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|FORREST J. ACKERMAN reports on
The cinemagicians of Celluloid City have completed a 240,000-mile trip on a Hohman orbit to the crater Harpalus, a pock-mark on the forehead of the man in the Moon. In semi-documentary style, and in Technicolor, this space-flight of 1960 has been filmed for audiences of 1950and the greatest miracle of all is that Hollywood seems to have done the job right. There is no girl stowaway, no sabotaging villain, no bug-eyed monsters on the Moonand no atmosphere there either!
soles of spacemen's boots, suction cups were employed. The space-suits they wore* weighed about 100 lbs. And to show the effect on the passengers of a rocket in free fall, a giant gimbal representing the vessel's interior was built for $25,000 and so operated that walls and ceiling could become floor. Heinlein took particular care with the weightless sequences; he wants no wrong-moment laughs from the audience when they see them. "If, in spite of all our precautions to keep the picture serious and sober, they still snicker," he said, "I'm leaving for the Moonon foot!"
MOONSCAPE BY BONESTELL
* To make them more easily distinguishable against the Lunar landscape, the suits are of different colours. The cover photo shows Tom Powers as General Thayer (left) and Warner Anderson as Dr. Charles Cargraves, leading atomic physicist of 1960, inside the Moon rocket.
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was often to be found on the sets during the filming of the live action; and he gave me some interesting sidelights on his part of the book, "The Conquest of Space," which has caused such a stir both within and without astronautical circles in two countries. [See Walter Gillings' "Fantasia," this issue.] "I began my work as a hobby, to amuse children. Now a new encyclopedia wants to buy some of it. My wife helps me by making models, which are photographed and then painted."
See page 8.
And GEOFFREY GILES sees
SPACE-FLIGHT ON THE STAGE
Although Hollywood has risen to the occasion at last, to expect the stage to utilise the dramatic possibilities of space-flight would seem like crying for the Moon. So far, no established dramatist has dared to exploit the idea, probably because no producer in his right mind would take kindly to a theme which not only bristles with difficulties of presentation but demands very careful treatment if it is to be taken seriously by an audience which naturally associates it with "Flash Gordon" and "Superman" movie serials.
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subject outside of the comic strips, his fellows of the Teddington Theatre Club were prepared to take a chance.
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Walter Gillings' FANTASIA
Daily Express ran three-day feature based on "The Conquest of Space," by Chesley Bonestell and Willy Ley (reviewed last issue), due to see British publication by Chapman Hall. BIS Journal reviewer Arthur C. Clarke decided: "No better introduction to astronautics could possibly be imagined" . . . Boys' Own Paper took up the subject in articles by BIS Councillor H. E. Ross; while, in Tit-Bits, Atlantis Researcher Egerton Sykes predicted "Rockets to Moon in Seven Years" . . . Coronet featured artist Bonestell's latest notions on "Mr. Smith Goes to Venus" . . . Robert A. Heinlein turned up in American Legion Magazine with new tale of "Rebellion on the Moon" . . . Ray Bradbury sent "The Veldt" to Satevepost; seven days later got cheque for $1,000 . . . Doubleday will issue volume of "Lancelot Biggs, Spaceman" stories by Nelson Bond, whose "Conqueror's Isle" was on Radio City's Playhouse . . . George 0. Smith wrote of fictional villains, or "Fiends in Human Form" in Writer's Digest, which reported: "Science and fantasy continue to be popular reading trends, with open markets in the pulps . . . Give them some real science background. It is not enough to take an old detective or Western plot and stick it up in the stars" . . .
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who some may remember as the
Pioneer of Scientifiction
The latest, Campbell-worshipping generation of science fiction fans will hardly have heard of Hugo Gernsback, unless they happen also to be radio-television hams who read Radio-Electronics. The story goes that a devoted reader of that highly technical journal, in which Editor-Publisher Gernsback still indulges the flair for fantastic prophecy which has been his speciality for 40 years, once wrote in suggesting that the President of Radcraft Publications had missed his vocation. "Why," he asked, "do you waste your time editing a radio trade magazine when you could make a fortune writing science fiction for Amazing Stories, Astounding Science Fiction or Fantastic Adventures?"
