The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Short Fiction of 1979

Friday, December 20th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Riverworld and Other Stories

Riverworld and Other Stories

Cover by George Barr

Cover by George Barr



And finally, after looking at various award winners over the past year and articles about authors’ debuts and the novels published in 1979, it has come time to close out this series of articles with a look at some of the non-award winning short fiction published in 1979.

By 1979, Philip José Farmer had published the first three novels in his Riverworld series as well as a novelette set in the same world, entitled “Riverworld.” When he reprinted the novelette in 1979 in his collection Riverworld and Other Stories, Farmer expanded the story from 12,000 to 33,750 words, effectively publishing a new story in the popular series about humanity’s afterlife on an infinite river.

John M. Ford has made the news recently as the rights to reprint his all too few works, plus an unfinished novel, have been disentangled.  In 1979 he published six stories in Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine (his first sale was in 1976). These stories included “Mandalay,” which kicked off his Alternities, Inc. series of stories, as well as “The Adventure of the Solitary Engineer” and “The Sapphire as Big as the Marsport Hilton.”

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro introduced her vampire, the Count Saint-Germain, in 1978 in the novel Hotel Transylvania. In 1979, she published her first short story about him, “Seat Partner,” detailing his experiences on an airplane, a far cry from the historical settings of the novels he usually inhabits.

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Goth Chick News: “The Wish,” a Haunting (and Forgotten) Winter Tale from Ray Bradbury

Thursday, December 19th, 2019 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Goth Chick winter

In 1973, Ray Bradbury published a short story in the December issue of Woman’s Day magazine. It later appeared in his short story collection Long After Midnight, but it was that Christmas that is forever lodged in my memory, along with Mr. Bradbury.

I was wouldn’t turn 9 years old until January but that December I felt much older as I had just experienced real death for the first time. Earlier in the year I had lost my beloved Grandpa and I recall simply not being able to believe I would never see him again. He had loomed exceptionally large in my life and for an 8-years-old me, there had never been a time when he wasn’t holding my hand. But he had gone suddenly from a heart attack and I didn’t get to say goodbye, and that experience had made me feel older than myself.

But my feelings of loss were nothing to my Dad’s. He had been very close with his own Dad his entire life, and when Grandpa died, to me anyway, it seemed like part of Dad went with him. By Christmas, Dad was putting on a brave face and trying to be cheery for me and my very young siblings. But I could see he his grief was winning. Mom tried everything to bring him around from making his favorite dishes to decorating (it looked like Christmas exploded in our house that year), but Dad’s smile was watery and he spent more time than usual ‘working’ out in the garage where I suspected he shed the tears he couldn’t do in front of us.

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Celebrating a Decade of Excellence: Clarkesworld Year Ten, Volumes One & Two, edited by Neil Clarke and Sean Wallace

Thursday, December 19th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Clarkesworld Year Ten Volume One-small Clarkesworld Year Ten Volume Two-small

Covers by Shichigoro-Shingo and Rudy Faber

Clarkesworld editors Neil Clarke and Sean Wallace have had a busy year.

For one thing, they’ve published a full 12 issues of one of the most acclaimed science fiction magazines on the planet. For another, there’s all those conventions, nominations, and shiny awards to keep them occupied — including a Best Editor Hugo nomination for Neil, a Hugo nomination for Simone Heller’s “When We Were Starless” (Clarkesworld 145, October 2018), and a World Fantasy Award win for Kij Johnson’s novella “The Privilege of the Happy Ending” (Clarkesworld, Aug. 2018). On top of that, Neil was presented with the 2019 Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award for distinguished contributions to the science fiction community at the Nebula awards weekend in May, one more award to polish on his mantlepiece.

They also have their own projects — Sean edits the fine magazine The Dark and runs Prime Books, and Neil has produced a pair of anthologies this year, The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume Four and The Eagle Has Landed: 50 Years of Lunar Science Fiction.

