what earlier men called Anubis, the summoner of the dead.
Throckton's expiation is dreadful, for his sister must take upon herself, willingly, a portion of this guilt, and must die as did Simpkins. Then, and then only, is Throckton free to give up his ill-won honours and travel to the East in search of salvation for his soul.
What Heard tells here, movingly and brilliantly, is an allegorical story of sin by intent, of the burden each man must carry who sins in this manner, and of the expiation each must make. It is not universally appealing, perhaps, but it is for fanciers of Charles Williams, and for those who like a philosophically moving story.
Reviewed by David G. Spencer
ADVENTURES IN TOMORROW by Kendall Foster Crossen................................................................Greenberg, $3.50
This is an above-average anthology with a fine introduction by the capable Mr. Crossen. He has divided his selections into four categories: 1. Atomic Age 1960-2100 A.D. (2) Galactic Age 2100-3000 A.D. (3) Stellar Age 3000-10,000 A.D. (4) Delphic Age 10,000 - 1,000,000 A.D. Mention of all the stories herein is precluded by space limitations, but one or two will be selected from each section.
In the first section, perhaps the most notable story is the Portable Phonograph by Walter Van Tilburg Clark. In seven short pages Clark depicts a world shattered by war -- a world in which existence alone has become of paramount importance, and where the arts are but skimpily preserved. This is a world where mechanization had become the god of the peoples idolatry. One man -- a doctor -- has saved four books: the Bible, Shakespeare, Moby Dick and the Divine Comedy. Of these and of his records, the only thing he has saved, he says:
In the second section, Van Vogt's Automaton is a good variant on the robot-human battle theme, while Shambleau by C. L. Moore is a vivid description of the dangers implicit in alien physiology. If a laugh is indicated after a hard day, you might try Asimov's Christmas on Ganymede -- a guaranteed rib-cracker.
The Stellar Age selections contain two stories which I recommend highly. Memory by Sturgeon is an excellent gadget story, and The Voice of The Lobster by Henry Kuttner is, by all odds, one of the better humorous sf stories. The hero, of sorts, resembles a penguin, and the nasty villain is an Algolian lobster-man -- one Ess Pu. If you have never read of a con-man of the future, here is your chance.
In the last section, two of the three are excellent. Anthony Boucher is represented by Transfer Point, an excellent variant of the worm Ouroboros theme, while Bruce Elliott's The Devil Was Sick, deserves close attention. All in all this is a very good anthology with a thorough introduction. It should be a must for collectors.
Reviewed by David G. Spencer
SPACE ON MY HANDS by Fredric Brown..........................................................................Reviewed by William Gaffey
As it happens that the name Fredric Brown was only hazily familiar to me, as were the labels on the stories, and I wasn't sure what kind of prejudice to adopt in reading the collection, I can now report that it should be a slightly favorable one. The stories fall into two categories according to treatment: funny and not funny, and generally into three or four groups according to plot. Brown seems to do best on funny stuff or a very unfunny environment-bites-man type of stories. In any case, his best "Come and Go Mad" is pretty good, and his worst, "Crisis, 1999," isn't too bad. Worth reading. And you might read the introduction too; I don't know how to rate that.
GREY LENSMAN by Edward E. Smith, Ph.D. ............................................................................... Fantasy Press - $3.00
Those well remembered words of the original Astounding serial, "Crime was rampant in the Galaxy and Law Enforcement lagged far behind ..." are missing from the new forward of this Fantasy Press offering; on the other hand, the famous Hubert Rogers cover has been reproduced in toto on the dust jacket. For those of you who missed the original serial, this book is a must.
In our opinion, E.E. Smith, Phid, reached the zenith of the Lensman series in this story. Never again was he so well able to integrate scope with motivation, and we find it regretful that he continued the series.
The new forward ties the story into the series (for the benefit of newer readers) and is adequate. Footnotes are scattered about and seem to detract from the record. Aside from these - and occasional obvious rewrites - the story is the same one that appeared lo! these 12 years ago.
It has the same stereotyped characters and the same corny dialogue:
But, dammit, if you're sentimentalists like us, and if you enjoy reading stories that were important in giving birth to science fiction's "Golden Age" of 1940-42, then this book has to follow "Galactic Patrol" into your library.
Reviewed by Les and Es Cole
Data entry and page scans provided by Judy Bemis
Data entry by Judy Bemis
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