I survived a reading of the complete SUPER SCIENCE FICTION Magazine!!!!
It was slim pickins' for horror fiction in the late 1950s.
WEIRD TALES had ceased its' seemingly endless run as a digest in 1954, a mere shadow of its' former self, which left only Michael Avallone's enjoyable TALES OF THE FRIGHTENED (and that stiffed after only two issues) and a handful of horror anthologies (Zacherley's two Ballantine collections immediately come to mind) to satiate those who preferred their fiction supernatural rather than scientific.
On the opposite end of the spectrum,the science fiction movie boom of the mid-1950s, led by THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, WAR OF THE WORLDS, and THE THING, saw a proliferation of science fiction digests on the newstand. You could choose from the venerable AMAZING, ASTOUNDING, or F&SF; the lighter IMAGINATIVE TALES, IMAGINATION, and FANTASTIC (which featured at least a handful of classic horror stories in the 1950s); or you could sneak a peek over your shoulder and hope no one saw you actually buy the new issue of SUPER SCIENCE FICTION.
The cover of the first issue of SSF (published by Headline Publications in Holyoke, Mass. ) certainly would not catch the attention of the average horror fan. It featured Kelly Freas' painting of a spaceman caught in a hail of falling space debris. Pure science fiction. But inside, the contents were far from ASTOUNDING or AMAZING in themes. There were no hardcore sf fantasies. You could call the SSF story "the working man's science fiction" . In fact, as the magazine approached its final issue in 1958, it had evolved into a sf/horror zine. Its' pages thrived on alien monster stories with titles that lacked a bit in the imagination department: "Creatures of Green Slime"; "Beasts of Nightmare Horror"; . This could be why today's sf critics look back at SUPER SCIENCE FICTION with such disdain. Milt Subotsky, in his entry for SSF in SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, AND WEIRD FICTION MAGAZINES  writes:
By the end of 1959, there were only nine (existing science fiction magazines). SUPER SCIENCE FICTION...was, deservedly so, one of the casualties.
Peter Nichols, in THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SCIENCE FICTION (St Martin's Press, 1993), dismisses SSF with a curt "its contents were mediocre." This despite the fact that the roster of authors included Robert Silverberg, Harlan Ellison, Robert Bloch, Isaac Asimov, and Jack Vance.
Looking back now, the five stories that made up the first issue of SSF were written by virtual unknowns who would later have varying degrees of success. Of course, the two most recognized names, Robert Silverberg and Harlan Ellison, would revolutionize the SF field in the 1960s. Ellison, with his biting wit and thoughtful fiction became the most decorated writer of any genre and continues to this day doling out justice with a pen, aiming at any target that strikes his fancy or raises his ire. Silverberg also became one of the "most imaginative and versatile writers ever to have been involved with sf" publishing dozens of sf novels during the 1960s and 1970s.
Silverberg would contribute three dozen stories during the short life of SSF, under his own name and various pseudonyms.
The month after SSF #1 went on sale, Henry Slesar would see his first story published in the second issue of ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S MYSTERY MAGAZINE. Slesar continued to be a regular throughout the first two decades of AHMM, selling hundreds of crime and mystery short stories. He's also well known to paperback collectors as the author of the rare and collectible movie tie-in digest, "20,000,000 MILES TO EARTH", published in 1957. Russ Winterbotham went on to write several sf/adventure novels for Monarch, among them PLANET BIG ZERO, THE SPACE EGG, and THE RED PLANET. Under the name Stephen Marlowe, Milton Lesser created Chester Drum, an FBI agent turned P.I., for a series of novels in the 60s. The Chester Drum novels became one of the most popular men's adventure series at a time when the book racks were swarmed with the likes of The Man From Uncle, Matt Helm, The Destroyer, The Executioner, and, of course, James Bond.
What separates SSF from the rest of the pack? An inherent goofiness, bad editing, bad proofreading, and cliches galore (in fact, the cliches are so apparent that you envision the writer's guidelines reading something like "Just write like everybody else out there"). Even the pros contributed bad prose. Bloch's "Broomstick Ride" is without doubt one of the worst stories he ever wrote in a sixty year career. And though he'd become a critic's darling in the 1960s, a lot of Silverberg's stories are comparable to the bad fiction prevalent in science fiction fanzines (sometimes worse). The most imaginative aspect of Silverberg's stories for SSF nine out of ten times ends up being the name of the planet his protagonist is visiting. The story is secondary, the characterizations a distant third. Many times Silverberg falls prey to the old sf writer's trick of simply affixing a goofy name to something we're all familiar with.
Here's an example, from the subtly-titled "Monsters That Once Were Men" (August 1959):
...they looked like things out of a nargheel-smoker's worst nightmares...their bodies were unutterably repulsive. I felt like vomiting at the sight of them. Danny Tsung said thickly, "Of all the sickening sights I ever don't want to see again-"
With SSF, you never knew what you'd run into. Sure, you'd be subjected to prose as "elegant" as:
The negative thoughts, inhibitions, both artificial and common-sensed, buzzed around in his head like a swarm of angry gnats-no, more like the fragments of a gyroscopic flywheel that has vibrated apart and lost all its stability; or the neat pattern of iron filings on paper held over a magnet, suddenly deprived of their polarity and scattered by a careless shake.
But then, you'd happen upon passages like this:
You could always find the biggest crowds around the cage when the keeper dropped a live, kicking slug-beast into the twenty-foot web, and that God-awful hairy body pushed out into the dim light of the cage from its silk-strand-covered hiding place and danced across the thick strands of the web like a ballerina from hell.OR:
Radek sat groggily where he was put, quivering occasionally as the organism within him attempted to regain control over his numbed and useless muscles.As noted, by the end of its run SSF had transformed intself into a BEMzine, chronicling the adventures of astronauts who stray too closely into the giant spider's web on Amalgam-8 or encounter giant fire-breathing centipedes with wings on Boolsheet-4. The April 1959 issue carried the headline: "Special Monster Issue" and spotlighted loathsome beasts and asteroids of horror. All three of the remaining issues carried the "Monster Issue!" banner.
"Sam, can you hear me? Sam?"
"Sam, tell me-what's happened to you? What kind of thing has taken you over?"
"I am part of It," Radek said tonelessly. "The oneness...the fulfillment. All is one here on this world, and I am part of It. Of We."
SUPER-SCIENCE FICTION was one of a kind.