* In his "History of Science Fiction Fandom" (Fantasy Commentator, Fall, '45), Sam Moskowitz recorded that Gernsback also "did something for the s-f fans that had never been attempted before: he gave them self-respect. He preached that those who followed this sort of reading matter avidly were not possessed of a queer taste, but actually represented a higher type of intellect. And he tried to lay down rules for s-f. Primary among these was plausibility: nothing was to appear in the stories . . . that could not be given a logical, scientific explanation."
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which he abandoneduntil a less frightening title suggested itself. Amazing Storieswhy not? "With the ever-increasing demands on us for this sort of story," he wrote in his first editorial, "there was only one thing to dopublish a magazine in which . . . scientific fiction (would) hold forth exclusively. Towards the end we laid elaborate plans, sparing neither time nor money . . ."
`THE OLD BUZZARD'
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Gernsback's 1911 version of television,
first inventionof a new-type electric batteryseemed practical enough to bring him, at the age of 20, from his native Luxembourg to seek fame and fortune in the U.S.A. A year after his arrival, in 1905, he found himself a partner, formed the Electro-Importing Co. to bring from Europe the sort of gadgets which appealed to the new American hobbyist, the amateur electrician. The next year he was offering for sale at $7.50 what he claims was the first commercial radio set, capable of sending dot-and-dash signals or ringing a bell a quarter-mile away.
he was always making, with particular reference to radioand something he called "television," back in '09. In that year, a decade before the U.S. had a single commercial radio station, he published a map envisaging a network of them spreading right across the continent; in '20, he printed all the dope on how to build a walkie-talkie. And in '46, when the U.S. Signal Corps established radar contact with the Moon, he reprinted a Radio News article of '27 in which he had predicted the achievement, even to the wavelength used.
* Later published in volume form (Stratford, Boston: '25), and reprinted in Amazing Stories Quarterly, Winter '29.
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The "hypnobioscope," too, which enabled students to learn while they slept, had materialised in experimental form by '23.
[Please turn to page 17
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ARTHUR C. CLARKE examines the
SPACESHIPS OF FICTION
Years before he became one of Britain's leading protagonists of astronautics, Arthur C. Clarke (FR, Apr-May '47) was an assiduous student of science fiction, and particularly of interplanetary stories. Smith's "Skylark" series, John W. Campbell's Amazing Quarterly novels, Wonder's Interplanetary Issues, all helped to quicken his vast enthusiasm for the idea of space-travel. Now, in between his voluntary work as a Councillor and lecturer for the British Interplanetary Society, his duties as an assistant editor of Science Abstracts, and his contributions to various technical magazines, he writes an occasional science fiction story, and tells his friends all about it long before it appears in print. (Not so many of them know about the astronautical text-book he recently completed, which will be published shortly.)
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got no further than Canada on his bottles of dew, he took off for the Moon in a flying chariot festooned with firecrackers, without regard for mass-ratios and exhaust velocities. But his last attempt at interplanetary flight, in a box propelled by air heated with the aid of burning glasses, in spite of his misunderstanding the principles involved showed that he at least realised the thrust would fall off with altitude.
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velocity required, so the final impulse was provided by rockets.
DEFIERS OF GRAVITY
* If he never encountered Professor Tucker's book, it is possible that Wells knew of Kurt Lasswitz's "Auf Zwei Planeten," which has been popular in Germany since 1897 and was recently reprinted in an illustrated edition. One of the most important of all interplanetary romances, it includes, in addition to anti-gravity, the idea of explosive propulsion systems ("repulsors," as the Verein für Raumschiffahrt called its own early rockets), andmore surprisinglyof space-stations, all the technical details being worked out with great care by the author, who was a professor of mathematics at Jena.
as would be required to lift an equivalent mass of normal matter to the same altitude. Thus, the only way the travellers could return to Earth or land on another planet would be to jettison their anti-gravity material. An antigravity screen can also be ruled out of court on the ground that, if it could exist and was employed in the manner described by so many fictionists, one need only place it under a heavy object, let it rise to a considerable height, remove the screen and let the object fall and obtain a source of perpetual energy. Or, as Willy Ley has put it, to step on to a sheet of such material fastened to the floor would require just as much effort as jumping clean off the Earth!
