Blue Moon edited by Douglas Lindsay

Mayflower, 1970, 174 p

Blue Moon cover

I only really bought this because of its cover painting of an iconic V2-shaped rocket on a desolate planet with crescent moon overhead – a really evocative image. As to its contents, had I not noticed the publication date I would have sworn they were written in the 1950s. Such is the rudimentary writing style adopted by all the contributors, the emphasis on gung-ho action, the cartoon characterization, the ad-hoc information dumping, the casual xenophobia, the equally unthinking sexism, this read like a pulp magazine. The New Wave might as well not have happened.

Blue Moon1 by Norman L Knight starts with a totally unnecessary prologue and goes on into an equally forgettable space adventure which throws a decades-marooned spaceman, telepathy, and aliens up in the air then allows them to land where they will, with a rather telling aside about black humans being easily forgotten and sexual dynamics of the most rudimentary kind. (This last stricture applies to most of the stories here.)

Twilight of Tomorrow2 by Joseph Gilbert features a dictator who commissions a time machine to enable him to eliminate the threat to his plans to take over the world. Unfortunately the story’s last sentence, its whole raison d’être, for which it depends for its effect, isn’t true within the terms of the story. For the spoiler see Pedant’s corner.

Rain of Fire3 by Ray Cummings is a tale of interplanetary conflict. The eponymous rain is inflicted on Earth by inhabitants of the Jovian moon Phorgos. Three humans set off in a space-flyer – home-built by a Dr Livingston – to try to find out how to stop it. Phorgos is small and said to be utterly inhospitable; yet has a breathable atmosphere!! The three’s immediate response to its inhabitants is to shoot at them.

In Time Exposure by E A Grosser, using the new Hsuing drivers reveals the Lorentz-Fitzgerald effect to be an expansion rather than a contraction. Ships’ crews end up spread all over time.

The Case of the Vanishing Cellars4 by J S Klimaris features the Society for the Investigation of Unusual Phenomena looking into why cellars are suddenly disappearing. It’s all a fiendish alien plot.

In Ajax of Ajax5 by Martin Barrow, a certain Ajax Calkins is invited to be the ruler of a group of planetoids orbiting the leading of Jupiter’s Trojan Points and which are named after ancient Greek heroes. This is all as a cover for piracy.

The last two stories were written by Hugh Raymond. Washington Slept Here6 sees a real estate agent set out to find why there is a spate of seemingly natural deaths in the company’s properties. By the end the story has morphed over into fantasy. The Year of Uniting starts off in a US right winger’s wet dream of a restrictive US state (run by something called the Science Government.) Protagonist John Clayhorn makes his escape to Europe and there (for reasons unexplained in the text) receives help to instigate a revolution back home.

As a collection it’s tempting to say Blue Moon is of its time. But it’s actually worse than that. Even in its time it ought to have been after its time. Before 2016 I’d have said it is only to be read now as a historical curio. But we may well be going back there.

If you see a copy, buy it for its cover only.

Pedant’s corner:- Despite it being a British publication all of the stories are written in USian. 1an unindented new paragraph (x 2,) Hermes’ (Hermes’s,) demonaic (demoniac,) Dinapod (elsewhere Dinopod,) crepulscular (crepuscular,) equatic (aquatic,) terrestrial (terrestial.) “A gang of Dinopods were labouring” (a gang was,) a missing start quote mark at one piece of dialogue, a missing full stop. 2one less hero (fewer,) a missing full stop. Spoiler follows. That last sentence was, “He never existed.” But he did exist, up until the year of the time machine’s intervention in his life. And if he hadn’t, there wouldn’t have been a story. 3frightening numerous (frighteningly,) Hans’ (Hans’s,) “a line of metallic globes and cylinders were being assembled” (a line of …. was being assembled,) “Earth was a huge yellow glowing ball” (yellow?) “My metal-tipped fingers somehow seemed gripping Simms’s shoulder” (seemed to be gripping,) plus why invent a Jovian Moon? 4“a fine spech” (speech.) 5“Martian non-wheel cars” (the one the narrator is in has an exterior …. wheel! The whole is five lines later called “a huge single wheel”. Words almost fail me,) thusly (thusly? Who in real life ever uses that word?) Jobian (Jovian,) “the movements of one would effect all the others” (affect.) 6“‘I have never before been known consciously to refuse a drink’” (since the speaker hasn’t refused one this time either, that “before” is redundant,) “in the older days” (in the olden days is more usual,) nonchalently (nonchalantly.) 7Sanders’ (Sanders’s,) “she sat the both of them” (she seated both of them,) “with no slight sign of suspicion” (without the slightest sign of suspicion is a more natural phrasing,) Curtis’ (Curtis’s,) “in which was stored some rare viands and beverages” (viands, plural; and beverages, also plural; so “in which were stored.”)

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