Galaxy Magazine

James Nicoll reviewed Galaxy 1977-04, which led me to discover that the final run of Galaxy from 1970-1980 is up on archive.org. I read a bunch of these as a kid, some first-run (I was reading SF magazines by 6-8 years old) but mostly as back issues. Once Galaxy shut down I switched to OMNI, which was even more significant. Maybe I'll do an OMNI reread afterwards.

I'm probably going to skip around a lot in these. As usual, boldface for something worth reading, italic for things you can skip.

  • Galaxy 1970-02
    • The Shaker Revival, by Gerald Jonas: In a crapsack timeline of race war, terrorism, and "free love" with "feel-o-mats", by the 1990s the 18th-19th C celibate Shaker cult gets revived by a "Jag-Rock" band, and becomes a mind-control and suicide cult of under-30s. "No hate. No war. No money. No sex." Written in an epistolary and news-clipping style. Didn't like it, but it's interesting world-building from the perspective of 1970, the Summer of Charles Manson. ★★☆☆☆
    • Slow Sculpture, by Theodore Sturgeon: A quack cures cancer with electricity and radioactive injections, claims to have made a magic carbeurator which the car companies bought and buried, hundreds of other implausible advances for one person, but nobody buys them because they're all stupid! Then he's taught wisdom by a hobo girl and there's a strained metaphor about bonsai trees, thus the title. Sturgeon's Law that 90% of everything is crap applies to his own work, too. ★☆☆☆☆
    • Sleeping Beauty, A. Bertram Chandler: Interstellar delivery service with a hard-luck crew led by Mr Grimes is supposed to take cargo instead of passengers, and ends up with an overly demanding passenger. It all works out in the end. More or less a Futurama episode, amusing if not especially scientific (FTL, telepathy, ugh). ★★★½☆
    • Last Night of the Festival, by Dannie Plachta: Beautifully illustrated, poetic, dreamlike, horrific story. Reminds me quite heavily of H.P. Lovecraft's Dreamlands poems and stories. The last days before the Nazis/concentration camp allusions throughout are… perhaps the author's point, but I feel it would be better without them. But what is here, I like. ★★★★½
    • Downward to the Earth, part III, by Robert Silverberg: White Man's Burden trash novel, competently written but not worth reading. ★★☆☆☆
    • After They Took the Panama Canal, by Zane Kotker: A conquest and assimilation, by aliens who can somehow interbreed with Humans, can do interstellar travel but apparently need slave labor. But a breeder woman telling her 5-year-old hybrid child about "America! Einstein!" will someday free them. Trash. ★☆☆☆☆
    • Sunpot comic, by Vaughn Bode: Naked space-chick and ship full of incompetent aliens and robots try not to be seen by an Apollo spacecraft. Based on the real "UFO" (as in, unidentified) sighting by Michael Collins on Apollo-11, but very '70s. ★★☆☆☆
  • Galaxy 1970-04
    • Allison, Charmichael and Tattersall, by Stephen Tall: Bad astronomy punctuated by bad physics and chemistry, leading up to bad biology making GIANT SPACE DIATOMS. As a two-page gag story, it'd be fine, but this goes on forever. ★☆☆☆☆
    • Discover a Latent Moses, by Michael G. Coney: Earth covered by massive layers of snow and glaciers, a handful of survivors (5 men & 1 woman) live in ice tunnels through old shops and malls, and fight off "Flesh Hunters". So, A) Humans do not generally turn cannibal if they're not desperately starving right this minute, and this idea constantly knocks me out of any fiction that has it. B) These people keeping a lunatic and a senile old man don't otherwise show that kind of empathy, just passivity. C) Later it's shown that not all the Earth is barren frozen wasteland, but the idiots don't understand or care. There's a sequel "Snow Princess" in 1971-01, but Cockade isn't a very compelling character in this one. ★★☆☆☆
    • The Tower of Glass, part 1, by Robert Silverberg: Wealthy Krug is building a tower of Babel^W tachyon transmitters to respond to a vague, enigmatic alien signal, but first let's tell you an endless story about android workers and the replacement of 99% of humanity with artificial life which surely won't go wrong in the manner of R.U.R. "Most men regard it as, well, cheap, foul, to sleep with androids. I’ve heard it compared to masturbation. To doing it with a rubber doll." Ridiculous: Every man and woman would boink androids for fun if they were this common and human-like. Competent but dull work going nowhere fast as of "TO BE CONTINUED". ★★★☆☆
    • Darwin in the Fields, by Ray Bradbury: Poems about Charles Darwin observing nature, nature observing him. Trite but inoffensive. ★★★☆☆
