Nothing Without a Woman or a Girl
Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, June 1977
By Ben Bova
I have excoriated Ben Bova’s fiction in the past, but I have nothing but admiration for his work as editor for Analog. While Disco-Era Analog might seem a bit stodgy to modern eyes, at the time Bova was a breath of fresh air. Rather than settle for being a second-rate Campbell, he did his best to be a first-rate Bova. He recruited new authors, many of whom differed (excitingly) from Analog’s Old Guard. He also bought more stories by women than did his predecessor1. While some old guard objected to Bova’s direction, enough readers enjoyed it to give him a remarkable six Best Editor Hugo Awards, as well as one nomination for the same category.
It seems unlikely Campbell would have had a Special Women’s Issue. Bova did: Analog, June 1977.
“Tunnel Visionaries” • essay by Teri Rapoport
Rapoport conveys her profound frustration with space colony advocates who steadfastly refuse to consider human factors like governance. When the would-be architects of space habitats do deign to take note of such issues, they prefer shiny tech-based solutions and do not consider whether such solutions would work as intended.
This is James’ Complete Lack of Surprise. I noticed something similar in a Co-Evolution Quarterly colloquium on space colonies: any issue not involving rivets was assumed to be trivial to solve.
I was a bit surprised that she had to deal with Dean Drive fans. I don’t know why, given that the same guy who wrote The Third Industrial Revolution also wrote articles about the Dean Drive.
Eyes of Amber • novelette by Joan D. Vinge
The discovery of an intelligent race on Titan provided a much-needed a revenue stream for a cash-strapped space program on Earth. Political intrigue on Titan presents the humans on Earth with a moral decision: even if it’s what the public wants, should they sell images of Titanians murdering each other?
As previously established, I am a Joan D. Vinge fan. Set on a very pre-space probe Titan, this story is proof that no matter how awesome fictional characters’ space programs may seem to us, the characters will always be dissatisfied with them.
“And Then There Were Nine…” • essay by Trudy E. Bell
Bell discusses Michael Ovenden and Tom Van Flandern’s proposal that certain peculiarities in Solar System dynamics were due to a Saturn-sized planet between Mars and Jupiter that subsequently exploded.
Well, it’s not really Astounding/Analog without a certain level of
wing-nuttery non-consensus science.
I don’t immediately see a mechanism by which a Saturn-sized planet could explode. Planets are harder to blow up than crappy space-opera movies suggest. Disrupting the Earth, for example, would take about a week’s worth of the Sun’s entire output.
The author speculates that asymmetric crusts on many worlds (including Earth) are due to the fifth world going kerblooey. This suggests unfamiliarity with continental drift. Surely that theory was well established by this time?
The Screwfly Solution • novelette by James Tiptree, Jr. [as by Raccoona Sheldon]
Why is a homicidal loathing of women sweeping the world?
Tiptree is never a comfort read but reading this just now, weeks after a so-called incel went on a rampage in Toronto, is particularly disquieting.
Analog: A Calendar of Upcoming Events • essay by Anthony R. Lewis
What it says on the tin.
Biolog: Trudy E. Bell • essay by Jay Kay Klein
A short biography of Bell.
“The Ax” • short fiction by Jayge Carr
A murder trial turns on the Grandfather’s Ax paradox: is a person transformed by medical procedures still the same person? Are they a person at all?
I don’t in a million years buy the logic behind the “not a person” case but really, it’s an American court so the true question is who has more money: defence or prosecution?
“In Times to Come” • essay by uncredited
A listing of fandom conventions, none of which particularly stand out.
“Salamander” • short story by Leigh Kennedy
Humanity’s first community on the Moon discovers the hard way that one cannot simply ignore the human factors in space.
Hey! Meta! I wonder if this was commissioned to go with the editorial.
“Lord of All It Surveys” • short story by Alison Tellure
A gigantic intelligent being spawns copies of itself to explore its vast world, only to discover even a vast world has its limits.
Tellure’s body of work appears to be small. ISFDB lists only five pieces by her and provides no biographic details. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction does not mention her at all. This odd story and its sequel have stuck with me for decades and I wish there was more of her material to hunt down.
“After the Festival” (Part 3 of 4) • serial by George R. R. Martin (book publication as Dying of the Light)
One instalment of a novel later published as Dying of the Light. It is reviewed here.
“The Reference Library” • essay by Sonya Dorman
Guest book reviewer Dorman (who by this time had left writing prose to focus on poetry) reviews John Crowley’s Beasts, George Zebrowski’s anthology Tomorrow Today, and Barry N. Malzberg’s Down Here in the Dream Quarters.
I have read none of them. Pity Dorman didn’t select three books by women to go with the issue’s theme. Ah, well. I don’t know that she was given a choice.
Letters of comment from Robert Levin (promoting Loglan as the logical language of tomorrow!), Chauncey Uphoff (alerting Analog to the possibility that the first English language discussion of solar sails may have been an essay in Astounding, as Analog was called in the old days), Joseph T. Major (lamenting the lack of plausible funding sources, private or public, for space development), Timothy Stocks (raking another letter writer over the coals for using thinly veiled racist humour), Thomas P. Carey (Proxmire rant) and Janet S. Haffley (free will versus heredity).
Bit of a shame they didn’t focus on letters from women, but Analog may not have received all that many letters from women in any given month.
Uphoff may have been inspired to write when he did by the science piece in the previous issue.
I assume that is the Joseph T. Major, of Heinlein’s Children: The Juveniles and other works.
Also included: interior artwork by John Schoenherr, interior artwork by Michael Gilbert, interior artwork by Janet Aulisio, interior artwork by George Schelling, interior artwork by Rick Sternbach, and interior artwork by Vincent Di Fate.
What is Janet Aulisio up to these days? I don’t see anything from her more recent than 2003, but the ISFDB does not list a death date, which makes me hopeful that she’s still alive.
Including cover and interior art, and counting the book review as a single essay, there are twenty-seven pieces in this issue, of which fourteen are by men. It seems to me perhaps this is just a bit short of the goal for which a Woman’s Issue should aim.
Eyes of Amber won the Hugo. The Screwfly Solution won a Nebula. Two major awards for stories from one issue is remarkable. Other stories, such as the Tellure, may not have won accolades but were memorable enough for me to remember as soon as I laid eye on them. All things considered, this was a pretty awesome read to be my third ever issue of Analog. It’s no surprise that Bova was nominated for a Hugo on the basis of his 1977 work.
Analog, June 1977 came out forty-one years ago and is almost certainly no longer available from your local news agent (were you still to have one).
1: Granted “more women’s stories than John W. Campbell, Jr. would have bought” is still only 17% of the total.