Diary Reviews

GALAXY SF – June 1967. Editor: Frederik Pohl. Cover artist: Gray Morrow. Overall rating: ***

POUL ANDERSON – To Outlive Eternity. Serial; part 1 of 2. See review following the July 1967 issue.       [NOTE: Expanded in 1970 ass the novel Tau Zero.]

GARY WRIGHT “Mirror of Ice.” More a sports story than SF, nut an exciting account of a new form of bobsledding. (4)

R. A. LAFFERTY “Polity and Customs of the Camiroi.” Further investigation of politics, religion, and life on Camiroi. (3)       [NOTE: This follows the story “Primary Education of the Camiroi” in the December 1966 issue.]

ROGER ZELAZNY “The Man \Who Loved the Faioli.” The gravekeeper of the universe meets a comforter of those who are about to die. Wish I understood. (3)        [NOTE: This story has been collected and anthologized many time.]

C. C. MACAPP “Spare That Tree.” Novelette. A detective tries to regain a stolen tree by disguising himself as a tree himself. Goes frm bad to worse. (1)

JIM HARMON “Howling Day.” The advance publicity releases for an invasion of Earth are mistaken for scripts. (2)

LARRY NIVEN “The Adults.” Novella. An alien in search for a lost colony brings Earth the roots and seeds for the tree-of-life, but the discovery is no longer needed or wanted by mankind. The alien’s culture is brought out piecewise and sympathetically, and its death, while necessary, is also regrettable. However, the story is clumsily written, and even worse, poorly edited. Much too long [at 70 pages]; the ending is best. ***        [NOTE: This story was expanded in 1973 as the novel The Protectors.]

CHARLES V. DeVET “Alien’s Bequest.” An alien invader was sent with the best wishes of another intelligent race. (3)

— April-May 1968.

ERLE STANLEY GARDNER – The Case of the Nervous Accomplice. Perry Mason #48. William Morrow, hardcover, 1955. Reprinted many times in both hardcover and paperback.

   Perry Mason is retained by a woman in an admirable attempt to break up her husband’s romance with an attractive divorcee. After buying stock in a company, Mason creates business difficulties to bring out the worst in the other woman. The plan works, but it also creates other events to start moving, and the divorcee becomes an accomplice to a murder pointing to Mason’s client.

   In the preliminary hearing, Burger’s case is unbelievably sloppy, but Mason has to play the jury trial strictly by ear. He is quite lucky to pull this one off. As for the plot, it’s complicated as it always is when Perry gets involved. To me, the details were wrapped up too quickly, but they all seem to fit. The final product makes for very easy reading. (This is a statement that’s true for every Gardner story I’ve ever read.) As a humorous aside, the names of the characters really get me. Regerson B. Neffs is the worst.

   But finally, in case you were wondering, yes, the accomplice was nervous.

Rating:    *** ½

— April 1968 [somewhat revised].

IF SCIENCE FICTION – June 1967. Editor: Frederik Pohl. Cover art by Paul Wenzel. Overall rating: ***

ANDRE NORTON “Wizard’s World.” Novelette. While being hunted down as as Esper on Earth, Craike somehow crosses over to another world, one where the power is accepted and used. His adventures put him on the side of the young witch Takya, and together they defeat the Black Hoods. The wandering plot line and indiscriminate magic does not enthuse. (3)

FRED SABERHAGEN “Berserker’s Fury.” Knowledge of agriculture helps captives take over a ship controlled by berserkers. (3)

HOWARD L. MORRIS “All True Believers.” Novelette. A historical take of a parallel “Briden.” Too bad the reader isn’t let in on the story. A waste. (0)

JACK B. LAWSON “The Castaways.” Prospective colonists from Earth may not really be prepared for difficulties. (3)

KEITH LAUMER “Spaceman!” Serial, part 2 of 3. A review will follow that of the July 1967 issue.

STAN ELLIOTT “Family Loyalty.” First story. Colonists for the stars are not always on the best of terms with relatives left behind. (3)

SAMUEL R. DELANY “Driftglass.” Novelette. An amphiman scarred for life meets a youngster about to attempt the same job. Moving but not involving. [Nominated for a Nebula for Best Short story of 1968.] (4)

— April 1968.

R. A. LAFFERTY – Past Master. Ace H-54. [Ace SF Special, series one.] Paperback original; 1st printing, 1968. Cover by Diane Dillon and Leo Dillon. Reprinted by The Library of America (trade paperback, 2019). Also included in American Science Fiction: Eight Classic Novels of the 1960s (Library of America, hardcover, 2019). Nominated for a Nebula as Best Novel, 1969, and also a finalist for a Hugo as Best Novel, 1969.

