A series of articles by John Campbell, editor of Analog
magazine from 1937 until his death in 1971. Each is an editorial from an edition of the Analog
science-fiction and science magazine, and this collection was pulled together by the late, great, Harry Harrison in 1966. While many of the editorials from the magazine would have been about the content of that month's magazine, the purpose of this collection is to gather together the more strident opinion pieces instead.
Each piece strikes at somebody's cherished talisman. Whether he's arguing that the US FDA should have approved the use of Thalidomide in-spite of the destruction the drug went on to cause; that segregation (by ability) in education is a good thing, even though it will cause segregation by race as a by-product; that some poor people are just lazy – because after all, some successful people used to be poor until they worked hard to escape it; that black Americans and Chinese Americans have resulted in very different success levels in immigrant populations; and so on. Not all his articles are political – many are about science-fiction the genre or about science as fact – the two key subjects of the magazine, Analog
, itself. But, by and large, these editorials are of a political bent, with a right-of-centre and pro-science ideology. Many of the articles are deliberately antagonistic in style, often narrowing or widening the definition of certain loaded words. While most of the editorials are from the early 1960s, many are from the 1950s, and two date back to the 1940s. Their age dates many of the ideas heavily, and makes many of the editorials, especially the ones that touch on race, awkward, if not downright painful, reading. I would assume they were still fairly incendiary even when they were written. Campbell doesn't seem to ask that you agree with him, or even that you shut up and listen – but he does ask that you think about the beliefs you already hold and allow them to be challenged.