The March 1958 issue of Science Fiction Adventures had another cover by Emsh. Robert Silverberg was back as “Calvin Knox” to wrap up the saga of Hallam Navarre in “Vengeance of the Space Armadas.” Hallam returns to Kariad on a mission to find how much danger Earth may be in. He is disguised as a Jorian and taken into custody on Kariad. His taking of ships from both the Jorus and Kariad navies has led to a tense diplomatic situation that may lead to war. Jorus and Kariad blame each other for the missing spaceships.
Navarre gets out of his predicament with the aid of Helna Winstin, the Earthman advisor on Kariad. Disguised as a diplomat of Kariad, he travels to Jorus where he attempts to fool his arch enemy Kausirn the Vegan. His disguised exposed, he escapes to the planet Morank, a rival to both Jorus and Kariad. He convinces the ruler of Morank to lend twelve space battle cruisers to aid Earth.
The third act is the space armada battle where Kausrin receives his just desserts. The three novellas would be combined as a fix up novel for Ace Books, Lest We Forget Thee, Earth later that year in 1958. This was a fun but light-weight space opera series. Not on the level of Poul Anderson but entertaining.
Christopher Anvil’s “Destination Unknown” is a short story. It is also the most-straight attempt to adapt a western trope to space opera. A bully on an asteroid waystation is waiting to take out a famous again space gun fighter on his way back to Earth. The main character is a clerk who finds courage. Not a bad story. I may check out more Anvil.
Charles V. De Vet is another of those 1950s magazine science fiction writers who has had very little reprinted. “The Scarlet Sun Rises.” Fred Thelen is an agent for EIAC– Earth Interplanetary Adjustment Corps sent to the planet of New France. The Observer there stopped transmitting months earlier. The planet was settled by French colonists and poorly run. There is one main continent on the planet controlled by an aristocracy in a situation repeating the French Revolution. I found this story just sort of ho-hum despite the interesting premise.
Harlan Ellison is back with “Big Sam Was My Friend.” A circus operator narrates the story of Big Sam. Big Sam has the ability to teleport. There is a back-story of Sam searching for a dead love somewhere in the galaxy where he knows heaven exists. He finds the girl who is to be sacrificed in the Sacred Virgin Festival. He intervenes and in an Ellisonian twist, the girl he saves gives the verdict that he dies. The rest of the circus just stands there letting Sam get his head cut off by the executioner because they did not want to lose the money. The previous stories in Science Fiction Adventures did not read so much like Harlan Ellison. “Big Sam Was My Friend” did. The story is almost more fantasy, but the teleporting angle is science fiction. The interstellar setting is a sign of the times. The story was reprinted in I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream.
This issue was no grand slam but did have three enjoyable stories with one mediocre story. Robert Silverberg continues to carry the magazine almost single handedly.