The Day of Forever • reprint short story by J. G. Ballard ♥♥
Saint 505 • short story by John Clark
Sun Push • short story by Graham M. Hall ♥♥♥♥
Coranda • novelette by Keith Roberts ♥♥♥♥
Sisohpromatem • short story by Kit Reed ♥♥
Echo Round His Bones (Part 2 of 2) • serial by Thomas M. Disch
Ballard of a Whaler • short story by James Cawthorn ♥♥
Cover • Langdon Jones
Interior artwork • James Cawthorn, V. Y., uncredited
The Man Who Invented Inventing the Future • essay by Brian W. Aldiss
The Silver Needle • poem by George MacBeth
Open Does Not (Have To) Equal Empty • book review by Judith Merril
To the Past—But Fast • book reviews by James Cawthorn
This issue’s cover is probably for the J. G. Ballard story (see the p.25 quote below) but could as well be for Langdon Jones’s own story The Great Clock (New Worlds #160, March 1966).
The Day of Forever by J. G. Ballard (The Impossible Man and other Stories, April 1966)1 is a strange dreamlike story that tells of Halliday moving to the deserted town of Columbine Sept Heures as he cannot sleep. The town has the suffix ‘Sept Heures’ as the Earth has stopped rotating (or is rotating very slowly) and this is the local ‘time’:
This warm night-world he could find only by moving south. Two hundred miles to the east of Trondheim the dusk-line was a corridor of freezing wind and ice, stretching on into the Russian steppe, where abandoned cities lay under the glaciers like closed jewels. By contrast, in Africa the night air was still warm. On the west of the dusk-Line was the boiling desert of the Sahara, the sand-seas fused into lakes of glass, but along the narrow band of the terminator a few people lived in the old tourist towns. p.12
At the town he finds two other residents, one of whom, Mallory, is a doctor. They eventually leave and another woman, Gabrielle Szabo, arrives. Mallory finds he can now sleep. There are more developments in this piece but they don’t really amount to anything in conventional narrative terms. I sometimes wonder if these stories would mean more to me if I could read them while in REM sleep. Best perhaps just to treat this like his condensed stories and enjoy what you can of the imagery and writing:
Halliday walked around the paintings in the suite, then he gathered his clocks together and carried them onto the balcony. He hurled them down one by one onto the terrace below. Their shattered faces, the white dials like Mallory’s eyes, looked up at him with unmoving hands. p.25
Saint 505 by John Clark is about a computer in an university spire that glows. It is written in a style over content manner, e.g.:
“Come, come, Mr. Thaxted, please explain yourself. What is causing that glow? It looks dangerous.” He may well have asked. Up till then the Occult Sciences had suffered from a lack of voltage. “It’s glowing because it’s good,” said Thaxted fiercely, and, pushing his way through the crowd, he ran up the stairs of the Tower of Goodness.
Harvey College is famous for its three towers, Goodness, Holiness and Truth. They were built by a pious Master, Leocinus (pronounced “Looks”) just before he was beheaded by Henry the Eighth. p.30-31
Sun Push by Graham M. Hall was a pleasant surprise. This is a striking work that initially would seem to be about WWI trench warfare until it becomes apparent that this is a future civil war in Britain between a communist supported London government and the American backed Bristol one. This becomes an increasingly grim account of laser and napalm warfare, the murder of seepee (communist party) sympathisers, the lynching of collaborators, military brothels, etc.:
In the house, a radio was on. Sergeant Trelawney halted the section to listen. Rogers’ cockney Oxford voice was unmistakable.
“We of the British Liberation Front . . .”
The broadcast was coming from Shepherd’s Bush or one of the other big rebel stations. Case proved.
The section burst into the house like stormtroopers, fanning out and filling the warm, farm-house room.
The farmer stood rapidly, little boy agony at being caught out. His wife and rape-aged daughter sat nearby.
