Monday, September 18, 2017

Review of "Imaginative Tales #4 March 1955"

Review of
Imaginative Tales #4 March 1955

Four out of five stars
 As a general tactic, I occasionally go back and read earlier versions of a specific genre. For example, I read Hardy Boys, adolescent sports fiction and Tom Swift books from the sixties and earlier. It gives me an interesting  perspective on changing social conditions. I also scour bookstores for earlier issues of science fiction magazines, both to look for stories from my favorite authors and to read material that gives me perspective on how the genre has changed.
 When I spotted this issue on a shelf, I immediately grabbed it, for to my knowledge I had never encountered this magazine before. In appearance, it fits the stereotype of the covers of science fiction magazines, it has a topless mermaid holding up a fishing line where the bobber and a lock of her hair are strategically located.
 The main story is “Mr. Margate’s Mermaid” by Robert Bloch. I have read other material by Bloch and consider him a good writer of science fiction. In this story, Mr. Margate is a collector of unusual creatures from myths and legends. He has a werewolf, vampire, centaur, mermaid and a tree nymph. The narrator is a man hired to serve as a basic aid in dealing with the unusual creatures.
 Although he is the proud possessor of some of the most unusual creatures in the world, Mr. Margate wants more, so he send his blind aide to hunt down Medusa, the creature whose sight will turn you to stone. Things go very wrong and a witch is consulted in an attempt to correct things. The narrator is challenged to get things back to what is considered “normal” in the Margate household.
 The second story is “The Man With Two Lives” and involves a new way to deal with murderers rather than simply execute them. They are injected with a new personality and memories and released back into society. In the story, the process does not go as well as it should.
 The third story is “Four Hours to Eternity” and involves an incident in an interstellar war, where the opponent of the humans has targeted a powerful light mine on a human vessel. If the ship is to survive, a member of the crew must go to the mine and somehow defuse it. The captain seeks volunteers for what is clearly a suicide mission and the most unruly member of the crew is selected. His solution is interesting as is the confrontation at the end.
 The last story is “Dream Street” and is a retelling of the classic situation where a boy is growing up dreaming of a career in a very exciting field, in this case being a member of the crew of a spaceship. Replace the career with joining the military, joining the crew of a seagoing ship or being a policeman and the skeleton of the plot is well known.
 The stories are all quick reads and have generally stood the test of time, there have been no scientific advancements that render plot devices completely unrealistic. For the plots are more about humans and how they deal with situations that they are with scientific facts that were updated.

I enjoyed them all, although none was spectacular.

No comments:

Post a Comment