Science Fiction & Fantasy

ROCKET STORIES. July 1953. Vol. 1, No. 2. Edited by Wade Kaempfert [Lester del Rey]. Cover: Schomberg. Overall rating: 1½ stars.

ALGIS BUDRYS “Blood on My Jets.” Complete novel. Detached Operator Ash Holcomb of the SBI is hired to fly the first ship into hyperspace, but as old friend and his iwfe, known since Academy days, plot to steal it from him. Not much of a story, but it reads well enough. (2)

GEORGE O. SMITH “Home Is the Spaceman.” An experimental FTL ship is stopped by a policeman for speeding. (2)

MILTON LESSER “Picnic.” A husband, wife, and two brats stop on a living asteroid for a picnic. (0)

POUL ANDERSON “The Temple of Earth.” Novelette. Civilization on the Moon is headed downhill unless the priests and their knowledge of science can take over. Too much fighting. (2)

BEN SMITH “Sequel.” The paths of three former Academy students meet in space. (3)

CHARLES E. FRITCH “Breathe There a Man.” Rebellion on an Earth where the very air is taxed. The first plot twist really didn’t seem believable. (1)

IRVING COX, JR. “To the Sons of Tomorrow.” Novelette. The crew of a wrecked spaceship become the gods of a new Earth. Distortion of proper names didn’t help. (2)

WILLIAM SCARFF “Firegod.” A fair point to be made, but a basic flaw ruins story of a man playing god. [Pen name of Algis Budrys.] (1)

–February 1968

EDMUND COOPER – All Fools’ Day. Berkley X1469, US, paperback, 1967. Cover art by Hoot von Zitzewitz. Previously published in the UK by Hodder & Stoughton, hardcover, 1966, and in the US by Walker, hardcover, 1966.

   Beginning in 1971, solar radiation cause the world’s suicide rate to increase sharply. Ten years later, only the Transnormals are still alive – the creative, the fanatic, and the crazy [have] inherit[ed] the Earth. The book follows the life of Greville, a former advertising executive, in this new world as he searches for love, purpose, and direction.

   Perhaps written for a wider audience than the usual SF one, the story loses impact simply because of the overuse of its theme, particularly by [British] writers. Frustrating in its deliberate irrationality, the civilization of this savage world seems doomed, but Greville forms the basis of a new world from a group of anarchists.

   The sudden optimism of the ending comes as a relief from the previously established tone, but it is not altogether satisfying. One point of disagreement: mathematicians are among the first to die (page 17), symbolizing [the loss] of normality and supreme stability, but mathematicians can be as crazy as anyone.

Rating: ****½

–February 1968

GALAXY SF, April 1967. Editor: Frederik Pohl. Cover artist: [Douglas] Chaffee. Overall rating: ***½.

KEITH LAUMER “Thunderhead.” Novelette. A lieutenant of the Fleet Navy, who has manned his planetary post for twenty years, though it is clear that he has been forgotten, receives a message at last. In response, he climbs to the mountaintop beacon and sets a diversion for a fleeing enemy. Deliberately sentimental, the story is obvious from the beginning, but still succeeds. (4)

ROBIN SCOTT “Fair Test.” Aliens consider a segregated Earth. (2)

CHRISTOPHER ANVIL “The New Member.” Bangolia joins the UN and immediately becomes a pest to everyone. Humorous. (2)

JAMES McKIMMEY “The Young Priests of Adytum 199.” The childish survivors of the war do not tolerate deviation from their norm. (5)

HOWARD HAYDEN “The Purpose of Life.” Novella. Dr. West, in telepathic control of Mao III, precipitates a crisis that buries hem and fifty Esks 4000 feet below Peking. The Esks multiply furiously, threatening the food supply, and a tunnel to the surface must be dug. The discovery and fulfillment of the purpose of the Esks on Earth is rather anticlimactic. Immortal life after death requires the death of billions. Dr. West dies too. ***½

[Note: This was number seven of eight stories Hayden wrote about the Esks. These were indigenous Canadian Inuits transformed by an Alien presence into an apparently benign, fast-breeding new species called Esks. (From the online SF Encyclopedia.)]

PIERS ANTHONY “Within the Cloud.” Clouds have a sense of humor also. (3)

KRIS NEVILLE “Ballenger’s People.” Burt Ballenger operates as a nation, as a democracy. (3)

HARRY HARRISON “You Men of Violence.” A mutation of homo spaiens develops, one unable to kill. At least, actively. (3)

–February 1968

IF SCIENCE FICTION – January 1954. Editor: James L. Quinn. Cover art: Ken Fagg. Overall rating: **½ stars.

