Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fantastic, October 1954

Since I've talked about a 1954 issue of Amazing, I thought it was only fair to say a few words about an issue of Fantastic from the same year. One thing is obvious: the Amazing had a much better cover. On the other hand, I have to admit that the guy in the middle of this one is making a truly bold fashion statement.

The cover illustrates "The Yellow Needle" by Gerald Vance. It's a time-travel fantasy, sort of an anti-Bradbuy -Finney story about a guy who travels back to 1900 and finds out he's not nearly as happy there as he'd thought he'd be. The yellow needle is the gimmick in the story, and what it has to do with a fakir in Cairo is something it's probably best not to think about. In fact, the whole story is something it's probably best not to think about. It's not very good at all.

The first story in the magazine is a science fiction tale by Milton Lesser. (The first story in the issue of Amazing was a fantasy by Lesser; go figure.) "Cosmic Appetite" can be summed up thusly: The Blob in outer space. Since it was written a good many years before The Blob hit the theaters, you might perhaps want to write a monograph on its influence. I don't.

1 comment:

Todd Mason said...

WEIRD TALES had blobs going back...Joseph Payne Brennan's "Slime"...was Anthony Rud's "Ooze" in the first issue a blobbish? Shall finally have to read it (shudder). Only 3-4 years before THE BLOB slithered out of Phoenixville, though, eh?

In 1954, this would be just after the great experiment with FANTASTIC was officially pronounced dead, when the high budget was gone, FANTASTIC ADVENTURES was merged with it, and the mix of decent fiction from top-flight contributors and slick fripperies from others (and some of the first group) were supplanted by the Usual Run of ZD stuff, as Fairman settled in as editor of sorts. Did Cele Goldsmith start working for him, and pulling some decent stuff out of slush (Kate Wilhelm, et al.) in '55?

For some reason, the ZD magazines always did seem to want to feature no-holds-barred fantasy in AMAZING and (even when it was blurbed a fantasy magazine) sf in FANTASTIC, a tradition that continued with subsequent publishers even before the two magazines were combined and thus made it Sort Of OK. (Ted White's last issues of AMAZING and FANTASTIC respectively featured Steve Utley stories about sentient dust devils and time-traveling future dictator-overthrow attempts, when it might've made a bit more sense the other way 'round.)

Gerald Vance was a house pseud, as far as I remember, for all sorts of minor work in the ZD magazines.

The guy in sports jacket and Bermudas is just fashion-forward...slacker louts would do this a fair amount forty years later.