[April 27, 1960] Galactic on Galaxy (June 1960 Galaxy)

It’s that happy time of year when the sun is up late and the weather is perfect.  Of course, the weather is usually perfect here in the nicest unincorporated part of northern San Diego County (though there are rumors that our little farming community is going to vote on incorporation soon).

One of my favorite Spring-time activities is to lounge on the veranda (well, my daughter’s tree house) with a portable radio, a cup of coffee, and good book.  Today’s entree is the newest issue of Galaxy.  It’s a double-sized issue, so I’ll be breaking it out over two articles.  A body needs time to digest, after all. 

Fred Pohl has written a new serial evocatively titled Drunkard’s Walk I won’t go into too much detail as it’s only half published, but thus far, I’m enjoying it.  In an overpopulated Earth (12 billions, 6 of them in “The Chinas”), university education is the province of the elite.  One young mathematics professor appears to be the target for assassination.  He’s attempted to kill himself numerous times, always in that twilight between sleep and waking, as if in a trance. 

There are some neat technologies featured.  In particular, I liked Pohl’s depiction of education by television, broadcast via satellite and graded by computer.  As someone who has generally found the classroom stifling, I marvel at how nice it would be to get a college degree in the comfort of my own home.

Next on tap is L.J. Stecher’s Upstarts.  How can Earthers hope to parlay on a level playing field with a race that dominates the entire Galaxy?  By developing its own secret, starhopping technologies, of course.  The fascinating idea here is that though there are some 17 starfaring alien species, only two of them (one being humanity) clawed their way to sentience by natural evolutionary processes.  All of the rest were raised to sapience (“Uplifted,” to coin a phrase) by the slavering Vegans, who now find themselves a minority group in the new galactic order and want to enlist the assistance of the Terrans to get back on top.

by Dillon

Good stuff, and with a haunting ending.

The Good Neighbors is a fun, short Edgar Pangborn piece about the sudden appearance of an enormous winged beast that terrorizes the American skies for many days before the pitiful creature is harangued to death by a swarm of jet fighters.  Pangborn writes with a pleasant sense of whimsy that I appreciate.

by Wallace Wood

Rounding out the first half, Willy Ley has an interesting piece on rocket fuels and the comparative advantages of liquid vs. solid propellants.  He also answers some of his readers’ questions.  They must have been a better crop than usual as VeeLee seems pleasantly less peeved than he has been of late.

See you in two days with the other half.  Get yourself a copy and send me your thoughts!

4 thoughts on “[April 27, 1960] Galactic on Galaxy (June 1960 Galaxy)”

  1. Your arboreal verandah sounds de luxe, all right. Especially with all that Galaxy.

    Of the Pangborn, I can only say the aliens are alien, all right.  Considering what most Terran pet owners would say if their pet was harried to death by high-tech ants. The more so if she was a nursing mother.

    Education by television would have very strong social – or antisocial – consequences, all right. I wonder if the British are following suit, or are still sending their kids to Oxbridge: to make friends vital for later life, and to graduate with all their intellectual ability channeled into comprehension of the rules of cricket. (Future computer specialists be warned. )

    May spring and Galaxy continue well.

    1. My tranquility when in my diminutive guest home is only diminished when my fershlugginer neighbor lights up his cigarette.  There oughta be a law…

      I found the pet’s plight most pathetic and saddening.  On the other hand, it was causing its own share of damage.

      Your comments regarding cricket (that’s baseball with an oar, right?) made me chuckle.

      Thank you!

  2. “Upstarts” was a good story, even if it was rather talky.  The ending was quite powerful, and showed that the author thought through the consequences of the premise.

    “The Good Neighbors” was a cute shaggy dog story, with an amusing punchline.  I think the author was poking fun at the giant monster movies that are so popular these days.  In particular, the creature reminded me of a very bad one from a few years ago called “The Giant Claw,” featuring the silliest-looking monster I’ve ever seen.

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