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room for ingenuity, one spaceship is now very much like another; but very few of them bear much resemblance to the vessels which will have to be built for the first space-voyage. Mass-ratios and similar inconveniences do not bother the science fiction writer, much less the fantasy artist, who gaily runs a row of portholes the whole length of the hull and depicts thousand-ton rockets racing low over exotic landscapes without visible means of support. More probably, Clarke thinks, the space-ships of the next century will be so unlike our popular conceptions of to-day that we wouldn't recognise one if we saw it. If orbital refuelling techniques are developed as expected, the vessels designed for true interplanetary flight will never land on any world or even enter an atmosphere, and so will have no streamlining or control surfaces. Their natural shape would be spherical; but if the necessity for atomic shielding rules this out, a dumb-bell shape might be adopted, enabling the radio-active plant to be placed well away from the crew's living quarters*.
THE MAN-MADE MOON
* See "The Shape of Ships to Come," by Arthur C. Clarke, B.Sc. New Worlds, No. 4.
This also is a surprisingly modern idea. It was put forward quit recently by Dr. Sadler, Superintendent of the Nautical Almanac Office, in an address to the Royal Astronomical Association.
that the brick moon, in which the workmen constructing it had their lodgings, broke loose too soon and was cast into space with them as unwilling passengers complete with their own atmosphere!
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|MASTERS OF FANTASY
The Spell of Merritt
By ARTHUR F. HILLMAN
Cast over the years like the threads of a glittering web, the exotic fantasies of Abraham Merritt now span a whole generation of readers. It was in 1917 that the appearance of his short story, "Through the Dragon Glass," in All-Story Weekly opened his career as a fantasy writer; yet time has not lessened his spell. Rather, it would seem to have strengthened it; for the continued demand among new devotees for his noted "classics," all of which have been reprinted several times already*, has resulted in the launching of a bi-monthly publication bearing his name to cater specially for those who have not yet enjoyed the whole of his output. A collection of his surviving literary fragments, recently published in a popular pocket-book series and a Memorial Edition of "The Ship of Ishtar," are other indications of his having acquired an increasing posthumous following, much as Lovecraft has done of recent years.
*Notably in bound book form (see subsequent footnotes), in Famous Fantastic Mysteries and Fantastic Novels, and in the Avon Murder Mystery and Pocket Book Series.
classics through Famous Fantastic Mysteries and Fantastic Novels, it was Merritt's work on which they drew most generously to lure and hold the seeker after such treasures as "The Moon Pool" and "The Metal Monster." And, the advance of story technique notwithstanding, his work still proved as enthralling as it had done twenty years before.
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narrative passed beyond the boundaries of weird fiction into the realm of strict fantasy.
*The book version of "The Moon Pool" (Putnam, New York, '19) comprises the two stories made into one. Like other Merritt novels, it is a slightly abbreviated re-write of the original serial story.
A. MERRITTfrom a sketch by Neil Austin for Famous Fantastic Mysteries. A descendant of Fenimore Cooper, Merritt was born at Beverly, New Jersey, in January 1884, his parents being Quaker folk who later moved to Philadelphia. After studying law he became, at 18, a newspaper reporter; then he spent a year in Central America, where he hunted treasure in Yucatan and penetrated the ancient Mayan city of Tuluum. Returning home, he resumed his newspaper career on the Philadelphia Inquirer, running the gamut of murders, executions and politics until he became Night City Editor. At 28 he moved to New York to become Assistant Editor of The American Weekly, and in '37 he succeeded Morrill Goddard as Editor. It was during that period he wrote the short stories and novels which made him famous, weaving into them much of what he had learned on periodical jaunts into Central America of archaeology and folklore, and drawing on his store of reference books on demonology and magic, astronomy and botany. He kept a strange garden of rare plants, and a key of twenty acres on the West Coast of Florida, where he died of a heart attack iv August '43, leaving a wife and daughter.
work; it is fantasy reduced to its rarest, most potent ingredients, too heady a draught for some. Again, Merritt splashes his colour with a lavish hand, and as the reader turns the pages he plunges from one gorgeous panorama to another.