THE COLORFUL ALIENS OF SSF
Dozens of aliens invaded the pages of SUPER SCIENCE FICTION over its three year existence. Here are some of the more colorful descriptions:
It was about the size of a giraffe, moving on long, wobbly legs and with a tiny head up at the end of a preposterous neck. Only it has six legs and a bunch of writhing tentacles as well, and its eyes, great violet globes, stood out nakedly on the ends of two thick stalks. It must have been twenty feet high.From "Catch 'Em All Alive" (Volume 1/#1)They were eight feet tall, thick of body and covered with spines,like some horribly animated cactus...Their mouths were the mouths of frogs, flap-lipped and toothless. Their tongues were long, forked, and hinged at the front; their eyes were pocketed atop their oblong skulls.From "Mission: Hypnosis" (Volume 1/#2)They looked like living corpses, with their white domed skulls and the big staring eyes. One of them had an extra set of limbs sprouting out of the sides of his chest-not arms, but boneless tentacles that flailed around nervously like pale whips. Another had disgusting slimy skin that oozed little blisters of pus.From "Monsters That Once Were Men" (Volume 3/#5)It was long - five feet, at least - and otterlike in general form. But there were a half-dozen legs on each side of the brown, furry body and the face vaguely resembled a gorilla's, differing only in the inordinate length of its fangs. The two forward limbs were equipped with huge, formidable pincers.From "Hostile Life-Form" (Volume 2/#4)They looked like giant amphibians, eight or nine feet high as the surf splashed around their flipper-feet...at least twenty feet long, standing on six legs...half their length seemed to be head. Their mouths were enormous and filled with yellow-green fangs. Their eyes, like twin lamps, gleamed atop their snouts.From "The Loathsome Beasts" (Volume 3/#6)A blur of many-jointed arms...with a crushing grip of steel...a face of unbelievable horror. A pair of wiry black pincers emerged from a slavering gash in the center of the face, while many-faceted eyes peered inhumanly.From "Horror in Space" (Volume 3/#2)
"Could an emotion born of propinquity, and desperation approach the meaning of love? The alarm circuits in his brain clanged raucously...Did this mean that any unusual stress could peel the armor from his naked emotions? If so, he was as vulnerable and unfit to adminster (sic) as any bearded Venusian sandhog".From "One Woman For Venus""He raised his five feet and one hundred and twenty pounds of bone and gristle out of the divan. He smiled with a smirk that made me feel like I needed a shower, and his voice was like oil drained off after ten thousand miles of driving."From "The Abominable Creature""Come on, you hell-thing, you spawn of satan!" he shouted hysterically. "Come and get me, you filthy freak! Catch me if you can, you stinking travesty on nature!"From "The Loathsome Beasts"
Holyoke's history is an article unto itself, it would seem. Under a variety of publishing names such as Headline, Columbia, Pontiac, and Candar, the house produced scads of digests including OFF BEAT DETECTIVE, SURE FIRE DETECTIVE, WEB TERROR STORIES, DOUBLE ACTION WESTERN, ORIGINAL SCIENCE FICTION, TRAPPED and GUILTY (the latter two edited by SSF's W.W. Scott) until its apparent demise in the mid-60s. There's a great behind-the-scenes piece by Harlan Ellison in Gary Lovisi's HARDBOILED #22 detailing all the craziness that went on when dealing with the company.
In his opening editorial, editor W.W. Scott claims that "the theme of our magazine...is people." People who "challenge the skies with... cold fury."
Yes, THAT Milt Subotsky. The producer responsible for such classy horror pics as TALES FROM THE CRYPT, VAULT OF HORROR, and ASYLUM. Of course, the guy should also be held responsible for THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT and AT THE EARTH'S CORE, films that make me appreciate ROBOT MONSTER and MESA OF LOST WOMEN.
SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, AND WEIRD FICTION MAGAZINES, edited by Marshall B. Tymn and Mike Ashley (Greenwood Press 1985). This is an indispensable volume and should be in any serious genre buff's library. No foolin'.
Brian Stableford, "The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction" edited by Peter Nicholls. First edition. Doubleday, 1979. Pg. 546.
At this time, Silverberg has commented, the author was pumping out 10,000 words a day. In fact, half of the contents of the August 1959 issue were written by Silverberg under his own name and various psuedonyms.
Some of the better planet names: Sandoval IX; Vordil IX; Danimar III; World of 1000 Colors; World Seven of Star System A; and my favorite- World 9 of System XG.
I wonder if Stan Lee and Jack Kirby did a lot of SSF browsing when it came time to create all those goofy monsters for the Marvel titles of the late 50s and early 60s.
Catch 'Em All Alive! by Robert Silverberg **
(5100 wds.) illo: Freas
Four zoological scientists land on a planet inhabited by strange, exotic beasts. Before long they realize they've set down on an interplanetary zoo and they're the new exhibit representing Earth. Dated now, but still a good read.
Who Am I? by Henry Slesar **1/2
(10,300 wds) illo: Emsh
Two 'space traders' happen upon young Joe Smith drifting in a space sled. When Smith comes to, he explains to the traders that he can't remember how he came to be adrift in space. Turns out that Smith has multiple personalities because of a ritual conducted on an uncharted planet called Othello. The ritual combines the "essence" of several people into one body. Smith has absorbed his ex-shipmates. A rambling, amusing tale that shifts gears every couple pages or so.
Psycho at Mid-Point by Harlan Ellison **
(6500 wds) illo: Orban
After a particularly long space voyage, an astronaut apparently loses his mind and goes on a rampage. It's up to one brave crew member to stop the madman before he kills all aboard.
Chance of a Lifetime by Milton Lesser ***
(5700 wds) illo: Orban
Mr. and Mrs. Imber decide on a soul transmigration for their latest vacation and have their minds switched with those of a Travarmanian couple. Good solid ending helps this tale of unsubtle prejudice.
Once Within a Time by Russ Winterbotham *1/2
(9300 wds) illo: Emsh
A beautiful woman is sent "back from the future" to prevent a scientist from creating a time machine. Confusing 'time curve' tale.
Mission: Hypnosis by Harlan Ellison **1/2
(6000 wds) illo: Emsh
Laird Barley volunteers for the Goner Squad, an ultra-elite tactical force that cleans up the galaxy. Barley's mission is to deliver a message (hidden deep inside his brain via hypnosis) to the Aldebarenites (aka the Gobbleys for their annoying habit of eating humans). Good twist ending.
The Great Illusion by Manly Bannister *
(5700 wds) illo: Freas
Cliff Rowley is sent to investigate a world whose civilization may be imaginary. Long and tedious.
Mr. Loneliness by Henry Slesar **1/2
(1500 wds) illo: Orban
In the future, man has learned new ways to combat loneliness in space.
Woman's Touch by Evelyn E. Smith **
(6800 wds) illo: Emsh
Fairly amusing tale of the first colonists on a planet of uneducated dwarves and how the newcomers set out to "domesticate" the inhabitants.
The Untouchable Adolescents by Ellis Hart ***
(5900 wds) illo: Freas
The crew of the Wallower try to convince the telekinetic inhabitants of a doomed planet that their spaceship is their only hope of survival.
