Fall - 1952
Reviewed by W. F. Nolan
With their second issue, Ziff Davis and Howard Browne have produced what is without doubt the most visually exciting science-fantasy magazine to roll off the presses. Discounting a somewhat lurid cover, the publication is a lay-out man's dream, featuring two-color illustrations by top artists, extremely readable type on high-grade slick paper, lively cartoons, five pages of superb pen-and-ink drawings by the German master, Heinrich Kley, and an excellent reproduction of a classic Weird painting on the back cover. Topping all this, the fictional content is literate, adult, and wholly readable.
There is, however, one serious complaint to be lodged against editor Browne. After lauding (in the first Issue) the well-known crime writer Roy Huggins as "A brilliant new star in the field of fantasy" he includes a 30-page novelet, "Man in the Dark," which by no stretch of the imagination can be considered fantasy. The unsuspecting reader is halfway through the story before he realizes he is reading a straight crime mystery. Now I enjoy a well-written crime story as well as the next fellow, but I violently object to its inclusion, under false wraps, in a publication devoted entirely to science-fantasy. As well call Huxley's "Brave New World" a mystery classic and reprint it in Ellery Queen's Magazine! Let us hope this sort of editorial dishonesty on Browne's part will not be repeated.
The remainder of the stories, with the single exception of Jerome Bixby's contrived and predictable "Angels in the Jets," are all far above average, ranking with the best that the "big three" [GALAXY, ASF and MAG of F&SF] have printed. Anthony Boucher's delightful "Star Dummy" and Fritz Leiber's savage, "I'm Looking for Jeff," take top honors in that order. Boucher's story embraces a love-sick alien, the San Francisco zoo, television, space-opera, and a new version of the Lord's Prayer. Mixing them together with humor and pathos, he has produced a short story meriting the overworked adjective, great.
Dean Evans, Theodore Sturgeon and Eric Frank Russell contribute fine stories and the issue is climaxed by two reprints: "Miriam," the strangely-haunting prize winner by Truman Capote and Poe's unexcelled study in terror, "The Tell-Tale Heart."
By any means, fair or foul, latch on to this issue!
Reviewed by W. F. Nolan
OCTOBER: The imaginary cover painting (by Emsh) features many of GALAXY'S leading contributors, celebrating the magazines second birthday. According to Mr. Gold, circulation figures place it second only to ASF in total sales. Generally it has more than rated this spot, but, unfortunately, the October issue seems to offer little support for such proof of superiority.
Theodore Sturgeon's familiar triple-entity theme sees yet another variation in his lead novella, "Baby is Three." The writing is flawless and forceful, but I, for one, cannot generate much enthusiasm for his creaky plot. He did the job originally, with brilliance and impact, in "Rule of Three" (Galaxy - Jan '51). I say, let old bones lie. For those readers who enjoy their stories heavily garnished with science, Hal Clement's "Halo" should prove just the dish. I found it wholly indigestible. The reliable Eric Frank Russell comes through with a unique solution to the enforced solitude of the rocket crewman in his entertaining novelet, "A Little Oil." Good job.
Among the short stories, Jerome Bixby offers a routine treatment of the cuddly-alien theme in "Zen" - a creature who seems a combination of teddy bear (in appearance) and rabbit (in reproductive ability). Ho-hum. In "Wait for Weight", Jack McKenty devises a practical use for the fourth dimension. So-so "Tree - Spare That Woodsman" by Dave Dryfoos is a pleasant short illustrating the troubles thatcan beset a mother when her son climbs a tree - on another planet. In this case, the "tree" is a member of an alien race capable of responding to the electrical impulses of the human mind. Cleverly done. With tongue wedged firmly in cheek, John D. MacDonald gives credibility a thorough stretching in his wholly improbable, yet very readable, time-travel story "Game for Blondes." MacDonald, while mainly a prolific purveyor of mystery-detective tales, has been a steady contributor to the science-fiction field since 1948. One of the ablest writers in the field, his style is tight and expert and his characters fully-fleshed individuals, rather than stereotyped fictional cutouts. In addition, he is a sharp man with a gimmick - as "Game for Blondes" aptly demonstrates.
NOVEMBER: This issue, I am happy to report, is up to the generally high standard expected of GALAXY.
Isaac Asimov tees off with a sharply characterized and well-written novella, "The Martian Way," involving politics, space scavengers and the problem of a water shortage on Mars. The novelet, "Sugar Plum," is handled with Reg Bretnor's usual sly humor and dexterity, offering us a planet where any and all inhibitions are swiftly dealt with. Old maids be warned! In the short space of two years, Walter M. Miller, Jr., has established a solid reputation in the s-f field, Again he scores handsomely with "Command Performance," a suspense novelet utilizing mental telepathy. The climax is a dinger.
Of the five short stories, only two fall below par. William Morrison's "Runaway" employs a hackneyed older-than-Gernsback "surprise" ending, while "Warrior Race" by Robt. Sheckley is downright silly. Come, come Mr. Gold! "The Misogynist" by James Gunn, while qualifying more as fantasy than s-f, nonetheless is a wonderful example of the women-are-not-what-they-seem motif. (For the classic treatment of the theme, see Fritz Leiber's short novel "Conjure Wife," recently anthologized from UNKNOWN.) "The Altar at Midnight" by C. M. Kornbluth, affords us a rough-tough glimpse into the effects of space travel on the individual. The story has a bite. Robt. Gilbert's "A Thought for Tomorrow" is a competent treatment of teleportation.
