ORBIT 20 by Damon--Ed. Knight


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Orbit seems to have been flattening out the last few times around. More than half the current issue is taken up by a pair of novellas: Kate Wilhelm's ""Moon-gate"" (a young woman and two men investigate an area of time dislocation in the Oregon desert) and Gene Wolfe's ""Seven American Nights"" (in a ruined, mutation-riddled America, a youthful traveler from the rich and advanced Middle East seeks exotic adventures in love and altered consciousness). The first of these has the earmarks of being an excerpt from a longer, rather bland work in progress; the second is a lurid but elegant Totentanz of marvelous originality. Among the six shorter stories Steve Chapman's tale of two prosthetic hands competing for an owner and Pamela Sargent's witty account of a writer in training for the Olympic novella race (""My style was standard. I smoked heavily and gulped coffee while slouching over my machine"") are the liveliest. Philippa C. Maddern contributes a thoughtful story of the fatally wrong assumptions made by a planetary reconnaissance team. The efforts of Terrence L. Brown, Ronald Anthony Cross, and R. A. Lafferty (a droll spinoff on the legend of the never-empty purse) are tidy but curiously tame. All in all, the inclusion of both novellas at once was a mistake; the balance of the entire issue is skewed and dissatisfying.

Pub Date: March 8th, 1978
Publisher: Harper & Row