edited by Judy-Lynn del Rey
Del Rey (January 1981)
186 pages ($2.75)
Whoa! Big bounce in price there between S5 and S6. Wonder what drove it.
Another thing to note is there is one price, the [Canadian] dollar and US dollar having roughly the same value (The Canadian was actually worth more than the US in the 1970s for a bit. Bad for exports).
[written before BushCo trashed the US dollar, which caused a lot of heartache up here for export-oriented companies]
The cover is a competent bit of art illustrating the poem by the artist, Robert Zend.
“5980 AD” (Robert Zend)
Trite poem comparing the universe to a chess game.
“Till Death Do Us Part” (James P. Hogan)
A husband and wife take advantage of new body-swapping technology to have affairs, only to discover that they have been having the affair with each other. Unfortunately for them, they discover this after their mutual pact to [murder] their respective spouses has gone into effect. Oh, the embarrassment.
Too long for the payoff but inoffensive.
[Added in 2020] I discovered later there was in the 1950s a small but thriving genre about the impact of robot duplicates on unhappy marriages.
“…All Ye Who Enter Here” (Jack Williamson)
Humans make their way through the Jovian moon system in order to study the Red Spot, which
as it turns out contains intelligence(s?). One human is killed by another in a misunderstanding but it all works out in the end.
Eh. I like Williamson’s old material, taken for what it is, but his modern solo work never really works for me.
[Yes, I used the word modern to refer to a story that was 20 years old when this review was originally written]
“A Gift of Space” (Margaret C. Hewitt)
A doctor fakes a medical exam so that a boy who really really wants to go into space can go, even though he has a medical condition which could well kill him as a result of going into space (But only if he returns to Earth or other high [gravity] environment after living in free fall). He has a good career but comes back to Earth when the doctor’s fraud is discovered.
Kind of dumb. As they point out, the spaceman could have testified from orbit and anyway, it’s not like what the doctor did is unclear.
“The Cerebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras III” (Martha Dodson and Robert Forward)
The story of an attempt to give a world an indigenous intelligent species as a build up to a not [especially] good joke.
MEGO. I know people who tell jokes as well as this. I call them soul-sucks.
Cinderella Switch (Anne McCaffrey)
Skiffy retelling of the Cinderella story.
I have seen reworkings of fairy tales which worked (I really like Tanith Lee’s Red As Blood, for example) but I don’t see the point of this particular retelling.
“Byte Your Tongue!” (Clifford D. Simak)
A plucky computer in charge of evaluating politicians’ suitability for office is tempted by an offer to make him the ship’s computer on a non-existent star ship. He is caught by the efficient Internal Security and punished by being exiled to Texas. Eventually there is a starship, although he is not part of it and he takes some comfort from that.
On one hand, there are funny bits (The computer’s idea of what rural life is like) but on the other, this is a Brinian “open society” dystopia where everyone is being watched by someone. Feels happier than it actually is.
Boy, that’s a stupid title.
“Grandfather Clause” (L. Neil Smith)
Another tale of the obnoxious time traveler, this time as he discovers his offhanded treatment of one of his relatives leads to a murder attempt.
I was cheering for the would-be killer.
“The Slow-Death Corridor” (Mark J. McGarry)
A fellow works in a facility where near-dead corpses are used for making medical supplies. He moons over another technician and eventually engineers his own firing.
Yay. Another glum 1970s SF story. Woo hoo.
Not my thing.
[Not really sure what “near-dead corpses” means]
A bit of a disappointment, although I did like the Simak.