Hypnotized By Your Destiny
Destinies, April-June 1979 (Destinies, # 3)
Edited by Jim Baen
Destinies, April-June 1979 was the third issue in the first volume of Destinies, the “paperback magazine of science fiction and speculative fact1.”
As previously established, Destinies is a long-defunct magazine for which I have memories both fond and spotty. Those two characteristics may be linked. This is one of the issues for which I have no particular memories on looking at the cover. Enticement to look inside!
Not listed on ISFDB but still intriguing: the masthead. Full editorial credits are: publisher Thomas Doherty, director Ed Lenk, art director Charles Volpe, assistant editors Susan Allison and Ellen Kushner, and editor James Patrick Baen. I am not familiar with Lenk or Volpe, but otherwise that’s a masthead filled with very familiar names. (For those who don’t want to click the links: Doherty is the guy behind Tor and Baen Books, Susan Allison was a senior figure at Ace Books, Kushner is a respected fantasy author, and of course Baen is the person for whom Baen Books is named.)
Interior illustrations are by David Egge, Stephen Fabian, Fernando Fernandez, José Gonzalez, M. Salvador, Broeck Steadman (as E. T. Steadman) and Katrina Taylor. The interior art is black and white. It was not well served by the limitations of the reproduction methods used in this book. The cover is by Dean Ellis; Ellis fans will be pleased to know the cover art is reproduced on the back cover without obscuring text.
Overall, I did not find this an especially memorable issue. This does not seem to have prevented me from writing a lot of words about the contents.
“The Plot” • [Destinies Essays] • essay by Jim Baen
Man’s civilization can only survive with space resources, thus the mission of this magazine to create a culture with THE WILL to go INTO SPAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACE.
Apparently, I have used that spelling of space before2 [see below this section].
As per usual practice in space exploitation advocacy, Baen buys into the Club of Rome models when those models justify doing stuff he wants to do. Unexpectedly, there’s a passing comment that the West, having used up all the easy-to-grab resources, owes the rest of the world a replacement. I would take as cynical a stance on this as the Club of Rome stuff, except for the Martin and Vinicoff story in this volume.
This pro-space mission carried over into Baen Books in its early days, but I think the space-exploitation promotion books proved unprofitable.
Spirals • novella by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
Liberal-and-green-caused economic calamity in the US enables an unnamed William Proxmire to eliminate funding for the space program on which the future of human civilization itself may depend. A handful of true believers embrace a bold scheme to salvage the program, but success depends on the talents of a self-centered, brilliant asshole.
This is a rich stew of utterly stock plot developments, rote characterization, and objectionable elements.
How is it there’s never been an SF award named after Proxmire? He was an inspirational figure in SF; novels referenced his work as recently as 2014.
“How to Become a Space Colonist” • [New Beginnings] • essay by Jerry Pournelle [as by J. E. Pournelle, Ph.D.]
What qualifications will you need to go into space? Probably ones beyond your ability to develop. Nevertheless, support NASA because there has to be a space program if people are to go to space.
The War on Pronouns is ancient but the battlefields change. In this essay, Pournelle acknowledges that women do exist, but sticks with “crewman” as more euphonious than a gender-neutral term.
“The Pilot” • short story by Joe Haldeman
A cyborg spaceship pilot submits to an interview with an inferior fleshy human, concealing all the while the pilot’s plot to murder its next allotment of passengers, then flee to the stars.
HR seriously dropped the ball.
The Story Writer • novella by Richard Wilson
A pulp writer may be the key player in a crisis over whether immigrant space aliens and humans can coexist in peace.
I was reminded a bit of Lafferty. Unfortunately, I am not a fan of Lafferty.
“Spider vs. the Hax of Sol III”(Destinies, April-June 1979) • essay by Spider Robinson
Robinson reviews: A History of the Hugo, Nebula and International Fantasy Awards by Donald Franson; Chrysalis, Volume 2 by Roy Torgeson; Retief at Large by Keith Laumer; Retief of the CDT by Keith Laumer; Retief and the Warlords by Keith Laumer; The Girl, the Gold Watch and Everything by John D. MacDonald; Mindswapby Robert Sheckley; Fireship by Joan D. Vinge; What Mad Universeby Fredric Brown; and The Unknown by Donald R. Bensen.
