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1960 - Year in SF&F: Reviews



THE WONDER TIMELINE: SF&F RETROSPECTIVE
Read other issues here

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Poul Anderson
"The Martyr"
© F&SF, March 1960
The Gods Laughed, 1982
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award
--/ style award


A group of humans hold members of a superior species captive in order to research their psionic powers. This is a nifty mystery tale combined with classic Anderson sweeping background. Plus the humans are told that there is no afterlife - in a quite ironic circumstances.
review: 07-Jul-06 (read in 2004)

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Murray Leinster
"The Ambulance Made Two Trips"
© Astounding, Apr 1960
--/ cool sf story
--/ humour award
--/ rare find


Hilarious Leinster, vintage pulp humor tale! Time paradoxes, wacky characters, prime-time entertainment. You should feed your TV (or DVD player for that matter) to the nearest crocodile in a zoo - and go home to happily read stories like this one! Mind you, Leinster did write a lot of fluff during his career, but this story is not like that.

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Frederick Pohl
"The Day the Icicle Works Closed"
© Galaxy, Feb 1960
The Man Who Ate the World, 1960
--/ fourth place sf novella
--/ style award
--/ wonder award


Very capable writing, great quality novella. Earth colony planet suffers economic meltdown, so it tries to help things by selling live human hosts (bodies) to the tourist agencies: rich people occupy the minds of the unfortunate colonists, as the host's minds (occupying the robot bodies) slave in the underwater mines. Very callous and cynical idea, indeed. Pohl is good at that kind of dystopian inventions. The story also depicts interesting planetary ecology, with air-fish and rainbow glaciers.
review: 06-Jul-06 (read in 1986)

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Robert Sheckley
"The Girls And Nugent Miller"
© F&SF, Mar 1960
Shards Of Space, 1962
--/ cool sf story
--/ humour award

Light-weight fare. Our hero is the survivor of a nuclear holocaust who goes off armed with a Geiger counter in search of other survivors only to find the formidable Miss Dennis and her 4 young ladies.
review: 07-Jul-06 (read in 1983)

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Cordwainer Smith
"The Lady Who Sailed the Soul"
(Instrumentality series)
© Galaxy, Apr 1960
You Will Never Be the Same, 1963
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ style award


Vintage, picture-perfect Cordwainer Smith here. The title alone is worth "the price of admission". Truly romantic fiction of the spaceways. If Brothers Grimm lived in 23rd Century, this would be the kind of fables they'd write, or better. Well, your mind' eye will treated to such luxurious, baroque visions, as "the image of the great sails, tissue-metal wings with which the bodies of people finally fluttered out among the stars." Of course, it is also a part of Instrumentality series, so it falls into the rest of great "Faberge-like" puzzle with every sparkling and intricate detail.
review: 06-Jul-06 (read in 1993)

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Clifford Simak
"All The Traps Of Earth"
© F&SF, Mar 1960
All The Traps Of Earth, 1962
--/ fourth place sf novella
--/ wonder award
--/ style award
--/ emotion award


A robot is leaving Earth to roam the stars... meanwhile we weep as we turn the last page of that wonderfully poetic novella, because we simply want more...in the same charming, glowing style as some of space fiction of Bradbury. Almost an antidote to Asimov's "cool&calm" robot stories, written with love and lots of intermittent beautiful detail.
review: 07-Jul-06 (read in 1985)

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Clifford Simak
"Condition of Employment"
© Galaxy, Apr 1960
All The Traps Of Earth, 1962
--/ cool sf story
--/ wonder award

Emotional tale about the little man of the future and his working day. Intensity comes mostly from the polished prose, not from action, but that is signature Simak. Some people say that it is is about as good as you can get in less than 10 pages. Well, for those who love magazine SF from the golden age, such deftness of style comes as no surprise.
review: 06-Jul-06 (read in 2004)

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Clifford Simak
"Crying Jag"
© Galaxy, Feb 1960
All The Traps Of Earth, 1962
--/ third place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award
--/ style award


I am tempted to call it "the best story of Clifford Simak", but there are many other stories which are just as good, so it may cause an outrage and fighting among the fans :). However, the impact of this melancholy- slash- optimistic ("bittersweet") tale had on me long time ago was nothing short of profound, and I still vividly remember this piece. Yes, it is a fun commentary on one of the things friends are supposed to be good for, but it is also genuine "warm-hearted" tale, of which there is a definite shortage in an overly jaded field of the fantastic.
review: 06-Jul-06 (read in 1983)

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Clifford D. Simak
"The Golden Bugs"
© F&SF, Jun 1960
So Bright the Vision, 1968
--/ third place sf novella
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award
--/ style award


Alien little buggers, who turn out to be quite helpful actually... at first. They clean the household, do the lawn etc. But then the trademarked Simak weirdness begins, unfolding on a perfectly normal "American suburbia" background. With such a subversive, sublime approach Simak seems close to Philip K. Dick's style (whose mental plot structures are far more vicious than the mere "sense-of-wonder" vehicles of Simak's) You never know what may jump at you from a perfectly normal cup of coffee. The only difference is, in Dick's case it will be an agent of different reality telling you that either your reality is toast or you live in a soup yourself, but in Simak's case it will be a cute, but properly weird, well-meaning alien who does not want to disturb your breakfast, but...
review: 25-Jul-06 (read in 1997)

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Clifford Simak
"The Trouble With Tycho" (nv)

© Amazing Stories, Oct 1960
novel: Ace Double, 1961
--/ second place space sf novella
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ romance award
--/ style award

Classic example of the good old space adventure tale. Mining prospectors on the Moon, lost expeditions, haunted crater, wonderfully "alien" aliens. I loved the "wild west" feel to the story (told with a "small town" space cowboy flavour), a touch of romance, wholesome goodness throughout the dialogue and action, and of course, spectacular background and set pieces. Definitely a highlight of my reading experience for this summer. Its a part ghost story, part "wilderness trek" story, part "treasure hunt" - with "living energy" and "crystal egg morph" aliens to make the life and work on the Moon very interesting. Understated splendor and muted heroics make this action tale a study in pulp fiction elegance.
review: 07-Jul-06 (read in 2006)

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"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)

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--/ cool : (equal to fifth place)
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These awards are given in the following categories:
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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

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originality of idea / concept

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exhilarating plot, excitement / action

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outstanding literary qualities, inimitable style

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intense and beautiful love / relationships

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touching, lasting impression, sensitivity

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