Sunday, March 22, 2020

Birthday Review: Stories of Raymond Z. Gallun

Raymond Z. Gallun (1911-1994) was one of the writers who graduated from the Gernsback Era SF magazines to John W. Campbell's Astounding. His early story "Old Faithful", from Astounding in 1934, was very popular. He published short fiction regularly until the mid-1950s, and after that mostly just a few novels through 1985.  Today would have been his 109th birthday. In his honor, here's a review of four of his 1950s short stories, plus a link to a review I posted some while ago of his 1961 novel The Planet Strappers.

Review of The Planet Strappers

Thrilling Wonder Stories, April 1951

Finally, Raymond Z. Gallun's "The First Long Journey" is another story about man overcoming the incredible difficulty of space travel. This is about a man on the first trip to Mars, and his difficulty believing he'll make it, all alone as he is. He whiles away the time remembering a girl he used to know, talks to himself a lot ... and nothing much happens, certainly nothing that convinced me.

Planet Stories, March 1952

Raymond Z. Gallun (1911-1994) was one of the few Hugo Gernsback discoveries to continue to produce work after Campbell's revolution. That said, he was mostly silent after the mid-50s. His most famous story is probably still "Old Faithful", from Astounding in 1934, which featured a sympathetically portrayed Martian. "Return of a Legend" is also set on Mars. A small human research station is the only Earth presence on mostly uninhabitable Mars, but there are stories about one old "wilderness tramp" who survived on the land for a few years. Then a man and his young son show up, and the two end up going native for long stretches. The father dies inevitably, but the boy is never discovered. He must have died, surely, but then he is found. His father's younger sister shows up and tries to make a relationship with him, but the boy misses Mars too much and escapes again, and so his aunt, now married to one of the long time Mars regulars, goes on a trek to try to find him, and they too end up required to find a way to survive on the surface. It's not really that plausible, but Gallun works pretty hard to make is at least a bit believable, and their eventual struggle to make a family and to become "real Martians", even as the research station is abandoned, ends up pretty moving.

Science Fiction Adventures, July 1953

The Feature Novel is Raymond Z. Gallun's "Legacy From Mars" (15500 words). Some miner types on Mars discover intelligent fish. They take the fish back to Earth with them, and the fish learn how to speak English. They also make music. The money-grubbing Captain has some nefarious plans, but rather implausibly, he is foiled, and the two good guys (along with the daughter of one who becomes the wife of the other) end up touring with the fish as a novelty act. But eventually the fish have their own plans ... Rather a silly story, I thought.

Science Fiction Stories, 1953

Raymond Z. Gallun's "Comet's Burial" (7500 words) is a somewhat predictable story about a pair of prospectors on the Moon. The older one is convinced that the way to make the Moon a going concern is to find water -- and that water exists below the surface, and can be brought to the surface by crashing a comet into the Moon. The younger man is not so sure, but he finds himself shanghaied into helping his partner in this mad scheme -- and they end up in prison for there efforts. However ... d'ya think maybe they might end up vindicated? It's somewhat hackneyed, but reasonably entertaining.

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