“Doctor, Merchant” (Murray Leinster and the February 1959 Astounding; 1-13-1959)

Have you heard of Murray Leinster?

Of course you have, though he also writes under “William F. Jenkins,” which happens to be his real name.  Leinster/Jenkins is one of the few authors with a shot at the title of “Dean of Science Fiction.”  He’s one of the old guard–a veteran of World War One, the pulp era, Campbell’s Golden Age of Astounding, and he’s still going strong.  He won the Hugo in 1956 for his Exploration Team (which I haven’t yet read).  Leinster has an interesting style, unadorned and occasionally repetitive, that I think lends itself well to being read by adults and kids.

Interestingly, I am not as acquainted with Leinster as I feel I should be.  Aside from the juvenile, Space Tug (which I mentioned in an earlier article), I’ve only read some of his short stories.  Sam, this is you, for instance, came out in Galaxy a few years ago, and it was good. 

My favorites have been the short two stories, thus far, in the “Med Series,” (there is also at least one novel, which I should read soon.) Their protagonist, Calhoun, is a “med man.”  That is, he’s a doctor who flies in his one-person ship between planets like a country doctor visiting farms, bringing the latest cures and techniques.  Normally, his trips are routine, but we don’t get to read those stories.

Calhoun does have a companion–the cat/monkey hybrid named “Murgatroyd.”  Not only is the creature incredibly cute, but it has the innate ability to develop antibodies to virtually any disease.  It is thus invaluable for creating vaccine sera.

I like any story where the hero is distinguished by his or her healing rather than combat prowess.  Moreover, Calhoun has to use his brain, which is more fun and interesting than wielding a gun.  Both of the stories came out in Astounding in the last couple of years (Ribbon in the Sky, June 1957; The Grandfathers’ War, October 1957), and I imagine back issues would not be hard to obtain.

What I also like about this series is the universe.  Leinster’s future posits a superluminary drive that goes some 30 times the speed of light.  This is unquestionably an impressive speed, but though it facilitates colonization of other planets, it is too slow to efficiently maintain a galactic empire.  Instead, each planet is left to its own devices, and there are a few loose galactic organizations whose purpose is to facilitate the spread of medicine (the Med Corps) and to mediate interplanetary disputes.

This Ambassadorial Corps is featured in Leinster’s new serialized novel, The Pirates of Ersatz (“A ha!  He’s finally getting to his point!” I hear you say.) The February 1959 issue of Astounding has been sitting on my to-read pile for some time, and I’ve finally gotten to it.  Of course, only the first of three parts has come out, and I don’t want to spoil it issue-by-issue.  Suffice it to say, it looks promising.  It does not feature Calhoun, but rather an enterprising inventor, who suffers for his ingenuity.  In tone and structure, it feels a bit like Heinlein’s recent Astounding serial, Citizen of the Galaxy.  This is not a bad thing.

So stay tuned!  I won’t have a review of Leinster’s novel for another two months, but the other stories in the magazine (blessedly, I don’t think there’s an Anderson or Garrett among them) will be discussed quite soon.

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After midnight (43,000 Years Later; 1-11-1959)

It has been two minutes to midnight since 1953.

According to the Federation of Atomic Scientists, we have been teetering at the brink of nuclear destruction since the Soviets detonated their first H-Bomb.  Now that both East and West have demonstrated the ability to launch, without warning and without possibility of resistance, H-bomb-carrying missiles from one hemisphere to the other, I will not be surprised if the FAS ticks the clock one minute closer to midnight.

It is thus no surprise that post-apocalyptic fiction is a genre coming into full flower.  On the Beach, a pessimistic look at the aftermath set in Australia, came out in 1957, and it was a strong seller. 

One of last year’s crop was Horace Coon’s 43,000 Years After, which tells the tale of an alien archaeological expedition to Earth 43,000 years after humanity has exterminated itself and all vertebrate land life by nuclear hellfire.  Coon is not, by trade, a science fiction author.  He writes social how-to books and satirical social commentary.  It’s actually a good background for someone writing a book of this type.

The best satire holds a mirror to its subject to point up its absurdities.  Coon does this in 43,000 by letting humanity’s writings and edifices, most made for public consumption rather than posterity, be our race’s only method of communicating with the archaeologists, humanity having rendered itself otherwise quite mute.