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Merritt was never a prolific or consistent writer, and it was three years before his next story appeared. "The Face in the Abyss" (8/9/23) was actually the prelude to a later novel, "The Snake Mother"; but the novelette itself, with its account of a lost civilisation and strange alien gods, proved a fascinating story. Here, too, were signs of a fresh trend in Merritt's writing. Where before his style had an easy, flowing rhythm, it began now to tighten up, become concentrated. The beautiful descriptive remained, but his imagery became clear-cut; instead of following the old, relaxed school, he drew his pictures with a knife-edged sharpness. And with "The Ship of Ishtar" (comm. 8/11/24) he reached the culminating point of his talents as a writer.
Liveright, New York, '31.
descriptive and eerie atmosphere lifted it into the category of a best-seller which Hollywood later transferred to the screen. Wit "The Snake Mother," a seven-part serial, (Argosy, comm. 25/10/30), he returned to the field of pure fantasy, and to the strange legends he had only hinted at in "The Face in the Abyss." Packed into these effulgent pages are facets of imagery perhaps more amazing than anything he had attempted before. Kon the Spider-Man; the Dream Makers, with their webs of unearthly beauty; the Lord of Fools and the Lord of Evil; the all-wise, inhuman Snake Mother herselfall are rare tools from which Merritt fashioned a novel of startling depth and uncanny lustre.
Liveright, New York, '32; Skeffington, London, '33.
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of Merritt's writing, although not invested with the soaring fantasy of his earlier novels.
HUGO GERNSBACKcontinued from page 9
been full of his prophecies; for example, "TameThe Weekly Newsgabazine" presented "a feeble preview of the next 100 yearsthe first atomi-century." Dated 2045, it put the first atom-powered rocket to the Moon in 1972, World War III in '75, to be followed by world government. (The war, waged by Asia against the Western world, was won in six weeks by the Americans turning their giant Lunar mirrors on Hyderabad and vaporising the city.) By 2040, man had reached Venus.
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AND STILL THEY COME
Old Tales for New Readers
Latest news to hearten British fans is that in consequence of the increasing success of New Worlds Nova Publications is to launch a second magazine, to be edited by Walter Gillings (see special announcement on pp. 20-21). This publication will present the material which would have appeared in Fantasy, as edited by Gillings, if it had been able to continue beyond the three issues which set a new standard for British science fiction, and which for the past two years has been lying idle awaiting a possible revival of the magazine. This includes stories by Arthur C. Clarke, J. M. Walsh, P. E. Cleator, John Russell Fearn, F. G. Rayer, Norman Lazenby, E. R. James, and several other authors whose interest in the field is certain to quicken in the light of this development, even if it has languished of late.
NO MORE NOSTALGIA
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sufficient readers to whom such material will prove as acceptable as it did in the days of its first presentation. If the success of Famous Fantastic and Fantastic Novels is an indicator, there seems no doubt about ituntil one considers the limits imposed by questions of copyright, which will exclude many of the finest of the time-honoured pieces which appeared, for example, in Amazing, However, as an earnest of their confidence in the nostalgic power of the Gernsback products, the same publishers have also produced Wonder Story Annual, which appeared in February featuring more reprints from early Wonders196 pages of them, at the same price. This, apparently, is to be a regular publication: if so, it will be the first Annual in the field ever to see more than a single issue.
ON THE HIGHER PLANE
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|NOW, ON TO
Since Fantasy Review began, just over three years ago, its readers have constantly testified to the success with which it has fulfilled its original object to inform and advise the devotee of science-fantasy who takes an intelligent interest in its past, present and future development. In addition to reflecting the increasing growth of the medium which has taken place in America during that period, it has also served to encourage the progress of science fiction in this country. In particular, the conception of the project which resulted in the re-birth of the British magazine New Worlds, at a time when conditions seemed to have stifled all such enterprises, may be traced to the influence of this journal.
