NEW WORLDS - the fanzine #1 (March 1939)CONTENTS:
NEW WORLDSAn official SFA magazine.
Vol 1. No 1................................................March 1939
Editor: TED CARNELL
Assistant Editor: KEN. G CHAPMAN
Associates: MAURICE K. HANSON and FRANK ARNOLD
Editorial Address: 17 Burwash Road, Plumstead, London, S.E.18
C/O. SFA HQ: 23, Farnley Road, South Norwood, London, S.E.23
Cover by HARRY TURNER, art depicting NEW WORLDS.
A Chapman- Carnell Publication. Issued free to SFA members.
4d per copy post free to non-members.
SCIENCE-FICTION SERVICE, 15 Houghton Street, LIVERPOOL 1
Therefore, from letters received, the most interesting items will be placed in THE FORUM and editorially answered if necessary. Do not let this discourage you (we shall not be too sarcastic, if we can help it), and we shall welcome all suggestions, criticisms or praise at all times.
FIRST ACT We shall endeavour to publish NEW WORLDS at regular intervals of six weeks, perhaps earlier, perhaps later. Should there be a lapse of say, twelve weeks between issues, you might reasonably expect an issue of double quantity. Here again, we are not promising anything however.
SECOND ACT It is our aim and intention to give you the best available material always, whether stories, news, articles or drawings. Short stories are only planned for every other issue, thus leaving altarnate issues to be filled with a wider choice of material.
Every reader of this magazine is a potential source of supply for material, and we hasten to ask for manuscripts from you before you think that we only require material from well-known authors and other prominent science- fiction personalities. Such material by authors etc., will have been written specially for NEW WORLDS in most cases, although this does not apply in the case of short stories.
THIRD ACT We also request either suggestions or originals for cover drawings, which will be supervised by Harry Turner, our Art Editor, of Manchester. On future occasions we intend to have cover illustrations taken from the story inside. This, however, also leaves alternate issues to be considered.
EPILOGUE In future issues, the Editorial will be missing and the latest up-to-date reviews of current magazines substituted instead. We shall, however, have Guest Editorials from time to time.
And many other interesting and controversial features
IS WEINBAUM OVER-RATED?by
FRANK EDWARD ARNOLD
THE ABOVE sounds rather like an irreverence, so let me hasten to explain. Although the author, alas! is no longer with us, his work is still very much alive, and has any number of admirers to defend it from criticism. The amount of praise that gushed forth during his all-too-brief career drowned all attempts to put him in perspective, so, now some of the gush has died down, it is time we attempted to do so.
When he first appeared in print with Martian Odyssey in 1934 he was greeted with an uproar of delight, He wrote a sequel to the story and followed it up with a fairly rapid output, and before a year was out the torrent of gush reached hysteria-point.
He was the greatest writer of the day, they said; far better than Merritt, Flint, Keller, etc., a greater writer than Wells, Verne and Poe put together went on the ravers. He was unique, untouchable, etc. A less modest man would rapidly have been.turned by such stuff.
But now people are saying that since his death his style has been so much imitated that, were he alive he would have difficulty in selling his own work.
A more ridiculous contention, and a greater disservice to a very worthy author, has seldom been put forward. For it is an axiom, that no imitations can ever equal their original.
His subsequent stories in WONDER were all, unfortunately, repeats of the first one. The Worlds of If, The Ideal, The Point of View, were all carbon-copies of each other, and even the author himself confessed this through his character, Dixon Wells, who complained that every time he got mixed up with one of the Professor's machines he found himself in love with someone who was dead, or who had never lived, and so on. One would think that a confession like this would put admirers into a more reasonable frame of mind, but, no.
His style was sufficiently good to carry off these imperfections, for which another author would have been brick -batted. Undoubtedly his delightful humour saved his bacon, nevertheless a real master would not have had to go to these lengths. He would have had original material every time.
It is, in fact, as a stylist that he will be best remembered. As such he was as individual as, say, Keller, Coblentz, Leinster, Flagg, Verrill and similar great individualists. It does him full honour to rank him amongst these admirable writers, far more so that does the silly, gushing and plainly insincere hysteria that has been given him these last four years.
John Victor Peterson
FEAR WAS VIBRANT throughout the length and breadth of England these days ---- fear of the unknown in the West, the unknown gnawing at the flanks of Cornwall, absorbing the wild splendour of Land's End into thin air and a vast expanse of rolling sea.
Land's End indeed! A name grimly significant, grimly prophetic now that that age-old harbinger of disaster - a tiny, crimson-flaring mass of comet spawned alien matter had come to wreak such strange and awesome havoc in this great nation.
Looking backward to those first days I can recall the increasing trepidation with which astronomers had charted its unswerving course as it raced redly from the void. For a mad week all Western Europe had been in a frenzy of fanaticism, expecting Doomsday for at least their portion of the earth, unable to cross to the other already-overpopulated continents whose portals were closed and barred in the present terrible threat of world-wide warfare.
Commoner and king, dictator and underling had seen that plunging flame telecast from the great observatories and had been ravished by terrible fear. Crowds milled in the streets of great cities, rioting insanely, stilled only by chattering machine guns which sent them to inglorious death lest their frenzy be turned to fury and revolt against the rulers who had caused the other nations to forbid them ingress.
Fully a million committed suicide the night when that mass had screamed from the void, crimsoning a quarter of the globe with its fierce, fiery light. The end of all things!
And then, ironically, the hellborn flame plunged into the Atlantic off England's Western coast, completely destroying the Scilly Isles. Tidal waves surged about Great Britain, unprecedented electric storms ravished the heavens ....But they seemed as nought, for millions who might have died lived....
A seven day wonder it had been after the sundered, tortured seas had stilled their gaseous boiling and Royal Academy scientists plumbed in vain the ocean's depths.
THAT DANA COOMBES and I should be dragged into the investigation can be passed off merely as the desire of all scientific minded men to do their bit to allay the horror that was forthcoming.
Dana and I always shared a common interest in all things sceintific. He was the sort of man whose sincere friendship means so very much --- a man who lives and loves fully and dies hard, but in whose heart of hearts is a poet and a philosopher, who finds time in his brief span to create or unveil a work of art, and deep in whose heart is a premonition. "I have a rendezvous with death - "
Aye, Death, perhaps-
The world itself may have forgotten Coombes save for a few harsh memories of the man whose lack of vigilance had almost caused the destruction of the D-- Naval Base. A Court Martial. Dishonourable discharge. By the Empire hated and forgot. Yet I have never forgotten, for I alone came to know Coombes and the cause for his neglect. I alone can now tell the world that which he had suspected almost from the beginning but which he would never have revealed.
Calm had begun to settle over England when mad tales came pulsing out of the Duchy, tales of great cliffs silently disappearing into absolute nothingness! The Royal Academy scientists were gone without a word or trace and there were only incoherent mouthings of some ravenous mystery into whose maw their yacht had so completely vanished.
Horror struck us as we saw telecast shots of great cliffs soundlessly crumbling away into absolute nothingness, even less than dust! The import of it burned into our brains. Was England to perish in entirety, devoured by time's greedy abyss even as Atlantis west of Hercules, Lyonesse just adjacent to these very shores and other primal elder civilizations had been devoured by the sea and similar manifestations of nature's wrath?
We had to visit those cliffs. We had to view this nameless something ourselves. With official leave, we took my father's Mercedes-Benz and drove through Regent Street to bid adieux to Helen Chandler and Jane Harvey.
There were no adieux. They, fired with woman's eternal curiousity insisted that they go and share the common danger, We didn't argue; we even welcomed their company.
And so we motored out through Cornwall to Penzance and, eventually, Sennen Cove. extremely beautiful is quaint Sennen Cove, distinguished by its low-thatched cottages with gayly painted doors and windows, and close by the white- blazing expanse of beach.
Jane and Helen loved the place; they wanted to walk its streets and talk with its quaint people; but brooding over all was that intangible veil of fear -- a haunted, hunted look in the towns-folk's eyes, a reticence in their manner, a resignation to the workings of that which they could not understand and hence attributed to the Divine.
Inside the opened doorways one caught glimpses of trunks and valises and makeshift boxes packed and waiting, great vans and outmoded carts rolled eastward together, laden with the earthly possessions of these simple folk, surmounted by the folk themselves, fleeing inland from the dangerous sea.
The beauty of the town was dulled and blunted by the sight of those fugitives; we left it behind and took the cliff walk out into the uplands, ever mindful of the precautionary admonitions given us by the guards who, glimpsing our R.A.F. uniforms, passed us ....
Wild flowers bloomed in riotous splendour all
about, Jane fashioned a garland of primrose and campion and
strung it around my shoulders. But Dana and Helen were
too much interested in each other to care about garlands and
nature's diverse beauties.
You've never seen a finer couple than that. Never a harsh or an unkind word. Always complete understanding. You'd never believe that such a love could exist in the hum drum existance that is ours. But then neither Helen nor Dana was an ordinary person. They were interested in extra-sensory perception, telepathy -- all that the future might offer. They seemed to sense each other's wishes when together or apart. They had communicated over great distances via telepathy, firmly believing that if the heritage of tomorrow's children should be telepathy, it must find its birth and youth today. Tomorrow's children themselves; it seemed....
THERE WAS NOTHING menacing in the offing when we reached the forbidden brink of the sturdy cliffs and stood there with the tang of salt air in our nostrils, surveying a sea whose aquamarine depths seemed totally incapable of shielding some alien evil. Everything was so peaceful and quiet, disturbed only when a newsreel ship flew about overhead as if in attendance upon some strange advent.
Suddenly fear cut us to the quick. There was a shifting, shivering blur in the sky, a vague inchoate flame haze flickering with an ethereal opalescence. The sound as of surf beating faintly or a distant strand.
A crimson blurring, shifting aurora pulsed weirdly in the early dusk, a vast whorl out over the surging, heaving, angry sea. It expanded, struck the cliff's edge and the cliff was falling in nothingness. We ran frantically back before its ravenous advance but Helen stumbled and went down.
Arresting our headlong plunge, we turned back to aid her, crying out excitedly. A terrible curse rent Dana's lips; he poised there in indecision and wild fear. In the flicker of an eyelash that vagueness had engulfed Helen into its evanescent maw even as she struggled forward, white arms imploring, a despairing scream on her crimson lips.
Shadows melting into the dust. A void of nothingness hung between us and the sea. The mystic crimson whorl had drawn into itself and gone, leaving only space where Helen had stood.
Madness was in Dana's eyes; the terrible madness of losing all in life that matters. Incoherent words rose to his twisted lips; he flung himself insanely forward. Jane and I seized and brought him, struggling and screaming, back from that dizzy precipice beneath which the Atlantic hammered.
I can't describe the feelings that came over us then: the sickening sense of loss; the terrible, awesomeness of that vast, gluttonous unknown. Helen, beautiful dreamlike Helen was gone.
Dana dropped into dazed, semi-insensibility after
that first madness had spent itself. Somehow Jane fought
against a similar breakdown until we had led Dana back to
Sennen Cove and notified the authorities, and then, dear
girl, dropped into merciful unconsciousness.
They questioned us, of course, until the newsreel ship dropped in and developed its films, taken with a telescopic camera and showing. the tragic scene atop those ageold cliffs.
We, too, viewed those revealing pictures, and
again,our hearts raced as we relived those cruel moments....
Dana flung himself suddenly to his feet, staring wild-eyed
at the dear figure as it vanished and then he was calling:
WE RETURNED TO Croydon, tried to take up the usual routine. But Dana could not stand those long, empty days, speeding through the sky with memories riding in every wisp of cloud; nor could he endure the unending condolences of acquaintances; personal and casual. I found him drunken in that little cockney tavern on Throgmorton Street night after hectic night, sitting there half-unconscious with tears in his bloodshot eyes, drinking until he could not stand alone.
I took him home, of course, got him to bed and tried to condition him for flight duty in the morning. Every time it was harder; every day the lines of dissipation grew more apparent on his fine face; every day I prayed as he brought his ship in for a consistently sloppier landing.
And then suddenly he stopped drinking and something came into his eyes which I have never beheld in the eyes of any man save he, a sort of living dream which grew and formed an aura of unreality about him which he could not or would not explain. I had seen him deteriorate from an alert, officious person into a drunkard, now I saw him miraculously transformed into a sober yet irresponsive dreamer whose reflexes seemed almost atrophied, to whom an earthly existence was unreal and undesirable.
Often through those last nights I saw him standing gazing off into the dim reaches of the sky, a soft smile playing on his full lips, a cloudiness in his eyes, and he'd fling out an arm to the eastern horizon and whisper:
"She's alive out there, Chalmers, waiting for me with her strong white arms and her sweet, red lips and her golden hair, Helen. Oh, my God, if I could but go to her - "
In those moments I pitied him and wished that he still drank. You can dismiss a touch of madness in a man's actions and speech when liquor has dulled his brain.
THE MYSTERY IN Cornwall had meanwhile dimmed in
significance and science was formulating various theories
regarding the whole affair. Eventually the night came when I
read the most plausible report as we sat smoking in my den.
Deeply scientific, almost wholly hypothetical, yet portions of it were nearer to the truth than the author realised:
"...the comet, crashing into the Atlantic. From outside of infinity, out of the postulated minus space, come to rob a portion of the earth of its molecular stability, to shift the orbital electrons and nucleus of each individual atom, eating like a malignant cancer until the positron-electron balance has been regained. The release of a free body of positrons has been proven time and again to cause such a catastrophe. The alien substance of the comet, affected by the present solar bombardment due to unusual sunspot activity, causes the sudden positronic release which characterizes the furious eventide attacks. That a balance will soon be regained is evidenced by the gradual diminution of these attacks."
I had scarcely finished than Dana started out of his chair, his face radiant, his flashing eyes straining out into the night.
"It has come, Chalmers! She has called to me! Helen has called me! It's so easy to see now; transformation is not death - transformation is..."
I waited silently but he seemed to drop his trend of thought. "Three more nights," he murmured, "...and I'm going to her!"
I caught him by the shoulders, frightened by the passionate, low intensity of his voice. "You mean you'll kill yourself -"
"No," he whispered. "It is not death. You wouldn't - couldn't understand; you'd think me mad. Perhaps you think so anyway. It really doesn't matter. Helen is alive out there, she has called to me. The power of mind, telepathy, Chalmers! She's alive and I'm going to her..."
I couldn't laugh at him. I couldn't. He believed so strongly in those mad dreams of his that he cut my very heart out.
SCARCELY AN HOUR later he went out on special night patrol. Whispers of war had been in the air for years, war which would come without warning - a cloud of pursuit, attack and bombing planes darkening the eastward sky. And so it did come - ships winging out or the night, blasting at the Naval Base at D---! Dana patrolling, immersed in his thoughts, failing to read his supersensory instruments which ordinarily would have apprised him of their coming, failing to warn the Air Bases... But my signals went through and the ships of England arose in time and blasted back that mysterious armada and the Empire was safe again.
In time of war failures such as Dana Coombes' arouse a nation to fury heat. And with the threat of the comet dimming in significance, those relieved hearts unleashed on him the pent-up emotions within. Public indignation demanded his immediate dismissal from the force, exile; or death! The court martial was rushed through, and two days later Dana was cashiered, stripped of his insigna, and left in the streets of Croydon, a forgotten and a ruined man.
When I came off duty that afternoon I hastened to
the old tavern, certain that I'd find him there, drunken,
revelling with some bawdy slattern on his lap; but there was
only a brief; sober message, tendered me by the weazened
little cockney keeper.
"Goodbye, Chalmers. Tonight I go to join Helen. Don't try to stop me; I've told you the truth. She's alive and I have but to cross to her up there at the junction on Land's End. - Dana."
Junction; - junction to what?
I went. A deep, burning urge inside me drove me back to my ship, swept me towards those shores near which that dying mystery slumbered.
CLOSE TO THE north of Whitesand Bay the sheer side of a sundered mountain rises harshly from the white-foaming breakers, topped with a rolling sweep of verdant greenery. Diving low over the upland, I gunned my motor when I saw a man standing; head bowed, close to the cliff's edge. He did not raise his head nor signal so I wheeled about and landed in an open field a kilometer away.
Eventide was fast falling as I finally drew near and called out to him. Yet he did not answer and I burst into a frantic run, calling out repeatedly. I could hear the waves pounding and the winds whispering a dulcet accompaniment to the savage rhythm of my bursting heart.
But now there was the faintest suggestion of movement and Dana was stepping forward to the very verge of the cliff and of a sudden the shadow of the hills flowed from the empty night, out of a mist into weird semi-solidity and far off I saw or thought I saw skyflung towers and wondrous beauties of a glorious, mystic city star-spangled in nocturnal splendour, and here - here close before me a woman stood as in a misty dream plane, her white arms outstretched, and Dana was stepping forward, out past the verge of the cliff unto its vague continuation.
I saw two meet and greet and turn as one to vanish into night and nothingness. And I saw also the phantom shadow of an insubstantial body falling, turning over and over, dropping into the grinding, boiling surf beneath the cliffs.
I'm wondering if Dana Coombes does not live on in another semi-physical essence in that other extra-dimensional world which I so dimly saw? If somehow his body were not wrenched into a dual existance by the microcosmic forces separating that lost world from this, one part to live, the other to die? I remember his strange words: "Transformation is not death - transformation is -" . . IS WHAT. .?
THE 'SCIENCE-FICTION ASSOCIATION' EXECUTIVE REPORT AND NOTES WAS NOT READY FOR THIS ISSUE, AND WILL BE CIRCULARISED TO MEMBERS LATER IN THE MONTH IN THE FORM OF A GAZETTE. FULL DETAILS OF THE FORTHCOMING CONVENTION WILL BE INCLUDED.
SOME LITTLE TIME ago a much esteemed mutual friend Julius Schwartz paid me the compliment of calling me a webwork writer! Since than the words have stuck in my mind - and since English readers will be as much in the dark as I was I might as well explain that "webwork" means a complicated mystery wherein all the strands are drawn together in the last chapter to form the complete whole. By accident I stumbled upon this mystic formula in "Locked City" and repeated it in "The Secret of the Ring" (originally called "The Circle of Life".)
Now all of this brings me to something. If webwork mystery is a new slant to science-fiction--and presumably it is--what a colossal field it opens up for other writers as well. I don't mean in webwork (I stick to that now as my personal angle) but in other slants. Consider a moment--what has s-f been like up to now? I am virtually new to the game but I've read tons of it since being a boy.
Here's my reaction. It's all been adventure. The pages of past s-f reek with curly headed heroes and smooth hipped heroines. Villains have been monstrosities of other worlds. Rarely if ever was the formula altered, save for a few gems from Campbell, Smith, Kellar or Taine. Yet even they - though their characters were life-like - pandered to the eternal hackwork adventure formula.
Yes, and even Weinbaum. What are all his stories but adventure? True, they are magnificent adventure with living people - but they remain the same.
For myself, I copied his style in my yarns "Penal World" and "Whispering Satellite" because, in the words of the old song, "It seemed the right and proper thing to do". Then it occurred to me, after a series of rejections, that something had gone wrong. I needed a new technique - I tried a complicated mystery ingredient added to adventure. It worked!
Now! Far be it from me to say that I started a new vogue - I don't think I did, but I think that by accident I found something for s-f that could be exploited much more by better writers than myself. Take a line from the films for instance... suppose one had a story with the intense grip of "Love from a Stranger" and twisted it so that the action was on another world and the heroine was married to a denizen of another planet without then being aware of it. There's the opening; after that comes the mystic build up. But, fellow writers, do you not see the point? I've only quoted one solitary case. Think of the myriads of well worn trite straight fiction situations that have the basis of gripping yarns for s-f if well done - not in mystery so much as in love, drama humour and vengeance. All the gamut of human life.
So far, only the edges of science-fiction's possibilities have been scratched. Weinbaum started the humanization principle which has apparently spread now right through the whole range of s-f. And, breaking away from heavy science the weirder element -- so essential in this fantastic type of
work - has been allowed play. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think the
best combination of s-f, idealism, and fantasy yet done is in
Hilton's "Lost Horizon," while in atmosphere one cannot beat
the weird effect achieved by the witch scenes in "Snow White
and the Seven Dwarfs."
Some folks do not think the cinema is a guide to writing. I feel that it is, insofar that it reflects human interest to a great extent. Horror films have come back; this is not an unfortunate move insofar that they will pave the way for the s-f film wave that may possibly follow the recent "War of the Worlds", radio panic.
The humanized science film will come in time, but it is up to us to the writers to make it so. We can only do it by taking some as yet undeveloped angle and building up on it. There are dozens of them, but naturally I keep some of them to myself for future use. My main. concern is in being mysterious.
But, even so, consider these possibilities, as I have done. Up to now we have the ordinary space travel tale as a rule. What would happen if we did away (in a yarn) with the casual way of crossing space that usually happens and replaced it with an interplanetary mail service - like the battles of the early pioneers to get the mail stage coaches through bandit hordes? We'd have a rip-snorting yarn. Or if we had a space ship like the Mayo composite plane - a little space ship on top of the big one to carry fuel. Suppose the little ship heated with solar radiation and was in danger of exploding? More drama! Or what of the man of the future who will carry deadly rocket explosives between worlds for fuelling purposes. The slightest jar would blow them to infinity. Is there drama there? I guess so...
Those are snatches of fragmentery thought, but they might form a story for somebody. The pioneering spirit is not developed strongly in s-f yarns (in the yarns themselves I mean). Too much, I think, is taken for granted. Sometimes it has to be to get on with the yarn - but in those trifling incidents, which have never been dealt with thoroughly, there lie numberless novelettes of tremendous potententiality.
Here are some more random ideas. Suppose there were a Sphinx found in the Martian desert identical to the one on Earth? What's the tie up? A webwork mystery after my own heart. I know the answer to this one but I haven't worked it out yet. Suppose - and do what you like with these ideas, you writers - it were decided to form a trans-spacial observatory between here and Mars? Would there be graft and corruption in high places? I'll say! Or suppose Earth decided to colonise Mars properly and fit it out with atmosphere, roads, travel and whatnot? Would there be the garish life of, say, the type shown us in "In Old Chicago" or "San Francisco", with space men instead of gold prospectors (or whatever they were), and with Martian elemental effects instead of fires and earthquakes.
Well, so it goes on--but the infinity of plots in s-f is truly infinite. Good hunting, you writers - and here's to hoping you hit on accidental angles that will further the great cause.
Using Editor Campbell's words from the Editorial of the Feb ASTOUNDING, quote :-- "Inwardly, the first issue of UNKNOWN will contain a fifty-thousand-word novel by Eric Frank Russell, plus another fourty-thousand words of shorter stories, I can unhesitatingly say that this novel "Sinister Barrier" is the best piece of fantasy writing that has been done in the past ten years. It will be a classic referred to for another decade to come. To fantasy, I think it represents such an epoch-making story as did E.E.Smith's Skylark story. It was the arrival of that story here in my office that finally started in motion the already-laid plans for UNKNOWN.." We feel that there is nothing further to say on such a magnificent enterprise.
SCIENCE FICTION Hard on the heels of DYNAMIC (British publication commencing with 2nd issue dated April, by the way), comes yet another new mag.SCIENCE FICTION 15 cents bi-monthly, initial issue dated March. Editor Charles D. Hornig, once of the Garnsback regime. Sponsors are "Blue Ribbon" magazines, Inc.
Magazine has a disappointing exterior (or shall we say -'different'?)--belied by contents, which, tho not superb are consistently good yarns throughout, flavouring of the old WONDER days .
Guest Edited by Gernsback. 9 complete stories and 1 Science Article. Cover and 5 interiors by Paul, 3 interiors by Jack Binder--all quite good.
In our estimation there is only one, present-day living author who could have written OUTLAW OF SATURN, and his name isn't 'John Cotton' (which is the name of a tobacco, if you don't know). Issue smacks highly of pseudonyms, several of whom we know, but are not at liberty to divulge.
REMARKS Mag shows signs of a promising future, although it is too early yet to judge. Here's wishing Charles D. plenty of success.
There are now, I believe, eight science-fiction mags on the market. This is both remarkable and deplorable, for the standard of stf has degenerated very much in proportion to the increase in the number of issues. The addition of four to the original three mags (TALES OF WONDER excluded), could only mean that a larger, and consequently more available field would be opened to the hack writer.
This, unfortunately, has become only too true. We had our Binder and Schachner--now we have our Kuttner and Kummer. Stf has declined all round. There are even signs of a fatty degeneration in the humour policy of ASTOUNDING - "laugh and the world laughs with you..." says an old adage - but it apparently never occurs to the editors of ASTOUNDING that the stf world might laugh at them--in time. Perhaps I'm wrong, but it doesn't seem to be a very remote possibility.
With seven US mags competing for their services the authors are being encouraged to turn out inferior work. The situation is typified by a recent example. A newcomer to the field, Frederic Kummer, had at least two concoctions of tripe published in mediocre mags, yet, at the same time had a perfect gem of a story, "The Forgiveness of "Tonchu Taon," published by ASTOUNDING, which thank Heaven, is still indendent enough to demand a certain high standard from its contributors. Kuttner's is a parallel case, and once upon a time we used to get good stories from Binder.
Even old established favourites are losing their heads, and their grip. Jack Williamson, for example. (Ed: you had not read his "After World s End" at this period. Changed your mind yet?) The only old-timer who has met with anything amounting to considrable success is Clifford Simak. His success in the stf field is strange when one considers that he is not only a good writer, but his yarns are sexless. This of course, is entirely contrary, at least to editorial policy. Science-fiction, in short, is at a very low ebb.
There are eight magazines. As a matter of value for money, they might all be doubted. I'm not a habitual buyer of PENGUIN BOOKS, but you will most likely agree that two of them are worth almost any stf issue any day. But that's just a case in point. As scientifictional value, four stf mags definitely do not make the grade. They are AMAZING, THRILLING WONDER, FANTASY and DYNAMIC. I should say that I have not read FANTASY - but I've heard enough about it!
The remaining four: ASTOUNDING, STARTLING, and TALES OF WONDER, in my opinion, contain the bulk of good stf. ASTOUNDING is supreme; MARVEL I think, shows great promise; so does TOW (especially Will (Cheshire) Temple). STARTLING is doubtful. I do not expect it to live up to its initial issue; one has only to look to the forecast to find Binder's name prominent---but, still it might improve!