The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction #148, September 1963

FSF196309x600b

Fiction:
There Is Another Shore, You Know, Upon the Other Side • short story by Joanna Russ ♥♥
Through Time and Space with Ferdinand Feghoot: LXV • short story by Reginald Bretnor [as by Grendel Briarton] ♥
Glory Road (Part 3 of 3) • serial by Robert A. Heinlein ♥
The Man Who Feared Robots • short story by Herbert W. Franke ♥
Collector’s Item • short story by Jack Sharkey ♥♥♥
Unholy Hybrid • short story by William Bankier ♥♥♥
Talking Statues, Etc. • short story by Fritz Leiber ♥♥♥

Non-fiction:
Books • reviews by Avram Davidson and Ward Moore
Attrition • poem by Walter H. Kerr
Who’s Out There? • science essay by Isaac Asimov

This issue’s fiction starts with Joanna Russ’s There Is Another Shore, You Know, Upon the Other Side. This is a fantasy about Jane, a ghost in Rome, and Giovanni, a man she meets. Quite good as far as it goes, well written and a nice sense of place, but the ending doesn’t measure up to the rest of it. At the end of this story the Feghoot pun, about nudity and tea, is wedged into the remaining space.

The last episode of Glory Road manages to wrap up the fantasy adventure part of things in the first two chapters. In these (spoiler), Oscar defeats the guardian of the Egg and Star is revealed to be ‘Empress of the Twenty Universes.’ Adventuring done, she now goes back to the day job with Oscar as her consort. Now Heinlein can do what he really wants to do, which is to spend the remaining six chapters (approximately sixty pages) talking about interplanetary and planetary politics, women and relationship problems (Oscar does not like his new role). So, on top of this novel’s other problems we can now add its broken-back anti-climactic structure.1

The Books column is the usual mix: witchcraft, Atlantis, Korean folk tales, and fiction. The last review is by Ward Moore, a withering look at Philip Wylie’s nuclear holocaust novel, Triumph:

One would expect at least a minimum of craftsmanship from the author of Finnley Wren and 25 other books. None is perceptible in Triumph (the title is sarcastical), certainly not in the interminable, windy sermon which is evidently Mr. Wylie’s pride (and reason for the novel), but not the readers’ joy. Everything in this book has been said before, better, less verbosely, and more convincingly. If Triumph depicts the night of civilization it is an amateur night.

Isaac Asimov’s science column Who’s Out There? is an interesting discussion of Carl Sagan’s paper on the number of technological civilisations likely to be in existence in our Galaxy. It stretches credulity a little at the end when Asimov suggests that we may be being monitored by extra-terrestrials and that their base would probably be on the moon.
I have no idea what the poem Attrition is about.

Most of the remaining short fiction is quite good, with the weakest being Charlotte Franke-Winheller and Paul Ritchie’s translation of The Man Who Feared Robots by Herbert W. Franke (The Green Comet, 1960). A man is put under hypnosis and reveals that certain acquaintances are robots. Weak, so-what ending.
Collector’s Item by Jack Sharkey is quite a good fantasy about Nathan Crusk, who collects items that rebut popular sayings, e.g., an unhappy lark, white ink, a weak ox, etc. As his collection nears completion, he is stymied by “solid as the Rock of Gibraltar” until he meets a poor scientist who has created a machine that can liquefy granite. He is recruited to do this to the Rock of Gibraltar and exhibits few qualms at the prospect:

“I will do it,” Albert said hastily. “But only for the money, and not because it agrees with my basic principles.”

Although their adventure achieves its purpose there is one more saying the collector has forgotten. Nice last line.
Unholy Hybrid by William Bankier is an accomplished Halloween horror story about a successful farmer and what he reaps from a terrible act. I’d love to say more but I don’t want to spoil it.
Last up is Fritz Leiber’s worthwhile Talking Statues, Etc.This experimental fantasy, after a short introductory set-up, is told in the form of a father-son dialogue:

FATHER: (smiling compassionately from a painting of himself as Jesus of Nazareth): In short, you hate me.
SON: Oh, I wouldn’t go as far as that. It’s more that you weary me. Seeing you around everywhere, all the time, I get bored.
FATHER (in dark colors, as Strindberg’s Captain): You get bored? You’ve only been here six weeks. Think of me having nothing to look at for ten whole years but your mother.

The situation is as odd as the structure in that the father is dead and is talking to his alcoholic failure of a son through numerous self-portraits or sculptures he made of himself before his death. We know Leiber was a painter and actor as well as a writer, and that he had a son. Beyond that we can only guess what the autobiographical elements are. Leiber, like Bradbury, travelled a considerable distance from his pulp origins, and this story illustrates that journey.

In conclusion, this is the third issue in a row that has been unbalanced by the Heinlein serial but there are a few short stories here worth catching.

  1. I thought this was an unabridged version but at the end it states: “An expanded version of this novel will be published this fall by G. P. Putnam’s Sons, in a case-bound book priced at $3.95.”
    I am also aware that I have spent far too much time on this novel over these last few reviews. Look at the Consumer Guide at the bottom of the SF Digest #1, 1976 review: it tells you all you need to know. Out of the eight reviewers who rated it, one thought it a masterpiece, one thought it good, one average, two mediocre, one bad and two atrocious. Now I have finished you can make that three mediocres…

This magazine is still being published! Subscribe: Kindle UK, Kindle USA or physical copies.

2 thoughts on “The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction #148, September 1963

  1. Todd Mason

    Paul, I’ll note I liked the Russ, certainly, better than you did (Davidson’s F&SF was and is my favorite period of the magazine), on the way to letting you know that you have the analogous relations a bit scrambled in “237 Talking Statues, Etc.”…this is one of three plays for voices stories Leiber would write in the early ’60s, and place with F&SF…the first was “The Secret Songs” (about Leiber and his wife Jonquil, and their unfortunate chemical dependencies), the second was this, about Leiber and his father, Fritz Leiber, Sr. (Younger Fritz not only acted in his parents Shakespearean troupe, but simply had a less sustained career as just about everything in the first half of his life than his father’s acting, on stage and in such films as THE SPANISH MAIN…where you’ll see that Senior, atop all else, looks ridiculously much like his son)(Jr’s most notable film role was in the version of CAMILLE with Greta Garbo, and that a bit part). The third, “The Winter Flies” (which Edward Ferman retitled “The Inner Circles”–Leiber restored his Shakespearean title later), deals with Jonquil and Fritz’s relation with son Justin, and as directly with Leiber’s own insecurity as the previous stories/plays. See Leiber’s autobiographical notes throughout his work, not least the long memoir in his collection THE GHOST LIGHT.

    Reply

Leave a Reply