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1966 - Year in SF&F: August



THE WONDER TIMELINE: SF&F RETROSPECTIVE
1966: August


The idea of "The Wonder Timeline" is to highlight selected stories throughout SF&F history (all 100 years of it). Every "Year in SF&F" page contains reviews of stories, collections, original anthologies and novels published in that year in the certain month. This way we'll gradually fill out reviews for thousands of stories listed on our site, as well as enjoy a fun perspective on the genre.
Read other issues here

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Philip K. Dick
"Now Wait For Last Year" (nv)
© 1966, Doubleday Books
--/ third place sf novel
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award


"When his wife takes a strange new narcotic and then maliciously slips some into his drink, the main character finds himself slipping back and forth through time. Against the backdrop of a pointless war being waged between planets, the main character - while unable to control his place in time - tries to maintain the balance of power by keeping Earth's eccentric and ailing leader in good health... (remember Brezhnev?) Plus there is the disturbing relationship between the submissive main character and his destructive, manipulative wife" (wikipedia). But wait, there is more:

- Collecting rare artifacts from 1935 to furnish some tycoon's Mars-based recreation of his Washington childhood.
- A number of live copies of certain Government Leader - any, or none of which could be the real one.
- Small starship-controlling devices/creatures (mechanical hamsters?) manufactured by a large corporation become the centerpiece of an employee's secret obsession - to give them a kind of intelligence and send them scuttling off around the plant on tiny metal carts.
- A sort of "creation/ liberation" kick. Well, never mind - there are twelve different layers to this novel ("Nothing what you know is true") - in Dick's typical paranoid fashion.

At the end of the book, the multiple past-lines and clones of main personalities will spiral out of control in a barely cohesive plot, but then even the plot itself, like a crazed centipede, will trip over its hallucinogenic legs, curl up in despair and die, unable to resolve the complexities of its existence.
review: 21-Jul-06 (read in 1987)

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Philip K. Dick
"Your Appointment Will Be Yesterday"
(exp. into "Counter-Clock World")
© Amazing Stories, Aug 1966
The Little Black Box, 1987
--/ third place time sf novella
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award
--/ adventure award


"The story to end all stories" - for the simple reason that it's based on the idea of time running backwards, therefore people doing everything backwards, including reading from finish to start. I can think of so many inherent problems and reasons that this can not work, in principle, but in Dick's story it does - with very entertaining effects. Mind you, Dick is even able to turn birth/death backwards (remember "UBIK", where his characters are stranded in time running backwards (deteriorating) after they died - in a death realm) Nothing I could mention here would approach the wild premise and intensity of its realization in this story, so go read it.
review: 21-Jul-06 (read in 1995)

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Brian Aldiss
"Heresies Of The Huge God"
© Galaxy, Aug 1966
Moment of Eclipse, 1970
--/ cool sf story
--/ idea award

The title is certainly worthy of the Sixties era... and the story is quite unusual in SF. Here is the summary I found on the web: "Really large alien craft or a being --we're talking continent-sized--lands on Earth. Massive seismic and climactic changes ensue. The ship just sits there--no one comes out, there's no attempt at communication, and so on. Every now and then it takes some arbitrary action such as moving a little or extending some new piece of itself. But that's about it. Decades go by. Humanity has to cope with the presence of this strange invader. Religious orders arise to explain it in spiritual terms. Eventually, the ship just leaves, still with no explanation or communication. The departure of the ship once more throws the world into climactic upheaval and threatens to end all life on Earth. The tale is written by a monk of some sort just after the ship has left, and relates all that has happened to date in almost allegorical terms."
review: 21-Jul-06 (read in 1995)

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Roger Zelazny
"The Keys to December"
© New Worlds, Aug 1966
The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth, 1971
--novelette : 1968 Nebula
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ style award


Wonderfully stylish and smoothly told story, with many poetic elements, generating images that stay with reader for a long time. Here is what happens: "some aliens terraforming a planet to make it cold enough for them to inhabit (and simultaneously freezing the monkey-people natives to death)" Roger Zelazny adds emotion to this tragic plot, and you can almost touch the ice of that planet. One of the best planetary ecology descriptions to grace the pages of SF magazine in the Sixties.
review: 21-Jul-06 (read in 1987)

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Brian Aldiss
"Amen and Out"

© New Worlds, Aug 1966
The Book of Brian Aldiss, 1972

I found this tale boring, with many recycled elements from other stories: men worship computers and keep immortal virtual minds in a kind of prison - to generate ideas... as you can see, very predictable.
review: 18-Jul-06 (read in 1986)