Every Day is Christmas by James E. Gunn ***1/2
(7900 wds) illo: Orban
After three years of solitary confinement, a man comes back to Earth to find that TV advertising has taken over the lives of the populace. Excellent early thesis on the "evils" of television is just as relevant today as it was forty years ago. Gunn had scores of stories published in the SF magazines, including the "Conquest of Space" and "Blood Transfusion" series (which ran, unlike most other series, in various magazines in the mid-fifties). Clute calls "Beyond Bedlam", Gunn's novelette that ran in GALAXY in 1961, "brilliant." A James Gunn checklist was published by Chris Drumm in 1984.
Death of a Mutant by Charles V. De Vet ****
(4700 wds) illo: Emsh
A young boy has the power of euthanasia with just a touch of his hand. Powerful short story has two qualities not often associated with SSF stories: 1/ a present-day setting, and 2/ a very downbeat ending. The next year, De Vet wrote a monster story, "Special Feature" for AMAZING (May 1958) that probably would have fit in nicely with the SSF "monster issues."
One Woman For Venus by Winston Marks *
(6000 wds) illo: Freas
The two occupants of a spachip en route to Venus, one the new governor and the other a murderess, find love and happiness among the stars. If Harlequin Romance released a SF novel, it would probably read a lot like this dreadful bore.
The Rim of Eternity by Koller Ernst **
(4200 wds) illo: Orban
Luke Risen, pilot of the experimental X-33 plane, cruises past Mach 40 and finds himself staring at another dimension. Interesting concept falls apart halfway through when Luke holds a silly conversation with his dead wife, who now resides in the 4th dimension. Ernst was just a dabbler in sf fiction (in fact, I can't find any reference to sf writing outside of SSF), but he had several crime stories in TERROR DETECTIVE, MANHUNT, DOUBLE-ACTION, GUILTY, and ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S MYSTERY MAGAZINE.
Pariah Girl by Boyd Ellanby **1/2
(3900 wds) illo: Freas
Lt. Charles Bradford hopes to marry an android girl on the planet Hozhan until his application is rejected because the girl is a "criminal." Bradford gets the runaround trying to find out exactly what the girl's crime was, eventually learning during a big Hozhan feast that the girl's a pariah because she won't eat Hozhan's favorite delicasy: earthmen! Though tame compared to today's bloody tales of cannibalism, "Pariah Girl" is pretty risque stuff for an otherwise fairly clean-cut sf digest. Ellanby was the psudonym of William C. Boyd and Lyle G. Boyd.
Brink of Madness by Arthur Sellings **
(6900 wds) illo: Orban
Sam Bishop wakes up from a coma after a car crash that costs him his legs and his memory. Dependant upon his wife Lena, Sam becomes a bitter, paranoid man. What starts off as a promising "Twilight Zone"-type tale degenerates into "Peyton Place" with a silly expository. Sellings later published dozens of shorts (mostly in NEW WORLDS) and the acclaimed ("peopled with engrossing character types" states Clute) end-of-the-world novel, JUNK DAY (1970), published posthumously.
Galactic Thrill Kids by Robert Silverberg *1/2
(4000 wds) illo:Emsh
Silverberg mixes two genres (science fiction and juvenile delinquency) and ends up with this silly story of a space pilot kidnapped and taken for a joyride by three juvies.
Invulnerable by Harlan Ellison ***
(7500 wds) illo: Emsh
When the government finds out that Eric Limmler is impervious to harm, they convince him to take a dangerous trip to Mars. This affecting story of the lonely life of "the man who can't die" is a good example of the lesser known material that Harlan Ellison was writing for the sf (and crime) magazines of the 50s.
Bright Flowers of Mars by Curtis W. Casewit ***
Worldwide hero David Powers is to be the first man on Mars when his ship is struck by a meteor shower. He fights all odds to patch up the damage and continue his voyage. A science fiction version of "An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge," but still an effective read. Casewit had four stories published in WEIRD TALES during the magazine's last three years.
Hometown by Richard Wilson **
Short-short about homesick moon colonists who visit a very realistic Earth facade.
World of a Thousand Colors by Robert Silverberg *
(5000 wds) illo: Emsh
Every millenium (or so) a "test" is held on the World of 1,000 Colors. Jolvar Hollinrede considers the "test" important enough to murder a man in order to take his place at the shindig. This is a story that goes nowhere sloooowly.
Final Trophy by Harlan Ellison **
(5000 wds) illo: Emsh
Big game hunter Nathaniel Derr travels to the planet Ristable to have a showdown with the ultimate beast. Derr plans to add the beast's head to his collection but the natives of Ristable think otherwise. The "shock" ending is telegraphed in the Emsh drawing that opens the story.
Desire Woman by Henry Slesar **
(4400 wds) illo: Orban
Clarissa Mahon hires a PI to investigate her space trader husband Mack. Turns out Mack has a girl stashed on another planet - his "desire woman". Clarissa decides enough is enough and heads to Tradepost Four to put a stop to her hubby's philandering ways.
Pushover Planet by Don Berry **1/2
(9000 wds) illo: Orban
Spacemen investigating the planet Fennel II discover a symbiotic life form that feeds on its host's emotions. Very reminiscent of THE TINGLER, but this bizarre little novelette takes a fork in the road (this way to horror, this way to loonieville) and dispenses some MARTY-like pathos in its subplot involving the captain and the mousy female science engineer. Despite a letdown climax, still a strange read.
New Men For Mars by Calvin M. Knox ***
(12,000 wds) illo: Bowman
Ambitious novellete of a United Nations inspector sent to inspect two colonies living on Mars in huge domes ala LOGAN'S RUN. Fun, H. G. Wellsian, energetic sf, with a hokey, STAR TREK-type deux ex machina development in its wrap-up.
The Well-Fed Birds by Richard R. Smith **1/2
Spacemen are marooned after they crashland on Mars, but find the Martians accomodating hosts. In fact, too accomodating. Nasty climax.
The Dope by O. H. Leslie ***
Amusing tale of a bumbling time traveller who knows nothing about the workings of his time machine. The traveller appears out of the blue (literally) on the doorstep of a gang of impatient doctors who try to gain information from him, only to find that the man is...a dope.
Three Survived by Robert Silverberg **1/2
(11,100 wds) illo: Bowman
Roy Kilbourne thinks he's in big trouble when he escapes his disintegrating spaceship with the only other surviving crew members - two men he considers to be buffoons. When the three land their "escape boat" on an alien planet, it turns out that Kilbourne is the buffoon when it comes to survival. Fun space-opera.
Alternate Universe by Robert Bloch **1/2
(2700 wds) illo: Orban
Tom Morton creates a drug that induces an alternate universe.
The Search For Sally by A. Bertram Chandler *
(9500 wds) illo: Emsh
A pilot is convinced that his girlfriend, who died in a plane crash, is actually alive and has been kidnapped by Martians. He assumes this because he is convinced she is sending him telepathic messages. Interminably long short story, made worse given the author's reputation in the sf field.
