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International Science Fiction 2

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B. Sridhar Rao’s Victims of Time

International Science Fiction No. 2 page 79From International Science Fiction No. 2 (June 1968):

From India, “Victims of Time” written and translated by B. Sridhar Rao, M.D. It’s a three-page mashup of D.O.A. and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. A scientist reverses the aging process, curing those with debilitating health conditions like the protagonist. But when it’s realized the human race will become extinct in a single lifetime, the scientist reverses the process again and our protagonist finds himself writing his story as each sentence brings him closer to the end.

The story was included in The Penguin World Omnibus of Science Fiction edited by Brian Aldiss with Sam J. Lundwall (1986).

G. Altow’s Heroic Symphony

International Science Fiction No. 2From International Science Fiction No. 2 (June 1968):

From Poland, “Heroic Symphony” by G. Altow, translated by George T. Zobrowski, was also the subject of ISF #2’s cover painting by Jack Gaughan. A probe, sent into deep space to the star Van Maanena forty years ago, is returning to Earth. The old man who designed is joined by a young man at a nearly deserted spaceport in the mountains. Neither character is named. The youth is young enough to be the older man’s grandson.

The younger defers to the old man’s deliberate, quiet approach, controlling his initial impulses at times, on faith alone. This interplay between the exuberance of youth and the experience of age are as much a part of the story as the action.

When the probe arrives, it plunges into a nearby lake, then bobs to the surface. A small “vehicle” detaches itself from the ship and heads for the shore, for the hanger. The youth comments on its clever design like an amphibious sled.

The old man explains the development problems with the robots.

“They had to be able to travel over the roughest terrain imaginable. Some moron built a robot that was man-like. What nonsense! Why should we duplicate all of man’s bodily defects? The results were disastrous. Finally we built this sled-amphibian and yet it still doesn’t solve all the problems.”

The old man methodically examines the robot’s exterior and concludes it has been completely torn down and reassembled by some beings of extraordinary intelligence.

The star Van Maaena has one planet, and the beings who live there live in a world of anti-matter. The same atoms, but instead of electrons, positrons, protons, neutrons, mesons—anti-protons, anti-neutrons, and anti-mesons.
The aliens had learned how to safely cross the void between matter and anti-matter. When the two men hear the robot’s audio recording they learn the aliens are on their way to Earth.

Genrikh Saulovich Altshuller (1926–1998) was imprisoned as a preteen for political reasons, under the Stalin regime. The experience left impressions that remained throughout his life. In “Heroic Symphony” he wrote:

Only very strong men can be confronted directly with their youth, shrug and go on their way. Cowards avoid such encounters; men of integrity grow stronger through them.

After his release he went on to become an engineer and created the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving, known by its Russian acronym TRIZ. He served as the first President of the TRIZ Association. He began writing science fiction in the 1950s under the pseudonym Genrikh Altov (Altow), often with his wife, Valentina Zhuravleva. Only a handful of his stories have been translated into English. He died on September 24, 1998 from complications of Parkinson’s disease.

Alessandro Mussi’s Darkness

International Science Fiction No. 2 page 63From International Science Fiction No. 2 (June 1968):

From Italy, Alessandro Mussi brings us “Darkness.” A young girl falls in with a hunchback and a blind man, who often speak in questions over the story’s three pages. She’d best stay with her new friends, there are too many questions about her old ones. A bit too vague to satisfy this reader.

Alessandro Mussi (1945– 2008) wrote half a dozen stories and one novel in the 1960s.

A. Dneprov’s Island of the Crabs

International Science Fiction No. 2 page 49From International Science Fiction No. 2 (June 1968):

The U.S.S.R. grabs the spotlight with “The Island of the Crabs” by A. Dneprov, an issue highlight. Isolated on a tropical island, an engineer conducts a Darwinian experiment with self-replicating, evolving robotic crabs.

Cookling squatted down and began to chortle.
“Will you stop grimacing like an idiot!” I shouted. “Where did the second crab come from?”
“It was born! It was born during the night!”

Theoretically, the crab’s military potential could be unlimited, but the engineer soon learns that playing Mother Nature is not for the ill equipped.

Anatoly Dneprov (1919–1975) was a distinguished physicist who worked at an institute of the U.S.S.R. Academy of Sciences. His best known story is “The Maxwell Equations,” published in English in 1963. His short story “Formula for Immortality” was included in the New Soviet Science Fiction anthology (1979), edited by Theodore Sturgeon.

