Things Beyond: August 2022

(Cover by Hubert Rogers. Astounding, February 1940.)

Picking stories to review can be pretty hard. Imagine simply reading fiction in your free time: novels, short stories, whatever. There are so many things you want to get to, things you’ve heard good things about, things you’ve been meaning to reread (because rereading is important), and yet there are only so many hours in the day.

Now I must, for August, limit myself to writing about three short stories, two novel serials, and two novellas. And not just anything; these will be the first to charge into battle, the first guinea pigs for me to test on and see what this site will be all about. The stories that will help me find my footing the most.

As such, all the stories this month will at least be Hugo nominees, if not winners—with one exception, and even then it’s by a two-time Hugo winner. Speaking of which, we have, for the serials:

  1. The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester. Published in three parts in Galaxy Science Fiction, January to March 1952, and it would win the very first Hugo for Best Novel. I’m fond of Bester’s short fiction, and The Stars My Destination is still a delightfully hardboiled and experimental novel. Alas, I’ve yet to read The Demolished Man, his debut novel, but that’ll change pretty soon.
  2. If This Goes On— by Robert Heinlein, published in two parts in Astounding Science Fiction, February to March 1940. An early and defining work by one of my absolute favorite authors, though I’m ashamed to say I haven’t read it before. It would win the Retro Hugo for Best Novella. I know, it’s technically a novella, but hey, if it’s serialized, it gets a serialized review.

Now for the novellas. I must confess, dear reader, I have a huge soft spot for novellas, especially when it comes to SFF. Hell, SFF is the only field of literature nowadays where novellas still get written and published regularly. Still, two novellas for this month. I had to choose wisely. Here they are:

  1. “The Big Front Yard” by Clifford D. Simak. Astounding Science Fiction, October 1958. Winner of the 1959 Hugo for Best Novelette (the Best Novella category didn’t exist yet). Aside from his Hugo-winning novel Way Station this is probably the quintessential Simak story, so we’ll be giving it a deep dive and see how Simak works his magic.
  2. “The Lineman” by Walter M. Miller Jr. The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, August 1957. You may know Miller as the author of A Canticle for Leibowitz, but did you know that he also wrote… OTHER STUFF? He even won another Hugo with “The Darfstellar,” but I’m more interested in checking out this one.

Finally, we have the short stories for this month. Two of these are rereads (one I’ve reread more times than I can count), but as you know, rereading is important. And the one I haven’t read before has me very curious. This month’s short stories are:

  1. “Bears Discover Fire” by Terry Bission. Asimov’s Science Fiction, August 1990. Winner of the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, God knows what else, and I’ve read it about as many times as it’s been reprinted—which is a lot. A fine choice for the inaugural short story.
  2. “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™” by Rebecca Roanhorse. Apex Magazine, August 2017. Hugo and Nebula winner. This will be my first time reading this short story, and by extension anything by Roanhorse. Very excited about it.
  3. “With Morning Comes Mistfall” by George R. R. Martin. Analog Science Fiction, May 1973. Hugo and Nebula nominee. Martin is one of the most famous fantasy authors ever, but readers will be less familiar and thus pleasantly surprised with his SF.

I’ll be linking to the source magazine issues when available/convenient. I want my readers (all five of you) to be able to read these stories without going through much hassle, and besides, you get to discover or rediscover some stuff that’s really worth reading. I won’t always be able to provide a digital zine link—occasionally I’ll have to track down used print copies, like some kind of literary raccoon.

Won’t you read with me?


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