Written by Fred Patten, and published on the LASFS Rex Rotary, March 16, 1966. Intended for Apa L, Seventy-Fourth Distribution, LASFS Meeting no. 1492, March 17, 1966. Address: 1825 Greenfield Avenue, Los Angeles, California, 90025. Phone: GRanite 3-6321.
|San Diego in 1966!||Thomas Schlück for TAFF!||Salamander Press #161.|
PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY, March 7, 1966.
Forecast of Paperbacks, by Barbara A. Bannon
THE DAGGER AFFAIR. David McDaniel. Ace Books Original (The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Series) $.50
The situation is really desperate when the men from U.N.C.L.E. are forced to collaborate with their deadly enemies in Thrush. In this caper, the two outfits team up to eliminate the Dagger Syndicate, which is headed by a psychotic scientist who has invented an Energy Damper. Dagger has developed the machine to the point where it can stop cars and black out buildings and is rushing to complete the giant model that can wipe out the human race. The job of smashing the machine takes Illya Kuryakin and Napoleon Solo from New York to Los Angeles, Boulder Dam and San Francisco. Our heroes are in action constantly and they outwit their enemies with an assortment of gasses, poisons and electronic gadgets that makes James Bond's bag of tricks look like a Woolworth assortment. Unlike Bond, the fellows are kept so busy they don't even have time for much sex. Smoothly told and entertaining throughout.
Congratulations, Ted; that's the best anybody's ever had to say about any of the U.N.C.L.E. books yet. And from an independent reviewer, at that; an Ace publicity release couldn't have praised it any more highly. (Well, it could've, of course, but not without being obviously biased, which this reviewer wasn't.) Keep it up, and I'm waiting for The Dagger Affair to be released in Los Angeles so I can read it. Incidentally, thanks for calling it "Boulder" Dam; I never did like the newer "Hoover" name.
|- o0o -||- o0o -||- o0o -|
The LASFS' 1500th Meeting is almost upon us; an event that would seem to be worth celebrating in some way or other. We could get up a special panel or Guest Speaker to talk about the club's glorious past, but since that's always done at every yearly Anniversary Meeting, I'd suggest something different. The date, May 12th, should be getting on into the sunny part of the year, and it's been a while since we had a club picnic. What about a Memorial Picnic & Excursion of some sort on the following Saturday or Sunday? Anybody have any other ideas?
Creath Thorne -- I don't think that Knight's purpose in compiling Beyond Tomorrow was as much to present a definitive anthology of the best short sf ever written as it was just to present an anthology of top s-f stories to serve as an introduction to s-f for juvenile readers. The stories are all excellent, true, but I would have words to say to anyone who tried asserting that these were the ten best short stories that science-fiction has ever produced. The introductory anthology, it may well be; I grew up with the Healy-McComas Adventures in Time and Space and the early Conklin anthologies, which are still good, but are rapidly becoming more and more dated both in scientific content and literary style. (There were so many stories that predicted our first manned landing on the Moon in the late 1950's or early '60's...) But it's not definitive; others could be assembled of just as high quality -- which seems to me to be a good idea for a quiz: if you were editing an anthology of ten science-fiction short stories for the purpose of introducing s-f to the literate-but-non-stf-reading juvenile, which ten stories would you pick as best suited for this purpose? Hmm, let's see... Shiras' "In Hiding", Heinlein's "The Green Hills of Earth", Bradbury's "The Veldt", Kuttner's "The Proud Robot", Asimov's "Nightfall", Sturgeon's "Killdozer" (the original version), van Vogt's "Far Centaurus", Leinster's "First Contact", Piper's "Time and Again", and Vance's "The Gift of Gab". All are excellent stories, by the best authors in the field (so if the juvenile likes any story enough to look up other s-f by the same author, he's not likely to be disappointed). They contain a number of basic plots (Homo Superior, time travel, space travel, contact with aliens, etc.), and a number of basic moods (straight narration, humor, suspense, scientific puzzle, sentiment, moral object-lesson, etc.). I've tried to avoid any I think would get too technical or involved for beginning readers, such as van Vogt's "The Search", or much of the current sociological s-f such as Pohl's "The Midas Plague"; or any on too far-out themes, which is why there's no sword-&-sorcery included. And I've got three with juvenile protagonists, for better reader-identification, to get the casual juvenile browser into the book. For the purpose of demonstrating that the selection in Beyond Tomorrow isn't definitive, I've avoided all but one of Knight's choices, though actually just about any of them could be substituted for anything on my list. (Wilhelm's "The Mile-Long Spaceship" is the only one I would rule out altogether, and I do think my choices for stories by Heinlein and van Vogt are better than "Coventry" and "The Seesaw", respectively.) Asimov's "Nightfall" may or may not have trite characterization; in a story of such short length, concentrated as it was in developing a mood of unknown and impending doom, it would have been hard to concentrate on characterization as well; I think that Asimov was wise in not letting his characters compete with the situation for the center of attention in the story. As it is, "Nightfall" is a superb mood piece, and that's why I'd choose it over any of his other stories -- I think "Reason" would be my second choice for an Asimov story, although there's already one example of the robot/deductive problem story on my list. These are the ten best stories I can think of, which I suppose means that I consider it a definitive list for the above-stated purpose; however I'm sure you'll disagree with me at least in some part. Let's see the ten titles on your list.