   The world of Astrobe was constructed as the realization of Utopia; the people lived in wealth and perfection, yet it was decaying. Rejection of the comfort of the cities led to the settlement of Cathead and the Barrio, huge sores on the planet, where men lived in poverty, disease, and misery.

   The mystery prompts the leaders of the planet to send for Thomas More, the Past Master, to act as world president, to solve the crisis.

   Thomas More was chosen because of his one moment of honesty, but he is the same Thomas Moe who wrote of the original Utopia. A thesis could be written analyzing the parallels, the the Astrobe dream, which one wonders might be confused with the American Dream, is dying with the loss of individuality, with Finalized Humanity, which may mean perfection, or which may mean termination. Life must have challenge and suffering, or mankind cannot be distinguished from the Programmed People.

   Tremendous: Lafferty has his goals set high.

Rating: *****

— April 1968.


NICK CARTER – The Golden Serpent. Nick Carter #20. Award A216F, paperback original; 1st printing, January 1967.

   A golden serpent is the symbol of a Mexican political party seeking the return of the southwestern US. Chinese Communists are actually in control of the organization, as well as behind a plot to flood the US with counterfeit money.

   The CIA calls in the help of Nick Carter, the Killmaster, and he uncovers a mess of Chinese, neo-Nazis, Mexican bandits, and a Russian spy – all centered about the castle of a cosmetics heiress who has the strangest sex habits.

   Sex and sadism at its worst – or best. Maybe one likable character, some unpalatable action, mostly hack writing in spite of the abundance of promising plot lines. A few clumsy mistakes that might be overlooked in the pace, including information pieced out only when necessary. Reflections of the [real] CIA? Not really.

Rating: **

— April 1968.


Bibliographic Update: The man behind the “Nick Carter” alias this time was Manning Lee Stokes.

ANALOG SF – June 1967. Editor: John W. Campbell. Cover artist: by John Schoenherr. Overall rating: ** ½.

MACK REYNOLDS “Computer War.” Serial, part 1 of 2. See report following that for the July 1967 issue.

LLOYD BIGGLE, JR. “The Double-Edged Rope.” Iron Curtain censorship can “protect” the populace or keep important news from coming out. (2)

JOSEPH P. MARTINO “Security Measure.” A spy inside the USSR finds it necessary that US security measures be declassified to protect Russian missile sites from the underground. Interesting, but not science fiction. (3)

LAWRENCE A. PERKINS “Project Lion.” Analogous to Analog editorials: scientists who don’t know the rules make the greatest discoveries. (1)

CHRISTOPHER ANVIL “The Dukes of Desire.” Novelette in Anvil’s ‘Federation of Humanity’ series. Sequel to”Strangers in Paradise” in the October 1967 issue, would not seem to stand well by itself. Roberts and his crew return to that planet with the want-generator to help correct the damage they had done there. They must have a feeling of power along with their altruistic motives, but they manage to get the planet’s population working together again. Fun, if the previous story has been read. ***

— April 1968.

JOHN BRUNNER – Born Under Mars. Ace G-664, paperback original, 1st printing, [October] 1967. Cover art by John Schoenherr. Reprinted several times. Serialized previously in two parts in Amazing Stories, December 1966–February 1967.

   Ray Mallin is a Martian, and a space pilot whose last voyage brought him to the attention of three factions. After the colonization of Mars, the stars [?] were settled by two spheres of influence: the Bears in the north, the Centaurs in the south. The third group consists of Earthmen and Martians interested in improving the genetic structure of all mankind.

   A stolen baby is the key, and [the way Martian society has developed] provides the means of getting him back again.

   The science is that of sociology, The separate distinct cultures did not form by accident. But because certain traits are dominant in a society, [it should not be assumed that] all members of that society have that same trait.

   The story itself is dreary, reflecting the dreariness of a stagnant Martian culture. Or is sociology itself not particularly interesting? A standard plot with a good point of view.

Rating: ***½

— April 1968.

ELLERY QUEEN’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE – June 1967. Overall rating: ***

CORNELL WOOLRICH “Divorce – New York Style.” Serial, part 1 of 2. This story will be reported on in my review of the July 1967 issue. [Note: This installment is only ten pages long.]

