Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Galaxy Science Fiction, October 1955

A fairly nice issue: some stories were very good, some were mediocre.

A Ticket to Tranai • novelette by Robert Sheckley
A well-known classic about a man who hears about a nice planet where life is really free. There are no taxes, there are ample opportunities for everyone, and all of the women are young and beautiful. But it turns out that there are some catches. And then some more catches. And then even more. An excellent, ironic story. One of the funniest and best science fiction novelettes ever. *****
The Discovery of Morniel Mathaway • short story by William Tenn
A mediocre artist and his friend survive mostly by shoplifting and living frugally. One day, a man appears from a hole in a wall of their room and announces that he had come from the future to meet the greatest artists that has ever lived. But he doesn’t recognize any of the paintings the artist has at home, and they are not even close to the quality they are supposed to be. A fun little time travel and time paradox story. ***½
Bolden's Pets • novelette by F. L. Wallace
A man falls ill while trading with the inhabitants of an alien planet. They give him a pet as payment - a nice and friendly creature. Before returning to his base, he must wait out a storm and he feels much better. But after he confines the creature and lands on the base, he starts to feel really sick. It takes a lot of pages before the protagonists figure out what reader already knows. Not a bad story, in spite of that. ***+
Jack of No Trades • novelette by Evelyn E. Smith
A man is severely handicapped. He doesn’t have any psi talents when everybody in his family, and almost everyone in the world, has. He feels very useless, as there is no occupation he could manage to do. But then there is a war and he can easily treat wounded, as he doesn’t feel what they feel. And it turns out he has a talent after all. But, finally, the wars end. A pretty simplistic story, with poor characterization, but it is surprisingly readable, in spite of that. **½
The Lights on Precipice Peak • short story by Stephen Tall
A group of men goes to the mountains, see some strange lights, and meet an alien who must come to a cold climate to cool down. A minor twist at the end, but there is not much else to the story. It is overlong and there is little actual plot. *½
The Game of Rat and Dragon • [The Instrumentality of Mankind] • short story by Cordwainer Smith
Spaceships are attacked by “dragons” whose closeness either kills everyone onboard, or at least turns survivors irreversibly mad. They can be chased away by bright beams of light, but they are too fast for human reflexes. Luckily there are “Partners” who can form a sort of symbiotic and telepathic bond with humans, and together they are able to defeat the dragons. The “partners” are apparently cats. Very nice writing, but the story itself doesn’t really make much sense. ***

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