Written by Fred Patten, and published on the LASFS Rex Rotary, August 3, 1966. Intended for Apa L, Ninty-Fourth Distribution, LASFS Meeting no. 1512, August 4, 1966. Address: 1825 Greenfield Avenue, Los Angeles, California, 90025. Phone: GRanite 3-6321.
|Cleveland in 1966!||Los Angeles in 1967!||Salamander Press #193.|
World of Ptavvs, by Larry Niven, Ballantine #U2328, 188 p., 50¢.
If the s-f field should ever, as some fans are fond of imagining, take over the mundane world, and the pro authors suddenly found themselves in the places of our present public officials, Larry Niven would doubtlessly be one of the more notable rising young politicians of the day, with the rousing campaign slogan of, "He put the Science back into Science-Fiction!" At a time when most of the newer practitioners of the s-f field, and many of the older ones, are turning more and more to the sociological aspects of future life, or merely to plain action thinly served up in otherworldly dress, Larry is giving us back s-f with some science in it. By "science", I don't necessarily mean a new kind of humming machine -- though he's got those too; in this case, his use of the time-retarder field -- but rather the sort of situation in which science (which may, after all, just mean logical deduction) is used to answer a question proposed in the plot. Science, from the Doc Smith kind, to the Isaac Asimov kind. You don't see much of either any more, but World of Ptavvs has 'em both.
For those who like puzzles (Where is the Second Foundation?), there are puzzles galore here. Kzanol, a highly unpleasant alien, member of a race that controls the galaxy, is forced to crash his disabled spaceship on a primitive, lifeless planet, expecting immediate rescue by his fellow beings. Instead, he is revived on Earth in 2106. What happened? Did he miss the planet he was aiming for (and if so, how?), or has he been in suspended animation on Earth long enough for life to develop? What happened to his own race? a civilization that spans the galaxy doesn't disappear overnight without leaving signs. Kzanol was forced to abandon most of his possessions on one of the outer planets upon entering this solar system; among them is a telepathic amplifier that would allow him -- or anyone who possesses it -- to gain control of the human race. Can Kzanol recover it first? Which of the several groups racing for its possession, if any, will locate it first? Can you guess, from the clues given, where it is? Will Larry Greenberg, one of the central characters, whose mind is temporarily? permanently? Controlled by Kzanol's mental pattern, be saved, or will he have to be sacrificed? Will Larry, whose thinking is now like Kzanol's, join with Kzanol or compete with him? Can any of the various opposing factions brought into contact by this situation work out any plan by which one side can trust the other, and, if so, what?
These are some of the questions posed in World of Ptavvs. They are all answered, and the answers are all logical. This book is recommended to anyone whose old-time sense of wonder needs a pickup.
Nightbirds On Nantucket, by Joan Aiken, Doubleday, 216 p., $3.25.
Those of you who have read Black Hearts In Battersea will recall that the plot to blow up Battersea Castle was foiled in its main purpose, and King James III is still secure on the throne of England. The Hanoverians haven't given up yet, though, and in this new book, the scene switches over to the other side of the Atlantic. The central character this time is Dido Twite, the young Cockney ragamuffin who appeared to have drowned in Black Hearts. (Miss Aiken is apparently making a practice of selecting her protagonists from among the supporting characters of the preceding novels in this series.) Recovering to find herself on the deck of an American whaler, Dido is thrown into a new nest of mystery as she agrees to befriend Capt. Casket's young daughter, Dutiful Penitence, and attempt to instill some spirit and life into the little girl, who had been too much under the influence of her too-proper mother. The task is made no easier by Dido's discovery of a mysterious stowaway on board, the obvious signs of mental incompetence in Capt. Casket himself, or the abandonment of both girls to the none-too-tender ministrations of Dutiful's Aunt Tribulation on Nantucket, as Capt. Casket disappears once again on his frantic search for the pink whale, Rosie Lee. As Dido fights to keep a spark of self-reliance burning in Dutiful under Auntie Trib's domineering household, strange men appear in the fog-shrouded forests of Nantucket, and it begins to appear that Dido has once again fallen into the midst of a Hanoverian plot against the Stuarts -- and that Auntie Tribulation (or is she Auntie Trib?) is mixed up in it herself! But what harm could a group of lonely plotters possibly do to the British throne all the way from the shores of America? If Dido does find out, can she and Dutiful convince anyone of the danger before the plotters discover them? And just where does the pink whale fit in all this? Readers of this series are warned once again that Miss Aiken's use of the alternate-universe theme leaves a bit to be desired (among other things, James III would hardly still be King of England in 1833 even if the Stuarts had won back the throne; he'd've been 145 years old by then), and her scientific knowledge isn't much greater. However, the plot is rollicking enough, and moves along at such a lively pace that a few flaws such as these, glaring as they are, are more than made up for. The book is liberally illustrated by Robin Jacques, who has done one of his best dust-jackets to date for it, and there are two end-paper maps showing the scenes of action.
