NEW WORLDS January, 1952 Reviewed by L. E. Brandt.
This issue of New Worlds, with one or two exceptions, is filled with well-written stories, but the plots are old and on the unimpressive side. One exception "Without Bugles" is a moving short telling in sad, sometimes patheric terms, that colonization of a planet is not an easy or inexpensive thing; that it could very well involve a one-way journey.
The novelette "Pest" is a loose, disjointed story showing how the delicate ecology of a planet can be upset by the introduction of such innocent animals as rabbits and land crabs. And not until the very end is the real villain of the piece disclosed.
FANTASTIC ADVENTURES March, 1952 Reviewed by L. E. Brandt
According to the latest word FA is to undergo a radical change. A change in format to digest size with 144 pages and a new price of 35 . Browne also says that the writing will be "slick style". Since the word rate is being upped, it just may be. It is to be hoped that Browne may be seriously attempting to put out a quality fantasy magazine. One is certainly needed to fill the void created when Unknown folded many years ago. The change is due in about two months; then again, the idea may be shelved just as the earlier plans for revamping Amazing were.
About the current issue: typical. Transplanted westerns and south seas adventures under the guise of science fantasy; stereotyped characters, put together with the usual hack writing. Buy it if you're desperate enough, but don't expect too much.
STARTLING STORIES March, 1952 Reviewed by John Crimmins
This month's Startling doesn't particularly startle one, though, as a whole, it is a rather good issue. It contains a long, pleasant science fantasy novel by the many named Henry Kuttner; an amusing novelette by Kendall Foster Crossen; and two so-so shorts by Chad Oliver and Walt Sheldon.
Mr. Kuttner's "The Well of the Worlds" is in many ways a more palatable novel than those of the same type that he dished up several years ago in Startling. The initial setting of the story, a uranium mine at Great Bear Lake in 1970, is good, as is the characterization of the human hero and villain, and the humanoid heroine (what little we see of her). The later setting in a contiguous world of god-like immortals, reptilian beasts, and islands in the sky is poor, but the pace of the action, despite superfluous verbiage, carries the story to the end.
The Crossen novelette "Things of Distinction" is the real star this month with an amusing and satirical story of a young advertising account executive in a time of galactic-wide commerce.
In the departments, Jerome Bixby's Current Fan Publications mourns the loss of the Coles' Big O, and gives the Rd a good, strong plug. All told a steady issue of Startling, though with some indication that the editor is having trouble filling the now monthly magazine.
IF-Worlds of Science Fiction. - March, 1952 Reviewed by Gary Nelson
IF is another magazine that was apparently rushed out to lap up some of the gravy from the current science fiction boom. It is slightly above the average for magazines that are put out for this purpose. I'd rate it on a par with Wonder or Startling Stories, except that it has a neater format and a 35 price tag.
The editor, Paul W. Fairman, makes a few remarks, one of which I agree with and two I don't, that are worth commenting on.
First, he says that the magazine will not label its stories either adult or juvenile; he feels that the stories should speak for themselves. And I thoroughly agree. There has been too much lately on what is adult and what is juvenile science fiction. A certain editor has been practically breaking his arm patting himself on the back, while he tells you he is publishing adult stories. On the other hand, Scribner's sells books that they call juveniles written by Robert A. Heinlein which are better science fiction than most by any standards. All of this proves nothing, of course, but I think that no one needs to label stories adult or juvenile-let the readers judge the stories on their own merits without editorial help. They are capable of doing it, I'm sure.
Second, he says, "No greater boost could be given an infant publication than Browne's name on the cover." Like hell! I'll disagree on that point till he changes infant to infantile.
Finally, the editor claims that Amazing is the best science fiction magazine money can buy. If this were true, I'd prefer to read Ranch Romance or Sexy Detective instead of science fiction.
Aside from these dogmatic statements, the magazine's contents were fair. Howard Browne's lead story, "Twelve Times Zero," was an average adventure yarn. It's ending is unconventional enough for even the most unconventional.
