This is not really a Short Review. It is me complaining about the February 1974 issue of the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Sorry.
Joanna Russ, writer of bad magic negress Lovecraft fanfiction, begins her column in this issue stating “In the 1950’s somebody defined urban renewal as “replacing Negroes with trees,” and I’m beginning to think that in the same way too many typical science fiction horror stories are not the universal dystopias they pretend to be, but rather the unhappy wails of privilege-coming-to-and-end(sic).” That one sentence was enough; I wasn’t going to bother reading six pages of her tripe, but now the commenters in the letters section of the January 1976 issue complaining about the Books column having turned into kvetching by literary critics and writers airing out their personal grudges rather than alerting readers to great new science fiction make a lot more sense. Thank god that the other two issues I have had Budrys writing the column.
I solidly expect this issue of F&SF to be completely terrible (I accidentally saw the ending of the novella; 60+ pages to set up a Jewish mother joke) and don’t even know if I want to waste my time on it. I’d rather write about fun and awesome SF&F than bitch about bad SF&F; it would at least be more useful to my readers.
Do any of the following names ring a bell or should I skip this issue entirely (except for Baird Searles column, of course)?
So, rather than be angry and read something that I knew was going to amount to a novella length Jew joke, I started Leigh Brackett’s The Nemesis from Terra. It was immediately obvious that I had made the correct choice. Brackett plunges us straight into the action, wherein a man is pursued by Martian apes, kills a Martian mystic who predicts his ascendancy over Mars, is tossed in the slave mines to work for chain smoking Mercurian thugs, and meets a lady with “a strong, supple body whose curves even the coverall couldn’t hide and hair of a rich, warm mahogany color that made her skin look like cream” who he calls ‘baby’. Mmmmm… problematic sci-fi…
In completely unrelated news, new empirical evidence suggests that internalized misogyny goes straight to the chest and improves STEM related skills.