Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Super-Science Fiction, June 1959

I know I've written before about my fondness for the low-rent SF digests of the '50s, and Super-Science Fiction was certainly among that group. I picked up the "Second Monster Issue" the other day only to discover that nostalgia ain't what it used to be. Even I have to admit that nobody could read these stories today with a straight face.

"Creatures of Green Slime" by James Rosenquest is about the first manned expedition to Mars, in which an encounter with an alien life form results in takeover by green slime. It's an attempt to create horror in the reader with the use of italics, exclamation points, and strong men weeping. Doesn't work. What stopped me in my tracks, though was the fact that they check out the green slime by testing it on a bowl of goldfish. Yes, that's right. They took a bowl of goldfish on the first manned expedition to Mars. I wouldn't have thought to take it, but by golly someone did.

"Terror of the Undead Corpses" by Rusell Thompson is about the first manned expedition to Venus, in which contact with an alien life form results in corpses reanimated by green slime. No, wait, that's the other story. Well, yes, but it's this one, too. The difference is in the way the takeover works. Not that you'll care much.

Obviously the publishers were trying to capitalize on the monster craze in the movies of the time, but it didn't save the magazine. I'm sure Todd Mason could give you the entire crazed history of it, and he might even know if Rosenquest and Thompson were real people or just pen-names for Ellison and Silverberg, who apparently wrote most of the stories for this publication.

Great Freas cover, though, and fine Emsh interiors. More reports later.

10 comments:

  1. But I bet there are stories we read today with a straight face that will suffer the same fate. Just hope they are not mine.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I read every issue. Except for the occasional Bob Block or Isaac Asimov I always went for the Silverberg and his pen-names. Silverberg was such a pro that he could make even his stuff for that magazine readable.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The stories are readable, all right. Just painfully dumb. But who cares. I read 'em then, and I love 'em now.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love the cover! You don't see covers like that on contemporary SF magazines or paperbacks.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Robert Silverberg, on a certain discussion list, has from time to time been trying to remember which stories he wrote for this magazine, whose editor W.W. Scott Harlan Ellison has most memorably eulogized in a piece that has appeared in various places, though mostly for his work on the crime-fiction stablemates (which Ellison and Silverberg also contributed to, of course), of comparable quality (though apparently rather better than the ever-devolving SATURN SF/WEB DETECTIVE/WEB TERROR magazine...which went from running a lost Jules Verne story and other reasonably good sf and fantasy, through lurid bottom of the market CF to a revival of the "shudder" pulp format of stories of torture, essentially S&M porn with the sex per se softpedalled).

    Here's a blog with some handsome covers (and some just The Kind Men Like) and a short Silverberg interview of some relevance:

    http://vintagesleazepaperbacks.wordpress.com/category/robert-silverberg/

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for the link, Todd. Great stuff. I wish I had the book.

    ReplyDelete
  7. BTW, was the goldfish bowl just a normal goldfish bowl? Super-science!

    Patti: well, you aren't a kid looking for cheap thrills with what you read today, as Bill was as late as 1959...I suspect, Bill, that by this issue you weren't taking SSF terribly seriously either.

    George: Not too often. Thank goodness. Though it is handsome in its way.

    Ed's spelling of Bloch as "Block" only reflects how SSF itself blurbed Bloch's decent "Broomstick Ride" on the cover of that issue.
    Ah, well.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Alas, I don't know who Thompson nor Rosenquist Really might be (Tom Stoppard might--THOMPSON AND ROSENQUIST ARE READ languishes uproduced), but Mike Ashley surely would.

    ReplyDelete
  9. By that time, I knew the stories were dumb, but I still read 'em. And as far as I know it was a regular goldfish bowl. That's what it's called, no further description given.

    ReplyDelete