GEORGES SIMENON “Inspector Maigret Thinks.” [First published in English in Argosy (UK) December 1961, as “Dead Man’s Barge.”] Two hangings on a barge in the Seine require Maigret’s attention. (3)

GERALD KERSH “A Game Played in the Twilight.” [Reprinted from The Saturday Evening Post, October 10 1959, as “Duel in the Dusk.”] A young Wild Bill Hickok learns how a near-sighted woman avenged the murder of her husband. (2)

EDWARD D. HOCH “The Theft from the Onyx Pool.” Nick Velvet is hired to steal 10,000 gallons of water from a swimming pool. (4) [Note: I reviewed this story separately on this blog here.]

AVRAM DAVIDSON “The Memory Bank.” Attempts to retire an aged clerk fail because of the old man’s memory. (4)

AGATHA CHRISTIE “Ask and You Shall Receive.” [Reprinted from The Royal Magazine, May 1928, as “The Thumb Mark of Saint Peter.” It was later collected in The Tuesday Club Murders.] Miss Marple’s niece is suspected of murdering her husband, and pilocarpine is mistaken for a heap of fish. (3)

MIRIAM SHARMAN “Battle of Wits.” A headmaster is confronted by the father of a student who was expelled. Good moments, but too confused. (3)

COLIN WATSON “Return to Base.” An American returns to an abandoned British air base where a girl had disappeared, Moody, languorous and uninteresting. (2)

ROBERT LADNER, JR. “Choice of Evils.” [Appears in EQMM‘s Department of First Stories- and was the author’s only published work of crime fiction.] The owner of a gas station slowly going bankrupt finds robbery the solution to his problems. (4)

JAMES HOLDING “The Photographer and the Columnist.” Manuel Andradas works out a plan to get all the money due him for working for the Big Ones. [Note: Under the guise of a photographer, Andradas is a professional assassin.] (3)

NEIL MacNEISH “Lament for a Scholar.” [Author’s real name is Norma Schier; an anagram of Michael Innes is used as the stated author.] Pastiche of Sir John Appleby. (0)

MICHAEL INNES “Dead Man’s Shoes.” Novelette. [Reprinted from Lilliput, August/September 1953; later included as the title story of a US hardcover collection.] A young real estate agent has a strange adventure traveling back to London, involving him with a murdered scientist wearing different colored shows. Sir John Appleby is the detective in this story of international espionage. Too clever a plot on the part of a murderer leads to his downfall. (3)

— April 1968.


TED WHITE – Phoenix Prime. Qanar #1. Lancer 73-476, paperback original; 1st printing, 1966. Cover art by Frank Frazetta.

   Max Quest awakes one morning with new paranormal powers. Hi plans for using them for the benefit of mankind are interrupted by the attacks of Others with the same powers. Unable to defeat him directly, they turn to his girl friend Fran and send her to the alternate world of Qanar.

   Max follows her rather than submit to being reduced to their level. After lengthy adventures, Max finds Fran and is able to return with her to defeat the Others, who have stunted their powers by failing to use them properly.

   The first fifty pages, as Max learns of his powers, with a detailed view of present-day New York City, are the most interesting, the most realistic. While certainly well done, the imaginative world of Qanar lacks the perception Ted White utilizes to describe the familiar.

   On page 162, the theory that man has lost his place in the system of nature conflicts with the idea that man can transcend his animalistic background. Must it be that man must take an additional evolutionary step to improve himself?

Rating: ****

— March-April 1968.


      The Qanar series —

1. Phoenix Prime (1966)
2. The Sorceress of Qar (1966)
3. Star Wolf! (1971)

WALT & LEIGH RICHMOND – The Lost Millennium. Ace Double H-19, paperback original; 1st printing, 1967. Published back-to-back with The Road to the Rim, by A. Bertram Chandler (reviewed here). Reprinted as Siva! (Ace, paperback, May 1969.

   Shades of Velikovsky! (And to be sure, there he is, on page 18.) An archaeologist tells an engineer, about to complete construction of a solar tap, the story of how a previous civilization had developed the same technology and destroyed the Earth, or Atalama, of that time. Explained in the course of the story are most of the bases of Judaism, Hinduism, and mythologies from around the world, complete with present-day flying saucers.

   The scientific background would satisfy Analog‘s standards, but its heresy would prohibit its publication even there. There is no story; only a means for presenting a theory. In this form, however, it only makes it harder for serious work to be proposed, if any. A garbled mess. And what are the transposers, first introduced on page 93? Who are the mysterious people returning to Earth? What is going on?

Rating:  *

– March 1968

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