IF SCIENCE FICTION. February 1967. Editor: Frederick Pohl. Cover art: [Paul E.] Wenzel. Overall rating: 3 stars.

LARRY NIVEN “The Soft Weapon.” [Known Space series #14.] Novella. Two humans and a puppeteer have stolen from them a strange weapon from the past. Corresponding to each setting the weapon takes on a new shape and purpose. Much too long [43 pages]; not until the second half does there seem to be any story at all. (2)

   [Collected in Neutron Star (Ballantine, paperback original, 1968), and Playgrounds of the Mind (Tor, 1991).]

BRUCE McALLISTER “Gods of the Dark and Light.” A contrast between religions as settlers invade an isolated planet, and what religions become. (4)

   [Although this story has never been reprinted or collected, Bruce McAllister has written a long list of short fiction, and as of last year was still adding to that list.]

KEITH LAUMER “Forest in the Sky.” [Retief.] Novelette. On a planet where the inhabitants are forced to live in he sky to avoid the ferocity of their children on the ground, Retief again saves the diplomatic staff from the Grocci. Quite funny. (3)

   [First collected in Retief: Ambassador to Space (Doubleday, 1969 / Berkley, 1970.) The long running series of Retief adventures were a big hit back in the day.]

ALGIS BUDRYS “The Iron Thorn.” Serial, part 2 of 4. To be reviewed in its entirety at a later date.

ROBERT RAY “Confession.” A priest in North Australia receives an alien with a message of deep religious significance. Overdone. (2)

   [This was the author’s only published science fiction story.]

RICHARD WILSON “The Evil Ones.” Novelette. A murderer committed to a rest-home redeems himself by aiding aliens to repair their ship and leave Earth. Sentimental at the end, but effective. (4)

   [First collected in The Story Writer and Other Stories (Ramble House, 2011.) Wilson wrote only two novels, but was well known for a long list of short fiction.]

MATHER H. WALKER “The Dangers of Deepspace.” Glamorous space reality isn’t. (3)

   [The second “one shot wonder” in this issue.]

C. C. MacAPP “A Beachhead for Gree.” [Gree series.] Novelette. The battle against the Gree continues, this time on a planet of pacifists. From page 149: “It appears … you are as fanatical as those you fight.” A good point, but the evil of Gree overcomes. (3)

   [Never reprinted or collected. The last of nine stories about the long fought battle against the Gree.]

–December 1967