Saturday, September 12, 2009

More Amazing Stories

This is the back cover of the November 1954 Amazing Stories, a great ad for the SF Book Club. Every story in The Omnibus of Science Fiction is better than the ones in the issue, and so are those in the F&SF anthology. I love the marketing approach. They don't market SF that way these days. It's far too adult for that. I think we've lost something in the transition, but I'm probably alone in that opinion.

The worst story in the issue, hands down, has to be "Lorelei of Chaos" by Ross Winterbotham. It's bad at every level. I suspect the fiction in fanzines of the time was better. I like the title, though.

"Never Let the Left Hand" by W. Nicholas Earl (whoever that might have been) is interesting. It's a bit of an experimental piece, New Wave long before anybody knew what that was. Not good, mind you, but interesting.

Robert Bloch's "Grandma Goes to Mars" is also interesting, but mainly for how times have changed. The way the 63-year-old grandma is portrayed would never fly today. For one thing, her age would have to be changed to 83, or maybe even 93. Today's Cougars would be so insulted that they'd burn copies of the magazine. Aside from that the story's one joke is telegraphed so early that even a 12-year-old would see the punchline coming.


Anonymous said...

Speaking of "bad fiction" as you were, here's one for your "books for people who read one or two books a year" file:

The TODAY show had a nauseating tease for an upcoming interview with Dan Brown, acting as if he was doing them a great favor in allowing them to promote his new book.

What next? Stephenie Meyer fashion tips?



Ed Gorman said...

I have the same issue. I got rid of all my upscale sf magazines from the fifties--Astounding, Galaxy, F&SF--but kept the Amazings and Imaginations etc. Hell, I even kept the Ray Palmer Other World pulp=sized. But you're right. The covers are great to look at but most of the stories are pretty hard to read. Some of the stuff Silverberg did under several pen-names for the Ziff-Davis mags hold up pretty well for juvenile adventure. Who knew that in fifty years the most interesting feature would be the Cosmic Pen Club or whatever it was?

Todd Mason said...

The copy of those SFBC ads of the '50s are always subvocalized by me as I read them in roughly the way the announcer for THE LONE RANGER radio show read his copy..."You Travelled Through Time To Taste *Forbidden Love*...BUT NOW YOU MUST KILL HER! Hiyo, Silver, AWAY!"

While not too fond of how such work is marketed today, I'm not sure I'd favor a return. ("But...Maybe She'd Be WORTH IT.")

Winterbotham is one of thos fans who barely broke into pro print, iirc, much like the dire Stanley Mullen...the minor Bloch was probably something he scraped up in an afternoon...I've certainly written exercises as I suspect that one was. The Earl is probably one of the Goldsmith rescues from the slushpile I mentioned in the other comment...but there were all kinds of experimental stirrings in the '50s, not a few of them, again, in SCIENCE FICTION STORIES and the other Lowndes titles.

As Mike Ashley has noted, FANTASTIC averaged a bit better than AMAZING even in the worst years, as Fairman as well as his predecessor Howard Browne were at least a little more interested in and comfortable with fantasy fiction, mixed in with the routine and worse sf (even if the fantasy wasn't all that great on average, either) in the sibling mangazine. Kate Wilhelm's first story was a fantasy in FANTASTIC, another Cele Goldsmith pluck, I've been told.

wv: baivoted

Richard Robinson said...

I'd take any - or all - of the books in the back cover illustration over ANYTHING published in the last few years, with the possible exception of Scalzi and Sheffield.