[September 10, 1960] Analog, Part 2 (The October 1960 Analog)

The October 1960 Analog is a surprisingly decent read.  While none of it is literature for the ages (some might argue that the Ashwell-written lead novella is an exception), neither is any of it rough hoeing.  Interestingly, it is an issue devoted almost entirely to sequels.  It works, I think.

The first story after the Ashwell is H.B.Fyfe’s Satellite System, and it’s the best of the three I’ve seen from him thus far.  An interstellar trader is ejected from his ship by hijackers.  But will orbital mechanics allow him to have the last laugh?  I liked the idea that trade between the stars is so expensive that only the exchange of ideas is profitable.

Mack Reynolds offers up the thoughtful and enjoyable Combat.  It’s another of his Cold War stories set in the mid 1970s, a la Revolution and (maybe) Pieces of the Game, where the Soviet Union is ascendant despite all of our current predictions.  It’s not a utopia, mind you, but it’s definitely something of a success story.  In Combat, advanced extraterrestrials appear, and to the West’s consternation, pick Moscow as their first stop. 

What makes this story compelling is the rather even-handed way with which Reynolds portrays Communism and the world behind the Iron Curtain.  There’s a lot of good political discussion, but it never gets too preachy or bogged down, as in some of Heinlein’s work.  Of course, I don’t buy Reynolds’ predictions, even with Jack Kennedy’s recent statement that Sputnik and Lunik were “twin alarm bells in the night.”  Some of Reynolds’ statements don’t even make sense.  For instance, in his story, both superpowers spend half of their GNP on the military.  Fundamentally impossible. 

But it’s worth seeing the tale through to the end, even if that end is a slight let-down.

Randall Garrett, under the name of “Darrel T. Langart,” wrote the next tale: Psichopath.  It’s a direct sequel to What the Left Hand was Doing and features the same psionic secret agency.  This time around, they are investigating what appear to be acts of sabotage at an antigravity research facility.  Given the two-page screed about scientists’ reluctance to acknowledge attacks on cherished scientific axioms (a thinly disguised paean to the much-abused Mr. Dean and his “drive”), I suspect Campbell had a strong hand in its editing.

Wrapping up the fiction is Isaac Asimov’s latest non-fact article on Thiotimoline, the a fictional substance that dissolves in water before its insertion!  Thiotimoline and the Space Age discusses some of the technological advances the substance allows.  For instance one can use it to send messages back in time to determine the success of a space mission or missile launch before it happens.  It’s a cute piece.

Finally, Campbell has yet another report on one of his home science projects.  In this case, it’s an overlong treatise on his attempts to grow crystals called The Self-Repairing Robot.  It would have been nice had he discussed at further length the concept behind the article’s title, that self-repairing crystals could be a pretty neat technological advancement.  Rather, we get to ooh and ahh at the descriptions of brightly colored inorganic growths–accompanied by drab black-and-white photos. 

All in all, its a solid three-star issue.  That’s pretty good for Analog.  Plus, it looks like “Mark Randall” will be back next month with another Malone and Boyd story.  Their last one was pretty good, so there’s something to look forward to. 

In other news, Hurricane Donna has made landfall in Florida.  This massive storm is a serious menace, and the folks at Cape Canaveral are taking no chances.  Both stages of the Atlas Able, which was deployed for a Pioneer Moon lshot ater this month, have been towed to protective hangars.  Antennas and cables have been disconnected from buildings and vehicles.  All of the large transport aircraft based at Patrick Air Force Base departed like a flock of frightened birds.  Their destination was San Salvador and other downrange islands.  The base personnel evacuated the base by noon after securing the hangars.  I understand that they had a harrowing ride back to their Cocoa Beach hotels as blinding rain lashed against their windshields and gusts of wind threatened to knock their cars off the road.

I suspect there will be another rough couple of days, not just for the engineers, but for all the residents of the Eastern seaboard.  Stay safe, my friends. 

11 thoughts on “[September 10, 1960] Analog, Part 2 (The October 1960 Analog)”

    1. I was just thinking that Our Gracious Host might find Garrett and Reynolds to have very similar styles…

      Reynolds hasn’t written that much yet, and so far nothing that really stands our (for me, at least…), but he’s an easy read.  Sometimes you’re just killing ten minutes at the dentist’s office or fifteen minutes on the bus; simple plots and characters are easy to follow when your reading time is broken up into bits and pieces.

      While many of us like and prefer “serious” SF, that’s not what a lot of the buyers are expecting out of a pulp magazine.  They expect a few moderately entertaining stories, probably are annoyed at the ones that span multiple issues, and throw the magazine away when they’re done with it.

