Saturday, December 29, 2012
Galaxy Science Fiction, August 1951
An average issue, where most stories are well past their sell-by date.
Beyond Bedlam • novella by Wyman Guin
A story about a world where everyone is schizophrenic which is written by someone who apparently didn't know anything about schizophrenia. At least I find it hard to believe that schizophrenia would have meant multiple personality disorder in the fifties.
Everyone has a side personality. Everyone is using compulsory drugs to separate and control the personalities. Apparently going to this kind of lifestyle prevents all wars and violence. The two personalities everyone has are called hypoalter and hyperalter and the prevalent personality is switched every five days. Both personalities of the protagonist are married to the same woman (to her separate personalities), which in itself is uncommon and is considered to be slightly perverted. And what is really kinky is that the hyperalter of the personality has an affair with the wife of the hypoalter. That kind of perversion can't end well. The characters of the story spend extraordinary time explaining details of their society to each other’s. There are also some very extraneous parts in the story, for example there is a space ship race which comes from nowhere. The idea itself isn't the worst ever, but the writing is pretty bad and rambling, and the story would have benefited from a drastic shortening. **½
Operation Distress • shortstory by Lester del Rey
The first man who has landed in Mars is returning. In the middle of voyage he gets sick. Is there some pathogen he caught from Mars? A pretty stupid story with a stupid protagonist. There are several stupidities which should have been avoided even in -51. There apparently is "a little gravity" in space ship which travels in free fall. And when the ship is on a trajectory leading to earth and you should get there faster you just turn on your engines. I wonder why they weren't in use in the first place? And calculating the trajectory with all course changes and breaking burns would have been something very complicated. The reason why the astronaut got sick? The ship used cat's fur to gather dust and he was allergic to cats. Writing on par with the plot. **
The Pilot and the Bushman • novelette by Sylvia Jacobs
An alien ambassador slips that the aliens have technology to transfer all kind of matter and reconstitute it at will. It is a kind of cross of Star Trek's transfer beam and food reconstitution tech. That naturally causes a lot of interest - too much as matter of fact. He hires an advertiser to counter the damage. Soon the ad man has managed to make everyone think that the matter transmitter was a hoax. And he also manages to sell earth as a primitive vacation spot for the aliens. An amusing story which should have been somewhat tighter. ***-
Pictures Don't Lie • shortstory by Katherine MacLean
A scientist has captured TV transmissions from an approaching star ship. They are sent as tight, speed up bursts. Then the communication is established, and the ship starts to land. For some reason it doesn't seem to appear to the landing strip, even though the aliens say that have landed and are experiencing some serious trouble. Why? Think about the aliens in a famous Carl Barks Donald Duck / Uncle Scrooge story. These are similar ones, only more so. Another story which could have tighter. And with less stupid aliens. **½
The Fire and the Sword • novelette by Frank M. Robinson
Why there have been so many suicides of earth representatives on a planet which so perfect with so perfect and happy habitants, that it seems almost unreal? Two men are going to spend six months to find out. The reason is less complicated and more stupid than you might imagine. The inhabitants and the planet really are perfect, but the habitants will never really accept outsiders. They are friendly enough, but they will never make friends with humans. And that's apparently tragic enough to be a reason to kill yourself. The writing was tolerable. ***-
A Little Journey • shortstory by Ray Bradbury
An old woman comes to Mars because a fraudulent travel agent offers a “trip to heaven”. She and other members of her traveling group find an extremely battered and derelict rocket which was supposed to be used for the last part of the trip. And it is used for that trip, in a pretty literal sense. Nice story which was well written as could be expected. Little plot, a lot of style. ***+