Hello, all. I’d meant to report on the newest issue of IF, but the fershlugginer thing hasn’t arrived yet. My Fantasy and Science Fiction is in my hot little hands, however, and it is off to a strong start. Fasten your seatbelts!
The cover is quite lovely, and in fact, it is available for purchase if you are so inclined. It features the next-generation upper stage being designed as we speak to turn the Thor and Atlas missiles into powerful orbital boosters. The rocket is called “Vega.” I have heard rumblings, however, that the thing may not actually make it to fruition as the Air Force has a very similar booster in the works, and what’s the point of inventing the wheel twice, simultaneously?
Heading the issue is Edgar Pangborn’s The Red Hills of Summer. Mr. Pangborn has not written very much—looking through my records, I see he did a whimsical story for Galaxy called Angel’s Egg way back in 1951. Summer is almost excellent, the story of a generation ship arriving at an inhabitable planet after a 15-year journey. The stakes are high—Earth has become bombed-out and nigh unlivable. Four members of the crew, evenly divided by gender, must conduct a preliminary survey to ensure that the destination, called Demeter, will support the 300 colonists.
The ecology is a little too undeveloped to be plausible, and also a bit too terrestrial. But the writing is sound, the situations tense and interesting. It doesn’t quite hit 5 stars as it trails off more than ends. Perhaps Pangborn will turn this into the opening section of a novel, which would be quite readable.
Asimov’s article is on infinity, and the many different types of infinite counting. Engaging, but dry.
The next piece is called Quintet and is a bit of an experiment. There are five pieces, two poetry and three prose, one of which was penned by a pre-teen, and the rest by four distinguished authors. We’re supposed to guess who wrote what. All of the prose pieces have substantial spelling and grammatical errors of a patently unbelievable nature. This is, I suppose, an attempt to portray the writings of a juvenile. They go too far, though, to be fair, correspondence written by my current employer look quite similar. The conceit makes the pieces well-nigh unreadable. I’m going to guess that the youngster penned one of the pieces of poetry (I’m guessing it’s the first of two). We’ll see if I’m right next month.
Finally, for today, we have The Devil’s Garden, a “Murchison Morks” story by Robert Arthur, the same fellow who brought us Don’t be a Goose (and of similar vintage). It is a light-hearted but creepy story of telepathic transference of pain as a form of punishment. The resolution is satisfying and a little (but not very) surprising. I enjoyed it.
In two days, I’ll have the rest for you. Thus far, we’re in 3-star territory.
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