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features of this journal in addition to presenting science-fiction and articles designed to appeal both to the general reader and the inveterate fantasy fan. SCIENCE - FANTASY incorporating Science-Fantasy Review will be on sale at 1/6 at all newsagents' and bookstalls where there is a demand for it, in the same way as New Worlds, and will appear regularly every three months.
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|AMONG THE MAGAZINEScontinued from page 19
combination of Astounding's astronomical covers and Paul's Amazing covers."
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MR. PRATT'S ANALYSIS
Mr. Fletcher Pratt, who is known in his native U.S.A. as a naval historian and biographer of Napoleon as well as a newspaper writer on military matters, recently appeared in a new guise as a book critic who, according to the New York Times Book Review, "is making an intensive study of fantasy-fiction and its influence on popular literary patterns." He is, of course, no stranger to this subject. To a more select audience, he has been known for twenty years as an author of science-fantasy who has also collaborated with several others (Irvin Lester, I. M. Stephens, Laurence Manning, Sprague de Camp). He is also a distinguished member of the Hydra Club*, the New York organisation of professional science-fictionists to which such leading writers as Willy Ley, Theodore Sturgeon and Lester del Rey belong.
*Where he was encountered by a New Yorker guest at its annual party, last January, as "a small bearded man smoking a huge cigar (and) addressing himself in authoritative tones to a spellbound youngster in a black sweater . . . `Who was that?' I asked the youth. `Fletcher Pratt,' he said. `He's wonderful. Kind of the dean of science fiction. He lives with marmosets' . . . "
ESCAPE FOR PSYCHIATRISTS
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Comparing these works, he finds that all but two of them advance the theory "that what lies beyond the heavens is waragainst races formidably armed and so utterly alien to our own thought patterns that no compromise with them is possible. (But) this no doubt represents less a judgment than a convention; five of the eight books mentioned are rewrites and extensions of stories which have already appeared in the pulps, whose readers respond only to shock treatment." More significant, he thinks, is the fact that all but one of the eight stories have interstellar rather than interplanetary settings. In explaining the common pulp device of an "overdrive" or "spacewarp," which conveniently ignores what the mathematicians have to say about the effects of velocity on mass, he pointed out that "the writers who use (it) are evidently producing pure fantasy, escape literature. It may also be significant that psychiatrists are among the leading devotees of science fiction, and almost invariably they take theirs in the form of space opera."
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unpleasant races, but they have been unable to conceive of a form of democratic government that will function for some two billion people on Earth, to say nothing of the populations of remoter planets. This may only mean that the writers of fantasy are not political thinkers, or that the old aristocratic tradition of fiction still retains a frrm grasp on the collective imagination. But it may also mean that there is some political thinking to be done. The writers in this form are very quick to seize any new idea going around; there are hardly enough in circulation to serve as starting points for stories as it is."
Walter Gillings' FANTASIAContinued from page 5
Edgar Rice Burroughs (FR, Dec. '48-Jan. '49) died at Tarzana, aged 74 . . . . Robert L. Farnsworth, U.S. Rocket Society king-pin, running for Congress . . . World Citizen No. 1 Garry H. Davis, writing in Doubt, recalled that "Charles Fort's name was introduced to me many years ago in the pages of (Astounding Stories) which was a constant companion" . . . Olaf Stapledon's judgment on science fiction, in letter to Operation Fantast: "I find myself in a hole about (it). I never was a fan of it, and read very little of it. I recognise it as a legitimate means of expression, . . . think it has a future. But it is also rather dangerous, because it may so easily be indulged in as mere escapism" . . . Issuing invitation to "Norwescon," Eighth World S-F Convention, Chairman John de Courcy explained: "Broadly, (its) purpose is to demonstrate that s-f is an integral part of our civilisation; that without it, our progress would be materially retarded" . . . Wailed Rober Bloch, in Bloomington News-Letter: "Every once in a while I make an extra effort to turn out a yarn suitable for adult readership, and just as I indulge in a little self-congratulation . . . up pops a mental picture of an army of goons wearing beanies, false beards and Buck Rogers blasters. Then I go into the washroom and have a good cry" . . .