And what did we leave behind?  Most of our cities have been smashed, and the remains have not aged well over 43 millennia.  It is clear to the future observers that we did have large transportation networks, that we did have knowledge of the H-bomb, and that such weapons were employed universally (though the aliens are somehow able to deduce which had been fired by the West and which by the East).  Some statues survive, and the aliens are aided by a limited sense of telepathy that enables to them to puzzle out mysteries that might otherwise be unsolvable (the last is a hand-wave, but scientific rigor is not the point of the book).

The real breakthrough comes when the expedition finds a time capsule buried in 1938 in conjunction with the World Expo.  The capsule provides a wealth of written and physical detail, particularly the Almanac and Sears Roebuck Catalogs.  The expedition also finds scattered records on stone and surviving microfilm, but they (conveniently) end in the 1950s, ten years before the determined date of the holocaust.

The findings of the archaeologists are conveyed through the personal musings of each of the three expedition directors: dogmatic and dictatorial Zolgus, thoughtful and scientific Yundi, philosophical and emotional Xia.  Each is heavily influenced by his/her prejudices.  Zolgus, for instance, cannot help but denigrate humanity for its failings: employing agriculture, failing to fix the planet’s axis, failing to embrace a world dictatorship, eschewing renewable energy sources.  Zolgus acknowledges briefly that his own race had its savage time, but he refuses to pardon Earth’s growing pains, describing us universally as “stupid.”  Unfair?  Perhaps, but an attitude that the richer nations of Earth frequently adopt toward the more “backward” nations of the world.  Or by the rich toward the poor (i.e. “I got mine; why ain’t you got yours yet?”)

Yundi is more respectful, but relying solely on empirical data, he has the most trouble understanding humanity’s self-destructive urges.  Xia is willing to be charitable.  She unabashedly falls in love with the Earth and its erstwhile inhabitants.  She recognizes and forgives our self-destructive urges, only lamenting that they came to such an unhappy fruition.

We do not learn much about the aliens except that which can be gleaned from their own reflections–they must be roughly humanoid, but they have no teeth and six digits on each appendage.  They do not crowd all of their sensory organs into their head.  They have a Communist-style dictatorship and vast technologies and access to energy.  They do not self-perpetuate or have families, but rather artificially grow their young so as to completely liberate both sexes.  Coming to Earth reinforces the wisdom of these practices for Zolgus, but creates doubts regarding them in the other two, especially Xia.

Ultimately, the questions the expedition asks are “why did humanity kill itself, and was it inevitable?”  In answering these questions, Coon tells the readers (through his characters) how to possibly avert the potential tragedy.  Coon also creates a secondary cautionary tale in the form of Zolgus, depicting in a negative light the phenomenon of technological dehumanization.

Of course, such a book runs the risk of being a colossal bore of philosophical posturing.  In fact, the book is rather short (just 143 pages), and quite well written.  The characters, while probably not alien enough, are engaging, and each have their own well-developed tone.  As a story, the plot could have been served better with more focus on the archaeological sleuthing; the archaeologists come to their conclusions a bit too quickly.  But, again, that’s not really the point. 

So give the book a read.  You may or may not come away with any profound shifts in your thinking, but you won’t have wasted the few hours it takes to complete the novel.

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My aching (egg)head (January 1959 F&SF, second half; 1-09-1959)

I tried.  I really tried.

When last we left off, I had saved Fritz Leiber’s The Silver Eggheads for last.  It comprises a good third of the January F&SF, and I thought it would be worth an article all to itself.  I suppose it does, at that, but not the way I had thought.

For some reason, when I started this project, I’d had the impression that I liked Fritz Leiber.  I think it was from reading The Big Time, which was pretty good.  Thus my puzzlement when I reviewed “Number of the Beast”, and again when I reviewed “Poor Little Miss MacBeth.”.

I am now coming to realize that I don’t like Fritz Leiber.  The Silver Eggheads was yet another of his over written yet frivolous stories.  I know Fritz has won the Hugo, and I haven’t published any fiction since I was 14 (so what do I know?), but his latest novella was execrable.

Here’s the plot.  I think.  In the future, fiction is turned out by sentient computers.  The fiction-bots are destroyed by disgruntled writers (in the future, human writers don’t actually compose; they just tend the machines), but then are unable to come up with their own stories.  The glib explanation is that people are insufficiently educated in the future to write.  This makes no sense–if the primary form of entertainment in the future is reading, how can it be impossible to know how to write, even if in a mediocre fashion? 

