The Bomb, the Clock, and the Devil (August 1959 Fantasy and Science Fiction; 7-02-1959)

In this month’s F&SF editorial, editor Doug Mills reports that he’s gotten a number of complaints regarding the oversaturation of stories in the post-apocalyptic, time travel, and deal-with-the-Devil genre.  Mr. Mills’ response was that any genre can be oversaturated, but quality will always be quality, and F&SF will publish quality stories in whatever genre it pleases.  In fact, there are stories dealing with all three of the “oversaturated” genres in this issue.

What do you think?  I have to agree with Mr. Mills.  Personally, I can never get enough of After the Bomb stories, time travel is often a hoot, and the Devil features in relatively few tales these days, in my experience.   But I’d like your opinion on the matter.
I had not realized that Poul Anderson’s Time Patrol story had taken up so much of the current issue; there isn’t much left to review.  There is some goodness, however:

Rosebud, by Ray Russell, is teleological nonsense in a single-pager.  Damon Knight’s book review column deals with horror, and is interesting, as usual.  I wish he were still helming IF (come to think of it, I just received this month’s copy… I wonder who’s in charge.)

Kit Reed’s Empty Nest is well nigh unreadable, but I think it’s a horror about being eaten by anthropoid birds.

Obituary, by Isaac Asimov, is actually quite good, and one of his few stories from the viewpoint of a woman.  It involves domestic abuse, a truly evil (yet in a plausible and everyday sort of way) villain, and a satisfactory, grisly come-uppance.  I hope the good doctor is not writing from experience in this one…

Finally, we’ve got Pact, by Poul Anderson (under his pseudonym, Winston P. Sanders).  This is the aforementioned Devilish Deal story, and it is my favorite story of the issue.  I hear you gasp–an Anderson story is my favorite?  Yes!  It’s clever all the way through, this story of a demon summoning a human in the hopes of consumating a contract.  Fine stuff.

My apologies for the shortness of this installment.  I’ll make it up next time.  Perhaps.

P.S. One of the reasons I enjoy science fiction so much is the clever gadgets.  In Asimov’s story, the villain uses a “desktop computer” with some sort of typewriter keys attached.  Boy, would that be a fine tool to have, and I’ve never seen the like in a story before.  Something to look forward to in a decade or two?



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