Visions of Paradise

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Analog, circa 1970-75

In the early 1970s, after Galaxy had been sold to Universal Publishing, the quality of its fiction began to deteriorate slowly but steadily. In an attempt to regenerate some of the sense-of-wonder missing from its pages, I sought out other sf prozines to read. I started buying Analog which was surely the most professional-appearing zine, and its covers seemed more sfnal than any other prozine available.

For some reason though, I never really connected with Analog. Yes, its stories were often the type of far-future stuff I enjoyed, but much of it was too technological and based on scientific content for my taste. I stuck with the magazine for about a decade, because there was always a few good stories in each issue, especially when Ben Bova was the editor. I recall such serials as Robert Silverberg’s Shadrach in the Furnace, and George R.R. Martin’s After the Festival (which became Dying of the Light in book form), and Roger Zelazny’s novella “Home is the Hangman.” But–and here’s the problem–I do not recall much else from that entire decade of reading Analog.

This past year some of my readers know that my reading taste has changed slightly. For decades I shied away from reading anything resembling adventure sf and only read the more-literary sf. This past year though I have been enjoying both ends of the sf spectrum, including some of the “New Space Opera” being published. I have been reminded of how some sf writers do a good job of blending adventure with sense of wonder, solid storytelling, and even thoughtfulness, so that at times an adventure story is actually a good framework for a more satisfying reading experience.

Recently I was browsing through the overflow part of my sf collection, which is the stuff sitting in boxes in the basement. That includes my 35-year collection of Locus, my 40-year collection of Gradient / Visions of Paradise, and all those issues of Analog. Our basement has a dehumidifier, so they have all stayed in excellent condition, but they are the most unread portion of my collection. So after browsing I took a handful of issues of Analog and read them during the winter months when I am so busy with schoolwork that I have little time to read the type of “serious” fiction which I prefer. Gordon R. Dickson’s serial Wolfing was light, but pleasant. So was James H. Schmitz’ serial The Lion Game. Next I went upstairs to my 1960s collection of Worlds of IF and read A. Bertram Chandler’s Edge of Night, which was much better than I recalled his fiction being. I am currently reading James H. Schmitz’ Analog serial The Tuvela, which is the best of the entire group. And there are some Poul Anderson novelettes waiting to be read in those issues of Analog.

I realized recently that my main bookshelves contain several items that I am unlikely to ever read again, including non-sf magazines Chinese Literature and Granta, as well as several fanzines which I only kept because they contain columns written by me. I am thinking about moving those items into boxes in the basement and bringing the issues of Analog upstairs, and then going back to read some of them again. Who knows what wonders are hidden in their pages that I did not realize the first time around?


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