Songs That May No Longer Please Us

Destinies, November–December 1978 — Jim Baen

Destinies 1

Destinies, November–December 1978 was the debut issue of Jim Baen’s bookazine Destinies. Destinies ran from late 1978 to summer of 1981. There were eleven issues, each the size of a mass market paperback; there was a Best-of anthology as well1. Back in the day, I was an avid magazine reader and this was one of my favourite magazines.

Odd that until I reread this volume I did not remember it at all.



Introduction (back cover and interior)

This is not listed in the table of contents. I presume it’s by Jim Baen. It expands somewhat on the table of contents. Skippable.

“Stand Pat, Ruby Stone” • short story by Roger Zelazny

True love prevails, despite the presence of a snoopy terrestrial trader.

“Old Woman by the Road” • short story by Gregory Benford

Space colonization succeeds beyond our wildest nightmares. Systems that were supposed to deliver cheap power to Earth are used as weapons to blackmail the Earth into giving the colonies their freedom. This probably seems wonderful to the colonists, but it’s not all the great from the perspective of the people in the region targeted for a demonstration attack.

 Comments

This may or may not be in the same continuity as Benford’s “Redeemer.” Both works use the term “Outskirters” for the space-city dwellers. If so, the war turned out to be a more even match than this story suggests. Earth was scoured of life but the Outskirters are wrecked genetically. Oh, well. Can’t break an egg without making omelettes.

New Beginnings: If Only We Could Start Over … • [New Beginnings] • essay by Jerry Pournelle

The Earth is in terrible shape, and those darn liberal bureaucrats are making things worse. If civilization falls, it will never recover because all the easy to reach resources are gone. Space is the answer!

Comments

Darn those liberals. Darn them to heck! Weird how civilization didn’t collapse and how economies once poor seem to be converging on more prosperous levels.

Interesting, this essay acknowledges that US birthrates are falling. It discusses the implications thereof without once mentioning a short-term solution: admitting more immigrants.

Transition Team • novelette by Charles Sheffield

Why are the children of Man’s Awesome Space Cities so terribly alienated from their parents?

 Comments

Science fiction has produced reams and reams of hack prose re the awful, terrible, no-good children of tomorrow. One can track the baby boom as perceived by writers of the previous generation: the boomers are nasty kids in the 1950s and unpleasant university students in the 1970s.

But … this isn’t one of those stories. In this story, the parents are the problem. None of whom seem to have read a single novel about first-generation immigrant kids.

Antinomy • novelette by Spider Robinson

The cold sleep that saved the rich woman’s life also cost her six months of memories. She has no idea that the kindly doctor is a former lover. Should he remind her of their shared past or stay quiet as she falls for another man?

 Comments

This is a future with cold sleep and Dick Tracy-style floating buckets, but without polyamory. It is also a future America that for the most part lacks black people. It’s not that the author’s cast lacks diversity; it’s because most black Americans had been exterminated.

“McLaughlin had, of course, already told her a good deal about Civil War Two and the virtual annihilation of the American black, and had been surprised at how little surprised she was.

Not all of the US’s African American population is dead, though. One survives long enough to engage in a murderous rampage.

Mucker!
Eyes report: a middle-aged black man with three days ’ growth of beard, a hundred meters away and twenty meters up in a stolen floater bucket with blood on its surface. Firing a police rifle of extremely heavy calibre with snipersights. Clearly crazed with grief or stoned out of control, he is not making use of the sights, but firing from the hip.

The whole Civil War Two subplot is entirely gratuitous. In 1985 Robinson published an SF novel about a race war; clearly he’d been thinking about this for a while.…


Spider vs. the Hax of Sol III (Destinies, November-December 1978) • essay by Spider Robinson

Robinson reviews the following:

The Persistence of Vision, John Varley, Dial; 279 pp.; $9.95

Journey, Marta Randall; Pocket; 324 pp.; $1.95

Keepers of the Gate, Steven G. Spruill; Dell; 239 pp. ; $1.50

Millennial Women, ed. Virginia Kidd ; Delacorte ; 299 pp.; $8.95

Ariel Vol. Ill, ed. Thomas Durwood ; Ariel/Ballantine ; 94 pp. ; $6.95

Sorcerers, ed. Bruce Jones &, Armand Eisen; Ariel/Ballantine; $7.95

NeverWhere, Richard Corben, Ariel/Ballantine; 110 pp.; $7.95

All My Sins Remembered, Joe Haldeman, St. Martin; 184 pp.; $7.95

Margaret and I, Kate Wilhelm; Pocket; 214 pp. ; $1.75

Dig those crazy prices. I remember being aghast at having to fork over nine bucks for a hardcover. Of course, in those days hardcovers were much more expensive than paperbacks.

Robinson’s opinions on the various books — you’ve all read them, right? I don’t need to describe these works? — mostly match mine. (Though his assessment of the Spruill was more positive than I’d expected.) Robinson tended to either mildly like a book or really really like a book (as if his dial had only the numbers 1, 2, 3, 11!) but this survey was less lopsided than was his wont.

Very Proper Charlies • novella by Dean Ing

America’s stalwart media figures fight terrorism with the one weapon terrorists cannot match: laughter!

 Comments

America’s media figures really are stalwart in this. Also, warning for graphic torture scene.This was expanded into Soft Targets.

Party Line • novelette by Clifford D. Simak

The good news is, humanity has made long-range contact with aliens. The bad news is that this has yet to produce useful information.

 Comments

Mostly harmless. Simak wasn’t producing his best work this late in his career.

“Assimilating Our Culture, That’s What They’re Doing” • [Draco Tavern] • short story by Larry Niven

This was the … fourth, I think? … entry in Niven’s contribution to the SF bar-tales genre2. The Draco’s Tavern stories range from Tales of the White Hart quality at the high end and Tales from Gavagan’s Bar at the low. Niven’s offering is set in yet another Niven universe, one in which humans are way the heck down the pecking order, in which we are lucky that the real powers-that-be think our planet is too insipid to commandeer.

There are a few Niven stories that seem weirdly prophetic in ways the author could not have foreseen. We didn’t get teleportation, for example, but we did get Flash Crowds. This story touches on IP issues raised by trivial copying. Food for thought.

Science Fiction and Science, Part One: Reality, Fiction, and Points Between • essay by Poul Anderson

First in a five part series by Anderson and the sort of thing I ate up as a teen.

Not listed in the TOC but amusing enough to mention: an ad for Harry Harrison’s Skyfall, which promises “the excitement of The Andromeda Strain and the sophistication of Lucifer’s Hammer.” Yay? And two different covers, one to appeal to the disaster fans and one to the SF fans.

General comments

I would say that this collection was less awesome than I had remembered but — I didn’t remember reading Destinies, November-December 1978 at all. I thought the first issue was the one with the Enemy Stars sequel as the cover story.


That was the second issue.

Some of the stories did seem oddly familiar. That says something about them, that they were memorable enough to seem familiar more than forty years later. Some of the material had aged badly. Some things acceptable then will strike readers as totally unacceptable now.

Destinies, November–December 1978 is stupendously out of print.

1: As I recall, the material in Richard S. McEnroe’s Proteus: Voices for the 80’s was gathered from works purchased for but later deemed to be thematically unsuitable for Destinies.

2: The first Draco Tavern story ran in Cosmos, whose existence I had totally forgotten until I saw this cover in ISFDB.



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