But in addition to all of that, Neil and Sean are also keeping up a hectic pace of Clarkesworld annual anthology volumes — four in the past two months alone. Clarkesworld Year Ten, Volumes One & Two, containing a year’s worth of fabulous tales from 2015 & 2016, were published on October 3, 2019; Clarkesworld Year Ten, Volumes One & Two followed less than a month later, on November 1, 2019. I’m not sure how they do it, but someone should create an award for science fiction overachievement, and give it to both of them. If they can get either one of them to stop moving long enough to accept it.

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Vintage Treasures: The Astounding-Analog Reader edited by Harry Harrison and Brian W. Aldiss

Saturday, December 14th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The Astounding Analog Reader Volume 1-small The Astounding Analog Reader Volume 2-small

The Astounding-Analog Reader (Sphere 1972 and 1973). Covers by unknown (left) and Chris Foss (right)

I used to scoff at the idea of online bookstores. How will you browse for books?, I demanded to know. You’ll never replace that wonderful moment of discovery, of serendipity, finding a treasure you weren’t looking for, which happens all the time in great bookstores.

Of course, these days I find books online all the time. I’m a huge fan of Harry Harrison and Brian W. Aldiss’s top-notch science fiction anthologies, like the long-running The Year’s Best SF series and Farewell Fantastic Venus! But I had no idea they’d collaborated on a two-volume collection of Golden Age pulp SF, The Astounding-Analog Reader, until I stumbled on a copy of the second volume on eBay a few weeks ago. I tracked down the first one, ordered both, and have been dipping into them ever since they arrived.

The Astounding-Analog Reader is a fantastic assortment of (generally longer) fiction from the pages of Astounding, circa 1937 — 1946. It was originally published in hardcover as The Astounding-Analog Reader, Volume 1 by Doubleday in 1972, and reprinted in paperback in the UK by Sphere as The Astounding-Analog Reader, Book 1 and Book 2 in October 1973. It has never has a paperback edition in the US.

The editors completed the series a year later with The Astounding-Analog Reader, Volume 2 (Doubleday, 1973), which contained stories from 1947-1965. That volume has never had a paperback edition, which makes me sad.

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More Wondrous and Weird than Fantasy: Dell Science Fiction Reviews

Wednesday, December 11th, 2019 | Posted by Gabe Dybing

Analog-Science-Ficion-and-Fact-November-December-2019-medium Asimovs-Science-Ficion-November-December-2019-medium

Covers by Tuomas Korpi and Donato Giancola

Spoiler warning: I choose to write unrestrainedly about all content in these magazines.

I’ve been reading Asimov’s Science Fiction regularly for — oh — maybe ten or fifteen years now. I began by “checking in.” I first picked it up from my newsstand in a bookstore to investigate the “current discourse,” while I focused most of my attention on my graduate studies and my own interests in the classics, both outside of and within the genre. But then I found myself, almost unconsciously “re-checking” in until, here I am, more than a decade later, regularly ingesting a paper mail subscription.

My involvement with Analog Science Fiction and Fact began similarly but much more recently. Idle curiosity about this “hard” science fiction thing had me sampling an issue off an electronic bookshelf, then another, then another. Here’s the thing about hard science fiction: it “blows my mind.” “Real” science is infinitely more wondrous and weird than fantasy — and more impressive to me, simply because, though I can write passable fantasy, I don’t have the wherewithal to attempt anything even tangentially based in science fact.

Editor John O’Neill has heard me opinionating on the material in both of these publications for long enough now that, after some prodding and pressuring from him, I endeavor a new series for the year, one in which I review standouts and make observations about the content in these two pulps from Dell Magazines. The material covered will be totally arbitrary. I will address only what seems most notable; my comments will not be comprehensive. Finally, my lens is focused on these two, ignoring all other science fiction publications, only because these happen to be the magazines I read. I do read things other than short speculative fiction, and I’m not interested in making a full time job out of the latter. Even though I have been out of graduate school for many years, I still read the classics once in awhile.

