Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A Bonus Forgotten Magazine: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, August 1962

I decided to break out this issue of F&SF because of a comment I read about one of the stories, Dean McLaughlin's "The Voyage Is Ended," which was described as a Clifford Simak pastiche.  Simak being one of my favorites, I felt I needed to have a look.  It's a pretty good story that does capture some of the nostalgic feel of a Simak tale and maybe a little of the style.

After reading that one, I figured that I'd just read the rest of them.  I should preface this by saying that in the 1950s, F&SF was one of my favorite digests.  But then all the digests were my favorites.  Even then I could tell that there were different magazines published different kinds of stories, and when it came to literary SF, F&SF led the way for me.  Which is why I was a bit disappointed in most of this issue.  Fritz Leiber's "The Secret Songs" is New Wave before the New Wave.  Sex, drugs, a different kind of writing style, all the elements are there.  "The Golden Flask" struck me as the kind of story that might've appeared in a 1950s issue of Fantastic.  I knew where it was going from the first and didn't care if it got there.  Dickson's "Shalmanzar" is a fantasy that gave me a smile or two but nothing more.  "Mumbwe Jones" is short and well-written,  but not memorable.  "The Top" is an amusing story about bureaucracies.  "Fruiting Body" is an entertaining magic mushroom story.  "The Roper" is a poem about love and death, like something John the Balladeer might sing.  "Spacial Relationship" is a punning title that answers the question about female companionship for men in space and turns out to be something of a joke that's not very funny.  "The Stupid General" is about a stupid general who turns out to be not so stupid, after all.  In a way, that is.  "What Price Wings" is the only story here that I'd read before.  I can't remember where.  It's a warning about being to angelic.  "Harlan Ellison's "Paulie Charmed the Sleeping Woman" was his first story in F&SF, and it's about ghosts and music.  Slight, but shows Ellison moving away from his earlier work.  "The Gumdrop King" is about a boy in an unhappy home.  He encounters an alien who likes gumdrops.  I liked this one.  The Feghoot will challenge your love of puns, if you have one.  I didn't read the Asimov article. 

Overall, a kind of average issue.  The editor was Avram Davidson, and maybe his tastes and mine just don't agree.  

Table of Contents
The Secret Songs · Fritz Leiber
The Golden Flask · Kendell Foster Crossen
Salmanazar · Gordon R. Dickson
The Voyage Which Is Ended · Dean McLaughlin
Mumbwe Jones · Fred Benton
The Top · George Sumner Albee 
Science: The Light Fantastic · Isaac Asimov
Fruiting Body · Rosel George Brown
The Roper · Theodore R. Cogswell & John Jacob Niles 
Spatial Relationship · Randall Garrett 
The Stupid General · J. T. McIntosh 
What Price Wings? · H. L. Gold
Paulie Charmed the Sleeping Woman · Harlan Ellison
The Gumdrop King · Will Stanton

Through Time and Space with Ferdinand Feghoot: LIII · Grendel Briarton 

6 comments:

George said...

I would read an occasional issue of MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION in the Sixties, but I preferred GALAXY and IF.

Todd said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Todd said...

Davidson, as you might remember, is my favorite editor of the magazine...but, then, he's my default favorite writer, and the sense of experimentation was greater than any other editor's has been. Some notional work included, but there always has been. Difficult to sell blank pages. (Unless it's a diary.)

The Leiber is one of three autobiographical fantasies, or possibly more accounts of the inner fantasies of the Leibers (as there's nothing that Actually Must Be Happening about them) in essentially dramatic form...all three published in F&SF in the '60s and never collected together (I d once queried Leiber's estate's agents to find out what the fee for reprinting all three together in a semiprozine context would be, and after no response after two queries I gave up). (Perhaps I should try again eventually.)

Basically, Davidson's F&SF and to lesser extents Goldsmith's FANTASTIC and AMAZING, Pohl's GALAXY and its stablemates, Carnell's NEW WORLDS and SCIENCE FANTASY, and such pre-1960 magazines as Shaw's INFINITY and certainly Lowndes's SCIENCE FICTION and its stablemates were all publishing a fair amount of what would be called New Wave in the latter '60s, mixed in with other work.

Davidson later wrote "Polly Charms, the Sleeping Woman"...there might've been one other variation from someone. Writers can have some fun at times.

Todd said...

Yeah, Ken Crossen was always, to borrow a phrase from Budrys about someone else, "a pleasing, shallow talent"...well, pleasing enough sometimes, anyway.

Bill Crider said...

I've enjoyed a lot of Crossen's work, but that story wasn't my thing. The Leiber story is the best in the issue, I think.

Gideon Marcus said...

Hello, Bill! Thank you for the line you dropped at my review. Please feel free to post your address so that my fans can appreciate your 'zine, too!

Seems the Leiber connects with a lot of people. I give it an A for execution (an "e"?) but the content was uninteresting to me.

Part of it's a matter of what I look for in an sff mag. I want sff, even sff-themed social commentary... not social-commentary themed social-commentary (which is what the Leiber and the Albee are, whatever literary merit they possess).