Thursday, October 22, 2009

Astounding Science Fiction January 1955

First Analog this old I have read. Not too bad, one fine story, others ok.

The Darfsteller • novelette by Walter M. Miller, Jr.
The first piece of short fiction ever to win a Hugo award. From today's perspective it is slightly hard to see why. Writing is fairly nice, but the premise is bit strange. Apparently human actors are replaced in theater by “mannequins”, which are kind of androids programmed by tapes and apparently the fine tune during the performance is done by a central system. Human actors are not used any more at all. For some strange reason these android run shows are very popular and are even critiqued in the papers. Why the reviews are done isn't stated, as logically the performances should be very constant without much variation. A formed actor who has taken a job sweeping floors on a theater gets one last chance to perform (after a bit of sabotage). A very slowly moving story which features far too large parts of a boring play. **½
Armistice • shortstory by John Brunner
A conspirator is arrested, and his mind is read by near absolute dictator of a planet. But neither the apparent rebel or dictator are exactly what might be expected. Ok story, but the plan of the “rebel” doesn't seem to logical, or not at least it isn't very well explained. ***
Field Expedient • novelette by Chad Oliver
Earth has achieved near utopia. Everyone is happy, co-operative, and the most important message everyone knows is: “Don't Rock the Boat”. But one rich eccentric old man wants to rock the boat - at least a little. He has established colonies inVenus which are inhabited by small children and by robots taking care of and rearing them for a very specific purpose. Aside of “jungle-Venus” this is very good, well told story, easily best of the magazine. ****
Without Portfolio • shortstory by James E. Gunn
Diplomacy is delegated for a private firm. But the firm manages things seemingly so badly that the final war seems to be imminent at any moment. Or will it be? Ok story, maybe a bit too short. ***+
Nothing New • shortstory by Eric Frank Russell
A space ship crew is traveling to a planet where according to legends might live a race of immortals. And that's about it. Not much happens, a bit of discussion. I don't really get to point of the story - if there is any. The planet and its' inhabitants seems fairly interesting, there is hardly anything about them and they are practicality used only for a pretty inane punchline. **

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