[Sep. 26, 1959] Coda with mathematics (October 1959 Astounding)

Ah, the beginning of a new month.  A stack of magazines fresh off the newstand and in the mail.  An average of 30.4166 days of reading pleasure (mostly) to look forward to.

But I haven’t read them yet.  Does that mean I’ve nothing to discuss?  Of course not.  We’ve still got to do the numbers! 

Every month, Astounding issues a reader poll to determine their favorite stories.  The most-loved authors get a bonus, and this keeps quality coming back to the magazine… or ensures that the fine Campbellian tradition of Earth First, Cro Magnon-era science fiction is maintained.  You decide.

In any event, here is what readers had to say about the July issue:

Randal Garrett’s But I don’t think…: 2.33
Gordon Dickson’s Dorsai! Part 3: 2.40
Chris Anvil’s Leverage: 3.33
Algis Budrys’ Straw: 3.41
Theodore L. Thomas’ Broken Tool: 3.95

What a lousy issue that was.  The lack of a clear #1 suggests it wasn’t so popular with the readers either, but that may just be projection.  Dorsai certainly did not finish as strongly as it had started.  As for the rest of the stories, looking back over my notes, they all blended together in undistinguished mediocrity, but the order in which the reader poll placed them is perhaps how I would have done so, too.  When your job is to rate the best gruel, you’re just as well-served pulling numbers out of a hat.

One of these days, Astounding is going to surprise me.  I keep telling myself that.

See you in a few!

P.S. 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!

(Confused?  Click here for an explanation as to what’s really going on)


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