I'll Take Over by George Whitley *1/2
(6300 wds) illo: Orban
A decade before 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, "I'll Take Over" tells the story of a spaceship that learns to think.
Hunt and Strike by Raymond E. Banks **
(5700 wds) illo: Emsh
A weapons maker sends the "waspette," a tiny guided missile to the New White House to assassinate the president. Interesting concept trapped in uninteresting prose.
Twice-Told Tale by Theodore L. Thomas *1/2
Nathaniel Dove commands a fleet of three rocketships testing the theory of space curvature. Dove is convinced that if flies straight for 15 years, he'll eventually come back to Earth. He's right, but where did he get a 15 year supply of food and fuel. You gotta wonder about these small details sometimes.
Invasion Footnote by Cordwainer Bird **
An inventor creates the SIMs, small robots he intends to control the world with. Unfortunately for this genius, he makes them too perfect for his own good.
A Time For Revenge by Calvin M. Knox+ **1/2
(5100 wds) illo: Emsh
Mark Fenton heads to Vordil IX to find out why his younger brother was executed. Isaac Asimov, please meet Mike Shayne.
The Childless Ones by Daniel F. Galouye **
(9500 wds) illo: Emsh
On the planet Repugnant-A (yes!), a small group of earthlings try to find the reason why none of the Repugnants (!) have any sexual desire. The resident elderly astronomer discovers that it has something to do with the twenty year cycle of Repugnant-B (an identical rogue planet) about the same time that the men of the expedition get the hots for the sole human female on the planet, the disdainfully obese (and apparently otherwise useless) "Miss Jennifer." An unusually sick and deranged SSF tale that repeatedly crosses the line of good taste. In a strangely entertaining way, of course.
Song of the Axe by Don Berry *
(10,200 wds) illo: Orban
On Procycon IV, the Procys battle the Outsiders for control of their planet and possibly the whole galaxy. With its "full, firm breasts" and plentiful "soft flesh", "Song of the Axe" should have been a contender for "Spicy Science Fiction Stories Magazine" (if there had been one), but even the crazed ballet (a religious ritual) and hand to hand combat can't save this from being one crashing bore.
The Fear Trap by Richard R. Smith *
(2500 wds) illo: Orban
Four astronauts break into an ancient Martian tomb and are trapped by a death ray that reduces the men one by one to ashes. An incredibly dumb ending.
Death's Planet by Robert Silverberg **
(9600 wds) illo: Bowman
When he's framed for murder, Ree Crawford (or Carpenter; Silverberg can't seem to decide which) flees Velliran disguised as an ecology officer on a flight to explore the deadly "World Seven of Star System A", where anything and everything will kill you. "Death's Planet" comes equipped with a coincidental climax that would stimy even the most gracious of critics. Very reminiscent of Harry Harrison's DEATHWORLD series of novels (the first volume of which was not to see print until 1960).
The Better Life by Charles V. De Vet *
After a miraculous near-death experience, Roy McMahon discovers he can "will" good things to happen. A better job, less celulite on the wife, good humanitarian things like that. In fact, the only thing McMahon can't get is a satisfactory conclusion to his story since what finishes up "The Better Life" is one of the most abrupt finales ever!
The Gentle Vultures by Isaac Asimov **
(6000 wds) illo: Emsh
Asimov's social commentary about a race of aliens, the Hurrians, who travel from planet to planet, waiting like vultures for civilizations to wipe themselves out. Not an outstanding early example of science fiction from a man who would later see his name in the title of a SF magazine.
Broomstick Ride by Robert Bloch *
(3400 wds) illo: Emsh
A scientific expedition on the planet Pyris finds life forms resembling broomstick-riding witches. A rare misfire for Bloch, lacking any of the master's usual suspense or wit.
The Hunters of Cutwold by Calvin M. Knox **1/2
(10,800 wds) illo: Bowman
Big game guide Kly Brannon is blackmailed by the heartless Murdoch into leading a tour of ten bloodthirsty quasi-hunters to the pacifistic Nurillons. On the way they encounter the usual deadly beasts, such as the vicious pack of killer blue dogs and the giant maneating toads. The story's a little too long with a tad too much " man is really THE animal" preaching for my tastes, but the story still manages to entertain and has a nice wrap-up.
Get Rich Quick by Richard R. Smith ***
(3400 wds) illo: Orban
Brik's girlfriend travels to Delira, where she discovers a quick and "easy" way to make millions. The Delirans, it seems, are big fight fans and Brik finds out too late that they prefer their fights to the death. Nice, chilling finale leaves questions unanswered, but still satisfies.
Quarantined Species by J. F. Bone *1/2
(5500 wds) illo: Orban
The Horgels are the cutest, furriest little varmints this side of Uranus, but the emotions they stir up in humans can be deadly. Deadly dull, that is.
Misfit by Robert Silverberg **
(4700 wds) illo: Bowman
Web Foss searches Sandoval IX for his estranged wife, Carol, who's fled Egri V after a heated argument. Now Foss must deal with the Adaptos, a genetically-engineered race designed for the low gravity Sandoval IX, and their reciprocated racist hatred for Earthlings. Yet another preachy tale.
The Weegil by Evelyn E. Smith **1/2
Mrs. Kinnan wins a game show and the prize is a weegil. What's a weegil? Turns out to be an egg-shaped tank (with a scientist inside) sent from Venus to monitor Earthlings. Fair sci-fi with a humorous twist.
Worlds of Origin by Jack Vance **
(8700 wds) illo: Emsh
Magnus Ridolph, Jack Vance's futuristic Hercule Poirot attempts to solve the mysterious murder of Lester Bonfils with help from the ten suspects themselves. "Worlds of Origin" so obviously falls outside of the normal SSF story. It's very well written, but the style and humor, along with the whodunit aspects, would fit much better in ELLERY QUEEN'S MYSTERY MAGAZINE. The better writing, by the way, does not make it a better story. "Origins" starts out promising but soon becomes very dull. Vance would later become a fan favorite (thanks mostly to his "Dying Earth" saga) and is now one of the most collectible sf authors.
Secret Weapon by Arthur Zirul *
(9300 wds) illo: Orban
Walter Keegan, agent of BETT (The Bureau of Extra-Terrestrial Trade) sets out for the planet of TTP-1009-4B (hands down, the dumbest of all the dumb planet titles) where the telepathic residents are being held as pawns in the galactic war of the sinister Vegans. Excruciating bore from start to finish.
The Red, Singing Sands by Koller Ernst **
(4700 wds) illo: Emsh
Mars is the setting for this mediocre tale of jealousy and Body Snatchers.
