[September 9, 1960] Willingly to Sequel (October 1960 Analog, lead novella)

Analog, formerly Astounding, has a reputation for fielding the fewest female authors.  Perhaps its because Campbell’s magazine is the most conservative of the science fiction digests, or maybe its because of the conception that women’s STF is somehow softer than the “real” deal.  You know, with characterization and such.

So you can imagine my delight when I saw Pauline Ashwell once again has the lead novella in this month’s Astounding, the second in her tales starring the spunky Lysistrata Lee.  You may have caught the fun Unwillingly to School a couple of years ago in which Lee wins a scholarship to study on old Earth (after a bit of adversity, of course).  The Lost Kafoozalum, which takes place after Lee graduates, and covers her first field mission, has that same unusual first person storytelling style as the earlier story. 

I like the plot, and Lee is hard not to love, but I found there was a little too much set-up for the payoff.  I would have liked more showing than telling during the expository first half.  The end is a bit pat, too.  I don’t mind romance (actually, I like it a great deal), so I’d have enjoyed more development leading to the reveal.

Read it, and tell me what you think!

I’ll be covering the rest of the October 1960 Astounding tomorrow.  In the meantime, here’s an update on Hurricane Donna.  It apparently began forming on August 29 off the coast of West Africa, and we’ve been tracking its swath of destruction via radar and TIROS 2 ever since.  It’s already pummeled the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, swamped the coast of Cuba, and it’s currently gathering strength just 150 miles southeast of Miami. 

It’s not certain yet whether the track of the storm will take it over Cape Canaveral, but Air Force and Space Technology Laboratory personnel are taking no chances.  They’ve already set up evacuation plans for personnel and vital equipment related to the upcoming Pioneer Moon mission.  Let’s hope the inclement weather doesn’t jinx things.  The last failure was heartbreaking enough.

3 thoughts on “[September 9, 1960] Willingly to Sequel (October 1960 Analog, lead novella)”

  1. I had not realized that there was an earlier Lizzie Lee story. I’ll have to see if I can track that down. That does clear up some of the poorly filled in backstory. I thought this was a terrific story, in any case. Lizzie has a great voice, and Ashwell has a deft hand at characterization with very few words.

    My only problem with the whole thing was the romance. Like you, I don’t have anything against a romance in my stories, but this felt very haphazard. It didn’t arise naturally from the narrative at all and felt like it had been wedged in there just because somebody (not necessarily the author) wanted a love story. Maybe some of the foundations were laid in the first story, but it came out of nowhere for me. I also have a problem with the teacher-student romance aspect, even if M’Clare did wait until after graduation.

  2. I took this opportunity to track down and read “Cat and Mouse” as well, given both your 5-star rating and its Hugo nomination.  It was a very good story, extremely vivid.  The author (may he rest in peace) certainly knew Alaska like the back of his hand.  The main character was very nicely done, and the alien biology was fascinating.  Although the story, at first glance, seems to be yet another version of the tough and competent human defeating the alien, the way in which the Warden is depicted makes it clear that human beings are far from being the dominant species in the universe.  (If I have a minor quibble, it’s the fact that the author has a tendency to use run-on sentences more often than seems necessary.  Also, as I am sure you noticed, one particular word which appears early in the story, although I am sure it is authentically used, was so offensive to me that it took me out of the story entirely.)

    “The Lost Kafoozalum” was also a very good story.  It took me a while to get used to the rather eccentric narrative style (I accepted the fact that she didn’t use quotation marks, but then she starts using them), and the first half was a little slow and talky, but those are small points.  The author’s “taking the future for granted” style reminded me of Heinlein, which is a good thing.  The far future created here is well thought out and convincing.  The author certainly creates a lot of suspense in the fast-moving second half of the story.  I didn’t mind the romance too much, since these characters were in a life-and-death situation, and that tends to bring out strong emotions (particularly in fiction!)

    Let’s hope that Hurricane Donna, which has already devastated the Caribbean, with more than one hundred lives lost in Puerto Rico, loses strength and/or turns away from inhabited areas soon.  On a brighter note, the new technology of observing weather from satellites could prove to be a lifesaver in situations like this.

    1. Re: Donna, it’s going to get worse before it gets better, I fear.

      The latter half of the Ashwell is exciting–and uncannily like a section I was about to write in my novel.  I’m torn between emulating Ashwell and consciously avoiding imitation…

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