EVAN HUNTER “Malice in Wonderland.” Short novel. The world of the future is bizarrely (and accurately?) portrayed as the arena of conflict between the Vikes, or vicarious pleasure-seekers, and the Rees, or realists. Van Brant, agent of authors of pabacks and sensos, is caught in that conflict as the Ree reaction takes over. The ending comes a bit too fast, and the background seems a little shallow, but a very good effort. (4)

ALAN E. NOURSE “Letter of the Law.” A planet of logical liars comes up against the expected paradox. (1)

HARRY HARRISON “Navy Day.” The Navy, about to be abolished, fights back. (0)

JAMES E. GUNN “A Word for Freedom.” An analogy is made between narrowness of language and encroachments upon individual freedoms. (2)

RICHARD WILSON “Double Take.” A young man has difficulty separating reality from filmed fantasy. (2)

DAMON KNIGHT “Anachron.” A time-machine enables a man to steal treasures from the future but becomes too ambitious. (3)

MACK REYNOLDS “Off Course.” A collector for the Carthis zoo is mistaken for an envoy. (1)

–February 1968

JOHN JAKES – When the Star Kings Die. Dragonard #1. Ace G-656, paperback original, 1967. Cover by Jack Gaughan. Second printing, 1978.

   When Max Dragonard, ex-Regulator, is broken out of prison by his old commander, he is assigned to investigate the revolutionary organization called Heart Flag. The Lords of the Exchange, rulers of II Galaxy and previously immortal, are dying, and no one seems to know why. Dragonard is captured by the High Commander of the Regulators and betrays his friend.

   At the command of Lord Mishubi II, he is sentenced to die. Escape to the Heart Flag movement reveals to him the secret of immortality which has been kept from the ordinary people of the galaxy.

   Quite better than expected, the story improves as it continues. One can hardly help but think of the old Planet Stories tradition, but it would seem that there is more complexity and development in this novel than the usual stereotyped space-adventure.

   Dragonard’s own mental defect, correction of which was denied him, helps persuade him of the Lords’ treachery, a nice touch. The girl he loves is killed under bitter circumstances, but there is another who is waiting for his love. And Jeremy’s dream of life for all must be destroyed, but only temporarily, to free the galaxy from one man’s control.

Rating: ***½

–February 1968

         The Dragonard series –

1 When the Star Kings Die (1967)
2 The Planet Wizard (1969)
3 Tonight We Steal the Stars (1969)

ANALOG SCIENCE FICTION, April 1967. Editor: John W. Campbell. Cover art by John Schoenherr. Overall rating: **½ stars.

JAMES BLISH & NORMAN L. KNIGHT “To Love Another.” #4 in the authors’ “A Torrent of Faces” series. [The four stories were expanded and combined as A Torrent Of Faces (Doubleday, 1967).] Novelette. A love story between a human woman and tectogenetically created Triton. Too extreme in its contrasts from the depths of the Pacific to the overcrowded city of Philadelphia. The unexpected result that their marriage would produce keeps the story from a lower rating. (2)

MACK REYNOLDS “Enemy Within.” A small child locks himself in a flying saucer. (1)

JOSEPH P. MARTINO “To Change Their Ways.” Novelette. Wilm Kirsten, Sector Supervisor, has to help convince settlers to use new grains to prevent famines. Analogous to problem of India, but one easier to solve. (3)

HARRY HARRISON “The Time-Machines Saga.” Serial; part 2 of 3. [Reprinted in book form as The Technicolor® Time Machine (Doubleday, 1967).] Review of full novel to be posted later.

COLIN KAPP “Ambassador to Verdammt.” The inhabitants of Verdammt, totally alien to alien minds, can control their environment at will. Somewhat the effects of LSD? (4)

Note: Reprinted in World’s Best Science Fiction: 1968, edited by Terry Carr & Donald Wollheim (Ace, paperback, 1968).

–January 1968

ANDRE NORTON – Year of the Unicorn. Witch World series. Ace F-357, paperback original, 1965. Cover and interior art by Jack Gaughan. Reprinted many times. Collected in The Gates to Witch World (Tor, hardcover, 2001).

   Gillan’s story begins in an abbey, where she has spent the last eight years. She is of unknown origin, having been captured from the Hounds of Alizon by a lord of High Halleck as he fought to free his homeland. Her past is of importance, however, for she has the ability of true-sight, to see the thing behind the thing.

   As she tells her story, of her marriage to a Were-Rider as part of the Great Bargain, of the evil magic which produces two Gillans, and of her desperate struggle to reach the false one before she fades to the world of her dreams, this ability grows more controllable and both aids her and brings about the troubles she faces.