And there are these silver eggs that are apparently the brains of dead writers.  And there is a whole species of robots with their own culture and even genders (but who act just like people–a typical sin of contemporary writers).  And the whole thing is written in this baroque mess that is as much fun to read as stabbing forks into my eyes, with that same casual Playboy Magazine glib chauvinism that I’ve come to expect from Mssrs. Anderson and Garrett.

So, I tried.  I really tried.  But I could not get past the 16th page without skimming.  I have failed you.  I present myself prostrate and ask forgiveness.  Or vindication, whichever may be appropriate.

The rest of the issue fares little better.  John Collier’s Meeting of Relations is a slight, biblically-inspired piece.  It is also 16 years old; its reprinting suggests it was picked based on length rather than quality.

Invasion of the Planet of Love, by George P. Elliott, is another one of those strange pieces that leaves me wondering if it supposed to be satire or not.  I suspect it is, because the subject (rapacious Victorian-types looting and torturing Venus and its inhabitants only to be thwarted by the most peaceful of peoples) is implemented in so heavy-handed a fashion that it must have been meant as some kind of allegory.  It’s certainly not science fiction, at least no more than Burroughs’ work at the turn of the century. 

From <i data-recalc-dims=Exploring the Planets Copyright 1958″/>
From Exploring the Planets Copyright 1958

Incidentally, it is looking as though the “hot but tolerable” Venus is about to go by the wayside (along with all the science fiction stories that take place on it).  A presentation at the Paris Symposium on Radio Astronomy last summer revealed that radar studies done a few years ago show that Venus may be extremely hot–well above the boiling point of water.  I have a suspicion that most of our treasured science-fiction tropes may well be rendered obsolete in the next few years of space exploration.

Wrapping up the magazine is The R of A by Gordon Dickson.  It’s another in a long line of wish-granting genie stories and an interesting commentary on predestination.  Not great, but not bad.

That leaves the score for this magazine at one third 4-star, one third 2-star, and one third 1-star.  This leads to an average of 2.33.  And things started out so well.  On the other hand, the nice thing about digests is you can pick and choose.

Next article: 43,000 Years Later by Horace Coon.  Stay tuned!

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Moon Maidens (Missile to the Moon; 1-07-1959)

Seeing how the moon has been front and center in the headlines and in this column for the past week, I thought it a good idea to round out things with a movie about a trip to Earth’s celestial neighbor.

As my faithful reader(s) know, I spare no expense when it comes to securing only the finest entertainment to review.  I see your eyes gleam: will it be Fritz Lang’s Frau im mond?  Or perhaps George Pal’s adaptation of Robert Heinlein’s Destination Moon?

Nay, my fans.  What would be the point of revisiting old classics?  The key to this column is its currency.  Hence, for your reading pleasure, here are my thoughts upon viewing:

Some nitpickers will note that this epic actually came out almost a year ago.  For some reason, one of our town’s less reputable theaters still had this three-reeler running as a companion to an old gangster movie.  How fortunate for us.

Missile is a tale of interplanetary derring-do capitalizing on the new fad, the Space Race.  Of course, the film was made solely to spotlight the amazing technology that will one day take us to the moon.  Well, and these:

I noted in an earlier article how space travel stories always focus on the pilots, and a journey through the great beyond is little more exciting or involved than a drive down Highway 80.  In Missile, an eager scientist with an unplaceable accent has built his own rocket ship in his backyard.  He then shanghais two escaped prisoners (one with a heart of gold, the other desirous of gold) and takes off for the moon.  This is, perhaps, the movie’s best sequence.  To be fair, given the film’s reported budget of $65,000, the cinematography is not bad.

The scientist’s partner and the partner’s wife accidentally stow away on board the rocketship before it turns into stock footage of a V-2 rocket and blasts off toward the moon.  The scientist dies along the way, leaving his partner in charge.  Of course, the rocket has limitless fuel and blasts away at one gee the entire way to the moon, making for a very short trip).

