Here’s a bit of a hodgepodge article for the column as I plow through reading material and await the next Space Spectacular:
RCA’s Mrs Helen Mann, holder of two degrees in physics, issues instructions to FLAC (Florida Automatic Computer) at Patrick Air Force Base, from where military and civilian (Air Force) space launches originate. From here
Being a statistics nut, I like to track the (completely subjective) quality of my science fiction digests. For those just joining us, I use the Galactic Star scale, as follows:
5: Phenomenal; I would read again.
4: Good; I would recommend it to others.
3: Fair; I was entertained from beginning to end, but I would not read again or strongly recommend.
2: Poor; I wasted my time but was not actively offended.
1: Abysmal; I want my money back!
For those who like summaries, here is how the Big Three digests did last month (May 1960):
IF: 2 stars; best story: Matchmaker by Charles Fontenay, 3 stars
Astounding: 2.5 stars; best story: Wizard by Laurence Janifer, 3 stars
Fantasy and Science Fiction: 3 stars; best story: The Oldest Soldier, by Fritz Leiber, 4 stars
That’s a comparatively bad crop! On the other hand, I’ve seen enough slumps to expect that this one won’t last. After all, people have been predicting the death of science fiction for 6 years now…
In other news, something of an ominous development. Apparently, a U2 high-altitude “spy plane” was shot down over the Soviet Union on May 1. Premier Khruschev is making a lot of hay about it, but the White House says it was a civilian “weather study” mission under the auspices of NASA.
There’s even a picture to go with it:
I hope this doesn’t jeopardize the upcoming peace summit.
Happy birthday to Jack Sharkey, who turned 29 yesterday. Galactic Journey has covered two of his tales to date.
Finally, I am excited to say that this column garnered an honorable mention in no less esteemed a venue than Astounding/Analog! Rest assured, however, that the accolade will not prevent me from skewering Campbell’s magazine when skewering is due.