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.