Theodore Sturgeon, who turns up in the queerest places, has a short, "Never Underestimate," which is probably the best one in the issue. Its ending is only a little bit too obvious. I'd rate the rest of the short stories in the following order: "Bitter Victory," by Walt Miller; "The Old Martians," by Rog Phillips; "Black Eyes and the Daily Grind," by Milton Lesser; and "The Stowaway," by Alvin Heiner. Of course, I never read Shaver, so I can't discuss his story.
The worst story I did read was RAP's novelette, "Hell Ship"-impossible science and worse plot coupled with still worse writing.
I'll be surprised if this magazine folds-but only because of the boom now going on in science fiction. I never try to recommend magazines to science fiction fans because their tastes vary so greatly. Read this one if you care to, and judge for yourself.
ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION January, 1952 Reviewed by Paul H. Finch
There are two good stories in this issue, both shorts: "The Analogues" by Damon Knight, and "Instinct" by Lester del Rey. The former deals with the idea of what would happen if it were possible to build into each personality a prohibitor of certain acts, but left that personality as neurotic as before. What would be the effect on the personality so inhibited, and what would be the total, cumulative, social effect? This has more science fiction in it than 90% of the stories so labeled today. Del Rey has torned out a sort of epilogue to Asimov's robot stories, and one which is really first rate: a good story, good del Rey, and even good Asimov.
C. M. Kornbluth's novelette, "That Share Of Glory" attempts to take the old monastic idea and spirit, and apply it in the unknown future for the purpose of preserving and promoting "galactic utilitarian culture." The story has one virtue-it does not ride Kornbluth's tired old hobby horse that we are breeding ourselves into a race of 90-odd% morons. Otherwise it has little to recommend it, it seems to me. Even the ending is hackishly familiar.
Jack Vance has a short novel, "Telek" which is in good style. It has Vance's appreciated and appropriate incisive economy of style, but its very excellence reveals how absurd telekinesis as a story can become. It has so many contradictory parts, (no doubt inevitable) that it seems like playing poker with all cards wild. Remember how Miller played up the absurdity of time travel stories with "As Never Was?" I like time travel stories but not telekinesis ones-pay your money and take your choice.
Cliver Saari's short, "Sitting Duck" about psychological breakdown on a man made satellite, was evidently bought by author's name.
There are two articles: "Machine Intelligence" by Edmund C. Berkeley and "Hydroponics" by Carrol L. Klotzbach. The Editor's Page is quite remarkable. If Campbell is serious, and I take it he is, then he has read too many mutation stories, because he is beginning to believe them... For a quick clue to understanding this l\kind of mutation, those interested might re-read "Dianetics and the Authoritarian Personality" by Fessenden in the Oct-Nov. 1951 Rd (Sept=Oct. if you look inside on the title page!) If you want a more extended understanding, read The Authoritarian Personality by Adorno, et al referred to by Fessenden.
Miller's "Reference Library" is a review of the year's hard-cover science fiction. It also contains a special review of Hoyle's The Nature Of The Universe by R. S. Richardson.
I like Campbell's policy, begun December, of coloring up the front and title edge of Astounding.
AMAZING STORIES March, 1952 Reviewed by Eugene Young
There are five stories. For those who have casually perused "Prince Val" in the Sunday Examiner, the introduction, body and conclusion of the main feature will hold no surprises..."In his childhood, she knew, he had heard the wild goose calling...He would no sooner appear to settle down then he would be gone again, as though searching restlessly for a nameless..." There are three novelettes. Bringing up in the rear is a short story by Paul W. Fairman Strange Blood. After six cans of beer it could be that the reviewer was in a condition to appreciate anything (Yes-six- one for each novelette, three for the main feature). The story, a rather well written fantasy on the order of D. H. Lawrence's Rocking Horse Winner with a neat reverse twist, pleased me as a nice outlet for a certain type of aggression, but hardly worth the price of the issue.
GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION February, 1952 Reviewed by W. W. Wagner
I had intended this review to be a counterblast to the rather unfavorable review by Gary Nelson which appeared in the last issue of the Rhodomagnetic Digest. Happily this is unnecessary. The February Galaxy, although a bit weak on fiction, contains two articles by Heinlein and de Camp which comprise a far better answer to Mr. Nelson than I could give.
Mr. Nelson, in his review, insists that Galaxy, while publishing well-written stories is not publishing science fiction. He fails to state what he considers to be science fiction, and of course, cannot say in what way Galaxy fails to come up to par. In the aforementioned articles de Camp examines the rather poor prophecies made by early science fiction writers, and Heinlein goes out on a limb regarding the probable middle-class living conditions of the near future. While neither of these authors actually states his definition of science fiction, it is evident that they both consider it to be the description of possible future life obtained by extrapolation of contemporary scientific, political or sociological situations. I defy Mr. Nelson, or anyone else to show that Galaxy has not adhered closely to this definition of science fiction. Furthermore, if anyone has a better definition of science fiction, I would like to see it.
Now for the stories in this issue. "Fresh Air Fiend" is very good. The novelet "Conditionally Human" is a rather mediocre example of the intensely sociological story that Galaxy has been specializing in recently. "Double Standard" caused this reviewer to raise an eyebrow. I am just not that sympathetic to the avant-garde type of story. The serial, "The Demolished Man" is up to the best Galaxy standards, although this installment did seem to bog down a bit. However, most serials have a tendency to bog down in the middle, and Bester has plenty of opportunity to finish the serial in the same fine style in which he began.
MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION April 1952 Reviewed by W. W. Wagner
This issue of the Magazine Of Fantasy And Science Fiction adds excellent support to the argument advanced previously by this reviewer, to wit, that Boucher and McComas are producing one of the few magazines of imaginative literature fir to be read by a literate adult. It is, in my opinion, one of the best issues to date.
The science-fiction, as usual, is not up to the level of the fantasy. There is one very fine, very short story, "The Dreamer," and three, "Machine," "Love Thy Vimp," and "SRL Ad" that are in order, mediocre, poor, and very poor. "Machine" is the tale of a malignant toaster, and while not badly written, suffers from an overworked theme. "SRL Ad" is just the reverse. The idea of a Venusian girl trying to find a Terrestrial mate through the personal column of The Saturday Review Of Literature has all sorts of possibilities. Richard Matheson fails to develope any of them. "Love Thy Vimp" is another of the "unusual animal" stories and is definitely on the schmaltz side. H. Nearing brings up the average a good bit with another of his accounts of the doings of Professors Cleanth Penn Ransom and Archibald MacTate. This one, "The Actinic Actor" concerns Hamlet and chemiluminescence, or firefly light. It may not be really good science-fiction but it certainly is funny.
There is not space enough to enumerate all of the fantasy in this issue. Some of the stories, notably "Sealskin Trousers" and "A Tale to Tell" are so much on the borderline between fantasy and science-fiction that I would hesitate to classify them one way or the other. However, they are both excellent. Then there are fine stories by such well-known authors as Elizabeth Bowen, Robert Graves, and F. Marion Crawford, and a very amusing story, "The Bitterness of Ghoril" by a new author, Kay Rogers.
Saving the best for the last, there appears in this issue a story by none other than Anthony Boucher himself. I don't know what the reaction of other readers will be toward an editor who publishes his own material, but for me it is the best news since I found that there would be no more Lensmen stories in ASF. It might spoil the effect to give any details of "The Anomaly of the Empty Man," so suffice it to say that it is a must for every reader of fantasy and/or detective stories, especially those who look upon the premises of 221 B Baker Street as holy ground, McComas says that there may be a series of these stories. We can only wait, and hope.
Data entry by Judy Bemis
Data entry and page scans provided by Judy Bemis
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