Sunday, February 13, 2011

Astounding Science Fiction May 1959

A fairly average issue – worse that the other 1959 issue I have read.

We Didn't Do Anything Wrong, Hardly • shortstory by Roger Kuykendall
Two kids build an antigravity spaceship from crap and capture a Russian spy satellite. A rather naive and silly story. ***-
Cum Grano Salis • novelette by Randall Garrett [as by David Gordon ]
A large research team is studying a planet when an accident destroys their food stores. (apparently practically all food is stored in the same place, very smart). They are facing a certain death by hunger, as it will months before their ship comes back. All fauna in the planet is poisonous in one way or another. But one man seems to be able to eat a native fruit which kills everyone else. A kind of problem solving story. Not very interesting as the solution is extremely clearly spelled out from the beginning. Writing was average, simple but readable. ***
History Repeats • shortstory by George O. Smith
A man and an intelligent dog are visiting the main planet of the milky way, which controls most of the commerce. Corruption is the normal way of handling most things. They try to find a girl who is missing. The setting seems to be interesting, but the story itself is pretty shite and badly written. **-
Operation Haystack • novelette by Frank Herbert
A devastating war has been fought centuries ago. It starts to seem like the lost partly has been quietly gaining influence and is planning to take over of the government. A member of some sort of special ops unit who has survived an almost fatal wounding is sent to investigate the plot in undercover. Very strange and old old-fashionable attitudes (only men can be successful in politics) with other stereotypes, also - otherwise not too bad. ***+
 Disturbing Sun • shortstory by R. S. Richardson [as by Philip Latham ]
A story that is presented as a discussion between two scientists. The sun apparently periodically emits rays that cause mental instability. An extremely dry story that just describes things. Could be considered as some sort of “What if?” thought experiment. **
 Hex • novelette by Laurence M. Janifer [as by Larry M. Harris ]
A young beautiful witch works as a social worker. She makes horrible hexes against people she is helping, for example she might give them a compulsion to stop loafing on welfare and get a job. One old woman tries to fight back, but there a little she can do. Very good and amusing story. ****-

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