Galactic Central link
Editor, Michael Moorcock
The Shores of Death (Part 2 of 2) • serial by Michael Moorcock
Mix-Up • short story by George Collyn ♥♥
Gamma Positive • short story by Ernest Hill ♥
Some Will Be Saved • short story by Colin R. Fry ♥
The Patch • novelette by Barrington J. Bayley [as by Peter Woods] ♥
Emissary • short story by John Hamilton
Cover • by Robert J. Tilley
Interior artwork • by Cawthorn, Thomson
We Live in Hope • editorial by Michael Moorcock
A Dish of Dobsons • book reviews by Michael Moorcock [as by James Colvin]
Letters to the Editor
Story Ratings 144
The Shores of Death (Part 2 of 2) by Michael Moorcock continues on its merry way for another couple of chapters before entering a death spiral in chapter nine. On Earth, they are arguing about the content of the message that will be sent into the universe. Marca, meanwhile, arrives at the Bleak Worlds and lands on the planet Klobax. He speaks with the man who meets the spaceship and tries to find out the location of a man called Sharvis, an ex-member of the government cabinet. Take arrives shortly afterwards.
The rest of Marca’s story involves him tracking down various people on Klobax to get to Sharvis, who has what Marca wants, which is the ability to make him immortal. Before Marca can get to Sharvis, Take tracks him down and tells him (amongst other things in a long data-dump conversation) about the awful side-effects of his immortality (I was never really sure what these were, but they were bad enough that Take wants to die, preferably after getting his revenge on Sharvis). Take kills Marca to spare him having to endure the same thing.
Marca wakes up later on to find he has been resurrected by Sharvis, who then gives him another ear-bending to follow the last one until Take, who is has been unable to force his way into Sharvis’s lair, is let in. Sharvis tells Take he can give him death by using him in the process of making Marca immortal.
This final part just isn’t credible. Apart from the hand-wavey stuff about the side-effects of immortality, Sharvis is an almost comical mad-scientist type: the whole thing is just ludicrous. Also, the original storyline about the solar system has been completely dumped (by now, people on Earth have started fighting and the aliens have left).
Marca eventually meets up with Fastina again and finds out the limitations of his immortality; he is also unable to end the foment on Earth. This is quite an unsatisfactory conclusion, given that none of the parts fit together and it all ends in failure.
By the by, I noticed quite a few clumsy sentences in this section, and again wondered if this was a first draft written in a hurry to fill a hole.1
Mix-Up by George Collyn is the first story by a writer who contributed a number of stories to the paperback-sized edition of the magazine.2 This one is about a teleportation mishap that swaps the minds of a nubile movie star and an English professor. Routine, but breezily told.
Gamma Positive by Ernest Hill starts with a scientist testing a drug on himself. The ‘negative’ version sends his consciousness back in time but the ‘positive’ appears to have no effect. He subsequently goes to a psychologist who hypnotises him. The account the scientist gives of the future is a series of odd vocal sounds but the psychologist has more luck getting him to draw something. The result is a painting that is similar to prehistoric cave paintings. The scientist leaves (spoiler) and is killed in a road traffic accident, which the psychologist subsequently relates to the drawing.
This is all dressed up in lots of pseudo-scientific jargon which is a bit of a slog to get through.
Some Will Be Saved by Colin R. Fry has a priest wandering a post-apocalypse landscape who comes across a couple who are farming the land. They are called Adam and Eve, and (spoiler) eventually turn out to be robots? Naff idea, but it has the odd interesting passage.
Now it was summer and he stared about him with a renewed interest as he stumbled carefully through the trackless jungle that the countryside had become. He watched one of the groundspiders cunningly trap a blindmouse: if he wanted to guess at the most likely survival form, the groundspiders would have his bet. He shuddered as he thought of it, and felt a kinship with the blind little mouse struggling panic stricken in the evil creature’s sticky trap. Yet: evil creature? It was not evil. It was simply trying to survive. But he was glad he did not see its kind often. It preyed on little mammals, little animals who belonged, if the evolutionists were right, to the far roots and branches of his own family tree. And there was always the nightmare thought that one of the spiders might grow big enough to trap a man. p. 80
The Patch by Barrington J. Bayley starts with Jundrak, the representative of the king of a space empire, visiting a rebel prince called Peredan. Jundrak offers Peredan a pardon if he will help the king fight a phenomenon known as the Patch. This has been moving through space and killing planets, leaving dead animals and vegetation in its wake. Pederan refuses and Jundrak leaves.
