[March 9, 1960] First shoe of the month (April 1960 Galaxy, 1st half)

Good old Galaxy magazine.  Dependable, occasionally brilliant, very thick.

So thick, that I traditionally break down my review of each bi-month’s issue into two articles, and who am I to buck tradition?  Without further ado, the April 1960 Galaxy.

First up is Earl Goodale’s Success Story, a surprisingly entertaining satire on an interstellar soldier’s life and career.  It’s sort of a cynical answer to Heinlein’s Starship Troopers.  I don’t know much about Mr. Goodale—this is only his second story, as far as I can tell.

Clifford Simak must have a number of expensive bills to pay, for he’s published quite a number of stories this year already.  His latest, Condition of Employment, about a down-on-his luck engineer who is desperate to make one last flight home to Mars, is not as good as All the Traps of Earth, but better than The Gleaners, both of which came out last month (in F&SF and IF, respectively).  I particularly liked the disdain which the story’s protagonist felt for the ominpresent, oppressive greenery of Earth.  I feel some empathy—I grew up in the desert, and I find an unbridled environment of foliage (and its attendant insect populations) unsettling rather than attractive.

The Nuse Man is back, compliments of author Margaret St. Clair.  The Airy Servitor, about a thought-activated invisible butler much akin to Aladdin’s genie, is a lot of fun.  My favorite line: “Bert and Franny wore expressions suitable to persons who have just seen a dining room explode.”  Beware itinerant salesmen from the future bearing gifts they don’t understand.

When I saw Cordwainer Smith’s name on the cover, I became quite excited.  After all, his No, no, not Rogov was a tour de force.  The Lady Who Sailed the Soul has the trappings of a good story, it has the subject of a good story, but somehow it fails to be a good story.  This tale of the first and only relativistic interstellar spaceship pilot is overwrought and somehow anti-feminist despite having feminist protagonists.  Perhaps because they are such caricatures.  I also dislike stories where women are motivated solely by love for their man.


Finally, we have James Stamers’ Solid State, a dull tale of crystalline teleportation (as in using enlarged crystal lattices as vessels for instant transit) that I barely remembered even just after reading.  They can’t all be winners, I suppose.

That’s it for this batch.  See you when the other shoe drops!

Galactic Journey is now a proud member of a constellation of interesting columns.  While you’re waiting for me to publish my next article, why not give one of them a read!

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2 thoughts on “[March 9, 1960] First shoe of the month (April 1960 Galaxy, 1st half)”

  1. Thank you for sharing a good and solid collection; except possibly The Troublemakers, and I don’t think I gave that a fair chance. Don’t Look Now isn’t to my taste, but seems sound. A sf bit, the different social conventions, where the doctor mauls the nurse’s jaw without surprising her. And a great twist on Conditions of Employment.

    A couple of them have surprisingly distant future dates; but that’s a good point, too. We expect change to accelerate constantly, but there’s no reason why it shouldn’t stop and start. Somebody might find a rule for it, and call it, say, punctuated equilibrium.

    I like Success Story as fun (Except the unfortunately valid Father Goodness bit); and think draftees will like it even more. The St Clair’s good, of course. I do think the Bacon bit’s brilliant; and I’m not a Baconian.

    Actually, I definitely enjoyed, without being convinced by, Solid State. Perhaps the Arabian Night echoes had something to do with it.

    The Smith certainly isn’t his best – the best part of it is the spielfer – but I like the sailing bits. But, peculiarly 1950s women and men apart, the love story does come as an anti-climax.

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