Last time, my theme was “more of the same,” pointing out that Galaxy is keeping its content as consistent as possible, at the expense of taking any great risks. It is ironic that, as I pound the keys of my typewriter, my radio is playing a new version of “Apache.” This bossanova version by a Danish cat, name of Jörgen Ingmann, is fair, but I like the British one better, the one compellingly performed by The Shadows.
You are, of course, here to find out if the rest of the April 1961 Galaxy follows the trend set by the first half. The answer is “yes.” It’s a good issue, but not a great one.
Let’s start with the next story, I can do Anything by J.T. McIntosh. I know I have readers who aren’t particularly fond of him, but I find he usually turns in a good show. So it is with this story, about a man exiled to a miserable mining world for the crime of being a bit more than human. His power is an unsettling one; I’m glad to see it employed solely for good. A gritty piece with depth. Four stars.
Homey Atmosphere is a cute tale about the virtues and difficulties inherent in employing sentient computers in one’s starships. Daniel Galouye is another author on whom I often find opinion divided. I generally fall on the side of liking him. This story has an ending you might suspect before it occurs, but that doesn’t make it a bad one. Four stars.
All the People is a strangely unwhimsical and straightforward piece by R.A. Lafferty about a man who knows everyone on Earth despite never having met most of them. The story gets a quarter star for mentioning my (obscure) home town of El Centro, California, and it loses a quarter star for spoiling the ending a page early with a telling illustration. Three stars.
I don’t know Roger Dee very well. In fact, I’ve never reviewed any one his stories in this column, and though my notes suggest I’ve encountered him before, none of his creations stuck in my mind. I suppose, then, it should come as no surprise that his The Feeling similarly failed to impress. The notion that astronauts should feel an overwhelming sense of homesickness immediately upon leaving their home planet is not justified by any scientific research, and while, as the spacemen’s ship approaches Mars, the story careens near an exciting resolution, Dee adroitly manages to avoid it. Two stars.
But then there’s Ted Sturgeon, who can write three-star stories in his sleep (and probably does, to pay the bills). Tandy’s Story reads like a Serling preamble to an episode of The Twilight Zone and features two poignant themes. The first is a Sturgeon perennial: the symbiotic merger of minds with a result decidedly greater than the sum of the parts involved. The other is a human perennial: the unease at watching one’s children grow up far too fast…
A very good story, but it doesn’t tread any new ground for Sturgeon or Galaxy. Thus, just four stars.
On the plus side, we have a 3.5-star issue, and only one below-average entry in the bunch. In the minus column (paradoxically) are the good stories, none of which are outstanding. That said, I do like the fellows they’ve now got doing the art. I say if you’re going to include pictures in your literary magazine, make them good ones.
Give me a couple of days for next entry—I’m making my way through James Blish’s Titan’s Daughter. It’s not bad, so far, though it feels a little dated, which makes sense given that the first half of the novel was written as the novella, Beanstalk, nine years ago.