“The Guthrie Method” by Raymond Z. Gallun / “Desperate Remedy” by Mack Reynolds

ASFM 37The 37th issue in the American Science Fiction Magazine pamphlet-format pulp reprint series, published in Australia by the Malian Press, features original cover art by Stanley Pitt. If not for the original illustrations, it’s hard to fathom just how desirable these magazines would be to collectors….

Originally printed in Science Fiction Quarterly (May 1954) “The Guthrie Method,” by Raymond Z. Gallun, honestly, is entirely droll. The slow, plodding pace of the plot and the obvious solution to Guthrie’s plight bored me to tears. The inexcusable insertion of a romance between himself and the weak feminine lead was utterly absurd. ‘Nuff said.

“Desperate Remedy” by Mack Reynolds is a space-opera, and one must indeed be desperate to finish reading this “chaser.” Like the preceding tale, this hails from the very same titled magazine, Science Fiction Quarterly (November 1954). A ship’s crew is sent on a secret mission to investigate a nuclear explosion deep in space only to learn the mission is twice as long as normal, and fear of space cafard (depression) soon runs rampant. But when an inexplicable murder occurs, one that has never occurred in space fleet history (an assertion that is laughable), cafard flees before the swell of the magnitude of the crew’s shock, and sudden interests flair and continuous catastrophes occur monthly. The killer is obvious from the start, despite Reynold’s attempt to disguise the culprit.

Granted, we are reading their fiction today rather than from a 1940s-50s viewpoint. At the time, this post-war stuff, written with a WW2 flair, would have been satisfying fare. To me, it simply fails to make the mark nor stand the test of time, unlike some of the other stories in these ASF magazines. I’m eagerly already delving into the next issue and it is filled with far-better stuff than this edition.

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