I took advantage of the extra two weeks to do my annual April re-read of Isaac Asimov’s massive autobiography. I have now done this 15 times, reading first the retrospective volume, I, Asimov, published posthumously in 1994, and then jumping back to In Memory Yet Green and In Joy Still Felt. Despite having the books virtually memorized, they never wear on me. I didn’t get to do it last spring and so it was particularly nice to get back to them this year.
And since this is the first time I read them while doing my Vacation, it was of special interest, especially Asimov’s observations of the Golden Age as he lived through it. Many of the names he mentioned were suddenly familiar to me. He would head off to Fletcher Pratt’s war games and meet people like Hubbard and Heinlein, of course, but he also met Malcolm Jameson there, a name that, before this Vacation, meant nothing to me. He stopped by Huber Rogers’ apartment to pick up an original painting–and that name also meant nothing to me before this Vacation. You will find at least one more of these below–one I encountered just today making my way through more of In Joy Still Felt.
Then, too, there his insight into the creation of his own stories; his relationship with Campbell; his friendship with Frederik Pohl, and countless other facets that made the read so much more pleasurable this year. And there were lots of tidbits that I captured for future Episodes as well.
It is worth noting that the cover this issue, credited to Rogers, is of an American flag with the words “United We Stand” just above it. As I mentioned in the last episode, this is something that magazines across the country were doing in July 1942 and Street & Smith included their magazines in that patriotic display. The Smithsonian Institution has an online feature about the July 1942 magazine covers for those who are interested.
Editorial: Diode to Pentagrid
For the first time in a while, Campbell’s editorial completely baffled me. It was a 2-page spread on how the klystron tube was already outdated. The editorial seemed like a kind of apology by Campbell for being wrong about the Klystron, except Campbell doesn’t really apologize so much as explain how quickly the technology evolved and why. Stanley R. Short had an article about the Klystron back in the February 1941 issue (Episode 20) and that too, was out of date. Beyond that, I couldn’t make heads or tales of what Campbell was talking about.
This issue is packed with stories: 4 novelettes, include two long ones. Three short stories. A brief science article. And count them, seven Probability Zero pieces. And at least two of the PZ items are written by names familiar to many science fiction fans today–and one name who is familiar even outside of science fiction.