   Evidently she has blood of the witches of Estcarp, stories of whom have been previously told but not read; still, this book stands well enough on its own. This is an interesting world, where magic can be performed by some and swordsmanship is a necessary art. But, as fantasy, there is too much a feeling that the author has too much power at her command, especially at the end as Gillan and Herrel fight for their lives.

   The book begins slowly, difficult reading, but as the story becomes clearer so does interest rise. Then long chapters drag on without dialogue as she struggles her way alone to the land of the Were-Riders. On the other hand, many scenes are quite effective, and the quality of the archaic, picturesque language Norton uses adds a great deal to the tale.

Rating: ****

–February 1968

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION – January 1954. Editor: John W. Campbell, Jr. Cover by H. R. Van Dongen [the magazine’s first specific Christmas cover]. Overall rating: ***

EVERETT B. COLE “Exile.” Short novel. A student of Archaeological Synthesis on an observational trip is stranded on a backward planet. Without means of transportation or communication, his attempts to get home must not disturb the local culture. Terribly muddy and often depending on glibness, the story would have improved tremendously if it had a point to be made. **

FRANK M. ROBINSON “The Lonely Man.” The death of a man living alne in a hotel room is investigated by a policeman who discovers he has blue blood. (3)

H. BEAM PIPER & JOHN J. McGUIRE “The Return.” Novelette. After the Bomb, a group of people with a strange religion is found. Abundant clues to the sacred Books make this a worthy addition to the Holmesian saga. (4)

ALGIS BUDRYS “A.I.D.” Anti-Interrogation Device. An organic servomechanism which satisfies the specification of both sides, but only Earth has it. The ending is a letdown, but is satisfactory upon reconsideration. (3)

RALPH WILLIAMS “Bertha.” Novelette. A somewhat unlikely premise: an undiscovered artificial satellite which welcomes Earth’s first astronauts. Exciting in spite of occasional lapses in scientific background. Hindsight. (4)

–January-February 1968


HENRY WILSON ALLEN – Genesis Five. William Morrow, hardcover, 1968. Pyramid T-2162, paperback, 1970.

   Somewhere in the deepest frost-bound hell of the Polar Icecap there sleeps beneath the eternally frozen Sea of Tursk an island once called Okatrai.

   When I realized who Henry Wilson Allen was (and I’ll reveal that as this review progresses for anyone as ignorant as I was) I knew I had to read this 1968 near future Science Fiction/Horror Thriller somewhat in the Michael Crichton tradition, but with far deeper pulp roots.

   I’ll say this, for all its flaws as scientific speculation or true SF, it is delightful barn=burner of a novel full of enough sturm n drang for a dozen longer books, and oddly looks forward to the kind of not quite SF speculative thrillers that often top today’s bestseller lists from James Rollins, Clive Cussler, and Andy McDermott.

   It is well written, playful, and if closer to SF movies or the kind of “Monster” thriller from television thrillers by Nigel Kneale or episodes of Doctor Who, and Outer Limits, it is still for all that great fun. The “monster” here is a good one.

   It is not Helnlein or Asimov and John Campbell wouldn’t recognize it, but it is a slam bang thriller.

   As we are told the book is taken from The Suntar Papers found at the crash site of a Russian ship and recounts in the words of the papers author, Yuri Suntar, the events surrounding the The Siberian Center for Genetic Studies, known by its code name Genesis Five.

   Whether this controversial journal is authentic or the bizarre creation of some deranged hoaxer must remain the subject of another time.

   That rather Victorian disclaimer aside we plunge right in, and there is hardly time to catch a breath beyond that point.

   Yuri Suntar, our narrator, is the half Mongol son of an American spy and a Soviet citizen, a blonde blue eyed Mongol distrusted all his life and always in the shadow of his brother Yang, Olympic athlete, physical giant, and perfect specimen of Mongol manhood. As the novel opens the security services have shown up at Yuri’s doorstep and he is none too sure whether he is under arrest or being offered a job.

   “You are the state police,” I asked.

   “Let us say that is not the question.”

   Whisked off across country Yuri is soon introduced to the exotic and beautiful Chandra Maringa, the lilac-eyed daughter of a Chinese woman and a Masai scientist, and the granddaughter of the Soviet Union’s most famous scientist the pure Mandarin genius Dr. Ho Wu Chen.

   Entranced by Chandra (who has little use for him), frightened and impressed by Dr. Ho, and by no means certain of himself Yuri discovers that the doctor runs a vast underground scientific research station beneath Okatrai Island in the Arctic wastes where Yang, his brother, has been given the job of master of the savage wolves used for experiment at the facility. Yang asked for Yuri, and Yang gets what he wants.

