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.
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!