Once on the moon, our heroes (well, two heroes, one heroine, one scoundrel, and one corpse) discover that, though the moon has no air, the sky scatters the sun’s rays in a decidedly Terran fashion.  Standing in the sun is instantly fatal due to the intense heat (much like one encounters driving down Highway 80).  We do not get to see the effects of the moon’s lesser gravity on the travelers, as they have special “gravity boots” on.  I suppose I should be grateful that they even made a nod to the issue.  Thankfully, they astronauts all have space suits, though they seem less than adequate in the neck area.

More importantly, they discover that the moon is inhabited by several species of inimical creatures including


But most importantly, they discover this colony of female space people, the last of a dying race.

Ah, there are our pageant winners. 

Of course, I would not wish to further spoil the plot of this (rather short) masterpiece.  Suffice it to say that the ending is bittersweet.  Which is to say that it is sweet that it ends at all, and bitter than the ending does not come closer to the beginning.  I look forward to many more films like this one, at least until the novelty of Space wears off for the under-21 crowd.

Next up: a wrap-up of the January 1959 F&SF–then, on to the new stuff!  Thanks for reading (and replying).

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A near miss? (Dream in flight; 1-05-1959)

For those of you waiting on tenterhooks, here is the news:

Mechta, a.k.a. Dream a.k.a. Lunik has soared past the moon.  Skimming just 4,700 miles over the surface of the Earth’s celestial neighbor, Mechta has become the first artificial object to escape Earth’s gravity and enter solar orbit, where it will remain for the foreseeable future. 

Already, the signals from the spacecraft are getting hard to pick up.  Nevertheless, the instruments on the Soviet probe have already returned some fascinating preliminary results.  For instance, it is now clear that, unlike the Earth, the moon has no magnetic field.  This is not unexpected–the moon is a lot less dense than the Earth and thus is unlikely to have the iron core currently believed to be required to generate a magnetic field.  Moreover, the moon is small enough that any iron it does have in its center is likely frozen solid, and it is believed that a spinning liquid iron core is necessary to generate a planetary magnetic field. 

So any space travelers heading to the moon won’t be able to use their compasses.  On the other hand, I imagine that the sun and the Earth, the former moving slowly across the lunar sky over the course of two weeks, the latter hanging fixed in the heavens (at least from half of the moon), will provide perfectly adequate navigational aids.

It is expected that Mechta will also return data on solar radiation in interplanetary space, but that will take a while to reach print.

Of course, the real mystery of Mechta still has not been solved.  Western newspapers are describing the mission as an “overshoot” and a “near miss,” but was Mechta even aimed at the moon?  TASS (the Soviet government news agency) certainly has not confirmed this.  On the other hand, Moscow Radio stated last night that Mechta would be taking pictures of the moon’s hitherto unseen far side; this report was later retracted as erroneous.

Curiouser and curiouser!  Was there a camera on board Lunik?  There certainly was enough space for one–at least, an American-built one.  Was the probe supposed to orbit the moon?  If not, what was all that extra payload for?  And is there any connection between this flight and the unorthodox visit to the United States by Anastas Mikoyan, the U.S.S.R’s number 2 political honcho?

I’ve said before that reading the news these days is like reading a science fiction magazine.  It wouldn’t take much for an enterprising author to take today’s headlines and turn them into tomorrow’s stories.


Speaking of which, I promise to return to covering the world of science fiction in two days.  Stay tuned!

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Red Moon? (The launch of Mechta; 1-03-59)

Bet on the Russians to throw us a curve.

Last month, I crowed that America had won the Space Race in 1958 with the launching of Score, the first communications satellite, and of the mildly successful Pioneer series.  Well, the Soviets apparently just wanted to give us a false feeling of security, because they have finally launched their own moon probe.  They call it “Mechta” or “Dream,” while the press has affectionately (or derisively, as they drink their sour grape punch) dubbed it “Lunik.”

It takes a day-and-a-half to get to the moon, so the Reds may yet suffer a Pioneer-style setback halfway there.  Nevertheless, the probe has already broken altitude records.  Moreover, the craft weighs almost 800 pounds, dwarfing anything we put up in 1958.  The U.S.S.R. clearly has a new rocket, and it’s a doozy.