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The Mixture As Before
FROM OFF THIS WORLD, edited by Leo Margulies & Oscar J. Friend. Merlin, New York. $2.95.
Reviewed by Walter Gillings
When I had ceased to ponder the mystery of how the typographer had curved the letters on the title-page of this volume, I began to examine the contents. Having smiled a smile of recognition, as one does when one encounters old friends across the street, I could not help recalling that when, two years before the war came to stunt its already uncertain growth, I contrived to launch the first British magazine devoted to this medium, it was not without misgivings that I began to introduce into Tales of Wonder reprints of stories which had appeared much earlier in Amazing and Wonder Stories. I had hoped that, few as they were, our British writers would suffice to regale our readers with science fiction they could appreciate, whether or not they were accustomed to such unorthodox fare. But although several new writers did develop, I found it difficult to get enough good stories based on ideas which could be easily assimilated by the ordinary reader yet which might still be acceptable to the jaded fantasy fan.
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Startling Stories, back in '39, inaugurated in its first publication the policy of reprinting in every issue one important story-landmark from the s-f past."
The Sage of Providence
SOMETHING ABOUT CATS and Other Pieces by H. P. Lovecraft, collected by August Derleth. Arkham House, Sauk City, Wis. $3.00.
Reviewed by Arthur F. Hillman
The fantasy fan who does not belong to the coterie of Lovecraft worshippers may be somewhat disconcerted to encounter still further books dedicated to the Sage of Providence. Time and again his ghost would seem to have been laid to rest with due solemnity and finality, yet always his spirit wings its way back into the orbit of current production. Once it was thought that "Beyond the Wall of Sleep" (Arkham: '43), that magnificent companion volume to the still more admirable initial collection of his stories, "The Outsider and Others" (Arkham: '39), had completed his resuscitation; yet with "Marginalia," in '44, the industrious August Derleth carried a step further the literary presentation of all that Lovecraft had conceived.
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himself erected on two slight foundation stones left behind by the Master; and now we have another collection of fragments which, its compiler asserts, "is primarily a volume for the collector who insists upon comprehensiveness."
* Which originally appeared in The Providence Journal, Lovecraft's hometown paper.
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when she failed, casts a pitiless light on what should, I believe, have remained discreetly veiled. One can imagine the blow to his own sensitivities if he were alive to read such an expose; and in spite of Mrs. Davis' efforts to command the sympathies of her audience, one is left feeling much more sympathy for the man who is now so much less of the legendary, mysterious figure she predicted he would become.
The Honourable BEM
FIRST LENSMAN, by Edward E. Smith, Ph.D. Fantasy Press, Reading, Pa. $3.00
Reviewed by D. R, Smith
Ever since his first interplanetary epic, "The Skylark of Space," set the pattern for such stories, the appearance of a new work by Dr. Edward E. Smith (FR, Apr.-May '48) has been considered a major event in science fiction. There are many writers who have surpassed, in actual quantity of words, this painstaking author of ten novels and a handful of short stories which have appeared over a period of twenty-two years; but few others can be said to have had such a great influence on such a loyal band of admiring readers. For these two decades his name has been a household word in this field, as much with that minority which condemn his stories as shallow and superficial as among the thousands who have fallen completely to his spell.
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on the minor facets of personality and the use of suitable non-human characters. That he has not had to write initially for magazine publication has evidently allowed him a little more freedom (there is one brief passage which James Hadley Chase might consider quite acceptable), and this helps to add a few deeper, if more sombre, splashes of colour. The episode in a uranium mine, which is only one of a rich store of intriguing situations in peculiar places, displays a handiness with technical terms uncommon in any grade of fiction.
Doomsday in Moronia
THE BIG EYE, by Max Ehrlich. Doubleday, New York. $2.50.