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New Treasures: Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight by Aliette de Bodard

Tuesday, December 10th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Of Wars and Memories and Starlight-small Of Wars and Memories and Starlight-back-small

Cover by Maurizio Manzieri

I met Aliette de Bodard at the Nebulas weekend in 2015, on the way to a party in the Palmer House hotel, and we ended up chatting for about 20 minutes. She was charming, articulate, humble, and a very stylish dresser. And you know, that’s just not a combo you see very often, especially at a science fiction convention.

Anyway, she’s also won, like, ALL THE AWARDS. Her Universe of Xuya series may be the most honored SF story cycle of the last decade, with numerous Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and BSFA nominations and wins. John Clute’s entry for Aliette in the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction reads in part:

Mostly comprising shorter works, the Universe of Xuya sequence – beginning with “The Lost Xuyan Bride” (December 2007 Interzone) and including On a Red Station, Drifting (2012), a short novel – is an Alternate History series in which China settles North America from the west, with complex consequences for earlier settlers like the Aztecs; some stories are set in space…

The Tea Master and the Detective… in the loose Xuya Universe sequence, is a Space Opera whose protagonists – Holmes and her shipmind Watson – are both female; it won a Nebula as best novelette.

Subterranean Press issued her first major collection on September 30 of this year. Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight contains 14 tales, including many award winners: 11 Xuya stories, a novelette in her acclaimed Dominion of the Fallen fantasy series, and an original novella, “Of Birthdays, and Fungus, and Kindness.”

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Rejoice, Mortals, for Tales from the Magician’s Skull #3 is Here!

Sunday, December 8th, 2019 | Posted by SELindberg

Tales From the Magician’s Skull 3-small

“Rejoice, mortals! I have heard your pleas and returned to grant your greatest desire: More sword-and-sorcery!

Once again I will bring you tales of thrilling adventures in time-lost lands. There are swords, and there is sorcery. There are dark deeds and daring rescues…” —The Magician’s Skull 

Should You Trust a Talking Skull?

Well, no sane person would, but I attest this particular skull does not lie. Tales from the Magician’s Skull (installments #1 and #2) spawned from a successful 2017 Kickstarter campaign in which Howard Andrew Jones (Sword & Sorcery guru, author, and RPGer) teamed up with Joseph Goodman (of Goodman Games, publisher of Dungeon Crawl Classics). The resulting magazine reflects this partnership, marrying great stories with corresponding RPG elements. Interested in the origins of the magazine? Then check out John O’Neill’s Black Gate coverage of the initial run: In Search of a new Weird Tales: An Interview with Joseph Goodman, Howard Andrew Jones, and the Talking Skull!

This July 2019, the Skull resurfaced with issue #3 and promises of issues #4-6. As a backer and enthusiast of fantasy fiction, I couldn’t be more pleased. If you missed the Kickstarters, have no worries you “mortal dogs” (another Skull saying), since both Goodman Games and Amazon offer them. Future plans are as follows: “Issue #4 will release in March 2020, and others will follow bi-annually thereafter. Upon reaching issue #666, the Skull will travel to a higher plane and the magazine will end.”

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: The 1973 Forry Award: C. L. Moore

Saturday, December 7th, 2019 | Posted by Rich Horton

Astounding Science Fiction Judgment Night August 1943-small

Astounding Science Fiction August 1943,
containing “Judgment Night” by C.L. Moore

The Los Angeles Science Fiction Society (LASFS) began presenting the Forry Award in 1966 for Lifetime Achievement in Science Fiction. The first award went to Ray Bradbury, who, besides his towering achievements in SF, was a prominent member of LASFS. Over the years, the list of Forry Award winners is a curious mix of the obvious (Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Fritz Leiber, Larry Niven, Arthur C. Clarke, A. E. Van Vogt, Ursula K. Le Guin, Lois McMaster Bujold, etc.), with those whose accomplishments are not as writers but still seem significant (Mike Glyer, Chuck Jones, Fred Patten, Ray Harryhausen), and with those whose importance I have probably unforgivably missed (Charles Lee Jackson II, Len Moffat, John de Chancie.)