No doubt there was a compelling logic to the order in which material was presented in magazines, but I always read the non-fiction first, starting with the book reviews. Robinson is more bombastic than I like in a reviewer — yes, I am familiar with the word “hypocrisy”; why do you ask? — but on the whole I don’t disagree with these reviews. I own most of the books, probably because of this review, and I think I’ve been meaning to track down the Benson for forty-three years…
Of note, at least to me: Robinson’s encounter with the Laumer problem, which is that any three Laumer collections of this era have at most two collections worth of material between them, judiciously arranged so that no two volumes had every story one might want. This was probably driven by a combination of Laumer’s need for income and his brain-injury-induced inability to write. Laumer’s situation may not have been well known in 1979.
Encounter • novelette by Stephen Leigh
A super-soldier cyborg traumatized by the war crimes he committed encounters a woman also traumatized by the war crimes the cyborg committed. What begins as vengeance becomes mutual therapy.
“Computerized Fireflies” • short story by Stephen Kimmel
An AI takes great pleasure in serving its master faithfully and well.
Man, SF loves its happy slaves.
Defending the Third Industrial Revolution • essay by G. Harry Stine
As proved by Carleton S. Coon, most humans are tribal savages. Such people would definitely steal or attack space facilities with which “hard-working, industrious, peace-loving Anglo-Americans” will surely have filled the sky by the 1990s. As far as Stine is concerned, that is especially true of the “essentially militant oriental cultures.” How then to protect our space stuff?
There’s an interesting tendency amongst space enthusiasts to reprise charmingly antique material. This would be an early example. Most of Stine’s science sources are from the 1960s, while his views regarding certain ethnicities appear to be straight out of 1882.
Malthus’ Last Laugh • [President Nivling] • novelette by Marcia Martin and Eric Vinicoff
President Nivling is given a dire forecast by his advisors: overpopulated India will surely collapse in the near future. Not only will the human suffering be apocalyptic, but the wily Chinese will no doubt swoop in to conquer what is left of India. The only possible solution is a program of covert mass sterilization, provided by the US to India. No charge, but no consent needed either.
It happens that there is another, considerably less problematic alternative, knowledge of which the advisors are determined to conceal from Nivling.
This is part of a series about President Nivling. Perusing its ISFDB entry, I see I must have read all the installments in the series, but I don’t remember any of them. Nor do I remember authors Martin and Vinicoff. This story had a (surprising for the era) twist: the advisors are racist assholes, they are lying, and a possible Borlaugian solution isn’t revealed. Why? Vastly increasing the food supply would inconvenience American agricultural corporations.
Thanks to this twist, I may decide to modify my Baen Books rule (no more Baen books) and take a look at Martin and Vinicoff’s sole novel, which is long, long out of print and cannot possibly do Baen Books any good if I review it.
“Fleas” • short story by Dean Ing
A predator takes misplaced pride in his place at the top of the food chain.
“Science and Science Fiction, Part Three: On Imaginary Science” • essay by Poul Anderson
This is reminiscent (but not derivative) of Spinrad’s Rubber Science essay in The Craft of Science Fiction, so it’s not entirely surprising that Anderson cites Spinrad’s essay.
I am a little surprised (but only a little) that Anderson states that if he had a time machine and could erase either Woodrow Wilson’s presidency or Baby Hitler, he’d opt for the first.
1: Not to be confused with Analog Science Fiction Science Fact. Although I would not be astounded to discover the parallel was deliberate, to entice Analog readers into buying (the otherwise visually dissimilar) Destinies.
2: Spaaaace is an old Usenet joke. Way back in the olden times, an aspiring author advertised his Infinity City book series in rec.arts.sf.written. The first book in the series was Van Gogh in Space. Which you can still buy on Amazon. I can’t find any of his old posts, but he was known for promoting his title as Van Gogh in SPAAACE. Or SPAAAACE. I don’t remember how many As. Probably came with multiple exclamation marks. He was roundly mocked. My editor and I still remember him fondly. Which is not to say I want to see him in comments.