Prison Planet by Robert Silverberg **1/2
(11,400 wds) illo: Bowman
The penal planet of Bardins Fall, forgotten by the rest of the galaxy for over 500 years, suddenly seems on the brink of space travel. Nervous about the possibilities of cons in space, the agency known as Space Travel (a galaxy-wide CIA) sends their top assassin, Hale Ridgley, to throw a monkey wrench into Bardins Falls' space exploration program. Though one of Silverberg's best SSF stories, "Prison" runs out of gas as it nears its' climax.
The Happy Sleepers by Calvin M. Knox ***
(3200 wds) illo: Bowman
A Mars rocket somehow touches off a plague of catalepsy on Earth. The sleeping awake in another dimension, a happier one at that. A fun, Twilight Zone-type tale which poses the question "which dimension is the real one?"
The Old Timer by Richard R. Smith **
Two thugs harrass a Martian on a ferry journey.
Time Travel Inc. by Robert F. Young ***
Good short-short about two dolts who travel back in time to settle a biblical wager. Young contributed over 100 stories to the sf digests in the 1950s - 1980s.
Planet of Parasites by Calvin M. Knox ***
(10,700 wds) illo: Bowman
After over a year and a half of isolation and study on Gamma Crucis VII, you'd think the research team would welcome their replacement team's arrival. But the ten men and women seem to lack all emotion. The new team soon finds out whay: the planet itself is actually a parasitic organism that controls the human mind. Reminiscent, obviously, of John Campbell's "Who Goes There?" and Jack Finney's "The Body Snatchers," "Parasite Planet" still provides an enjoyable read and climaxes in one of the most pessimistic and effective SSF fade-outs.
All the Troubles of the World by Isaac Asmov **
(6200 wds) illo: Emsh
In the future, thanks to the massive "Multivac" machine network, crime has not only been wiped out, it is predicted and prevented while it's still just a thought in the emoter's head. Asimov's mini-version of 1984 has a few neat twists.
All-Purpose Robot by Jay Wallace *
(3900 wds) illo: Orban
Harvey tires of his wife's constant demands so he buys a robot twin to carry out all of his duties. ALL of them. Really bad sitcom s.f.
I Want to Go Home by Robert M. Williams ***
(3600 wds) illo: Orban
A boy insists to his psychologist that he is actually an alien building a machine to "get myself back home." Then he proves it.
The Tool of Creation by J. F. Bone ***
(7200 wds) illo: Emsh
A crew aboard a spaceship argue theology, unaware that they are about to become a part of creation. Interesting and, yes, thought-provoking tale spends the first half of its' length examining various possibilities of creation, almost in a non-fiction form.
The Seed of Earth by Robert Silverberg ***1/2
(4400 wds) illo: Bowman
Barchay rides to the V'Leeg village to seek out the son he sired with an alien maiden twenty years before. Though an obvious morality play (racism rages between earthman and V'Leeg), "Seed" doesn't get overly preachy and Silverberg remembers that the first order of business in a SSF story is to entertain. Easily Silverberg's best story for the magazine.
The Situation on Sapella Six by Harlan Ellison *
Earthman vs. monkey alien on Sapella Six. Ellison may very well be the most decorated and respected writer of this or any other generation, but I doubt if this story will pop up in any of his "Best of" anthologies.
Pain Reaction by T. Cogswell & H. Randolph ** 1/2
A short-short shocker about a spy who infiltrates a reaction-speed experiment. The kind of eerie horror story that would have shown up in the pages of WEIRD TALES if that magazine had survived a few more years.
Hostile Life-Form by Daniel F. Galouye ** 1/2
(6500 wds) illo: Emsh
Captain Parker and his band of intrepid explorers on Vitar-IV discover two life forms: one, the vicious oterillas (half otter, half gorilla!) and the seemingly domesticated psuedarmadils (which, coincidentally, dine only on oterillas). A real dopey, Disney-type sf first half leads to a fairly gruesome climax after the earthmen discover the true secret of the psuedarmadils. Nice, nasty final scene.
Little America on the Moon by Arthur J. Burks ***
(5800 wds) illo: Emsh
Kay Archer has decided to become the first woman to give birth on the moon. Her husband has other ideas. Nick-named "The Speed Merchant of the Pulps, " Burks contributed hundreds of stories to several magazines, both genre and "mainstream." A collection of his horror stories from WEIRD TALES appeared from Arkham House in 1966: BLACK MEDICINE.
Slaves of the Tree by Eric Rodman ** 1/2
(10,800 wds) illo: Bowman
The five members of the "Examination Squad" head to Maldonad to check out an abandoned colony not heard from in 200 years. What they find is an alien-human crossbreed that worships a gigantic tree. Soon all but one of the squad members fall under the spell of the tree. Hints are dropped that the one squad member who doesn't succumb to the sexual vibes emanating from the idol is either impotent or gay. The big surprise (he's neither) is dropped in a sly twist towards the climax.
Special Aptitude by R. H. Hardwick ***
(3300 wds) illo: Orban
Aliens invade Earth and use a lottery system to snatch earthlings off to their planet. One man decides to live each day as his last before his number is up. Funny story has the gigolo get his just desserts in the end.
Frontier Planet by Calvin M. Knox **
(5800 wds) illo: Bowman
The first settlers on Hannebrink IV must contend with a marauding horde of aliens. With its' settlers, "cow-beasts", town meetings, and shoot-outs, "Frontier Planet" is nothing more than a mediocre western dressed up with sf cliches. But even when you put a dress on a pig, it's still a pig.
No Planet is Safe by Harlan Ellison *
(5400 wds) illo: Orban
The men of the Suleiman Agate search in vain for a planet that does not present deadly danger.
One to a Customer by Theodore R. Cogswell * 1/2
Alan Shirey buys a widget from an alien that guarantees he gets his girl and humiliates the guy she's currently involved with.
A World Called Sunrise by Eric Rodman **
(11,000 wds) illo: Emsh
In the future, victims of radiation poisoning (fairly common, it's pointed out) are rounded up and shipped to another planet light years from Earth. Ryne Rocha, one of the condemned, leads a rebel band to steal a rocket ship and head back to Earth. On the way, the crew stumble on Thagran Dyorm, Commander of the Vengilani Invasion Fleet, ironicaly on his way to conquer Earth. A fairly exciting space battle leads to a climax that's a direct steal from an old Ray Bradbury short story (the astronaut flaming while re-entering Earth's gravity is viewed below as a shooting star). If I was a high-falutin literary critic, I'd make deep observations about Silverberg's premonition of a society that treats infected victims like the plague and seeks to isolate them. Since I'm not, I won't.
The Cold-Blooded Ones by Calvin M. Knox **
(5400 wds) illo: Emsh
Are the lizard-like inhabitants of Xhreena friendly? That's the question a scouting party must answer when it lands on the strangely cold world.