The 2002 award went to the award’s namesake, Forrest J. Ackerman. Here I will confess a personal bias… If awards like the Campbell and the Tiptree are going to have their names changed, can the Forry Award retain its name for long? Some of my bias is undoubtedly unfair: I think Ackerman’s taste in science fiction was appalling. But that’s just “taste”, and surely he can be forgiven that, and his enthusiasm for the type of SF he loved was no doubt real. But his ethics as an agent, for one, were distressing. But much more seriously, there are credible accusations of sexual harassment and abuse of women fans, and indeed very young women, at least as young as 13. I can’t but feel icky about the worship some express towards him, and while I’m opposed to changing the name of the Tiptree Award, and ambivalent about changing the names of the Campbell Awards, it seems to me that the Forry Award (justified as it may be by Ackerman’s strong association with LASFS) is right out.

But that doesn’t mean the Forry Award winners (Ackerman himself excepted) should be thrown out with the bathwater. And the 1973 winner, C. L. Moore, qualifies as one of the “obviously worthy” winners.

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Explorers, Mathematicians, and Airwalkers: November/December Print SF Magazines

Friday, December 6th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Analog Science Ficion and Fact November December 2019-small Asimov's Science Ficion November December 2019-small The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction November December 2019-small

Covers by Tuomas Korpi, Donato Giancola, and Bob Eggleton

The end-of-year crop of print magazines contains some very promising fiction from Michael Swanwick, James Morrow, James Patrick Kelly, Benjamin Rosenbaum, M. Rickert, Jerry Oltion, Mark W. Tiedemann, Jay O’Connell, Allen M. Steele, R. Garcia y Robertson, Harry Turtledove, James Gunn, and many others — including Black Gate‘s new short fiction reviewer, James Van Pelt. But I think my favorite piece this month was Sheila Williams’ editorial, “A Sadder and Wiser Woman,” in which she addresses the loss of two women, Janet Jeppson Asimov and Carol Emshwiller, who had long been associated with Asimov’s Science Fiction. Here she reminisces about her friendship with Emshwiller.

I was a high-school student when I first encountered Carol Emshwiller’s fiction in the pages of Dangerous Visions. I had to reread “Sex and/or Mr. Morrison” a couple of times before I had the slightest idea of what was going one. I became friends with Carol after I moved to New York City, and in 1991 she convinced my husband and I to accompany her on a walking tour of England’s Lake District….

Carol was bemused to “break in” to Asimov’s in January 2006. Her first story for us was “World of No Return.” Over the next seven years we published twelve of her inventive and often disturbing tales. One short story, “The Lovely Ugly” (August 2010), tied for first place in our annual Readers’ Award Poll. The last tale, “Riding Red Ted and Breathing Fire,” appeared in our April/May 2012 issue. Some of my other favorites included “Master of the Road to Nowhere” (March 2008) and “The Bird Painter in Time of War” (February 2009). I was sorry that she stopped writing, because I would love to have published a dozen more. Carol was born on April 12, 1921, and died on February 2.

Here’s the editorial issue summaries for Analog, and Asimov’s, and the complete Tables of Contents for all three.

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Silas P. Cornu’s Dry Calculator

Wednesday, December 4th, 2019 | Posted by Steve Carper

Henry A. Hering Adventures and Fantasy 1930 cover

Digging through the vast, deep landscape of popular culture is very much like being a working paleontologist. Fragments of bones are everywhere, both on the surface and accessible through spadework. Unbroken samples are rare finds, interesting enough in and of themselves but truly valuable only if put into context.

Also as in paleontology, trying to create a proper history grows exponentially more difficult every time a new site is opened. The older metaphor of an evolutionary tree of life that leads to a single branch labeled Homo is now obsolete; modern practitioners see more of a bush with a tangle of branches whose origins are obscure.

The origin of science fictional ideas matches this entropic march toward disorder. Fans of SF once proudly hailed the writers in the field for coming up with fantastic ideas, notions, gadgets, and futures that could be boasted about to their snobbish mundane friends. Years of historical research into the subject make me wonder sometimes if any sf writer ever had a truly original idea.

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