Beyond Apollo, winner of the John Campbell Award, finds Harry Evans as the lone survivor of the first Venus expedition, a space journey that went disastrously wrong. But no one knows the reason behind the tragedy.
Here are 10 stories from the May and June 2003 issues of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, including a tribute to SF great Barry M. Malzberg.
"a mixed bag and an adequate production"
Galaxies is a brilliantly original science fiction novel arranged in fragments that satirize the science fiction writer imagining new worlds and characters. Its central persona is a female astronaut of the 40th century investigating a mysterious "black galaxy".
When man roamed freely among the planets and away to the stars, spacecraft had to carry the best advisers with them, for outside help was usually too far off to do any good in emergencies. And so the android simulacrum was born - a conveniently storable but believably human package which duplicated all the strengths of the Master after whom each was modeled. For centuries a Sigmund Freud was standard equipment on long voyages, but put to little use. Then Man met his first ETs, and Freud's career entered a new phase - one which would change history forever.
In debt to the mob, the narrator is forced to dig up the body of his old friend Harry the Flat from where it is buried under the Aqueduct racetrack.
Bitterly, bitterly, Scop is a failure! Scop is doing his job.... He has spoken to President Kennedy, warning him to leave Dallas immediately...spoken to Zapruder, asking him not to take pictures...pleaded with Elaine Kozciouskos, begging her only to scream, has even fornicated with her - part of the job. In spite of the pain, he has witnessed, on location, the last minutes of Jack Kennedy, King, Malcolm, Robert Kennedy - all for the fate of mankind. But bitterly, bitterly, he knows he is a failure. Scop is trying to alter, has merely reinforced the future....
"YOU ARE NOT HERE"
Death and Disorder 104. Institute courses told a grim story about the Network - that savage world beyond the closely guarded Institute gates. But they wanted to see for themselves. They had to know. Were there really females there? Would their training as mercenaries prepare them for the wild bands of grisly subhumans? They set out on a journey of discovery only to become the unwitting agents of forces that threatened to destroy the only world they'd ever known.
"You mean we're truly going to play for the fate of the Universe?" "Exactly," the Overlord said, "a forty-one game chess match to be broadcast throughout all civilized sectors of your Universe so that everyone can witness it." "But why chess? Why me? Why this planet?" "Because chess is ideal for such a final judgment; it is a methodical game with absolutely no element of luck, and therefore there can be no complaints by the loser. Chess is known only to your plant, and you and your opponent are the most evenly matched living players."
Jonathan Herovit is a science fiction writer in a state of deep personal and professional crisis. Whilst struggling to deal with his wife’s post-partum depression, his own alcoholism, and a long-overdue novel that he has no motivation to write, the pseudonym under which he writes begins talking to him....
The space program has finally lost its novelty, and a jaded public hardly notices another moon launch. Skilful PR men preserve the illusion that the missions have become routine. But astronaut Richard Martin can tell a different story. Of panic in deep space, of crewmen pushed beyond breaking point, of official indifference towards his own shattered life. Martin is effectively put under wraps - until the pilot of a moon capsule, loaded with nuclear weaponry goes berserk and a nightmare develops, threatening to engulf the world - a nightmare that only Martin could end.
In the tradition of Vladimir Nabokov, Malzberg draws his listeners over the precipice of rationality into a realm where dreams are real - a realm in which the hero, a humble investigator for the New York City Welfare Department, finds himself married to Sophia Loren, seducing Elizabeth Taylor, and seduced by Brigitte Bardot - all in one tortured weekend.
Earth was a planet of incompetents, but Simmons was the greatest loser of all. It seemed as if the powers of the Universe were concentrated on grinding his small soul into ultimate insignificance, until the aliens came. To them, Simmons was the most important human on the planet - for only through his mind could they overcome this world.
A rash of suicides has sent shock waves through a tightly organized society that officially frowns on such an act but privately makes it unavoidable. How else could people endure in a world carefully calculated to rob its citizens of self-respect and dignity? One man struggles against the overpowering temptation to take his own life, because he realizes that he must survive or else give the strange unseen rulers final victory. The characters in this extraordinary novel of the future share a host of psychiatric disturbances.
Elizabeth Moore, young, fresh from a posh Ivy League college, has a burning desire to help her welfare clients. The Ultimate Social Worker, she had her own ideas about how to re-acculturate the male members of her case load. But how was she to get her cynical, narrow-minded boss to understand that the rehabilitation of the poor, alienated people can only be achieved through sex therapy?
"DO YOU SPEAK JEWISH?"
She came East to become a big star on Broadway, but settled for shacking up with a violent, unpublished writer - and performing in sex movies in a huge, dingy loft on West 26th Street.