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F&SF, May 1964

Over the past year, we’ve been doing a #TBT (Throw Back Thursday) feature on the F&SF Twitter account and Facebook page. For the new year, we thought it might be good to add them here where they can be easily found under the “F&SF History” tag.

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Fantasy & Science Fiction, May 1964, cover by Emsh‪‪‪#TBT to the May 1964 F&SF and this Emsh cover for the lead story, J.G. Ballard’s “The Iluminated Man.”

The intro to Ballard’s novelet quotes him as saying “The only truly alien planet is Earth.” This story certainly evokes an alien Earth. In the Everglades a mysterious force crystalizes everything it touches. Ballard went on to develop this premise further in his novel The Crystal World.

The issue’s other novelet is the sf story “Sea Wrack” by Edward Jesby, his first published story and half of his career’s output. “Sea Wrack” was included in the World’s Best Science Fiction 1965 and reprinted by Damon Knight in A Science Fiction Argosy. F&SF included it as a Classic Reprint in the April/May 2009 issue, and the writing holds up incredibly well even decades later.

The issue also includes the usual variety of short stories. “You Have To Stay Inside” is an odd piece of horror flash by Calvin Demmon. “No Place Like Where” by Robert M. Green, Jr., offered social satire sf, and was another first published story. “A Red Heart and Blue Roses” by Mildred Clingerman was a dark fantasy original to and reprinted from her 1961 collection A Cupful Of Space. “Mar-ti-an” by Robert Lory offered some sf humor. “Touchstone” by Terry Carr is a bit of contemporary Greenwich Village fantasy. “The New Encyclopaedist,” subtitled “Entries for the Great Book of History, First Edition, 2100 A.D.,” by Stephen Becker, is sf humor flash. The issue closes with “Cantible,” fantasy by 23-year-old Jon DeCles, and the issue’s third instance of a first published story.

Jane RobertsOne other story and author from earlier in the issue deserves special note: “Three Times Around” by Jane Roberts. “Three Times Around” is a well-written and creepy horror story set in a laundromat, but that’s not (only) what makes it remarkable. In the late 1950s, early 1960s, Jane Roberts was considered an important figure in sf, mainly because of her stories published in F&SF; she was, for example, the only woman invited to Damon Knight’s first Milford science fiction conference/writers workshop in 1956. “Three Times Around” was Roberts’ last story for F&SF. In late 1963, she began to receive psychic messages from a figure called “Seth.” Roberts went on to publish 10 volumes of Seth Material, and now has a permanent archive of her work at Yale University. The hybrid philosophy of Seth was a huge popular phenomenon in the 1970s, and is considered a major influence on Deepak Chopra and others.

The rest of the issue includes an editorial by Avram Davidson bemoaning the lack of any good spaceship stories in the slush, a very good alien invasion sonnet by Christopher Corson, science essays by Theodore Thomas and Isaac Asimov, book reviews by Davidson, and one of F&SF‘s rare-ish letter columns, full of charming reactions to recent stories from regular readers.


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