      And you know, there’s a place for that kind of story and that kind of reader.  The people who like light fluffy Garrett and Reynolds stories are paying customers too.  We SF readers are too small of a community to start drawing lines in the sand.

      1. Reynolds has been writing for a decade. He’s done some collaborations with Fred Brown and he’s used a couple of pseudonyms. I can’t think of anything that really stands out off the top of my head, but he’s hardly a newcomer.

        I see what you mean about the style similarity with Garrett, but to me they still feel very different. Mind you, I’m not as down on Garrett as our host. I think it’s just a fairly common style for the genre since the end of the war. Certainly you see it most in those authors who have come along since then, especially those who have been developed by Campbell.

        1. Okay, you win.  The research librarian at the local library says they have listings for over fifty short stories by Reynolds since 1950.  She was going to keep digging but I told her that would be sufficient.

          Jeez, the way you guys pull this stuff up, one would think you had one of those fancy IBM machines and a wheelbarrow full of punched cards…

          1. Wouldn’t that be something. But what I really want is a copy of the Junior Woodchucks Guidebook. All the knowledge you could ever need and it fits in your hip pocket.

  1. “Satellite System” was strictly an idea story, but well done.  A bit like Hal Clement, perhaps.  It doesn’t take any more words than it needs.  Nice and efficient.

    “Combat” definitely held my interest.  Several vivid characters, a compelling tour of the USSR in the near future, and a realistic look at Cold War politics.  It was good to see humanity taken down a notch by the aliens in the pages of Astounding/Analog.  (I can’t get used to the new name.)

    “Psichopath” was so-so.  The twist was fairly interesting, but unlike the Frye it took a little too long.

    Dr. Asimov’s “article” was fun.

    The worst thing in this issue may be the really bad cover.

    Best wishes for the folks back East during this terrible hurricane.  I’m far enough inland that we shouldn’t have anything but some heavy rain at worst.

  2. Joining in the good wishes for the folk in the eastern States.

    The Reynolds is enjoyable but pedestrian, until the very fine ending.

    The Fyfe is good solid writing,both the action and the reasons for it.  I agree, it’s a great idea about ideas!Talking about economic space travel, some of your family might like to consider there’s a good chance that small women, as much circuitry in smaller payload, may become the preferred astronauts.

  3. The Fyfe wasn’t bad, maybe a little old-school in its characterizations and style, but certainly readable. I think the really interesting idea is buried, though. It makes perfect sense that it’s ideas, patents, that sort of thing that will be traded. I suppose a few luxury items, like spices or unusual foodstuffs, might be traded, but most things are likely to be better accessible within a star system. Mining asteroids or synthesizing chemical compounds, that sort of thing.

    The Reynolds wasn’t bad either. He may be the only author out there taking an evenhanded look at our competing systems. How he manages to get Campbell to print those stories is beyond me. I am also a bit skeptical about the claims regarding the Soviet economy. A lot of what they’re doing seems to be production for the sake of production, winding up with a lot of unneeded and unwanted goods (whereas we in the West produce a lot of unnecessary but highly desired goods). To use one of Reynolds’ favorite examples, using the steel cranked out by your steel mills to build more steel mills may look like growth, but at some point you have to hit an upper limit. I also quibble a bit with his claim that American anti-science attitudes stem from a reaction to Soviet scientific achievements. Despite lionization of people like Edison or the Wright Brothers, American culture has always been suspicious of thinkers.

    “Psichopath” was all right, I guess. It left me pretty cold, but I’m not generally a fan of any sort of psi in my stories. The Pauli effect is a “real” thing, though. Just ask any physicist. I suppose it’s the flip-side of your car not making that funny noise whenever you take it to the garage.

    The thiotimoline piece was mildly amusing, but it may be that the Good Doctor has gone to that well too many times. I’m not sure there’s really anymore to get out of that idea.

    Donna looks like a bad one. Hopefully, it will either move back out to sea and stay there or head inland and quickly lose strength.

  4. I suspect part of it is Asimov stringing the gag along, but I’d wager some of it is a tweak at the “publish or perish” paper-mill style of science that he has written about before.

    Nowadays what would ordinarily be one scientific paper might be broken into a dozen pieces, and what would have been the work of one or two people might now list a dozen “associates”, few if any who had anything to do with the research.  It’s a reputation building system, and reputation is the major part of the pay scale for most academic researchers nowadays.

    If he had mailed that first whimsical short story off to one of the academic paper mills, *someone* would likely have printed it.  The “peer review” system is pretty much a bad joke nowadays, with competent reviewers being flooded out by the number of incoming, mostly worthless papers.

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