Sunday, January 4, 2015

"Gorgon Planet" by Robert Silverberg

First Publication:  Nebula Science Fiction, February 1954
Cover Artist:  Bob Clothier

Second Publication:  Super Science Fiction, October 1958
Cover Artist:  Emsh

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First Line:  "Our troubles started the moment the stiffened corpse of Flaherty was found, standing frozen in a field half a kilometer from the ship."

"Gorgon Planet" was a typical story of the early 1950s.  An exploratory mission to another world brings about the mysterious death of one of the crewmen.  The rest of the crew has to solve the mystery.  

Would I recommend this story to other readers?  Without a doubt.  Why?  Because it holds a place in the history of the field.  "Gorgon Planet" was the first science fiction story by Robert Silverberg to be published.  As such, it holds an honored position in the history of the field.

The history of the story is interesting.  It was first accepted in 1953 by Harry Harrison (of the "Stainless Steel Rat" fame) for one of two magazines he was editing.  Both magazines ("Rocket Stories" and "Space Science Fiction") went out of business before Silverberg's story could be published.  Fortunately, a Scottish science fiction magazine edited by Peter Hamilton accepted it.  So Silverberg's first appearance in a science fiction magazine was delayed until the February 1954 edition of "Nebula Science Fiction".  In 1958 it was reprinted in the October 1958 issue of "Super Science Fiction".  The editor changed the title to "The Fight with the Gorgon".  In addition to it was another Silverberg story, a short story by A. Bertram Chandler, and the issue closed out with one by Harlan Ellison. 

Little did the editors know at that time that Robert Silverberg would become one of the top writers in the field.  Thankfully they recognized his talent and helped to launch a long career.


Anonymous said...

great review! that's a crazy story that the magazine closed down before it got to his issue. And of course, no one at the time knew how famous he would become!

the "golden age" of short fiction mags, the successes, the failures, who worked on what when, what worked, what didn't, where the money came from, that would be something I'd be interested in learning more about.

Jim Black said...

I plan on doing more of the history of the stories when possible. The next short story I will be reviewing is Asimov's first published story "The Callistan Menace".

Anonymous said...

" An exploratory mission to another world brings about the mysterious death of one of the crewmen. The rest of the crew has to solve the mystery." - I think this theme is still thriving today, and - with variations - across genres.

I remember the Gorgon myth always fascinating me as a kid (even if the Star Trek episod. which tried to use it was one of the few forgettable ones..l) :-)

Carl V. Anderson said...

Love reading about the history of the story. That kind of information is so fascinating. The world of science fiction was like nothing else back in those days. It produced some great stuff, had some big problems, and is always interesting to read about.

Love the covers of these.