Brian Aldiss’ Hothouse No. 2

F&SF April 1961The second part of Brian Aldiss’ Hothouse saga appeared in Fantasy and Science Fiction (April 1961).

Evelyn E. Smith “Softly While You’re Sleeping”
Harold Calin “The Hills of Lodan”
Anne McCaffrey “The Ship Who Sang” (Brainship)
Robert Graves “Dead Man’s Bottles”
Kit Reed “Judas Bomb”
Grendel Briarton “Through Time and Space with Ferdinand Feghoot: XXXVIII”
Isaac Asimov: Science: My Built-In Doubter
Nils Peterson “Cosmic Sex and You”
Richard Banks “Daddy’s People”
Doris Pitkin Buck “On Hearing Another Report of Little Green Men from . . .” (verse)
Brian W. Aldiss “Nomansland” (Hothouse No. 2)

Cover by Ed Emshwiller

Contents from Galactic Central

An excerpt from Joe Wehrle, Jr.’s review of the Hothouse series, from The Digest Enthusiast book six:

“In ‘Nomansland’ (April 1961), the second part of the saga, we’re shown even more richness and multiplicity of the plant world. Toy is now nominal leader of the group since Lily-yo and the other elders have “Gone Up” but Gren is beginning to assert himself as a rebel, unwilling to submit to a leader. Oldest of the males, it is tabu for any of the females to touch him except during the courtship season.”

ISF1: Homunculus

From International Science Fiction No. 1 (Nov. 1967):

HomunculusIlya Varshavsky’s second tale for ISF No. 1 is “Homunculus,” again translated by S. Ostrofsky. A four-page hunt for the robot, Homunculus, who has gone berserk and escaped the home of his creator to run amok in the city. When he’s finally confronted the twist is both unexpected and expectant.

Frederick J. Mayer and Zhar’s Outré House

Weirdbook No. 34 page 78From Weirdbook No. 34:

Award-winning poet Frederick J. Mayer’s short story, “Zhar’s Outré House,” is a meld of poetry and narrative that delights in description over deed. For example: “The vivacious vixenish lead vocalist gave a fleeting foxy wink to her awaiting, appreciating, but inattentive friends situated in the darkly lit place’s menses red vinyl half-moon shaped booth. Dr. Anne du Voor, whose robust rotundity displayed how an obese form could show no excess fat; Dr. Koh Rei-mi’s, in her prime forties, physique could of been that of a young model for August Rodin and Lady Jones.”

ISF1: Witchcraft for Beginners

Story titleFrom International Science Fiction No. 1 (Nov. 1967):

From Italy, F.C. Gozzini contributes the very short “Witchcraft for Beginners.” It’s about a wonderful new weekly periodical, Witchcraft for Beginners and the two brothers who practice the spell detailed in each edition. Unfortunately, when the next issue suddenly fails to appear, they are both left in a lurch with no one to spell them.

ISF1: They Still Jump

ISF No. 1 page 91From International Science Fiction No. 1 (Nov. 1967):

“They Still Jump” is a story by J.L. Mahe from The Netherlands. It originally appeared in Monda Kultura (World Culture) in Esperanto, from which it was translated by Clarkson Crane.

The director of the Eiffel Tower, Monsieur Ploux, has a problem. Far too many are using the iron lady as their method of choice for suicide.

From the first level jumped the lovelorn, those with toothaches, the alcoholics, the unlucky bettors, the insane; from the second, widowers, bankrupts, gamblers, tax-payers; from the third, philosophers and poets.

It is an epidemic. Numerous methods are tried to end it but none can deter the determined. That is, until Monsieur Ploux puts his head together with Mr. Plow, general manager of the Golden Gate Bridge, who happens to have exactly the same problem.

ISF1: Perpetual Motion

International Science Fiction No. 1 page 86From International Science Fiction No. 1 (Nov. 1967):

From The U.S.S.R. Ilya Varshavsky’s “Perpetual Motion,” translated by S. Ostrofsky, is a light-hearted extrapolation on the societal roles of humans and robots, with characters like Spoon and Tape Recorder.