The radio clicked off. Rogers, frenetic, faded in midsentence. p.40
Smith pulled aside the stiff old curtains, gnarled with filth, until he found an unoccupied woman. The whores were seepees. Captured living with the Reds, they were drugwashed, doped into senseless nymphomania and shunted into redlight service. p.44
Throughout all this the main character, Tim Saint John (‘Sinjun’) Smith, an artist before the war, draws and paints and obsesses about sunlight:
Smith set up his Martian-striding easel, and began to paint the ruins, sitting in spring sunlight by the Cherwell. Water colours washed onto the paper, yellow and gold. The pencilled outline was picked out carefully with golds and reds, shaded with grey and shadow-black. The lawns, pocked with rubble and craters, green and brown like the knees of a cricketer’s trousers. Smith sat in the sun and painted. Yellow, golden-sun. Mist-wan, like yellowed nylon. With tear-blue flesh welling. . . . The brothel images crowded in, weeping and gibbering like clouds on the face of the sun. Smith painted on. p.45
An impressive piece from a writer who only ever produced three short stories.2
The novelette that follows challenges Hall’s piece for the best story of the issue. Coranda by Keith Roberts is set in the future ice age of Michael Moorcock’s The Ice Schooner, where primitive communities sail ice ships on a frozen Earth. Moorcock’s serial was finishing in the same month’s issue of SF Impulse and Roberts had been doing the work involved in its publication. Roberts got permission from Moorcock to set a story in that world and the latter subsequently published it.3
In the village of Brershill a vain young woman called Coronda sets a challenge for the young men who would seek her hand in marriage:
“A man who loved me,” she said, “who wanted to feel me in his bed and know himself worthy, would go to that land of shadows on the rim of the world. He would bring me a present to mark his voyage.” Abruptly her eyes flicked wide, scorning at them. “A head,” she said softly. “The head of the unicorn. . . .” Another pause; and then a wild shouting. “Ice Mother hear me,” bellowed Skalter. “I’ll fetch your toy for you. . . .” “And me. . . .” “And me. . . .” p.52
The ‘unicorns’ will turn out to be mutant narwhals that live on the ice far to the south of their community.
There follows an engrossing journey and hunt in their ice yachts as they pursue their prize. They will not only have natural dangers to face:
The yachts moved steadily through the day, heading due south under the bright, high sun, their shadows pacing them across the white smoothness of the Plain. With the wind astern the squarerigger made ground fast; by evening she was hull down, her sails a bright spark on the horizon. Stromberg crowded Snow Princess, racing in her wake; behind him, spread out now, came the others, lateens bulging, runners hissing on the ice. The cold was bracing and intense; snow crystals, blowing on the wind, stung his cheeks to a glow, beaded the heavy collar of his jerkin. Lipsill forged alongside, Ice Ghost surging and bucking. Karl raised a hand, laughing at his friend; and instantly came the chilling thought that one day, for Coranda, he might kill Lipsill, or Lipsill him. p.54-55
It comes to pass that some of the men drop out and some die: this feeds into an exciting and ultimately fitting ending to the story.
The one minor criticism I have of this is that it is initially quite difficult to keep track of who the different characters are in the initial part of the voyage, but this becomes less of a problem as the story develops.
There a couple of other short stories. Sisohpromatem by Kit Reed is an OK reverse Metamorphosis where a roach wakes up to find he has become a man. Ballard of a Whaler by James Cawthorn is a short one page spoof on the ‘Ice Schooner’ theme, this time as imagined by J. G. Ballard:
Architectural rather than organic, the white bones of the stranded monsters traced the structural relationships of underlying strata with the world above the ice, counterpointing in their curved sequence the prismatic and crystalline complexity of the glaciers, embodying the forms of all sequential aspects of duration. p.157
Amusing last line.
Last and very definitely least for the fiction is the second part of Echo Round His Bones by Thomas M. Disch. This second part is awful. Chapter nine starts with Nathan Hansard finding there are three Bridgetta doppelgangers (Jet, Bridget or Birdie) and two wheelchair bound Dr Bernard Panofskys. At the end of the chapter there is a ridiculous scene where the two Bernards try to romantically interest Hansard in one of their wives, at which point Hansard baulks because they are married.
Then a fourth Bridgetta turns up and one of the original three commits suicide: ‘It’s all in the Malthus’. By now Hansard is saying that as a Capitan he can marry people so he should be able to divorce them too. Ah, Nathan, I think that used to be a ship’s captain not an army one…
This reads like part of a really bad Heinlein novel and matters don’t improve over the next few chapters, where we get a lot of hand-waving type explanations about the science behind the manmitter and the sub-reality doppelgangers it produces. Take this ‘explanation’ of why the dopplegangers sink through matter if they are moving too quickly :
“Call it surface tension,” said Bridie. “Though actually it is a form of potential energy that is inherent in all matter at whatever level of reality. Like static electricity, it forms an equipotential surface over all objects—a sort of ‘skin’ of energy. What keeps sublimated objects above the ground—the cans on the shelves, for instance, or your feet—is the small repellent force generated by the two surfaces, a force that decreases in proportion to the distance between the two realities. Thus, a sub-four and perhaps a sub-three can would sink through a sub-one shelf, but in two adjacent fields of reality the repellent force is quite sufficient for most purposes, though not so great that it cannot be overcome by an opposing force. p.103
So by now it doesn’t even read like bad Heinlein but bad 1930’s pulp SF.
Matters improve slightly as the Mars thread resurfaces and the threat of a nuclear holocaust becomes imminent, and this is resolved in a reasonably inventive manner, albeit one with, again, more of a nod to 1930’s pulp than you would like. Frankly, by the time you get to this point you will probably be, as I was, past caring.
As usual for New Worlds there is a healthy amount of non-fiction material. Instead of an editorial there is The Man Who Invented Inventing the Future by Brian W. Aldiss, a speech given to the PEN club about Wells and his influence, latterly touching on the Vernian tradition found in the early SF magazines.
The Silver Needle by George MacBeth is a long poem that starts with an unpromising introduction:
A strip cartoon for Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones (1833—1898)
(The story: Attila, robot-knight of the Psychiatric Society, is again invited to unravel a knot in the star-system of inner space. This time it is the imperialism of a drug-ring, Hallucinogenics Unlimited, he is briefed to combat. Their cult of primitivism and ritual pity, inspired by the virgin queen, Medulla, is out of line with the normal sex-worship orientation of the Planet 4 group and its ruling clique, the Tablemen. Attila is called by them, and flies to work. Now read on.)
It made no sense to me.
Judith Merril contributes Open Does Not (Have To) Equal Empty, a rather dull review of C. Maxwell Cade’s Other Wolds than Ours, and quotes extensively from it. I liked James Cawthorn’s review column To the Past—But Fast, where he shows the same even handedness as Bailey and Moorcock in the last issue. He, too, is capable of the odd barbed comment:
Possibly to stimulate the reader’s imagination, Ace have scattered typographical errors liberally throughout the above three titles; p. 41 of The Dream Master appears to have been proof-read from the back of a galloping horse. p.155
A worthwhile issue for the Graham M. Hall and the Keith Roberts stories.
- Another reprint from The Impossible Man and other Stories, a US collection of stories (the first was Storm Bird, Storm Dreamer in New Worlds #168). The UK edition that printed this story, The Day of Forever, did not appear until September 1967.
- When I tried to find out more about Graham Hall I was informed he died in Los Angeles of cirrhosis of the liver at the age of 32. This would have been a tragic in any circumstances but particularly so given the talent displayed above. You can find this story in the Judith Merril anthology, England Swings SF (both editions) if you can’t find a copy of the magazine (although it has been scanned and may be on Archive.org).
- Roberts would write another ‘Ice Schooner’ story a few years later. The Wreck of the ‘Kissing Bitch’ would appear in Warlocks and Warriors, edited by Douglas Hill (1971) and also F&SF, December 1971.