International Science Fiction 2


Nathalie Charles-Henneberg’s Ysolde

International Science Fiction No. 2 pages 114 & 115From International Science Fiction No. 2 (June 1968):

ISF closes its second issue on a high note with a story from France. “Ysolde,” by the series’ only female author, Nathalie Charles-Henneberg, is translated by Damon Knight. A bittersweet story rich with unexpected twists and bents as it unravels.

“Ah, Nyx! That’s something else again. Everything is real there, but time flows backward. Is it an effect of the planet’s rotation, or of its sun, Spica?”

Perhaps this mysterious world, long ago effaced from the astrogational maps, holds the key to freeing Iza, a blind, deaf child with white-golden hair, imprisoned in her own body.

Nathalie Henneberg (1910–1977) began her writing career collaborating with her husband Charles Henneberg on his novels. After his death in 1959, Nathalie continued writing, initially as Nathalie Charles-Henneberg, and later as simply Nathalie Henneberg. Her solo stories were more fantasy than science fiction.

Romain Yarov’s Civilization

International Science Fiction No. 2 page 108From International Science Fiction No. 2 (June 1968):

ISF2’s final tale from the U.S.S.R., “The Founding of Civilization” by Romain Yarov begins with the concept of time travel as a sporting event.

A nineteen-year-old racer named Jorgen Jorgenson traveled through twenty- four centuries in three hours, eighteen minutes, forty-eight and three-tenth seconds.

This record-breaking performance sparks the public’s interest and the real race begins. The sport is accepted into the Spartacus Games and the world’s champions compete, including the favorites Vassily Fedoseyeyv and Konstantin Paramonov.

The race begins. Tension is high. Fedoseyeyv is expected to win, but not only does Paramonov triumph instead, but every other participant returns before the famed Soviet. Finally, as hope to avert a disaster is nearly gone, Fedoseyeyv returns. He had stopped. A technical glitch had forced his hand. An error that disqualifies him from the race and the sport for several months. Where did he stop? The 33rd century BC. The primitive people there helped him and in return he left them a gift that turned out to have some rather long-term significance.

Two collections of Soviet SF stories that include some overlap of the stories/authors from ISF were published in English editions. Yarov’s “The Founding of Civilization” was reprinted in Other Worlds, Other Seas (Random House 1970) and his story “Goodby, Martian!” was included in The Molecular Cafe (Mir 1968).

Hugo Correa’s skyscraping robot

International Science Fiction No. 2 (June 1968) page 104From International Science Fiction No. 2 (June 1968):

From Chile, “Meccano” by Hugo Correa is about a robot, a gargantuan guardian, tall as an eighty-story skyscraper, that protects the precious ore on a mysterious planet from those who would mine it; like the Earth crew filling the holds of their spacecraft as the story opens.

Hugo Correa (1926–2008) was a journalist and a pivotal figure in Latin American science fiction. A few of his stories have been translated into English: “The Last Element” Fantasy and Science Fiction (April 1962); “Alter Ego” F&SF (July 1967); and “When Pilate Said No” Comos Latinos: An Anthology of Science Fiction from Latin America and Spain (Wesleyan University Press 2003).

Editors Andrea L. Bell and Yolanda Molina-Gavilán wrote in their introduction to Comos Latinos:

Thus Latin America SF entered its first golden age, a period generally thought to have run for about fifteen years starting in 1959, the year when Chile’s Hugo Correa published his modern classics The Superior Ones (Los altísimos) and Someone Dwells within the Wind (Alguien mora en el viento).

Claus Felber’s Mesmerizing Flowers

International Science Fiction No. 2 page 98From International Science Fiction No. 2 (June 1968):

From Austria, “Flowers in His Eyes” by Claus Felber is a haunting story about a family that becomes obsessed with a species of multi-colored lilies on Altair IV. This appears to be Felber’s only translated story.

Giesy and Smith’s 2112

nternational Science Fiction No. 2 page 93From International Science Fiction No. 2 (June 1968):

“In 2112” by Americans, J.U. Giesy and J.B. Smith, was translated from Esperanto by Forrest J. Ackerman. A professor sends his colleague 200 years into the future through some sort of hypnotic experiment. The traveler finds his true love and what seems to be the point of the story—Esperanto is now the dominant worldwide language. Sadly, our hero wakes up ten minutes later, decades before his soul mate takes her first breath.

John Ulrich Giesy (1877–1947) and Junius Bailey Smith (1883–1945) were the creators of Semi Dual (aka Prince Abduel Omar) an astrologer, mystic, telepathist and psychologist. Sometimes credited as the first occult detective, Dual’s adventures appeared in early pulp magazines like Cavalier, All-Story Weekly, and Argosy for nearly 25 years. Altus Press is currently reprinting the Semi Dual stories in a series of new trade paperbacks.

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).