Many Mansions in the Sky by Koller Ernst ***
(8400 wds) illo: Bowman
Earth has been destroyed by nuclear war and its' only surviving children drift through space in the Star Ark, a quasi-Death Star, which houses not only thousands of earthlings, but also farms, buildings, and other earthly amenities. But something's gone wrong with the Ark and it's hurtling back to the burned-out husk of Earth. "Many Mansions" delves into previously uncharted SSF territory: reigion. Many of the occupants of the Ark feel God is manipulating their every move. Marred only by an embarassingly corny ending.
A Planet All My Own by Richard F. Watson ***
(5100 wds) illo: Orban
George Marks wins his own planet in the Grand Lottery and decides this would be a good way to get away from it all. Once he gets there though, he discovers the world has one more inhabitant: a telepathic shape-shifter who just wants George to love her. At first he's not reciprocal, but then decides there's nothing to lose. A neat little yarn with a deceptively nasty last line.
The Gift of Numbers by Alan E. Nourse **1/2
(3900 wds) illo: Orban
A bookkeeper is tricked into "trading souls" with a con man. Amusing, with a twist ending reminiscent of Robert Bloch. Nourse's main claim to fame is that the title of his 1974 novel, THE BLADERUNNER, was used by Ridley Scott for the Harrison Ford movie (just the title was used; the story, of course was adapted from Philip K. Dick's "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep"). He also wrote several children's science fiction novels with titles like TROUBLE ON TITAN (1954) and STAR SURGEON (1960).
The Beautiful People by Austin Hamel *
(3700 wds) illo: Bowman
After twenty years in a deep freeze, astronauts Graham and Ian land on the planet of "It" to find dozens of naked people frolicking, bathing, and generally having a good time (leaving out only Volleyball, it seems). The two soon learn that these free spirits are actually "pets" of a higher force. When the higher force finally comes into view, it turns out to be a pair of vicious nimbus clouds (reminding me of one of those 1950s cheapie sf flicks that couldn't afford special effects). This might be Hugh Hefner's idea of sf-fantasy, but I'll take the man-eating palnts and giant walruses, thank you. Hamel also wrote crime stories for GUILTY, MURDER, and MANHUNT.
The Martian Wine by Curtis W. Casewit **
Members of the Terra-Mars Trade and Exchange Commission bargain with the Monkey-like inhabitants of the Red Planet, attempting to gain access to Martian bubbly. Turns out the joy juice runs through the canals like water. An interesting set-up leads to a surprise climax. The surprise is that there IS no climax! Literally, WINE ends as though the editors either forgot that last manuscript page or they ran out of room in the issue.
The Fight With the Gorgon by Robert Silverberg *
(2900 wds) illo: Emsh
It's not much of a fight.
The Painted Ghost by Richard R. Smith *
(4200 wds) illo: Emsh
Sam Weeks discovers a race of invisible men on the planet Ceres. Incredibly boring and talky.
The Untouchables by Calvin M. Knox *1/2
(10,600 wds) illo: Bowman
Special Intelligence agent Lloyd Malin is given the assignment of seeking out and exposing the spy hiding out on Dyrain. Another incredibly boring journey to another incredibly boring planet with nary a bit of excitement.
Nothing's Impossible by Charles L. Fontenay *
(5700 wds) illo: Bowman
Martha travels to Mars to spend a little time with her Uncle Theodore (who runs a retreat known as The House of Brotherhood). Into Martha's lonely life steps Fors Venturi (known to other Martians as "The Desert Stalker"), a handsome, virile stud whose only peculiarity is that he can walk around Mars without a spacesuit. After the inevitable happens, Fors tries to convince Martha that she too can cast away her Earthly bonds and breathe "the sweet wine that is Martian air." Will Martha trust this odd, yet handsome bohunk and toss of her jeans? Will Martha's skin boil and her head explode like Arnie's did in TOTAL RECALL? Will I ever read a sappier mixture of space and soap? Fontenay was also the author of the 1964 disaster novel, THE DAY THE OCEANS OVERFLOWED (Monarch).
Castaways of Space by Dan Malcolm ***1/2
(6300 wds) illo: Orban
Meet Lieutenant McDermott of the Galaxy Patrol Corps. Alcoholic, hates his job as galactic cop, bad attitude. Picture Bruce Willis as McDermott. His latest assignment is to track down Blaine Hassolt, who's kidnapped a senator's daughter and crash-landed his ship on a planet of cat people. The inhabitants worship Hassolt and his captive as their king and queen, and that suits the kidnapper fine. McDermott must figure a way to rescue the girl and get off the planet without being blow-darted by the cat people! Wild pulp fun, "Castaways" is at turns both dopey and sly. It's also got one of the best wrap-ups of any of the SSF tales.
The Great White Gods by Wynne N. Whiteford ***
(3000 wds) illo: Orban
A mining party made up of Earthmen has been taking advantage of the Ulnis, a primitive race that worships a mythical great white god. For such a short tale, "The Great White Gods" is a very enjoyable read up until its' abrupt and unsatisfying last paragraph. Author of the apocalyptic novel, BREATHING SPACE ONLY (1980).
Invasion by A. Bertram Chandler ***
The remaining members of an entire civilization cruise the galaxy, looking for an inhabitable planet, ready to conquer if necessary. After years of searching, they come across the perfect planet (guess which one) and begin the invasion that quickly unravels, leaving them at the mercy of... (but that would spoil the "surprise that you'll figure out about three-quarters of the way through). Sure, it's predictable, but Chandler (the author of the sf/horror novel "The Sea Beast") injects enough excitement that it still emerges as a fun little bit.
Blood By Transit by Harlan Ellison ***
Domineering zillionaire Prescott Glowey is dying at his home on Mars of a rare blood disease. He insists that his three business flunkies teleport blood from Earth to gain him a few more years. A very entertaining alternative look at matter teleportation ala "The Fly" (but definitely more gruesome).
The Aliens Were Haters by Robert Silverberg **1/2
(6000 wds) illo: Emsh
In the year 2190, America and Brazil have competitive colonies on Kothgir II. A scouting party from each camp happens upon the wreckage of an alien spacecraft and discovers the occupants are the first in a wave of invaders. Gets a bit preachy towards the climax (as a lot of these did) but that doesn't ruin a good read.
First Man in a Satellite by Charles W. Runyon ****
(5600 wds) illo: Emsh
Max Canning volunteers to be the first man to orbit Earth in a satellite (more like a sardine can), but regrets it after the vessel is damaged by a metorite. Nail-biting suspenser reads like a solo APOLLO-13 without the happy ending. THIS is Super Science Fiction. Runyon contributed several stories to ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S MYSTERY MAGAZINE, MANHUNT , and MIKE SHAYNE MYSTERY MAGAZINE.
The Unique and Terrible Compulsion by Calvin M. Knox **
(10,600 wds) illo: Bowman
The Interstellar Merchant Service is fairly sure that Anton Lidman, who runs an outpost on Danneroi, has gone rogue and is supplying drugs to the natives. The IMS sends in Dave Garth to assess the situation. Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" done SSF-style, right down to the "the king is dead-long live the king" finale.
