It’s hard to keep the quality up in a long-format magazine like Galaxy, especially when your lower tier stuff gets absorbed by a sister magazine (IF). Thus, it is rare to find a full issue of Galaxy without some duds that bring the average down. Editor Gold has saved this month’s weak entries for the second half.
Not that you could tell at first, given the fascinating Subject to Change, by Ron Goulart. A creepy story about a woman, her gift for transformation, her struggle with kleptomania, and her increasing estrangement from her fiancee. Four stars.
H.B. Fyfe’s Round-and-Round Trip is a hoot. If you’re an inveterate traveler like me, you’ll especially appreciate this tale of a fellow who seems to be trapped on the interstellar version of the M.T.A., endlessly shuttling from planet to planet, never reaching his destination. But does he actually have one? Or is the journey the thing? I’m torn between three and four stars.
But then we have Blueblood, by Jim Harmon. Human explorers find a planet of blue humanoids racially divided based on the depth of the skin’s hue. The darker ones are seemingly dumber than the lighter ones. I held my breath for some kind of satire or allegory regarding our present prejudicial woes in this country, but the story took a left turn somewhere and just left me with a bad taste in my mouth. If it’s allegory, the message to be gleaned is disturbing, and if it is not, then it’s just a weak tale. It’s too bad–Harmon is fairly consistently good. Two stars this time.
Patrick Fahy is another complete novice, and Bad Memory, illustrated by Mad Magazine’s Don Martin, is unimpressive. A space horticulturalist sacrifices all to turn his planet into a Jovian swamp. On the upside, he falls in love. On the downside…well, I didn’t like the downside. Two stars (you might like it more than me).
The issue is wrapped up by Daniel Galouye’s Fighting Spirit, about a space force clerk who shennanigans his way into real combat only to find that war isn’t quite the rifle and stiff upper lip type. More the garlic, cross, and mirror type… Three stars.
All told, we end up with an issue that just barely crests the three-star line on the Journey-meter. Still, that’s pretty good for an issue in “decline,” and there are some definite gems, albeit more amethyst than emerald.
By the way, speaking of Don Martin, the newest Mad Magazine has hit the stands. As you can see, they successfully predicted the outcome of the race:
But they also hedged their bet–this was the outside cover: