Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Galaxy volume two

Frederik Pohl, Martin H. Greenberg & Joseph D. Olander (editors)
Galaxy volume two (1980)

I have a vague impression of Galaxy as having been one of the better magazines in the same way that Fantasy & Science Fiction seems to be one of the better magazines for short science-fiction which may or may not involve robots, spaceships, aliens, and the like. I suspect this impression mainly comes from my having noticed how many of Philip K. Dick's short stories first appeared in Galaxy; although rummaging around on Wikipedia, it seems the magazine probably deserved its reputation for having broken new ground, and for maintaining a certain standard.

This collection - presumably along with the first volume, of which I don't have a copy - seems to represent a sort of post-mortem, a greatest hits set published in the year of cancellation. Either the anthology is nothing like so good as it should be, or I'm approaching science-fiction saturation point. It's not a bad collection, and maybe the first volume is amazing, but given the names invoked on the cover, it should surely be a lot more fun than it is.

Dick's Oh, To Be a Blobel! is obviously wonderful, but is unfortunately of such quality as to make the stories which follow seem for the most part cranky, fussy, poorly conceived, and written by people who don't get out much. Ursula K. Le Guin's The Day Before the Revolution is still at least as great as it seemed last time I read it; and Harlan Ellison's Cold Friend is pretty damn sparky; and I've never read any John Varley, but after Overdrawn at the Memory Bank I shall be keeping an eye open for more; but as for the rest, I'm sat here looking at the contents page. I read the lot and yet I can't remember a single thing about any one of them. Actually, that's not strictly true. I recall that Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth's collaborative The Gift of Garigolli felt like being stuck in an elevator with Groucho Marx and made no sense whatsoever, so I stopped reading it. Maybe these stories just seemed better at the time, back when they still had the shock of the relatively new on their side. Maybe I need to come back to this one in a more receptive frame of mind.

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