Jim Baen’s Destinies January – February 1979 is the second issue of Destinies, a bookazine (defined later) published by Ace in the before times.
The first issue of Destinies was November-December of 1978. Ace decided that rather than having a one-issue volume one (periodical volumes usually cover a calendar year) they would redefine this calendar year. Destinies volume one covers issues from November-December 1978 to October-December 1979. Bold move there! So this issue is volume one, number two.
Destinieswas both an anthology series and a magazine, an innovative bookazineformat that ultimately failed to catch on. Baen would retest the format with Far Frontiers (which lasted seven issues) and New Destinies (which lasted ten issues if you count the final, unpublished volume, or nine if you do not).
The cover is by Michael Whelan, well on his way to become an SF cover art powerhouse. Interior art is by Steve Fabian (a Baen favourite dating from Baen’s Galaxy days), David Egge, E. T. Steadman, Don Brautigom, and Grant Canfield. Ads are mainly for other books from Destinies publisher Ace, the primary exception being an ad for the Science Fiction Book Club … an ad offering inexpensive hardcovers of Retief at Large, Exiles to Glory, Sight of Proteus, and Skyfall, all of which were available in MMPBs published by Ace.
It’s likely that any given paperback from 1979 would be out of print. It is an even better bet that any given periodical from 1979 would out of print. Destinies January – February 1979 is both paperback and periodical and is thus super out of print. Disco-era print runs being what they were, copies should be easy to find.
Now for the stories.
The Ways of Love • [David Ryerson] • novelette by Poul Anderson
Ten years after the events of The Enemy Stars, Arvel dispatches envoys to Earth. First contact has strained Earth’s Protectorate, with potentially lethal consequences for the pair-bonded aliens. The ensuing crisis underlines how emotionally crippled humans are.
As one might expect from late Disco-era Anderson, the idealized aliens include among their positive aspects a total lack of anything resembling government, bureaucracy, and journalism, while the best the humans can imagine for themselves is a continuation of the manifest corrupt, autocratic Protectorate. Why? All other alternatives are worse1.
Good-By to All That • essay by Frederik Pohl
Pohl says goodbye to his editing career of thirty-nine years, in the process painting an image of how SF editing in particular and publishing in general work.
One thing is clear: the average SF author of 1979 was much, much better off than they would have been in 1939.
“Good-By Forever to Mr. Pain” • short story by Robert Sheckley
An unexpected prize offers Joseph Elroy and his family paradise. Elroy’s household improvements include sending his infant off to be made docile and discarding his wife entirely when it becomes clear she cannot be upgraded. Neither development addresses the core barrier to contentment Elroy faces, which is Elroy himself.
This story is simultaneously extremely Sheckley and extremely 1970s.
“Domino Domine” • short story by Dean Ing
Overcoming doubt, a Pontifex serves his god with unflinching loyalty. This is a service for which the Pontifex and his people are repaid very, very badly.
Comes the Revolution, Comrades • [New Beginnings] • essay by J. E. Pournelle, Ph.D.
An astounding fusion breakthrough provides the seed of a discussion of fusion power, of which JEP approves, and US research and government policies, of which JEP strongly disapproves. Maybe there will have fusion powerplants by 1988! But as JEP admits, probably not, or at least not in the USA.
Pournelle’s repeated use of the term “comrade” sound like commie talk. JEP himself admitted to being at least a formercard-carrying Communist. We will never know to what extent he was a paid agent of Moscow, sowing discord in the Soviet Union’s primary enemy.
“The Speckled Gantry” • short story by Joseph Green and Patrice Milton
An old coot spends his declining days tending the rusting relics of long-fallen America’s vanished space age. Hunter gatherer youths mock him for caring about the technology of a lost age.
There are a million variations of this out there.
Why Go into Space? • essay by G. Harry Stine
Stine provides twenty-five reasons to go into space, some plausible, others that even Stine presents as dubious.
“To Be or Not” • (1978) • short story by Ben Bova
Faced with a profound shortage of creative writers, two producers clone Shakespeare. Painfully aware mere genetics won’t be enough, they carefully recreate Shakespeare’s environment. Their quest to create Shakespeare 2.0 succeeds! All too well….
Spider vs. the Hax of Sol III • essay by Spider Robinson
Following a heartfelt pitch to vote for the Hugo Awards, Robinson reviews Still I Persist in Wondering by Edgar Pangborn, Inherit the Stars by James P. Hogan, SF & Fantasy Pseudonyms by Barry McGhan, The Third Industrial Revolution by G. Harry Stine. Casey Agonistes by Richard McKenna, Colonyby Ben Bova, Godsfire by Cynthia Felice, and The Lost Travellerby Steve Wilson, taking time to draw readers’ attention to the change to nominate Wilson and Felice for the Campbell award (later renamed as the Astounding award). Just how persuasive teen me found his reviews is indicated by the fact that for me to have reviewed as many of the above as I have, I had to have first read them. In fact, the only one of the books reviewed above that I have not read is the McGhan.
“Second Chance” • [Tales of Capitol] • short story by Orson Scott Card
Abner Doon, Genius! discovers that even his brilliant application of high technology cannot prevent his saintly love from being miserable.
“Cultural Conflict” • [Hammer’s Slammers] • short story by David Drake
Confident that superior firepower confers invulnerability, mercenaries provoke natives, whereupon the mercenaries relearn the adage “quantity has a quality all its own.”
The Galactic Drift • essay by Spider Robinson [as by B. D. Wyatt]
This is a rambling gossip column about the state of the SF industry in the late 1970s.
I had no idea Wyatt was Robinson. As far as I can tell, he used the penname just four times: twice for obscure short stories, once for this essay, and once for 1992’s Spider Robinson: Toastmaster,in The MagiCon Program/Souvenir Book.
“Time Guide” • short story by Gregory Benford
A guide to blending into various American milieus.
Only slightly more dated than that hippy lexicon in There Will Be Time.
Science and Science Fiction, Part Two: The Hardness of Hard Science Fiction • essay by Poul Anderson
This briefly discusses some issues with hard SF, finishing with an example of worldbuilding from Anderson’s own The People of the Wind (which as Anderson points out, isn’t entirely faithful to hard science as it has both FTL and gravity control).
“The Schumann Computer” • [Draco Tavern] • short story by Larry Niven
In which the odd absence of super intelligent computers in the Draco Tavern setting is addressed.
Malthusian Crisis and Methuselah’s Children • essay by Robert W. Prehoda
An excerpt from Prehoda’s then upcoming Your Next Fifty Years, detailing (among other developments) the doleful and utterly inevitable mid-1990s Malthusian crisis that would threaten billions (although few from the readers’ nations2) with starvation and all humanity with thermonuclear destruction. The 1994 brush with Atomic Doomis averted in part thanks to the efforts of the Shah of Iran.
1: Winston Churchill once said that: “democracy is the worst form of government – except for all the others that have been tried.”
2: The extent to which Baen intended Destiniesto be read by the foreign scum outside the US of A’s borders may be indicated by the Summer 1980 excerpts of Heinlein’s Expanded Universe, which was not intended to be defiled by non-American eyes.