Thursday, May 13, 2010

"That old Sense of Wonder" (Part 3)

Tho we moved away from my fave used bookstore in less than a yr, there were other bookstores. & Bcos I'd Bcome addicted, I saved up my lawnmowing/allowance $$$ & took the plunge. I subscribed 2 my 1st science fiction magazine in the summer of 1975 -- starting w/ the Aug 75 issue of ANALOG, actually a real Nothing issue w/ no memorable stories.
But the Sept issue brot Karl Hansen's Xcellent "The Killers," Oct brot Spider Robinson's marvelous "Unnatural Causes or The Guy We Couldn't Help," & the Nov issue featured Roger Zelazny's "Home is the Hangman," which was nearly as brilliant & inventive as the poetic Zelazny short stories of the '60s ("For a Breath I Tarry," "The Doors of His Face, The Lamps of His Mouth," "The Man Who Loved the Faioli," etc). The Jan 76 issue brot a 4-part serial of Frank Herbert's CHILDREN OF DUNE, which was nearly as great as the original. Mar 76 brot Spider & Jeanne Robinson's wondrous "Stardance."
I didn't get around 2 subscribing 2 GALAXY & F&SF until a yr later, 1nce I hadda real full-time job. Under Editor Jim Baen, GALAXY had improved vastly, adding lotsa great art by people like Steve Fabian & some way-ahead-of-his-time guy named "Ames," Xcellent stories by big names, & a ton of great features like Spider Robinson's hilarious book reviews & Richard E. Geis's cynical looks at the current SF scene.
& a lotta the fiction was pretty great, including Frederik Pohl's marvelous novel GATEWAY, lotsa short work by John Varley ("Bagatelle," "The Phantom of Kansas, "Overdrawn at the Memory Bank"), Larry Niven's great "Down and Out," neat guest columns & lots more.
Over at F&SF, Editor Ed Ferman had bn the 1st 2 publish Varley & was now running summa his best work, like "In the Hall of the Martian Kings" & "The Persistence of Vision." There were other occasionally Xcellent stories, + a great revolving panel of book reviewers like Algis Budrys (his reviews in GALAXY were 1 of the best things about that mag in the '60s), John Clute, angry Joanna Russ, & Barry Malzberg -- at I think the top of his writing ability in the essay/review form.
All during this time I was still collecting back-issues. ANALOG in the '60s & early '70s still struck me as lost in time, Editor John W. Campbell way outta touch w/ current events -- by choice. Things improved amazingly after Ben Bova took over, willing 2 take a few chances & mayB run some stories that might piss-off longtime readers (Joe Haldeman's "Hero," George R.R. Martin's "A Song for Lya"), + there was great stuff like Roger Zelazny's "The Engine at Heartspring's Center," Terry Melen's "Whale Song," P.J. Plauger's "Child of All Ages," Gregory Benford's "Doing Lennon," Alfred Bester's wild novel THE INDIAN GIVER, George R.R. Martin & Lisa Tuttle's "The Storms of Windhaven," & more.
The older GALAXY looked cheap but had lotsa great stories by Harlan Ellison, Robert Silverberg ("Hawksbill Station," DOWNWARD TO THE EARTH, DYING INSIDE & many more), Roger Zelazny & others, + Budrys' great book reviews.
The older F&SF had lots more great stories (Ellison's "The Deathbird," Silverberg's "Sundance" & "The Fangs of the Trees," Vance Aandahl's "An Adventure in the Yalla Bolly Middle Eel Wilderness," Michael Bishop's "Cathadonian Odyssey," Edward Wellen's wild "Deadpan"), + Judith Merrill, Avram Davidson & James Blish's Xcellent book reviews.
But GALAXY in the mid-'70s was the best of them -- it looked great, the writing talent was unbeatable, it always left U laffing & feeling good, it was the best, most Xciting & intresting mag in the field.
But there were problems Bhind the scenes. Even at the peak of its success (when it was running Pohl's GATEWAY), GALAXY started missing issues. It reportedly didn't always pay its contributors -- Varley, 4 1. Baen left at the Nd of '77 & the mag didn't survive past 1980.
Meanwhile, ANALOG kept getting better, running George R.R. Martin's DYING OF THE LIGHT & the 1st of GRRM's Haviland Tuf stories, & later Martin & Tuttle's Windhaven-sequel ONE WING, tossing in occasional brilliant suprises like John M. Ford's "This Too We Reconcile," & serializing Silverberg's last novel of his middle period, SHADRACH IN THE FURNACE. Rick Sternbach joined Kelly Freas, John Schoenherr & Vincent DiFate among the mag's superb artists. The good stories were really great, tho there was still some filler creeping in. Editor Ben Bova left at the Nd of '78 B4 he got stale -- I don't think the mag's bn as intresting since, tho there have bn occasional Xcellent stories like David R. Palmer's "Emergence." I haven't looked real closely at an issue in YEARS....
ISAAC ASIMOV'S SCIENCE FICTION MAGAZINE came along slightly later, & I resisted it 4 a LONG time. In fact, it wasn't until Gardner Dozois took over as editor in the mid-'80s & I started noticing how many of the mag's stories were winning awards & appearing in best-of-the-year collections that I started reading it & later subscribed. The overall quality of the fiction in ASIMOV'S was high, & Norman Spinrad carried on the Budrys tradition in his book reviews. The best fiction included works by Kim Stanley Robinson ("A History of the 20th Century With Illustrations," "Mother Goddess of the World," "Escape from Kathmandu"), Johnathan Lethem ("The Happy Man"), Connie Willis ("The Last of the Winnebagos"), Ian McDonald ("Toward Kilimanjaro"), John Varley ("Press ENTER" & big sections of his novel STEEL BEACH), Ted Reynolds ("Through All Your Houses Wandering"), Silverberg ("We Are for the Dark") & many others.
Subscription copies of ASIMOV'S & F&SF followed me overseas & found me in Turkey in 1990-91, & I continued subscribing off&on 2 these up thru 2003, tho I had 2 drop them awhile back due 2 a tight living budget. The last issue of ASIMOV'S I saw had no interior artwork, usually not a good sign, & Dozois has left since then. SF mags' circulations have bn Dclining steadily 4 yrs, & I was 1 of the readers they lost, cos I couldn't afford or justify the cost.
But I haven't stopped reading....

