Likes and Dislikes

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Likes and Dislikes  (1938) 
by Isaac Asimov

Letter published in Amazing Stories, November 1938.

Likes and Dislikes


I note with joy that your October, 1938, issue marks a definite break with the policies governing the first two issues of the new Amazing.

For instance, the cover is a painting and not one of those super-ultra-horrible photographs. Keep that up! Then again, and this is far more significant, I notice that not one of your stories suffers from superfluous love interest.

As for your other innovations, most of them are all right. The back cover is a wonderful idea and the departments (especially "Meet the Authors") are excellent. However, is it really necessary to be so terribly "down-to-earth" in your stories? I realize that it is best that different stf. magazines have different policies so as to cover the field adequately, but surely a tiny bit of imagination won't kill anyone.

There is no need to say anything about your going monthly. We science-fiction fans have waited for that for, lo, these many months and now that we have it, we breathe a silent prayer of thanks. For this noble effort I am really ready to forgive you such shortcomings as you possess.

I notice that you are quietly and very unobtrusively running a serial. Will this be your settled policy? Now that you're on a monthly basis, serials won't hurt, you know. "Revolution of 1950" is shaping up as a darn good story so far. There's not much science in it, but I would forgive Weinbaum far more than that. What an author that man was!

After "Revolution of 1950" come three stories, all about even and all good. 1. "Gland Superman," by Ed Earl Repp. (Gosh, it's good to see his name inside a science-fiction magazine once more. Try and get some more of the old-timers.) 2. "Atom Smasher," by Gordon A. Giles, and 3. "Locked City," by Thornton Ayre. Both these authors are consistently good, so you ought to keep them on your list. "Locked City," by the way, was the most imaginative story of the issue and I'll bet you find that it is one of the favorites. That'll show you that your readers aren't afraid of a thought-provoking story.

Next comes Harvey Emerson's "Artificial Hell," which was fairly good, and Kummer's "Flying Dutchman of Space," which was fair.

And now for my kick. "Horror's Head," by Lieutenant John Pease, was—the—worst—story—I've—read—in—a—long—time.

I don't quarrel with the author's political views, but why is it necessary to write a story expounding them? Theoretically, the story concerned something about an independently living head, but I'll be darned if I finished that story with any idea in my brain other than that Russia is the rottenest hell on earth ever conceived and that the rest of the world ought to join in a Holy Crusade against it. Or at least that is what I would think if I took Pease's words to heart.

Now look, is it absolutely necessary to write political treatises for the magazine? Furthermore, I think that entirely too many stories are being printed part or all of whose theme is the reaction against some form of despotism. I'll list them: 1. "Man Who Ruled the World"; 2. "Escape Through Space"; 3. "Locked City"; 4. "Revolution of 1950," and 5. "Horror's Head."

If you must give us down-to-earth stories, made them like "Atom-Smasher" and "Gland Superman."

Isaac Asimov,
174 Windsor Place,
Brooklyn, N. Y.

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