The Lost Princess: A Double Tale, by George MacDonald, Dutton, 142 p.
Those who are interested in children's fantasy are quite familiar with the Rev. MacDonald, through such of his works as The Princess and the Goblin, and At the Back of the North Wind. Rev. MacDonald was a sort of 19th century C. S. Lewis; one of the first people to write stories for children's enjoyment, rather than to preach a moral tale to them. The moral tale is there, certainly, far thicker than the Christian sentiment in the Narnian Chronicles, in fact. But it does not really get in the way of the story, and the moralistic allegories are clever and intriguing enough to keep the level of the plot above the treacle of the sentiment. The Lost Princess is a lost story, rescued after some 50-odd years of oblivion, about how a Wise Woman (a good fairy) takes two utterly spoiled children in hand -- one a princess, one a shepherd girl -- and succeeds in reforming one of them. To me, though, the real wonder is that the book does succeed in being quite readable, despite sentences such as these:
"In strict accordance with the peculiar nature of this country of uncertainties, it came to pass one day that, in the midst of a shower of rain that might well be called golden, seeing the sun, shining as it fell, turned all its drops into molten topazes, and every drop was good for a grain of golden corn, or a yellow cowslip, or a buttercup, or a dandelion, at least -- while this splendid rain was falling, I say, with a musical patter upon the great leaves of the horse-chestnuts, which hung like Vandyke collars about the necks of the creamy, red-spotted blossoms, and on the leaves of the sycamores, looking as if they had blood in their veins, and on a multitude of flowers, of which some stood up boldly held out their cups to catch their share, while others cowered down laughing under the soft patting blows of the heavy warm drops -- while this lovely rain was washing all the air clean from the motes, and the bad odours and the poison seeds that had escaped from their prisons during the long drought, while it fell, splashing and sparkling, with a hum, and a rush and a soft clashing -- but stop: I am stealing, I find, and not that only but with clumsy hands spoiling what I steal:
O Rain, with your dull twofold sound,
The clash hard by, and the murmur all round;
--there! Take it, Mr. Coleridge; while, as I was saying, the lovely little rivers whose fountains are the clouds, and which cut their own channels through the air, and make sweet noises rubbing against their banks as they hurry down and down, until a t last they are pulled up on a sudden with a musical plash in the very heart of an odorous flower, that first gasps and then sighs up a blissful scent, or on the bald head of a stone that never says thank you -- while the very sheep felt it blessing them, though it could never reach their skins through the depth of their long wool, and the veriest hedgehog (I mean the one with the longest spikes) came and spiked himself out to impale as many of the drops as he could -- while the rain was thus falling, and the leaves, and the flowers, and the sheep, and the cattle, and the hedgehog, were all busily receiving the golden rain, something happened."
(But rather than getting involved in another sentence like that, let's get to:
Sally Crayne -- I'm sorry; I didn't mean to imply that every zine that appears at the back of the Dist'n is deliberately put there because it contains feud material. Yours just happened to go there because it came in after I'd already set up most of the rest of the Dist'n. Actually, I don't have time to read most of the zines before I get the Dist'n out; it's only if I happen to look at a zine by someone I know is one of the feuders, and I see that it contains feud material, that I'll deliberately move it to the back. Otherwise, the zines will go into the Dist'n more or less in the order in which they come to me -- and you and Chuck are often the last to arrive. Sorry about that.
Chuck Crayne -- Galactic Derelict, by Andre Norton, is not the story you want. It's only appeared in novel form, as a hardback from World in 1959, and as an Ace paperback a couple of years later. It's the second of her "Time Trader" novels, and has nothing to do with a criminal traveling to various worlds by matter-transmitter. I thought your story was by Robert Sheckley, but I can't find it in any of the paperback collections of his works, so I must've been wrong. I have a vague hunch it might be by Lester del Rey, then, but I'd better not check now, since I just spent an hour and a half rereading my favorite Sheckley stories, and I can't afford to get lost in del Rey now if I want to get this RR out.
Dave VanArnam -- Yarst. Just when your story starts to get interesting, it gets bounced. Is Ace your only market. What's wrong with Lancer, or Paperback Library? Heck, even Avalon, if it's still in business and is paying its authors -- so it'd be a hardback original.
John Ryan -- Welcome to Apa L -- though I imagine you were somewhat surprised to see yourself here. I don't suppose you'll be able to become a regular Apa L contributor -- it's a long way from New South Wales to California -- but if you don't mind Dan Alderson's running off extra copies of your K-a zine whenever you send it to him for publication, we'll be glad to see it here. Any chance you could send a few of the panels or episodes of "Gully Foyle" over here? With the equipment that various contributors to Apa L have access to, I'm sure we could get a photocopy of the art, so we can all see it in its original detail. (Most of us don't get THE COMIC READER.) ## I've always pronounced Shazam as SHAZam. ERB-dom is "URBdom". Lupoff.