...2 B Continued....


Anonymous said...

Hi tad!
Just one little remark concerning the Zappa-Costello quotes. I am sure 100% that Zappa said the "dancing about architecture" thing and that he never said that he looked for the new, different and challenging ALL THE TIME. I don't know if this latter quote is by Costello, but it surely ain't Zappa's.
All the best

tad said...

Anon: Hmmm.... U're gonna 4ce me 2 do some research. The Zappa quote is from an interview he did in 1990 w/ Matt Resnicoff, published in MUSICIAN magazine under the title "Poetic Justice." I've got it somewhere here in the house. ... I may not have an available source 4 the Costello, & my memory may B failing, but I'll B looking.
Zappa DID 1nce say that rock journalism was people who can't write, writing for people who can't read.... Lemme get back 2 U on this.... & thanx 4 visiting! -- TAD.

tad said...

OK: WikipediaQuote ID's the Costello quote from an interview Elvis did w/ Timothy White, printed in MUSICIAN magazine Oct 1983 under the title "A Man Out of Time Beats the Clock." & at the Nd of the quote, Elvis said writing about music is "a stupid thing to want to do." So I'll B changing that a little.
The 1st 1/2 of the quote (up 2 "dancing about architecture") was also used as a sorta preface in Tim Riley's TELL ME WHY, a Beatles critical-discography published in 1988 by Knopf, which is where it rang my bell 4 use as a motto. I know its also bn used elsewhere....

The Zappa quote (I found out) is actually from a Nov 1991 interview/article called "Poetic Justice," written by Matt Resnicoff & published in MUSICIAN. What Frank actually said, in refrence 2 avant-garde, new or frighteningly original music was: "I want the frighteningly original ALL the time." So I'll B changing that 1 2. Immediately.

So, Anon, thanx 4 playing & 4 4cing me 2 do my homework. This is what happens when U rely on yr failing memry.... -- TAD.