Reviewed by John Beynon
The Big Eye is, of course, the 200-inch telescope at Palomarup to page 130. Thereafter it is a runaway planet, which in the first stages of its approach towards Earth shows a turn of speed that makes light look like a loitering hobo, but later seems to loiter considerably itself. It is the second object which, it appears, is referred to in the title of this science fiction novel, in attempting which Mr. Ehrlich set himself a very difficult task.
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appear, lights blaze, radio persists, so do theatres and movies, every woman has a mink coat, crowds converge on New York, nobody is producing but everybody is fed, and all this is presumably paid for and kept going by the money that it's no longer worth anybody's while to hold on to.
Mr. Long and Mr. Lovecraft
THE HOUNDS OF TINDALOS, by Frank Belknap Long. Museum Press, London. 8/6.
Reviewed by Arthur F. Hillman
In this collection of twenty-one fantastic tales which appeared originally from Arkham House four years ago, there is a remarkably similar parallel with that of Robert Bloch ("The Opener of the Way"), which was published about the same time. Long, like Bloch, was a member of the Lovecraft circle, that select group of Weird Tales contributors whose intimacy extended even to the scenes and characters of many of their respective stories. And, as in the case of Mr. Bloch's collection, a definite schism in style is evident in this assembly of tales which Mr. Long is supposed to have gathered himself. One section, comprising his earlier work, exhibits the slow, methodical Lovecraftian style, with every word a corner-stone in the building of an elaborate but sturdy structure; the other shows the curt, smart finish of the current American school, patterned after Hemingway.
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A Nice Drink of Moonjuice
WHAT MAD UNIVERSE, by Frederic Brown. Dutton, New York. $2.50.
Reviewed by Thomas Sheridan
Many years ago I was completely taken in by "A Voyage to Purilia," by Elmer Rice, [Cosmopolitan, New York: '30.] which turned out to be a fantasy depicting that impossible world that existed according to the early silent filmsfull of demure heroines, scoundrelly squires and dauntless heroes with Right on their side. What Mr. Rice did for the movie melodrama Mr. Brown has done for science fictionor, at least, for s-f in its most conventional form. With a fine appreciation of the principles he himself has to observe in his writings for the pulp magazines, he has produced a novel which every fan who can see the funny side of its established extravagancesand which one cannot ?will thoroughly enjoy. Amid a constant flood of tales which we are not always inclined to take as seriously as their authorsor editorsexpect, here is one that is frankly burlesque; yet one that, if you will accept its basic premise, is more believable than the restand makes the rest just as believable.
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founded on Mars in '39.
Grand Space Opera
THE STAR KINGS, by Edmond Hamilton. Fell, New York. $2.50.
Reviewed by D. R. Smith
For the fourth book in their Science Fiction Library, the publishers who have seen fit to recognise the medium's coming-of-age as a major literary development have chosen a novel which appeared originally in Amazing Stories (Sept. '47), from the rattling typewriter of that old adept, Edmond Hamilton. And in spite of its containing a rare example of an unhissable hiss ("You traitor?" he hissed at Gordon), which is fairly indicative of its general style, I have to confess that I found it much more engrossing than its fellows in this series.
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The Misadventures of Carstairs
JOHN CARSTAIRS: SPACE DETECTIVE, by Frank Belknap Long. Fell, New York. $2.50.
Reviewed by Donald Warwick
His ever-loving secretary, Vera Dorn, is of the opinion that John Carstairs from one aspect is "shy, sober, scholarly and curator of the finest botanical exhibit in the Solar System"; from another, he "stands six feet three in his stockings, is built like a young tornado, and likes to pretend he is a detective." Study of his accomplishments leads me to a rather different analysis. 1 can't see that he ever appears in the least bit bashful, while the description of his physical structure is a piece of meaningless literary extravagance and a fair sample of the writing to be found in these stories. I am, however, in agreement with Miss Dorn as to her hero's pretences, which he appears to enjoy more than I do; for his detection consists chiefly in selecting the right type of extra-terrestrial super-plant to tell him what he needs to know without further cerebration on his part. Cheating is what I call it; and I am surprised that the long-suffering Inspector McGuire, who collaborates with him on the official side, doesn't up and say so.