Interestingly, the Soviets have been rather cagy as to the exact purpose of this probe.  Is it supposed to impact the moon?  Is it supposed to enter lunar orbit, as was the intention of the American Pioneers?  Or will it just fly by?  All Moscow will say is, “The multi stage cosmic rocket has gone out according to its program on the trajectory of its movement in the direction of the moon.”  The excerpt below doesn’t clarify much either, though it does sound ambitious:

The Soviets have announced that Mechta is carrying a similar slew of experiments to that carried on the Air Force Pioneers.  These experiments are designed to investigate the intensity of magnetic fields around the Earth and moon, as well as the space in-between.  They include a magnetometer, a geiger counter, a scintillation counter.  There is also a micrometeorite detector on board.  One has to wonder if these instruments are any better than the ones lofted in Pioneers 0-2; while they weigh an order of magnitude more, this may well be because the Soviets are behind us in miniaturization technology.  On the other hand, it may be that the satellite is carrying a secret payload–perhaps there is another dog on board, or maybe a flea circus.

Lunik has made its mark on history already, however–literally.  I am told that the probe released a cloud of sodium gas late last night when it was about a quarter of the way to the moon.  I can think of two reasons for this.  Scientifically, it allows us to determine the effects of the space environment on clouds of sodium gas.  Politically, it proves that the Soviets actually did send a probe to the moon, their news outlets having skewed somewhat left of complete honesty in the past few decades.

So stay tuned.  By January 5th, I shall either report to you of the triumphant success of the first Soviet lunar shot or of its failure.  If the latter be the case, at least it will be in good company.

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Ring in the New Year!  (January 1959 Fantasy and Science Fiction; 1-01-59)

Happy New Year!  1959 promises to be stellar in all senses of the word.

My apologies for the hiatus.  Those of you who are familiar with manual typewriters know the strain pressing down on those keys can have on your hand muscles.  I am fairly drooling over the idea of trading in my Smith Corona portable for one of the slick, new IBM electrics.  Perhaps when this column makes me a millionaire.

My regular subscribers (soon, I will need both hands to count you) know of my long quest to secure the January 1959 Fantasy & Science Fiction.  Ironically, shortly after I finally picked up a battered old copy at a secluded newsstand, I received the new February issue!  So, for a short time, I have lots to read.

The January issue is quite good, at least so far as I have read.  Former editor Anthony Boucher kicks off the issue with the first tale of his I’ve really liked: The Quest for St. Aquin falls into the rare category of post-apocalyptic religious fiction.  In fact, the only real example of the genre I can recall is Miller’s Canticle for Leibowitz, which I much enjoyed, and which also debuted in F&SF.  Boucher’s tale follows a young priest and his robot companion as they travel through a radiated, Christian-hostile America.  It’s atmospheric, thought-provoking, and fun.  A cameo character gives the story an extra star all on his own (those who know me will know who he is).

I’ve already written about Asimov’s non-fiction article, which dealt with the threat of global warming.  It’s worth reading.  The next piece of fiction is a fine short piece by Avram Davidson (does he write any other kind?) called The Woman who Thought She could Read.  If you like gypsies, fortune-telling, Avram Davidson, sad endings, or any combination thereof, you don’t want to miss this atmospheric tale.

I’m saving the issue’s novella, Fritz Leiber’s The Silver Eggheads, for next time.  Thus, the subsequent tale is Dick’s first short story in a while: Explorers We, about a returning expedition from Mars.  It’s not bad, but Dick has spoiled me.  I expect all of his stories to rock me.  Ah well.

It is worth reading Tony Boucher’s “Recommended Reading” column, if only for his droll relating of his encounters with UFOlogists. 

Finally (for this article, not the issue) came Robert F. Young’s cleverly titled and aptly timed Santa Clause.  The story asks the question: is it better for the delusional characters of one’s childhood to be real or completely nonexistent?  Sadly, though the tale is well-written and ties in both Saint Nick and Old Nick, it somehow fails to deliver a knockout punch at the end.

So stay tuned!  Next article, I shall wrap up the January F&SF, unless, of course, scientific events preempt my spotlight on fiction and compel me to do a stop-press account.

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Dreaming of a White Christmas (12-24-1958)

Are you dreaming of a White Christmas?  I know I am.  San Diego has beige Christmases at best.  If we want snow, we have to head for the mountains or manufacture the stuff. 

That said, a growing consensus of scientists is concerned that White Christmases may become a rarity for everyone, not just the privileged few living in Southern California.