    • The Rub, by A. Bertram Chandler: Another Mr Grimes story. Out of continuity, since he now has a wife and a lot of backstory from previous adventures on this haunted planet? And then a dream is more significant than it seems… WEIRD story, more Twilight Zone this time. ★★★½☆
    • Sunpot comic, by Vaughn Bode: Incoherent orbiting and exploration of Venus, which inexplicably is snow-white and blinding to look at, instead of the smoky yellow of our reality. Naked space-chick is told to fuck instead of explore a planet. Then a space-duck in a pod has a hard time landing, I think the panels are out of order. WTF. ★☆☆☆☆
    • No Planet Like Home, by Robert Conquest: Yes, the Robert Conquest who wrote "The Great Terror", also wrote some SF. This is a meandering piece about a species with an ever-increasing mutation rate, finding a suitable environment for a real misfit. Cue obvious ending. ★★☆☆☆
  • Galaxy 1980-07 (final issue)
    • Editorial: Oh, No! They've Changed It!: In which the editor explains the all-new format & future scheduling of Galaxy, which didn't come to pass since it shut down after this issue. There's a much higher density of editorial and non-story material, which probably convinced most people not to renew.
    • Famous Events of the Future: The Jovian Ski Party: Ad by the L-5 Society, with a bizarre and possibly racist comic scene, protesting the Moon treaty. Which is a fine cause, since that put a damper on commercial space endeavors for the last 40 years, but this is insanity.
    • Son of Calculator and the Electronic Lifestyle, editorial by Steve North: Editorial on personal computing, mainframes with terminals (Compuserve/GEnie, but doesn't name them), BASIC, comments from Ted Nelson (who never shipped a working Xanadu), Adventure, a puff piece on Adam Osborne, and prediction that the Dynabook would take 10 years to ship. Depending on your perspective: An '80s Tandy Model 100 or '90s early laptops were sort of a Dynabook, but Alan Kay to this day is incapable of being satisfied with anything that actually works, and never shipped anything himself.
    • Your Car and Its Computer, editorial: Predicts that automotive computers would allow diagnostics, but fails to realize they'll be an insecure, badly programmed mess that can kill you just as dead as old mechanical cars could.
    • If You Don't Talk to Your Stereo, I Will, editorial: Voice control of stereos from Japan! Coming soon! Talking over a loud source of music is still a giant clusterfuck of Alexas and Apple HomePods in 2018. Naïve.
    • Defending the Empire: Intelligent Games, editorial by Ed Teja: Computer games of the future will be complex simulations like SUPER STAR TREK, and educational like Speak N Spell.
    • Careers, editorial by Ed Teja: They are vaguely aware that there are programmers, marketing, and circuit design jobs in computing, but have no practical advice.
    • In the Shubbi Arms, by Steven Utley & Howard Waldrop: Earthman cunning temporarily defeats two sets of alien invaders. ★★★½☆
    • The Colony, by Raymond Kaminski: Very short and blunt dark humor joke, which would never actually work since we quarantine anything brought back from space. ★★½☆☆
    • The Night Machine, by Dona Vaughn: Low-quality story with vague catastrophe in space, mediocre naked illustration which has nothing to do with the story, a lot of moping and whining, and then deus ex machina happy ending. ★☆☆☆☆
    • In the Days of the Steam Wars, by Eugene Potter & Larry Blamire: Preposterous fantasy about 150' tall steam-powered mecha fighting in the 19th C. A) Mecha could not stand erect with the materials of the day, B) Artillery or simple bombs or even lines on the ground would make short work of them, and C) Coordinating and controlling such things before computers is ludicrously impossible. Steampunk is a stupid genre to begin with, but this might be the dumbest of such stories I've read yet. ★☆☆☆☆
    • Jem, part 5, by Frederik Pohl: I've reread the novel every decade or two since I was a kid, and love it. An alien planet that's treated as alien, Humans who make incredibly stupid but plausible political decisions, good fast-paced story. But I don't really need to read the serialization, do I? A couple of very nice full-page art pieces. ★★★★★
    • Mapping the Island in Images, by Robert Frazier: Poetry from an orbital habitat, 2080. Trying too hard, but not bad. ★★★☆☆
    • Michael Kaluta: Interview and a couple pieces by a pulp fantasy artist, who I think is the poor man's ripoff Frank Frazetta, but meh.
    • Projections, editorial by Robert Stewart: History of the movie Metropolis.
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