It was a very convenient invention, this calling every person by the name of some object, the image of which he wore on his chest. In this way, people talking to him were spared the trouble of remembering his name. Moreover, everyone tried to choose a name corresponding to his profession or hobby, thus letting people know in advance whom they were dealing with.

Ilya Iosifovich Varshavsky (1908–1974) was born in Kiev, when it was part of the Russian Empire. His writing career began late in his life. Purportedly, after criticizing his son for wasting time reading science fiction, the young man challenged his father to write some of his own—which he did. Varshavsky’s work has been compared to O. Henry’s. Several of his stories have been translated in collections like Path Into the Unknown The Best Soviet SF (Macgibbon & Kee, 1966), The Ultimate Threshold: A Collection of the Finest Soviet Science Fiction (Penguin, 1978), Fantasy & Science Fiction (August 1967), and World’s Spring (Macmillan, 1981).

Franklyn Searight: Excavation

Weirdbook No. 34 page 60From Weirdbook No. 34:

In “Excavation” by Franklyn Searight, a lightning strike in Morris Clooney’s front yard seems to have triggered something. Over the coming months the earth rises to form a rectangular bed, a puzzle with no logical explanation. Even when Morris hires a young neighbor to literally dig into the matter, his questions remain. Then, one night the answer begins to materialize in a remarkably explicit dream from a time long past.

ISF1: Ecdysiac

International Science Fiction No. 1 page 71From International Science Fiction No. 1 (Nov. 1967):

“Ecdysiac” by Robert Presslie, was originally published in England’s New Worlds Science Fiction (January 1963). Ecdysis is the shedding of an outer coating or a layer of skin like a snake or a crustacean; so the story title gives you the science angle of this one right off if you’re curious enough to look it up. Otherwise, much of what happens is more like a tale of espionage.

Richard Pike is a journalist with the unique ability to spot alien beings that have inhabited the bodies of humans. Then he kills them—or at least tries to. The story opens with his fourth unsuccessful attempt on his current target.

The tale is set in Warsaw and Presslie provides luscious local color as he expertly weaves his mystery through the city’s streets west of the Vistula River.

You would think,” he said, “that the Russians would change the name of their cars. The M in Zim and the S in Zis stand for Molotov and Stalin, both of whom are now out of favor. You would think they would change the name of the factories and call the cars Ziks.” (Khruschchev)

To calm his nerves after his foiled hit, Pike seeks release through drink and a woman. But he lets down his guard and finds himself escorted by authorities for questioning the following morning. His one-man mission is now in jeopardy until Presslie applies a few satisfying twists to cap off an already terrific story.

Robert Presslie (1920–2002) wrote science fiction most actively from the late 1950s through the early 1960s, while earning a living managing a pharmacy. With over three dozen short stories to his credit, his work appeared in New Worlds, Authentic, Nebula and Science Fantasy.

In a profile piece from New Worlds, he says, “If I was given the choice of an era to live in, I would choose the one I have because—like everyone who is in science fiction—I am a dreamer, and dreamers never had it so good. This must be the only age in which dreams come true while you wait.”

Digest Dolls

Image of box
Digest Dolls trading cards

An excerpt from review for The Digest Enthusiast book six:

In the early 1990s, Kitchen Sink Press called on award-winning novelist Max Allan Collins to research and write about classic cheesecake pin-ups for a series of three trading card sets. Each set of 36 cards is housed in its own full color, two-piece box featuring an image gleaned from the cards inside. The back of each card includes the results of Collins’ informative research.

Painted Ladies features pin-up calendar art from the 1940s and 1950s. Pocket Pin-Ups (see TDE4), presents a compact history of 1950s pocket-size magazine covers.

Digest Dolls card no. 1
Card No. 1

Collins’ introduces Digest Dolls (1993) on the back of card #1 (Tab w/Marilyn Monroe): “Throughout the 1950s and into the ’60s, digest-sized pin-up magazines provided their predominantly male readership with an endearingly tacky blend of pin-ups girls and tabloid journalism.” The women are posed in bikinis, negligees, or what have they—but never completely nude. The stories are Hollywood press releases, true crime reports, advice, and surveys—usually about sex.