Sunday, October 5, 2008

Galaxy Science Fiction - April 1954

I got a nice pile of old Galaxy magazines from Ebay. I have been reading through them slowly, starting from 1954 volume. My short reviews for issues January to March can be found from Librarything.

This was a quite good issue, none of the stories was horrible, couple were very good.

The Midas Plague
Fredrik Pohl

What if production of goods and energy is so high, that consuming it all is hard work? In this world it is so, and “poor” people must really work to meet their consumption quotas. The poor hero has married a daughter of a rich family, and the new family has trouble to consume everything they have to. Luckily a they found a solution.
Very entertaining, well told story, but a bit overlong. Novelette length would probably been enough. There are some serious problems in the economy described in the story, if you think about it too much - as not only products and services made by robots must be consumed, some services which are produced by humans must be consumed. E.g. the protagonist must take part in the group therapy - where he is treated by a group of psychiatrists. If everyone - or almost everyone - are treated weekly by several psychiatrist, there would be some minor practical problems, especially as there seems to other occupations beside psychiatry. Also, the ending isn’t logical at all: if throwing away products or intentionally destroying them is horrible and not allowed (everything must be really used personally) why it is so different if robots consume products by doing nothing productive? And if almost all production is done by automatic machines, why they can’t produce less - it is not like the unemployment is a major problem in this world. ****-
Limiting factor
Theodore R. Cogswell

There has been a mutation, and some people have gotten powerful psi-like powers, enabling them to fly or pilot ftl-spaceships to another worlds. They plan to leave ordinary people on their own, but on the way the encounter a polite gentleman dressed to suit floating in front of them in space. Who and why? Small, nice story, writing is adequate. ***+
Hands off
Robert Sheckley

Human criminals try to capture nonviolent alien’s nice, powerful spaceship. However, they get a lot more than they bargained for… Very good, classic story. Probably best story in this good issue. *****-
Michael Shaara

Life story of a man who wasn’t able to take brain augmentation like most at his time, and so retains his original creativity unlike the modified humans. Ending goes to unexpected direction - in bad way - there were no logical reason for it, and it didn’t suit the story. Also, in the story practically everything is told, not shown. Nothing special, weakest in the ‘zine. **
Black Charlie
Gordon R. Dickson

Interplanetary art dealer meets alien “artist”, but isn’t impressed by the quality of his works. A few years later he visit’s the same planet again, and now the situation of the artist has changed. He is moved deeply, and gets one work. Good, well written, moving story. ***½
Special Delivery
Damon Knight

Expecting mother starts to communicate with the fetus which slowly gains major influence in her life. Pretty well written, but very much fifties story. Doesn’t hurt the story as much it might, as the story happens in the fifties, afterall. The resolution isn’t much of a surprise. But the most disturbing thing of the story (in hindsight from the present time) is that the pregnant mother smokes all the time, and that is something taken as granted, and it is not something that is intended to give impression of being bad mother or something. ***½

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