IF SCIENCE FICTION. November 1966. Overall rating: 2½ stars.

KEITH LAUMER “Truce or Consequences.” Novelette. Retief stops a war; any resemblance to the current Arab-Israeli conflict could not have been intended but neither is it coincidental. (3)

Comment: Laumer’s stories about no-nonsense galactic diplomat Jame Retief were great favorites of SF fans for many years. The first one, “Diplomat-at-Arms,” appeared in 1960. This one was first collected in Retief: Ambassador to Space (Doubleday, hc, 1969; Berley, pb, 1970) then in Retief: Diplomat at Arms (Pocket, pb, 1982; Baen, pb, 1987).

LARRY NIVEN “At the Core.” Novelette. Beowulf Shaeffer takes on another job for the puppeteers, this time taking a spaceship to the core of the galaxy. (3)

Comment: Many of Niven’s novels and stories fell into his future history known as “Tales of Known Space,” and this is an early one. Collected in Neutron Star (Ballantine, pb, 1968). Reprinted in The Second If Reader of Science Fiction (Doubleday, hc, 1968; Ace, pb, 1970).

C. C. MacAPP “The Sign of Gree.” Novelette. Another episode in the unending war against Gree. Steve Duke enlists the aid of the Remm. (1)

Comment: There were nine stories in MacApp’s “Gree” series; this was number eight. Probably pure space opera. My brief comment suggests I wasn’t very impressed. The story itself has never been collected or reprinted.

LESTER del REY “A Code for Sam.” Novelette. Del Rey suggests that Asimov’s Laws of Robotics may not be practical in the field. The point is well made. (3)

Comment: Collected in Robots and Magic (NESFA Press, hardcover, 2010). I’ve always found del Rey’s fiction to be unexpectedly uneven, but I wish I’d known about this collection before now.

JOHN T. SLADEK “The Babe in the Oven.” A wacky short story with no plot but plenty of wit. (4)

Comment: Collected in The Best of John Sladek (Pocket, pb, 1981). Reprinted earlier in Alpha 6, edited by Robert Silverberg (Berkley, pb, 1976).

ROBERT SILVERBERG “Halfway House.” In return for his life, an executive takes on the job of guarding the crossroads of all parallel world and deciding who may cross. (4)

Comment: First collected in Dimension Thirteen (Ballantine, paperback, 1969), then in several other books. I think most of Silverberg’s stories have been collected several times over!

J. T. McINTOSH “Snow White and the Giants.” Serial, part 2 of 4. The novel will be reported on in its entirety when all four installments have been read.

MIKE HILL “Hairry.” An unsquare story of a Martian spider who becomes a jazz buff. (2)

Comment: Mike Hill was the pen name of Paul G. Herkart, but under either name, this was his only published SF story.

THURLOW WEED “The Boat in the Bottle.” As the title suggests. (0)

Comment: Another author with a one and done.

– June 1967