THE NEW S-F

A. VINCENT CLARKE

...Minnie Lemouchier thrust a vagrant black curl beneath her close-fitting cap and bent again to her work, but somewhere deep inside of her she knew it was of no avail. All the other girls were deftly assembling, checking, examining, and ro bots were stepping from the end of the production belt with monotonous regularity, but before Minnie's eyes floated the image, not of an artificial polychromatic receptor, but of a lean, bronzed, square-jawed figure in whose eyes danced small golden light s that matched the crinkly hair.

Minnie parted her soft red lips in a sigh.

This was Love...

Uh-uh. Don't zap. Sf is moving into the big time, and in '53, or maybe '54, something similar to the above will be commonplace. Not, perhaps, in aSF, but in one of those magazines that cater for everybody. Our dearest dr eams are being realised, sf is now popular with the moron-in-the-street, and inevitably other forms of...well, literature, are impinging on the fantasy field. The body of sf is being invaded by strange organisms, and already Mickey Spillane has erupted on its face.

According to the Relativity formula with whose first equation we are all so familiar, authors such as Heinlein, Bradbury, and James White will be compelled to meet the masses half way. No longer will the knowledge of why a rocket works in a vacuum and how to spell 'psychosomatic' suffice for the sf author. He must learn to attract the un-other-worldly outsiders, to face the experts from other fields, and cultivate their corn.

When for instance the gardener turns from 'Birds, Bees and the Nursery Garden' to 'Superdooper Stories' he'll expect to find the flower-decorated spaceship carrying an especially large-lunged crewman whose carbon dioxide exhalations keep the herbaceous border alive. A tractor-ray will be a ray emanating from a tractor (as used on space-fields), and neutron beams will give place to zap-guns full of poison ivy juice.

On a higher plane than Spillane and the manure heap will be sf for the musician and dancer. How, in the search for higher circulation, can you persuade the student of the rhythmic arts to lay down the 'Clavichord and Hot Trumpet Makers' Gazette', unles s you can offer him something like...well...:-

...Nadia Naziburp, premier ballerina at the Martian Gondoliers Ball listened enthralled as the thunder of the rockets ascended in mighty fortissimo chords to a cadence in which the motif of riven atmosphere faded and died.

"Oh Michael!" She turned, the pale oval of her face alight with excitement. "Listen to the overtones! A perfect morendo!"

Mike breathed heavily. "I dig you, baby. Howzabout skiddin down to no-grav an' laying it in the groove with some solid stompin?"

One can see emotional conflict here at least.

Perhaps the solid biographical type of fiction would provide sf with the sort of symbolic hero that enriched detective literature with Sherlock Holmes. I am not referring to such creations as 'Captain Future', but to someone who is at least semi-human, in accomplishment and environment. This may sound ludicrous, but in the New Sf practically anything could happen.

But we're discussing popular fiction and sf. The sample from the romantic that started it...what of the other types read by the masses. Well, the Western we have always had with us. The shadowy figure of Bats Durston has hovered over pulp sf fro m Richard Seaton of 'The Skylark' to...(fill in from this month's mags.) The detective type is a different matter, and in spite of Anthony Boucher's gloomy predictions that the detective sf novel would never succeed because the author could be so unfair t o the reader-murder through time or the fourth dimension, etc.-I think there is still a vast untouched field here to bring in that 35¢ from the mystery addicts.

The door was high-polished Venusian swampwood reflecting highlights from the office electro-tubes. The panel in its centre was supposed to be transparent, a polarised Luna Crystal, but after some blasterhappy goon turned a vibrator on it in the Case of the Curious Callistian it was shot through with streaky patches. I could hardly read the flaking gold letters on the other side, but I didn't need to. I knew them by heart.-

BIBAND TUCKER, INTERPLANETARY INVESTIGATOR

LUNA CITY 1212

Something was standing outside the door. It'd knocked four times. I figured it wanted to come in...

The rest of this epic you'll be able to read in the new era, when a fast buck is being made at interplanetary speeds by all and sundry, and the mass of the population is getting the sort of science fiction it wants...True Ro mantic Science Fiction, Science Detective Stories, Space Western, and Exploration Of Spice.

Science fiction for the technologist, the 'whither-mankinder', the scientist?

Hell, they've had their innings. It's circulation we want nowadays. Bring on the emotion and human appeal and the general guff.

And order another safe, willya?


Data entry and page scans provided by Judy Bemis

Data entry by Judy Bemis

Updated November 8, 2007. If you have a comment about these web pages please send a note to the Fanac Webmaster. Thank you.