Horace L. Gold
Bison Books (360 pp, $19.95, May 2010)
Reviewed by Jackson Kuhl
Raymond Chandler once noted how bad directors filmed whole sequences of mundane actions that could be more simply communicated in a single shot. A man need not be shown climbing into a cab and going to the post office to receive a letter, for example – all the audience needed was an anonymous postman handing the man the letter. This kind of boring direction, Chandler believed, was a holdover from the time when film was new and watching everyday occurrences on celluloid was still thrilling.
And so it is with Horace Gold. He was, in turn, a World War II veteran, the highest paid comic-book writer in the world, and the editor of Galaxy Science Fiction for over a decade. He was also an accomplished pulp fictioneer. Perfect Murders: Pulp Fiction Classics collects six of Gold’s science-fiction detective mash-ups; a seventh, “I Know Suicide,” is a straight noir mystery. Unfortunately, most of these stories are artifacts of their time, thin plots so laden with long passages of dialogue and commonplace action that the eyes glaze and the mind drowses. …
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By the time you read this, you will already have seen the announcement of RosettaBooks’ The Galaxy Project, or so I assume.
Rosetta is preparing to release e-versions of many of the best stories published in Galaxy in its heyday, which is a terrific idea, but is taking it a step further by launching a contest to find a novella or novelette which will, in the words of RosettaBooks CEO Arthur Klebanoff, “carry forth its tradition of outstanding science fiction writing with a new generation of authors.”
So, I hear you ask, what? Whatever might he mean by “tradition?”
Worry not, I live to educate. No, stop edging towards the door and looking at your watch, I know better.
In 1950, two things happened in fairly close proximity: John W. Campbell published a controversial article in the May issue of Astounding, and the first issue of Galaxy Science Fiction appeared on the newsstands in October. These two events were important in their own rights (for vastly different reasons), but there was a synchronicity – one might almost say a serendipity – at play that could be seen to have made a major change in the SF publishing scene at the time.
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