- A Better Life Starts Here
Super 6″ Space Conqueror Hi-Voltage Van de Graaff Generator The Final Optical Illusion! Mystery of Energy and Aging
- A Technology Dressed in Words
Jerry Pournelle starts us off with “Consort.” This story is about setting up an independent colony on the Moon, and the political and financial finagling to get it to happen. It’s really not a very good story, and it has no payoff. At the end, I’m left thinking “Who cares?”
However, if you care about technology and that is the main reason you read science fiction, then this might be for you? Even though, even then, the story is more about political maneuvering than technology. Not a surprise, since the disaster epics (like LUCIFER’S HAMMER and GOD’S ANVIL) that Pournelle co-wrote are effective mainly because of the pageant of characters they create and the situations they throw them in.
This story was built off of the cover, meaning the cover art was bought and then the writer found who could write a story around it. An interesting experiment that I’ve tried before and will probably try again, but experiments don’t always pay off. This one does not.
- Excuse me, Waiter, there’s some fantasy in my SF!
Joan and Vernor Vinge come up next with “The Peddler’s Apprentice.” This is a wonderful story that is pretty much fantasy. (Now, some people will argue that all fantasy is enfolded in science fiction because in an infinite universe there will be everything we can dream of, including planets where magic works, or seems to work, because it’s just science or psychic powers and blah blah blah they’re wrong.) It takes place in a future world where a single government has taken over (Oh, noes! say the libertarians, who also might have written this story) and a stranger comes to town and ruins everything, letting people live on their own again in a chaotic, unscripted world.
No, really, it’s a good story.
- Become a traveling museum piece! See the universe!
Don’t ask me to explain the plot of DOORWAYS IN THE SAND. Zelazny really does seem to be constructing it as he goes along, and he’s such a good and interesting writer that the entire thing holds together when you get to the end and find out our main character has bonded with a long-dormant inorganic alien and will now be toured from planet to planet and his pimp former advisor is setting up illicit interplanetary smuggling rings with a retired alien police officer and Our Man, Mr. Alien Art has a last grand moment with his favorite professor high up on the side of a European building they’ve both climbed.
And that guy who died in the first act, eviscerated? Well, aliens prevented him from dying. And our hero had to reverse himself because the macguffin everyone was looking for was actually in his body, but reversed, so it couldn’t talk to him.
Anyway, if you like Zelazny, you’ll enjoy the book. If you don’t like Zelazny, I can’t help you.
- Racist McRacist
So, this fucker Hayford Pierce wrote a story called “Doing well while doing good” which stars, as the main character, a man called Chap Foey Rider, who, as you might guess, is “a plump, middle-aged, Anglo-Chinese merchant of nondescript features.” His sons are named John, Chong, Chan, and Wong. They are great at business, inscrutable, and out to make money at the expense of their loyalty to the U.S. or the Earth as a whole. Whatever. It’s trash. The story, even outside of the racism, is not good, a filler tale about aliens who breathe smog like fine wine and how our main character outsmarts everyone in order to make millions.
But this is the risk on reading a magazine from forty years ago.
Who am I kidding? It’s the risk reading anything right now.