A bit of a grab bag today as I finish off the odds and ends before the new (diminishing) crop of magazines comes in.
Firstly, the sad news regarding Vanguard II has been confirmed: the wobbly little beachball has got the orbitum tremens and is unable to focus its cameras on Mother Earth. So much for our first weather satellite.
Secondly, the sad news regarding the April 1959 Fantasy & Science Fiction. Yes, Poul Anderson does have a story in it. The Martian Crown Jewels is a science fiction Sherlock Holmes pastiche. As a mystery and as a story, it is fairly unremarkable. Still, Doyle-philes may enjoy it. As can be expected, both for the genre and for the author, the only women’s names are to be found gracing ships, not characters.
There are a couple of oddball pieces in this issue. One is a translated Anton Checkhov parody of a Jules Verne story called The Flying Islands. Perhaps it’s better in the original Russian.
There is also a chapter of Aldous Huxley’s new book, Brave New World Revisited, comparing the myriad of mind-altering substances available today to the simple and perfectly effective soma that appeared in the original Brave New World. It is an interesting contrast of prediction versus reality. It is also a great shopping list for some of us.
As I mentioned earlier, Damon Knight is out of an editorial job after just three issues at the helm of IF. F&SF has found him a new place to hang his reviewer’s hat–as the new writer for the magazine’s book column. Good news if you like damonknight.
Jane Roberts, an F&SF regular, contributes a two-page mood piece called Nightmare. It’s another two-minutes-to-midnight fright.
But the real gem of the latter portion of the magazine is Fred Pohl’s To see another Mountain about a nonagenarian supergenius being treated for a mental illness… but is he really sick? Interestingly, I never liked it when Pohl and Kornbluth teamed up, but Pohl by himself has been reliably excellent. This story is no exception.
Where does that leave us in the standings? There isn’t a bad piece in the bunch (the Anderson and Chekhov being the least remarkable). Let’s say “four”, maybe “four-and-a-half” given the greatness of the lead story.
Two days to Asimov!
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