Unknown to Pederan, Jundrak’s ship uses a new form of space drive that enhances the slipways it travels along, and this effect will lead the Patch to the rebels. Later there is space battle between the forces of the prince and king but, even though he wins, Pederan’s forces are then engulfed by the Patch.
The final scenes (spoiler) have Pederan attacking the king’s planet. Peredan’s forces, thanks to the strength of their damper fields, managed to survive being engulfed by the Patch long enough to communicate with it. Pederan explains to Jundrak what the Patch wants:
“The Patch searches for food. But its food is of a peculiar kind. It feeds off the individuality of organic beings, the mysterious essence that makes each man, woman and animal a conscious entity subtly different from any other. When this is absorbed by the Patch, individuality is lost and the body decomposes into its chemical constituents—as death ensues.
[. . . ]
“We found that the Patch is not particularly interested that the individual be full-grown, any stage of development is acceptable. It is the being it wants.”
Jundrak uttered a sound that was part grunt, part growl, part chuckle. “So we offer it our new-born children.”
“Not quite. The Patch gets just as much satisfaction from fertilised ova. It derives a deal of sustenance even from unfertilised ova, or from male spermatozoa. We offered it something to which everyone in the kingdom will have to contribute: from the women, a proportion of their Graafian follicles; from the men, regular donations of sperm. In return for an unmolested populace, we shall give the Patch the equivalent of the population of the kingdom in fertilised ova, and several thousand times that number of spermatozoa. This is to be repeated every month. p. 109
I would have thought that there were adolescents who would have been prepared to donate several times a day, but that eventuality would have wrecked the remaining plot.
This is a solid if dated space opera for the most part, but it is spoiled by its ridiculous ending.
The final story is Emissary by John Hamilton3, which describes a man wandering around a town touching numerous people, and buying various things only to dump them later on. He ends up in the sewers (spoiler) making radio contact with invading aliens, and notifies them he has contaminated humanity and (he finds out as the biter is bit) himself. One that should have stayed in the slushpile.
This issue’s rather bland (and given its limited colour palette, probably cost-saving) Cover is by Robert Tilley.4 There is identifiable Interior artwork (the artists are not credited in this issue) by James Cawthorn and Thomson, and one by either Gilmore or Graham.
We Live in Hope, Michael Moorcock’s editorial, slates Charles H. Schneer’s film of First Men in the Moon before plugging a semi-pro fanzine called Epilogue.
A Dish of Dobsons by Michael Moorcock has this review:
I did not expect to like another book which Dobson’s published recently. This is Heinlein’s The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag (18s). In spite of a deep dislike of Heinlein’s mentality and his barren style, I have to admit that the short novel of the title and its companion short stories are extremely polished, readable and entertaining. Jonathan Hoag is scarcely SF (it was originally published in Unknown, 1942). It is really a fantasy following a formula that may well have originated in Unknown (Fear is another) and was used some years later with great effect by Frederick Brown (Come And Go Mad! in Weird Tales) and Fritz Leiber (You’re All Alone! in Fantastic). Yet even though I guessed what was coming, Heinlein still managed to keep me reading and the shock ending really did shock me. The other stories are all good Heinlein, apart from The Man Who Travelled in Elephants which struck me as an attempt to cash in on over-sweet Bradbury territory. It’s a piece of sentimental nostalgia which may delight those Americans who respond to Goldwater’s Myths and Legends of America, but which finds no response at all in the non-American reader (for whom this collection was published). Here we get a good glimpse at Heinlein in a cosy reactionary mood (just as insidious as his more often noted violent reactionary mood). Other stories include They (which is a trifle close to Jonathan Hoag in theme, and particularly to Come And Go Mad), All You Zombies (one of Heinlein’s best), ‘ And He Built a Crooked House . . . ‘ (another of his best) and Our Fair City (which tends to fall down on its construction towards the end, but isn’t at all bad). A much better collection, I must admit, than many published recently. p. 119-120
The wealth of information you get from this passage illustrates why I like his reviews: apart from all the normal information you would expect you get a genre history lesson about this kind of story, he gives you an insight into his biases and the writer’s, and he does it all with pith and concision.
