Friday, September 17, 2010

Forgotten Books: THE BEST FROM FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION SIXTH SERIES -- Edited by Anthony Boucher

I've admitted several times that when I was a kid in the '50s, I really loved the low-end SF digests (Imagination, Imaginative Tales, Amazing Stories, Fantastic, etc.). But my real favorite, the place where I read the stories that really touched me most, was The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. I liked everything about that digest, the stories, the book reviews, even the poetry. I bought five or six volumes of "Best Of" collections from the SF Book Club, and I still have them. That group includes this one, but when I ran across the paperback the other day, I couldn't resist picking it up. The cover, after all, was worth the price.

When I got home, I looked at the ToC, and then I couldn't resist rereading some of the stories, most of which I hadn't looked at in more than 50 years. (The stories in this collection were published in 1957). I was surprised at how well I remembered some of them. I was a big fan of Mad Magazine back in those days, so maybe that's why I remembered Poul Anderson's Conan parody "The Barbarian" so well. It's still funny, though maybe not as funny as it was in '57. Boucher's introduction is classic. Theordore Sturgeon's "And Now the News . . . " is still killer stuff with a knockout last line, and it's as relevant today as ever. Considering cable news and talk radio, maybe it's even more relevant. Great story. Ray Bradbury's "Icarus Montgolfier Wright" isn't even a story. It's a prose poem, but I loved it when I was a kid, as I did nearly everything I read by Bradbury. And speaking of poems, there are several included. The one I remember is Bird Ferguson's "The Interview." I tried writing a few poems like that, myself, at the time. And Randall Garrett's four-liner is still funny. Anderson has two stories in the volume. "The Man Who Came Early" is the cover story, and I liked it as much as ever.

6 comments:

  1. Why was it I never even saw any of these magazines growing up. All Jack and Jill for me. That cover is a hoot.

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  2. I read (and own) this book, too! Yes, you have to love that typical ACE cover! THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION and GALAXY were my favorite zines in those days.

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  3. Don't you just love that cover. NOw THAT is imagination. A guy dressed as a GI with an axe facing off against a viking with a sword and horned helmet on the moon no less, with a rocket taking off in the background. That's just cool.

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  4. Scott Cupp9:02 AM

    I have a n4ear complete run of F&SF from the beginning until the mid 90's (missing one issue) and it was a great magazine. just opening at random, you find true gems in nearly every issue.

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  5. I've often said the reason I write today is because my father used to leave 'zines like this one all over his bedroom for me to find. I mean, come on --- what 8 year old boy wouldn't see a cover like this and NOT want to open the book up to find out what it all means??

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  6. Well, Patti, JACK AND JILL isn't exactly aimed at the same audience as F&SF, or EQMM, even if I think I might've been primed for F&SF and EQMM by CHILDREN'S DIGEST...and, Bill, you really should make a distinction between the Paul Fairman FANTASTIC and AMAZING and the Cele Goldsmith FANTASTIC and AMAZING a few years later, where the quality of the fiction was comparable to that of F&SF (and considerably better than much of what GALAXY, to say nothing of the newly retitled ANALOG, were publishing). For that matter, even the weaker stuff in IMAGINATION wasn't the worst stuff being published in the field in the latter '50s, given the presence of SUPER-SCIENCE FICTION magazine (most of the other embarassments were dead...or Paul Fairman's magazines...).

    Scott--you almost sound like F&SF is dead...or merely dead to you?

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