It’s a big world we live in.  It’s so big that we still don’t have a picture of the whole thing.  At some point, someone will send up a satellite that will snap a family photo of our planet, but for now, we barely can resolve the curvature of the globe with high-flying sounding rockets.  It is difficult to imagine something as tiny as a single species having a profound effect upon an entire planet.

And yet, that is exactly what may be happening.  Every year, humanity puts out six billion tons of carbon dioxide.  It’s a relatively harmless gas as industrial byproducts go.  It certainly isn’t Strontium 90 or even coal dust.  But its effects are far-reaching. Carbon dioxide is transparent to light but opaque to heat, which means it lets in the suns rays, but doesn’t let heat from the Earth escape.  This is called the “Greenhouse Effect.”  To some extent, we rely on this effect; without it, the Earth would be much chillier. 

However, the amount of carbon dioxide we are putting into the atmosphere is enough to measurably increase the Greenhouse Effect, thus increasing the global temperature.  It has been predicted (and most-recently related in Asimov’s science fact article in the January 1959 Fantasy & Science Fiction) that in 350 years, the average global temperature will rise some 3.8 degrees Celsius, or a little more than half a degree per semi-century.

That doesn’t sound like a lot, does it?  But it would be enough to melt the polar ice caps, flood our coastal towns, generate more inclement weather, and change the inhabitability of the Earth dramatically.  Good-bye, glaciers.  Hello, new deserts.

There even appears to be corroborating data: though the measurements were not as comprehensive in 1900 as they are today, it does appear that the global temperature has risen half a degree since then.  I suppose the real test will be to see if the global temperature continues to rise.  We shall have to wait and see if it is half a degree hotter in, say, 2013. 

It is likely, however, that there is no cause for alarm.  After all, long before then, we should have nuclear fission and fusion reactors powering the world, and fossil fuels will be a thing of the past. 

One dares hope.

Merry Christmas Eve. 

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America SCORES! (12-22-1958)

Unless the Soviets can pull a rabbit out of their hat, it looks like the United States will come out the winner in the Space Race for 1958.

It was only a matter of time before we finally used our Atlas rocket, the nation’s first Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), to launch a satellite.  With the Atlas, we can finally throw up payloads of similar weights to those launched by the Soviets with their ICBM.

The first Atlas mission, Project SCORE, was launched on December 18, 1958.  It is the heaviest payload ever to be launched by the United States into orbit—a whopping 8000 pounds’ worth!  That compares favorably to the 9000 pound payload launched by the Soviet Union in May (Sputnik III).  Of course, those figures are a little less impressive when one realizes that the vast bulk of that weight actually comprises the last stage of the rocket.  Moreover, Sputnik III carried over a ton of instrumentation.  SCORE carries a bare 150 pounds of payload.

What SCORE does, however, is unprecedented.  Quite simply, it is the world’s first communication’s satellite.

Currently, if one wishes to send a message across the country or the world, one must either use archaic transoceanic cables or, more frequently, send the signal via some sort of radio.  The former method puts strong limits on destination (messages can only go where the cables are strung), and the latter is only as reliable as the atmosphere will allow.  Reception at remote locations is virtually impossible.  But with a satellite, one truly has the high ground.  Messages can be beamed anywhere along the satellite’s line of sight, which is essentially limitless. 

Developed jointly by the Air Force and veteran communications company, RCA, SCORE has the ability both to broadcast messages as they are beamed to it from ground stations and to store received messages and transmit them later.  Seeing how it was an Air Force mission, there were probably plenty of classified messages sent and re-transmitted, but the one everybody got to know about was this one, recorded by President Eisenhower the day after launch:

“This is the President of the United States speaking.  Through the marvels of scientific advance, my voice is coming to you from a satellite circling in outer space.  My message is a simple one: Through this unique means I convey to you and to all mankind, America’s wish for peace on Earth and goodwill toward men everywhere.”

Once again, science fiction has become fact.  Arthur C. Clarke predicted communications satellites in the ’40s, and here we are at the dawn of a new era. 

If that era comes.  It must be cynically pointed out that this launch had a second purpose—to show the Soviets that we, too, have the ability to send a nuclear bomb 6,000 miles across the globe.  While this represents a technological achievement and another example of science fiction become fact, I somehow can’t be as excited about this development.  It is yet another reminder that, thus far, the exploration of space has been primarily a military endeavor, and our plowshares are barely modified swords.

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