   Arriving at the bizarre underground base Yuri soon encounters Yang and his wolves, and they are not the three little pig kind. What they are is what some Cockney in every British horror movie ever made inevitably calls “an ’orror, Guv’nor, It were an ’orror!”

   A hybrid of man and wolf with insect larva that allows Dr. Ho to bind them together they are strong, fast, smart, and murderous of fang claw and fatal stinger.

   The Chinese biochemist eyed me unblinkingly.

   “…What we shall create here is the flawless shell of the human species programmed genetically for pack law behaviorism.”

“Programmed for what, Doctor?”

   “To kill without conscience, hence without memory.”

   “Men with the morals of a wolf superimposed with the work habits of the honeybee, it would have brought forth the work-troops of the new world…” He further informs Yuri.

   In short, “It were an ’orror!”

   Yuri wants out of the madhouse naturally. And to that end he discovers Ho has secrets of his own including having stored Chandra’s father in hyper-sleep and telling her he is dead. With Joseph Maringa’s help, and few allies, and Chandra won over to his cause Yuri sets out to let the world know what Dr. Ho plans, but things don’t go smoothly…

   And thereby hangs a tale, as they used to say.

   Behind us Okatrai went up in a sucking spume of atomized rock, water, ice, of all living and nonliving that had been the vanished Island of Genesis Five.

   Shades of Jules Verne.

   You will have noted by now it is a “Yellow Peril” novel in many ways, with Dr. Ho in the Fu Manchu mold, but canny enough to do so with mixed race hero and heroine and a cast of good and bad Chinese and Russians. The author also shows he did his research in his study of Mongol culture and Yuri is both believable and admirable, but then the author has a pretty good history of writing sympathetically about races other than his own with insight and significant research.

   I’ll tease a bit first, because readers of this blog know who Henry Wilson Allen is on multiple levels. First you know him because for ten years he worked at MGM animation studios as a gag man under the name of Hec Allen, and wrote almost all of the classic Tex Avery cartoons between 1944 and 1954 that have become the stuff of animation legend. He’s that Henry Wilson Allen.

   Still, that would not explain his gift for research and writing about other races. He earned those spurs literally writing under two other better known names as my favorite Western writer of all time, Will Henry and Clay Fisher.

   You know, McKenna’s Gold, Who Rides With Wyatt, Yellowstone Kelly, Pillars of the Sky, The Tall Men, Santa Fe Passage, I Tom Horn, From Where the Sun Now Stands, No Survivors, North Star, those Westerns, many of which were also movies.

   I won’t pretend Genesis Five is politically correct in any way, but it is entertaining and well written, and for its time closer to Richard Condon teasing old pulp traditions (the villains in Whisper of the Axe are the PRC sponsoring terrorism and the villain and hero both ethnic minorities) than the last legs of the Sax Rohmer style Yellow Peril threat to the Western White world plots of old.

   In 1968 Nixon had yet to go to China, and China was on the way to replacing the Soviets as the favorite villain of thriller fiction. Its no excuse, but you can see Allen trying to have it both ways, and almost getting away with it by making Yuri and Chandra attractive near superhuman heroes struggling against not just Ho’s madness, but a society and government who would employ him.

   Read in context he succeeded, though not so much from a more modern view.

   Knowing that, accepting its limitations, it makes for an interesting side light on the better known careers of Hec Allen, Will Henry, and Clay Fisher. There are stylistic touches, and moments when he gets in Yuri’s head that will remind you of some of his Western novels, and whatever else it is a rip roaring thriller.

   …this was the moment beyond which that stillness lit by strange lights and tolled by mute sounds of darkness, and for the space of time unknown.

MACK REYNOLDS – After Some Tomorrow. Belmont, paperback original, 1967.

   Two people, Michael Grant and Anne Enesco, are among those a strange foundation has given scholarships to Earl University on the condition they study para-psychology, Their psionic powers attract the attention of another foundation , which is interested in their ability to foresee the future for political gain.

   The sociopolitical systems of the world are about to fall, and knowledge of the prevailing forms of government could be of immense value. Hallucinogenic drugs play a part also and aid them in sending their original benefactor back to his own time.

   The major part of the book deals with their enforced study of political science, which gives Reynolds his usual chance for lecture. In addition, the story of narcotics and their relation to human culture is told. There is an underling story, however, and while it is not as thrilling as the cover would imply, it reads fairly well.

   Naturally, no clue can be given as to the social system that will eventually emerge from the welfare state that Reynolds quite pessimistically sees for the US, and the book ends without resolution on that level. The love interest proceeds beneath the lines, revealed mainly when Grant forbids Anna to wear a transparent blouse. A not too favorable view of Johnson’s role in Vietnam is given on page 67.

Rating: ***½

– January 1968

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