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Bob Shaw
"Light of Other Days"
(exp. into "Other Days, Other Eyes")
(Slow Glass)
© Analog, Aug 1966
also in - Amazing, May 1972
novel : Ace books, 1972
--short story : 1967 Hugo
--short story : 1967 Nebula
--short fiction : 1971 Astounding/Analog All-Time Poll /6
--short story : 1999 Locus All-Time Poll /14

--/ cool sf story
--/ idea award

Slow glass is one of the most original concepts to appear in sf in decades. Light travels through this glass so slowly that, looking through a pane of it, you might see what happened five minutes ago on the other side - or five years. It stopped being a toy. It became invasion of privacy. Many other moral and practical complications arise.
review: 21-Jul-06 (read in 1986)

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Keith Roberts
"The Scarlet Lady"
(as by Alistair Bevan)
© Impulse, Aug 1966
Winterwood & Other Hauntings, 1989
--/ fourth place f story
--/ wonder award
--/ style award
--/ idea award
--/ rare find


One of the best fantasies of the "car-come-alive" kind. Recommended for every car nut out there, and also as a rarity - hardly ever known and reprinted, yet very thrilling and of the highest stylistic quality. I did not expect such kind of "Weird Tales" performance from this usually subdued writer.
review: 21-Jul-06 (read in 2002)

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Hal Clement
"The Foundling Stars"
© IF, Aug 1966
Small Changes, 1969
--/ cool sf novella

Average quality hard-nosed "too much science" fiction, which I immediately forgot. It's a pity Hal Clement could not maintain the clarity and sheer thrill of his output in the fifties, when he created unique planetary environments routinely for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
review: 21-Jul-06 (read in 2002)

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Richard McKenna
"The Secret Place"
© Orbit # 1, 1966
Casey Agonistes, 1973
--short story : 1967 Hugo
--short story : 1967 Nebula W

--/ cool sf story
--/ style award

"A sensitive piece of writing, a perfect example of second generation science fiction, the retelling and reexamination of a theme that originated in the pulp years..." It left me cold, though. Geology, alternate pasts, some good emotion there, but it just did not click.
review: 21-Jul-06 (read in 1988)

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James Blish
"How Beautiful With Banners"
© Orbit # 1, 1966
Anywhen, 1970
--/ third place space sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ style award
--/ idea award


A total surprise! James Blish writing a sophisticated planetary adventure with all the color, action and ideas worthy of modern practitioners of the genre: Reynolds, Stephen Baxter, Swanwick's "Slow Life"... trust me, it's in the same category! As such, it is an incredible find, partly because Blish did not approach such classic planetary exploration themes again, to the best of my knowledge - and he can really write when he wants to. "Surface Tension" went to number one on my list, even though I read it in translation; now I can really appreciate his style: poetic allusions and hard science blended to one wild idea. A "living" space-suit made from an artificially engineered virus (!) nicely shields a visitor to Titan from its frozen environment - until rather serious trouble occurs when one of the local life forms decides to mate with it... A gem of a story, you can read it online here
review: 18-Jul-06 (read in 1986)



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EXPLANATION OF THE RATING SYSTEM:

"SF&F Reading Experience" is part of "Dark Roasted Blend / Thrilling Wonder" family of sites. We try to highlight the most entertaining and rewarding science fiction and fantasy, with emphasis on memorable reader experience, not necessarily general acceptance by the critics. Have fun, and delve into our extensive ratings and reviews!

Most reviews are written by Avi Abrams, unless otherwise noted. Reviews also appear on our unique historical retrospective page Wonder Timeline of Science Fiction. Feel free to submit your own review, if a particular story is not listed here.


All major OFFICIAL AWARDS are highlighted in BLUE
("winner" has a letter "W" by it, otherwise it is a runner-up only)

Our PERSONAL AWARDS (ratings) are highlighted in RED and PURPLE:
--/ first place :
--/ second place :
--/ third place :

--/ fourth place :

--/ cool : (equal to fifth place)
ALL "BEST OF" LISTS ARE LOCATED HERE

These awards are given in the following categories:
- novel :
- series :
- novella :
- story :
- collection :

Also, there are our personal STYLE / GENRE SPECIFIC AWARDS. These reflect the story's content and the lasting impression on the reader:

--/ wonder award
sense-of-wonder, "visual intensity" and inventiveness

--/ idea award
originality of idea / concept

--/ adventure award
exhilarating plot, excitement / action

--/ style award
outstanding literary qualities, inimitable style

--/ romance award
intense and beautiful love / relationships

--/ humour award
funny and cool

--/ emotion award
touching, lasting impression, sensitivity

--/ shock value
altogether wild

--/ awesome scale
mind-boggling; further enhances sense-of-wonder

--/ rare find
very hard to locate, mostly from old pulps, never reprinted, etc.

Again, please feel free to leave your own review or comment under every writer's entry; also recommend us other stories you liked.