The Fast-Moving Ones by J. F. Bone *
(4000 wds) illo: Bowman
A group of space explorers must deal with a race of super-speed aliens.
Exiled From Earth by Richard F. Watson ***1/2
(4900 wds) illo: Orban
Two hundred years into the future, all forms of entertainment, including Theater, are banned on Earth with the passing of the "anti-sin legislation." A traveling theater group roams the galaxy performing Shakespeare for Martians, Venusians, or any alien who will sit still for the Bard. One of the actors yearns to return to Earth, even if it means death. Even though it's set two hundred years into the future and written thirty years ago, "Exiled" is actually a story ahead of its time. It's almost as if Silverberg could see the coming of the crazed anti-everything groups of today.
Creature From Space by Harlan Ellison ***
(6200 wds) illo: Orban
Another patchworking of THE THING and INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, but this one provides a little originality and a lot of fun. Ellison populates his short tale with an amusing band of "Imbecile Earthlings," the crew of the Ionian Trollop, who must contend with yet another monster loose aboard a ship deep in space. "Creature" reads like a chapter in a bigger work. It would have been interesting to see what Ellison would have cooked up had he written a novel around the Trollop's exploits.
The Utter Stranger by Alan E. Nourse *
An alien begs a science fiction writer to help him convince the US government to fund a "guide beam" to send the alien home. A one-line joke that goes on too long (even for a seven page story), topped off with a ludicrous "infinity" ending.
Beware the Robot! by Daniel F. Galouye *
(7600 wds) illo: Emsh
Euclid the robot stirs up trouble for Drs. Halloran and Richeldorf when it learns the secret of time travel. A total snoozer, with nothing to recommend but some snatches of loony dialog.
Horror in Space by James Rosenquest **
(7200 wds) illo: Emsh
An old-fashioned "monster on the loose in the spaceship" story. A giant shape-shifting cockroach is terrorizing the crew of a spaceship in deep space. A low-budget ALIEN, with doses of WHO GOES THERE? and THEM thrown in for good measure.
A Place Beyond the Stars by Tom Godwin **
(7600 wds) illo: Bowman
A 'dark star' will destroy the world in 2550. Five hundred years before, scientists send out search parties to locate habitable worlds as way-stations to an inevitable Earth-II. Fair sf yarn with a neat intro: a chapter from a book detailing the Earth's destruction and aftermath. Godwin's most famous story, according to John Clute, is the grim sf tale, "The Cold Equations" (AMAZING August 1954), wherein a female stowaway is jettisoned from a spaceship.
Waters of Forgetfulness by Eric Rodman **
(11,800 wds) illo: Bowman
The luxury space-liner James P. Drew (a galactic Titanic) is crippled in space and only a handful of survivors escape to a nearby planet. On the planet, they drink from a stream that corrodes their brains and leaves them in a zombie-like stupor (I felt somewhat the same way after reading all these stories!). Enter Lt. Halderson of the Disaster Patrol to the rescue. Only problem is: by this time they don't want to be rescued.
Re-Conditioned Human by Robert Silverberg *1/2
(4900 wds) illo: Orban
Intergalactic jewel thief Nat Hamlin is "re-conditioned" into good guy Paul Macy. His re-hab completely erases bad impulses, but his bad-guy past comes a-callin in the form of Dan Helgerson, one of Nat/Paul's old henchmen. Helgerson attempts to blackmail Nat/Paul into rejoining the gang while the reader attempts to stay awake.
Ego-Transfer Machine by George H. Smith *
A dimwit is tricked into a mind-swapping experiment. Smith, who wrote under his own name and a vast number of psudonyms, would later go on to write a couple of well known (to paperback collectors at least) novels, DOOMSDAY WING (Monarch 1963) and the cult favorite THE COMING OF THE RATS (Pike 1961), as well as a good number of porno pbs.
Mournful Monster by Dan Malcolm **1/2
(11,400 wds) illo: Emsh
On the planet Loki, a tropical and mostly uncharted planet, a small group of plane crash survivors must make their way through a jungle teeming with vicious monsters. Though sketchily written, the story still delivers on the big monster thrills.
The Abominable Creature by F. X. Fallon ***
(7000 wds) illo: Emsh
That old SF chestnut, the intergalactic zookeeper, is dusted off for good measure. Clem Linton brings zookeeper Big Mike Sill to see the most incredible space animal in the universe: an amoeba that can mime its intended victim.
Vampires From Outer Space by Richard F. Watson *1/2
(11,200 wds) illo: Emsh
"Brother should love brother despite the fact that he has wings, six-inch fangs, and might drink your blood" is the moral of this dreary story. Earth in the future has been re-dubbed Terran and has become the stomping grounds for all sorts of alien races, including The Nirotans, hideous grotesqueries in the form of giant bats. The main character is a futuristic Columbo who finds the real killer and spends the last few pages in expository.
The Huge and Hideous Beasts by James Rosenquest *1/2
(6900 wds) illo: Emsh
Explorers on the planet Giganta find...what else? Gigantic monsters! Rosenquest'sstory actually seems like two tales: the first, a fairly exciting narrative of the spacemen vs. the big bugaboo. The second is a tedious science lecture. The Emsh illo is delightfully gruesome, but as usual, gives away much of the "surprise." Not that there could be many surprises in a story titled "The Huge and Hideous Beasts!"
A Cry for Help by Eric Rodman *1/2
(5300 wds) illo: Emsh
An exploratory expedition to World 9 of System XG finds nothing out of the ordinary until they receive a cry for help from the forest. When they answer the plea, it turns out there is a superior race living on the planet that wants nothing to do with humans.
Terror of the Undead Corpses by Russell Thompson ***
(6400 wds) illo: Emsh
The first manned expedition to Venus comes under attack by an alien that takes over its' host's body and fills it with a disgusting jelly-like substance. A thinly-veiled rip-off of "Who Goes There?" is nonetheless a fairly exciting gothic horror space opera with some very grisly scenes.
Creatures of Green Slime by James Rosenquest ***
(6800 wds) illo: Emsh
One of the members of a Mars expedition is infected with a growth that gradually envelopes his body. Turns out the growth is a life-form feeding off the man, preparing for multiplication. Gruesome, with a delightfully sickening final scene.
The Day the Monsters Broke Loose by Robert Silverberg ***
(5700 wds) illo: Emsh
Silverberg's homage to big monster flicks (which were winding down at about this time) also throws in the obligatory "man is savage" references to our despicable love for violent sport. Jim Barstow travels to far-off planets to capture savage beasts. He then sells them to promoters who use them in "Monster vs. Monster" arena shows. Though preachy at times, the story still contains a good deal of excitement culminating in a KING KONG-like climax. Incidentally, the title is false advertising since only ONE monster actually breaks loose.