Bill Glass -- Your (or rather, Richard Paulsson's, whoever he is) review of The Watch Below is quite good; I'm looking forward to reading the rest of it. In my opinion, White made a mistake in making the book a story of parallel survival; the starship civilization plot is quite mediocre at best, and is obviously intended only as a deus ex machina to rescue the real protagonists at the last moment. (The survivors on the Gulf Trader have been fighting their gradually-losing battle against the sea for 150 years; at long last, the bulkhead gives way, and just as the last five survivors huddle in the final compartment, the water rising about them, the aliens land to save the day. That's too much coincidence for me.) If White had left the aliens out and concentrated solely on the survivors on the freighter, having them rescue themselves through their own efforts, it would've been a much better story. Unfortunately, the whole situation, as fascinating as it is, is just too far-fetched to become really believable; White has to resort to too many coincidences and providential strokes of Fate to keep up the suspension of disbelief. The survivors are going to have a non-oxygen-consuming source of light for the next 150 years, so the ship just happens to be carrying millions of lightbulbs, and a pedal-powered generator with which to light 'em. Would the generator really have been able to produce enough power to produce so much light that they could grow plants by it? Would the generator have lasted 150 years? If, as Al Lewis pointed out, they needed fresh air so badly (before the plants they were growing started producing enough oxygen for all through photosynthesis & the oxygen/carbon dioxide cycle, another big supposition to swallow), why didn't they use their generator to hydrolyze the sea water, which could've given them both the oxygen they needed and hydrogen to blow clear those extra compartments they wasted their acetylene gas on; not to mention that the hydrogen, which has lifting power, could just conceivably been what they needed to raise the ship? (And White has more far-fetched coincidences than that in the book.) All in all, the story is well worth reading, but there are all too many places where you can point to something and say, "This wouldn't really work. This could've been worked out better. This coincidence is too much to accept. Why didn't he do thus and so here", and so on.
Andy Porter -- I'm sure you saw some old EC comics in the background of "Robot Monster"; where do you think they got their plot? ## Actually, the WesterCon invited Harlan to be Guest of Honor so he'd have to come up with a new speech, instead of the "Heinrich, anodder baby!" routine he uses every time he's Toastmaster.
Tom Digby -- You'll have to come up with your own "explanations" for our Apa L covers. Anytime they have specific titles, or illustrate scenes from specific stories, I list the name and source; but such are few & far between. Over half the covers used are rerun illustrations pulled out of Bruce's or Jack's wastebaskets, having already been used on other fanzines, and like as not the artist him/herself is surprised to see some of these old illustrations of his/hers turn up again. I've currently got 4 covers in stock (counting tonight's), 3 of which are new and 1 of which is a rerun; none have captions or illustrate anything in particular. If you can talk Jack into doing some original covers again, now...
Felice Rolfe -- Tell Steve Perrin that if he remembers what he forgot to say, he should put it through Apa L.
Fred Hollander -- If anybody would bring the sign-up sheet into the back room, I might sign it sometime. I generally manage to get it about once a month, at which time I go back and sign in on all the back sheets I've missed. ## Considering that a stack of apa L zines that runs out at less than 50 copies might be due to sloppy collating rather than a short run, I don't see what I can do about it. I know there've been zines that I've gotten from out-of-towners that I've counted to make sure had all 50 copies, that ran out at 46 or 47 in the collating. Somebody a couple of weeks ago showed me his Dist'n, which had three copies of APTERYX in it. Each collator swears that he's careful to only take one copy of each zine, and I can't take the time to check through each copy of the Dist'n to make sure they're all right. Posting a monitor in the collating room to check on the collators as they work hasn't been successful, even when the monitor doesn't lose interest and wander away about three minutes after I post him, which is usually what happens.
Jack Harness -- A very funny page; too bad you didn't have enough time to do a really polished job on it. It might've ended up in The Best from Apa L.
Fred Whitledge -- For your list of titles, publisher, and date of first publication (which is all there is on most s-f hardcovers, especially those from the specialty houses), the Library of Congress catalog is about the best you can get. The downtown headquarters of the LAPL has a copy available to the public. Sky Miller's column in ASF is also pretty definitive for the last dozen years, of course. You're gonna have a heck of a time deciding current market value, though.