Orchids to illustrator Ashman for his unusual interiors. Improved paperstock and offset printing brighten up the issue
Nov. - Dec., 1952
Reviewed by L. E. Brandt
There seems to be a growing introitus into some of the newer science fiction magazines of that dastardly thing known as sex. By this I do not mean the semi-pornography displayed in a couple of the pulpier publications, but a general admittance that sex does exist.
The lead story by Mickey Spillane exemplifies this. For those who do not like Spillane, it is better to skip this story. If you do like him or haven't read him before, then try this. Actually this is merely a rewriting of his "I, the Jury," with science-fiction weakly injected. It still has such classic phrases of Spillane prose as, "I said, 'Cherio, you son of a bitch,' and shot him through the head. Blood and brains and bone showered the door and the figure melted into the rug." The hero in this may be a millionaire and named Karl Terris instead of Mike Hammer, but he's still the same brutal, sadistic character as in all of Spillane's novels.
Luckily, the rest of the issue is on a much higher plane. It has some gems of humor by Ralph Robin and Richard Matheson; and a story of the first moon-flight by Ivar Jorgensen. In this he surpasses anything done for AMAZING and writes an excellent story with a diabolical ending.
The rest of the issue is well-rounded and definitely worth reading; even more so if you like Spillane.
Reviewed by L. E. Brandt
This issue continues with the serial, "The ESP Worlds." Part two seems completely unconnected with part one. Whereas the first was a tight, suspense filled account of a UFO agent outwitting the teleports and telepaths of Noya, this part has jumped on to the world of Nome and into a different culture and psychology with no ESPing at all. Actually, so far, the serial reads like two short stories vaguely connected by having the same main characters. Part 3 will, supposedly, tie the whole thing up in a tight little bundle with the required climax. Let us hope so.
Other stories are by such NEW WORLD "names" as Lan Wright, E. R. James, James Macgregor (who also wrote the serial under his pen-name, J. T. M'Intosh), A. Bertram Chandler and F. G. Rayer.
Rayer's story is a reworking of the plot "unite and conquer"; in this version a common enemy from outer space, which isn't really an enemy at all but merely a figment of the Machine's (second cousin to the Game Machine) logical imagination.
The best story, ironically enough, is Macgregor's story of a time shift in reverse, "The Broken Record." To say more would be to spoil it.
NEW WORLDS is a magazine definitely worth reading; both for quality and for the different British approach to writing - the British "psychology," if you prefer.
ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION
Review by T. K-W.
Ralph William's "But You Said . . ." is the gem to be found in this trash. Read it last, before administering the adrenalin (to revive the heartsick s-f-ophile) or sedative (to repress homicidal tendencies triggered by the new low Editor Campbell's one-time treasury of good reading has reached.)
Alfred Coppel's "The Exile" presents a real problem: readjustment in a most difficult situation. The solution is far less than satisfactory. "Survival Policy" by Edwin James has the germ of a fine yarn, but the treatment is not up to the theme, being cut in a hash of "solution by definition" -type of deus ex machina finale. Walter Miller's "Big Hunger" is poorer than his "Blood Bank!" (ASF June 1952), if that is possible. The stream of consciousness technique is surely valid in fiction, and probably in science-fiction, but this story doesn't prove it. "The Evidence at Hand" gives another theme of "military-judgment-in-error" - it's a good story, but much more might have been done with it.
Finally, Asimov's serial: It looks good, moves fast, does not overplay the hero - the rest may even be good enough to make up for its being serialized. Willy Ley's fine article on pyro-technics makes the purchasing price something less than robbery.
In summation: ASF still hasn't resumed its place as a first class s-f periodical.
SPACE SCIENCE FICTION
Review by Wallace Liggett
Frustrating as it is to reviewers and would-be reviewers, the RD policy of reviewing only top science fiction is sensible Trying to improve AMAZING and its too-numerous kin is like trying to halt a plague with a hypodermic of anti-toxin. But, by the same token, RD readers deserve to be notified about any new science-fiction magazine that shows promise.
SPACE SCIENCE FICTION, with Lester Del Rey as editor, masquerades in ASTOUNDING'S format and price. But the contents, though good, are not the same. "The God in the Bowl" by the late Robert Howard is the best in this issue; a complete fantasy (the corpses, however, are real.) It is heightened with a full page drawing by Schecterson, a top illustrator, and one who should be better known. (I consider him at least as talented as Cartier.) "A Matter of Faith" by Michael Sherman is also good. As the title implies, it deals with a world - three in fact - where a Strange Faith complicates our Hero's Mission. The others descend from fairly good to the brief and bad "With Wings" by John Jakes. (We encountered him earlier in IMAGINATION, where he was equally brief, but better. See "The Most Horrible Story," February 1952.)
As of this issue, Volume I, Number 2 SPACE shows real promise. As I see it, SPACE now stands at the crossroads. With an effort, it can pull itself up to the level of GALAXY. Or else, like some other promising beginners, it can sink into the space opera slime and be lost forever.
Buy SPACE and render your verdict.
Data entry and page scans provided by Judy Bemis
Data entry by Judy Bemis
Updated November 8, 2007. If you have a comment about these web pages please send a note to the Fanac Webmaster. Thank you.