One of his ‘Paperbacks Received’ reviews at the end made me smile:
Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Signet (Four-Square here), 7/6. Never has such terrible old rubbish appeared between the covers of a book. If you want a good laugh (if a slightly horrified one) from start to finish, try this. At times it reads like Goebbels writing in the style of Marie Corelli. p. 121
There is also a half-page plug for Brian W. Aldiss’s Greybeard elsewhere.
Letters to the Editor contains a missive from the author of next month’s serial, Arthur Sellings:
[Equinox]? I don’t know—read through it and around it; felt the same way about it as I did the parallel story in F&SF. . . style, yes . . . basic image, yes . . . but story—most decidedly no. I don’t know who acclaimed Ballard ‘the finest modern SF writer’ but his ideas are too thin—like those other admirable lads Sturgeon and Aldiss. Give him the title of the best writer writing SF, which is a bit different. It’s probably the main problem today. Critics both in and out of SF plead for better writing and characterisation in SF, but they carp when, as it inevitably must, it crowds out the old SF elements. p. 122
There are a number of fanzines listed at the end of the column including Les Spinge #13, Peter Weston’s Zenith #5 (‘A bit earnest but worth a try’), Camber #14 (‘Another well-produced duplicated job, with a special ‘art folio’ by Cawthorn, material by Rackham, and Moorcock on the private life of Elric’), Charles Platt’s Beyond #6 (‘This has a somewhat strident note at the moment’) & Amra #29.
Story Ratings 144 places Moorcock (The Shores of Death) and Langdon Jones (I Remember, Anita) in joint first position and Barrington Bayley (Integrity) in second (or third) place. Bayley was robbed.
The Advertisements page has one which I believe is Moorcock’s:
Wanted [. . .] Also AUTHENTIC SF 31, March 53, TWS, Dec. 50, TWS Fruits of Agathon, 1948 plus TWS, Planet, F&SF cont. C. L. Harness stories . . . p. 128
That issue of Authentic contains Charles L. Harness’s classic novella, The Rose; the December 1950 issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories contains The New Reality. Compact Books gathered together these two stories and The Chessplayers (F&SF, October 1953) in the collection The Rose (1966). This was one of the few paperbacks of the time that went on to have a later hardback edition (Sidgwick & Jackson, 1968).
A lacklustre issue and the worst of the four Moorcock-edited ones so far.5
- I later found this in the author introduction to The Shores of Death (Mayflower, 1974):
This novel started life as a somewhat loosely knit and hastily written short serial in New Worlds when I had just started editing the magazine and long material was hard to come by. It was a romantic, extravagant piece of work, like most of my stuff, on a kind of Faust theme (like most of my stuff) and although it got a better reception than it deserved, many readers asked “Where’s the last instalment?” because the ending hadn’t made the point clear it was meant to make. Others hinted—or stated blindly—that the science wasn’t all it could be, particularly the idea of clashing galaxies “exceeding the speed of light and converting to energy”. They were right. I wasn’t convinced by the science either. Thus, I have rewritten the novel entirely, with only a fraction of the original plot and material, using a deliberately formal style, and making quite sure, I hope, that my theme is coherent this time. p. 7
- George Collyn contributed eight stories (and a couple of reviews) to this version of the magazine and another story appeared in one of the early large-size editions. He also sold one story to F&SF. His real name was Colin Pilkington and his ISFDB page is here.
- John Hamilton was blurbed as ‘an extremely promising writer’: he would produce two tales for New Worlds and one for Science Fantasy/Impulse between 1964 and 1966.
- Robert J. Tilley is probably better known for his stories to Authentic, Nebula, New Worlds, F&SF, etc., than the three cover designs he contributed to New Worlds. He was one of a minority of UK SF writers to make multiple sales to F&SF, and over quite a significant period too: 1960-1986. His ISFDB page is here.
- Lest you think I am being harsh, there are only four stories from the last two issues that have been reprinted. Three of those, the Jones, Tubb and Collyn, only appeared in a Best From New Worlds collection; the Bayley (Integrity) appeared in one too, and also in his own author collection The Seed of Evil.