Beasts of Nightmare Horror by Richard F. Watson **1/2
(11,000 wds) illo: Emsh
Trouble's a'brewin' for the Cameron colony on Danimor III when a big batch of illusionary monsters stalks the streets, destroying all in its path. It's up to the Interstellar Patrol (a United Nations Peace-Keeping Squad of the future) to save the day.
Mating Instinct by Lloyd Biggle, Jr. **
Goofy blending of SF and True Confessions has a homely woman answering a mental call from her "dream-man", in reality a six-armed alien out to conquer Earth. Biggle also wrote the sf/horror tale "The Botticelli Horror" (FANTASTIC March 1960).
The Enormous Diamond by Bill Wesley *1/2
Clyde Sanders and his lovely wife Connie, on a honeymoon space cruise, visit the marketplace world of Ceres (aka The Casbah), where they run across a strange shopkeeper and his wondrous diamond. The gem has the power to grow to enormous proportions and does so on their trip back to Earth, endangering all aboard. "Diamond" starts out interesting enough, but then takes an incredibly hokey side trip in its climax. It's the odd story out in that there is no giant monster even though this issue is billed as "The Second Giant Monster Issue."
The Horror in the Attic by Alex Merriman **1/2
(4800 wds) illo: Emsh
A young couple, eloping in the middle of the night, seek shelter from a torrential downpour in an abandoned farmhouse, not realizing that it is home to an ancient evil.Dopey and nothing new, but fun nonetheless. Odd story for SSF in that there is no futuristic or otherworldy setting. Just a horrific menace.
Monsters That Once Were Men by Eric Rodman *
(5800 wds) illo: Emsh
The obligatory space party lands on an uncharted planet and happens upon the wreckage of the legendary lost ship "Empress of the Sun," which disappeared under mysterious circumstances thirty years before. Inhabiting the ship are the descendants of the survivors of the Empress, mutated by the planet's ghastly radiation into malformed cannibals. Starts out hum-drum and goes nowhere slowly. Full of some wonderfully bad writing and questionable science.
Birth of a Monster by Richard Stark *1/2
(2100 wds) illo: Emsh
Doctor Lamming is summoned to a strange estate to witness the birth of a vampire. Like "The Horror in the Attic," this is an out and out horror story, and not a very good one at that. Stark ( a psuedonym of highly-respected crime novelist Donald E. Westlake) would later go on to become the author of the acclaimed "Parker" series of novels, and I'm sure he doesn't give this one much thought these days.
Man-Hunting Robot by James Rosenquest **
(5800 wds) illo: Emsh
Other-worldly version of "The Most Dangerous Game" is fairly entertaining.
Planet of the Angry Giants by Dirk Clinton **1/2
(10,600 wds) illo: Emsh
The peace between earthlings and eleven foot aliens on Dunhill V is jeopardized when two selfish interplanetary big-game hunters kidnap four of the giants and take them back to Earth. Good adventure tale ends on a downbeat note.
World of Creeping Terror by J. W. Rose *1/2
(5100 wds) illo: Emsh
The planet Flora is supposed to be habitated by friendly creatures, but the title tells you otherwise, doesn't it?
Which Was the Monster? by Dan Malcolm ***
(5100 wds) illo: Emsh
Far into the future, Earth is at war with the Vengilan Confederation while the pacifistic Gysls look on. Ben Chase, an intergalactic spy is en route to earth from Zenuon with an important message encoded in his brain (shades of "Johnny Mnemonic"), when he is forced to land on a small planet by a Gysl ship commandeered by the evil Vengilans. An interesting tale that has a thoughtful climax in which Chase must make a disturbing but necessary decision.
Specimens by George H. Smith **
Amusing short-short about a rocket returning to Earth from Venus.
The Loathsome Beasts by Dan Malcolm **1/2
(10,900 wds) illo: Emsh
Mark Foster, head of the Springfield Defense Council (located on the Terran-colony world of Lincoln) is called back home from an important luncheon after hundreds of loathsome beasts rise from the ocean and consume mass quantities of nekkid bathers (though the Emsh illo plainly shows them clad in bathing suits). Two of the fatalities include Mark's wife and daughter, so the deluge becomes personal. Unfortunately, Mark can't get help from Earth and the colonists must face the sea monsters with their wits and a few flame throwers. A gruesome, sometimes sadistic space monster tale. Maybe that's why I liked it. The bloody opening siege proves conclusively what scholars have up to now only hinted at: that Peter Benchley grew up reading SSF and has been cribbing from it ever since.
The Monsters Came By Night by Charles D. Hammer **1/2
(3400 wds) illo: Emsh
Emil Gustafson savagely murders a Martian for his diamond jewelry. When Emil gets back to Earth, he's haunted by the Martian's ghost.
Asteroid of Horror by James Rosenquest **
(6200 wds) illo: Emsh
Spaceships are disappearing without a trace, so Mike O'Shea is dispatched into space to find out what gives. Mike crash lands on an asteroid close to the sun, whereupon lives a grotesquerie hard to imagine or describe. Well, okay, it's a big centipede-thingie with teeth. Some interesting bits (a possible tie to Earthly abductions and a particularly harrowing childhood memory) can't liven up what is essentially the same old SSF story. Throw in an ending so sappy I believe it was later used on EIGHT IS ENOUGH and you get snoozeville. An interesting note: Emsh's illo for the story is based on the Kelly Freas cover painting for the June 1959 issue of SSF.
Flying Saucers in the Sea by F. X. Fallon *
(6300 wds) illo: Emsh
Treasure seekers Ted Sutton and Paul Mason happen upon a flying saucer on an underwater ledge. Ted becomes obsessed with the craft and soon finds himself equipped with gills. The laughable exchange between Paul and fishdude Ted toward the climax of the story brings to mind THE INCREDIBLE MR. LIMPET.
The Great Secret by George H. Smith **
A description of this story would probably be longer than the story itself (and probably more interesting). Blackmail + seeing the future = hohum.
The Insidious Invaders by Eric Rodman *1/2
(5100 wds) illo: Emsh
What begins as an uncanny political prediction:
"After the incident of the disposal unit, there was no room for reasonable doubt: something peculiar had happened to Ted Kennedy," becomes just another boring rip-off of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS. Ted Kennedy retruns from five years on Altair-VI to visit his kid sister Marge, who immediately recognizes there is something wrong with big bro. Quicker than you can say Chappaquidick, Ted's dropping his jeans (and his genes) to assimilate his sis and her husband. "Ted Kennedy never knew what hit him." Wow, do you think Jeanne Dixon wrote fiction under the Eric Rodman psuedonym?
The Man Who Could Levitate by Abraham Stern *
(8400 wds) illo: Orban
Can a levitating window washer find happiness in our cruel world? Evidentally, he can. What a poor note to go out on.