Juliette Raabe’s Cyclical Housewife

ISF No. 2 page 44From International Science Fiction No. 2 (June 1968):

From France, “Notes From a Cyclical Housewife’s Diary” by Juliette Raabe, is translated by Damon Knight. Told entirely in diary entries, only backwards, in an opposite universe.

We’re going to sit down at the table. I lay out the dirty plates and silverware that were piled in the sink. Roger brings in the full garbage can.

A clever, sometimes confusing story, that remains curious and entertaining because the author, rightly, kept it short—to five pages. She obviously had fun writing it. One entry reads: “I like fish better than a cat; I don’t know why, cats give me willies.” Oppositely, Juliette Raabe (b. 1929) created a massive anthology celebrating the little beasties: The Illustrated Library of the Cat, in 1977. Prior to that she wrote two books, Brain Teasers (1967) and The Game of the Awélé (1972).

Gust Gils’ Hot Kosmonaut

International Science Fiction No. 2 page 42From International Science Fiction No. 2 (June 1968):

Perhaps a last minute filler, absent from the contents page, “Der Heisse Kosmonaut” by Gust Gils, of The Netherlands, is a two-page romp about an astronaut conditioned 
to tolerate the heat of the Sun.

Eventually he was able to take a liquid steel shower.

The Kosmonaut completes his mission to land on the Sun, but the heat goes to his head and he refuses to conduct any research, let alone return to Earth.

Gust Gils (1924–2002) was a poet, artist and writer. He was one of the founders of the avant-garde magazine Gard Sivik in 1955. “Der Heisse Kosmonaut” is the only story I found by him in the FictionMags Index.

John R. Isaac on Andromeda

International Science Fiction No. 2 page 35From International Science Fiction No. 2 (June 1968):

“The Coming of Age of Soviet Science Fiction,” an essay by John R. Isaac, credits Ivan Yefremov’s Andromeda with his article’s premise.

In this single book, Yefremov has developed a Weltanschauung into a detailed future society and has thrown out enough ideas for a hundred stories, a service that should prove as beneficial for the Soviets as Well’s work has for the English-speaking world.

The article details key aspects of Andromeda’s utopian future society where happiness is derived from one’s work, followed by an overview of the novel’s plot. If it sounds like the Andromeda’s world is communist propaganda, it is. “For the dreamers of the world, whether Russian or American, Occidental or Oriential, the vision of Andromeda is a tempting one.”

Parnov & Yemtsew’s Last Door

ISF No. 2 page 8From International Science Fiction No. 2 (June 1968):

We head back to the U.S.S.R. for the opening story in ISF #2, “The Last Door” by E. Parnov and M. Yemtsew, translated by Mirra Ginsburg. The story’s pace begins slowly, with plenty of detail to transport the reader into a fictive future where Sashok Yegorov visits his friend and colleague Vasily Nechiporenko in Musikovla.

Nechiporenko has recently returned from an expedition to Mars. He describes the surface of the planet as fairly level. The Martian’s giant cities are concealed deep underground.

“Dead cities. Not a single Martian is left; we found only billions of strange dry shells. Perhaps the chitin coating of insects, or some sort of clothing.
“The only interesting conclusion we obtained is that the Martians were preparing to leave for Aiya. But what is Aiya? And how were two billion Martians transported there?”

In addition to the larger mystery of the Martian’s fate, a smaller mystery develops when several deaths are revealed during and after the expedition. When an Official appears at the house to make an arrest, something alien brings his investigation and the story to a satisfying conclusion.

Lester del Rey’s Balance of Ideas

Galaxy June 1968From International Science Fiction No. 2 (June 1968):

The second issue of ISF opens with an editorial, “The Balance of Ideas,” by Lester del Rey, that illustrates the importance of ideas from a global perspective (expressed in tongues other than English) and therefore ISF’s importance as an access point.

Public opinion on the Vietnam War was hot and passionate in 1968. A two-page ad with a list of science fiction luminaries appeared on opposing pages of this edition; those supporting the war on one side and those against it on the other. The same ad broke in the June 1968 issue of Galaxy where it was followed by an editorial by Frederik Pohl, who wasn’t happy about either side. In ISF, the ad ran without further comment.