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fact that most of the dangerous situations in which he finds himself are merely the result of his own incompetence is, indeed, one of the major flaws in these accounts of his misadventures.
*Which appeared as a series as follows, in Thrilling Wonder: "Plants Must Grow" (Oct. '41); "Snapdragon" (Dec. '41); "Plants Must Slay" (Apr. '42); "Satellite of Peril" (Aug. '42); "Wobblies in the Moon" (June '43); and in Startling Stories: "The Hollow World" (Summer '45).
Fun For Mr. Leinster
THE LAST SPACE SHIP, by Murray Leinster. Fell, New York. $2.50.
Reviewed by D. R. Smith
The background to this taleor, rather, these three talesis not unfamiliar: it is that of a galactic-wide civilisation which has gone off the rails and is doing its best to imitate the degeneracy of Nero's Rome. The forces of law and order have discovered an invincible method of enforcing their commands and, as if that were not obnoxious enough to most citizens, have fallen for the oft-quoted doctrine that "all power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely." A law is only a good law when its enforcement is enabled by the acquiesence of the majority of those bound by it. In this case, all laws could be enforced by a minority whether or not the majority approved; and so, suggests the author, that worst law of all which holds that the kingor those in powercan do no wrong was enforced ad lib.
*In Thrilling Wonder Stories: "The Disciplinary Circuit" (Winter '46); "The Manless Worlds" (Feb. '47); "The Boomerang Circuit" (June '47).
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material which had appeared in the previous two, however briefly summarised. The effect is of a magazine serial which incorporates in the latest instalment what has gone before, for the benefit of the casual readerwhich, indeed, makes a very odd book.
SIXTH COLUMN, by Robert A. Heinlein. Gnome Press, New York. $2.50.
Reviewed by John K. Aiken
Given: your country overrun, your army wiped out, your government and its seat destroyed, your countrymen enslaved. Given also a super-power, and a well-hidden handful of technicians who know it. Problem: to dispossess the enemy. Solution: use the power to found a new "religion."
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tiny task force; the final touch of the chess problem that breaks the Asian prince. Judged among its competitors, it is a very good, even an outstanding, tale. But like so much of this author's work, top of its class though it invariably is, it leaves one with the tantalising feeling that it couldand shouldhave been better still, if only a little better.
Mr. Campbell on a Limb
THE INCREDIBLE PLANET, by John W. Campbell, Jr. Fantasy Press, Reading, Pa. $3.00.
Reviewed by Kemp McDonald
It is an almost sufficient description of this novel to say merely that it is a sequel to "The Mightiest Machine" (FR, Feb.-Mar. '48). Any discoveries and inventions in astronomic physics that Aarn Munro. muscular Jovian scientist, overlooked in the earlier tale, are taken care of in this one. He and his aides flit about space in super-ships carving chunks out of dwarf stars and tangling in bitter stellar war, in the course of a desultory search for the Home Planet which they have unaccountably lost. Military and cosmic cataclysms impend, super-weapons abound, and physics is exhaustively discussed, with never a leavening trace of characterisation, emotion, philosophy, ethics or aesthetics; nothing but action and science.
When is a Film Fantasy ?
Once again, my compliments on Fantasy Review; it is a pleasure to read so orderly and adult a compendium. Our U.S. output has sadly degenerated the last few years; there is nothing presently comparable here.
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the Penguin "Film," could be enlisted in the enterprise. I'd very much like to see somebody do something along these lines. Robert Bloch, Milwaukee, Wis., U.S.A.
TOO MUCH INTIMACY ?
WHICH SHALL IT BE ?
HOW GOOD CAN WE GET ?
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almost all the fanzines and prozines alike join in praising any fantasy publication, no matter what the contents. Being quite new to the field myself, I find your reviews an invaluable guide in selecting the books I want to buy. And I especially enjoyed your articles on the history of prozines. Put me down as hoping that the histories of other magazines are published, particularly those of the smaller ones that lasted only a few issues.
PRESENTING THE EDITOR
THE QUERY BOX
|SCIENCE-FANTASY REVIEW||Volume 4 No. 18||Back Page|
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