The Year of the Jackpot (The Galaxy Project Book 20)
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This novelette appeared in the March 1952 issue of GALAXY and is the only work which Heinlein wrote specifically for Horace Gold, the editor of GALAXY magazine. (Heinlein’s novel THE PUPPET MASTERS had been serialized in the September through November 1951 issues of GALAXY but Gold had merely acquired serial rights to a contract novel which had been written for Scribner’s.) Heinlein never again appeared in Gold’s GALAXY. This novelette, set in a near-future only subtly different from the McCarthyite and politically menacing present deals with social deterioration, cultural breakdown in a careful, documentary style which becomes terrifying. His romantically-linked leads are emotionally affecting but never sentimentalized, the background of chaos in which they enact their tragic, drowning love, is sparingly but furiously painted. Heinlein’s 1952 is clearly the apotheosis of those “Crazy Years” which he had noted in his famous chronological Future History, published a decade earlier in ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION as a precis of his intended career. Perhaps no story of this period limns its political and cultural dysfunction as accurately as this novelette. Overshadowed by Heinlein’s juveniles and his famous later novels, THE YEAR OF THE JACKPOT may be the purest version of his portfolio and his most memorable work of less than novel length. It is one of his most exemplary stories and perhaps his best.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) was the first great science fiction writer of the so-called “Modern” (post-Campbellian) period and still perhaps the best. His first story, “Life-Line” was published in the August 1939 issue of ASTOUNDING, within three years with novels and novelettes such as SIXTH COLUMN, BLOWUPS HAPPEN, UNIVERSE, THE ROADS MUST ROLL, METHUSALEH’S CHILDREN he had become the most dominant writer in the history of science fiction; this was a position he did not relinquish for the rest of his life nor has it yet been relinquished. A list of his novels is virtually a pocket history of science fiction--THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS, STARSHIP TROOPERS, STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND, DOUBLE STAR, I WILL FEAR NO EVIL--and all of them remain in print and controversial to this moment. He won the Hugo for Best Novel four times, was three time Guest of Honor at the World Science Fiction Convention and was the first Grand Master of the Science Fiction Writers of America. His history and that of modern science fiction cannot in any way be disentangled.
ABOUT THE SERIES
Horace Gold led GALAXY magazine from its first issue dated October 1950 to science fiction’s most admired, widely circulated and influential magazine throughout its initial decade. Its legendary importance came from publication of full length novels, novellas and novelettes. GALAXY published nearly every giant in the science fiction field.
The Galaxy Project is a selection of the best of GALAXY with new forewords by some of today’s best science fiction writers. The initial selections in alphabetical order include work by Ray Bradbury, Frederic Brown, Lester del Rey, Robert A. Heinlein, Damon Knight, C. M. Kornbluth, Walter M. Miller, Jr., Frederik Pohl, Robert Scheckley, Robert Silverberg, William Tenn (Phillip Klass) and Kurt Vonnegut with new Forewords by Paul di Filippo, David Drake, John Lutz, Barry Malzberg and Robert Silverberg. The Galaxy Project is committed to publishing new work in the spirit GALAXY magazine and its founding editor Horace Gold.
QUARANTINE REGULATIONS PREVIOUSLY ISSUED WILL BE RIGIDLY ENFORCED. LONG LIVE THE UNITED STATES! HARLEY J. NEAL, LIEUTENANT GENERAL, ACTING CHIEF OF GOVERNMENT. ALL STATIONS RELAY TWICE. THIS IS THE FREE RADIO AMERICA RELAY NETWORK. PASS THIS ALONG, BOYS! GOVERNOR BRANDLEY WAS SWORN IN TODAY AS PRESIDENT BY ACTING CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS UNDER THE RULE-OF-SUCCESSION. THE PRESIDENT NAMED THOMAS DEWEY AS SECRETARY OF STATE AND PAUL DOUGLAS AS SECRETARY OF DEFENSE. HIS SECOND OFFICIAL ACT WAS TO STRIP
intellectual pleasure at the man’s tight mathematical reasoning. A three per cent imbalance in the solar constant—yes, that was standard stuff; the Sun would nova with that much change. But Dynkowski went further. By means of a novel mathematical operator which he had dubbed “yokes,” he bracketed the period in a star’s history when this could happen and tied it down with secondary, tertiary, and quaternary yokes, showing exactly the time of highest probability. Beautiful! Dynkowski even assigned
lasting effect not only upon science fiction but upon literature itself. J.G. Ballard stated that he had been deeply affected by Galaxy. Alan Arkin, an actor who became a star after 1960 and won an Oscar in the new millennium, contributed two stories in the mid-fifties. At this point Gold was succumbing to agoraphobia, physical ills, and overall exhaustion (some of this perhaps attributable to his active service during WWII) against which he had struggled from the outset. (There is creditable
evidence that Frederik Pohl was the de facto editor during Gold’s last years.) Gold would return some submissions with notes like: “Garbage,” “Absolute Crap.” Isaac Asimov noted in his memoir “Anthony Boucher wrote rejection slips which read like acceptances. And Horace wrote notes of acceptance which felt like rejections.” Despite this, the magazine retained most of its high standard and also some of its regular contributors (William Tenn, Robert Sheckley, Pohl himself). Others could no longer
drawer, hauled out a graph. “The amplitude is more than twice as great and we haven’t reached peak. What the peak will be, I don’t dare guess—three separate rhythms, reinforcing.” She peered at the curves. “You mean that the lad with the arctic real estate deal is somewhere on this line?” “He adds to it. And back here on the last crest are the flagpole sitters and the goldfish swallowers and the Ponzi hoax and the marathon dancers and the man who pushed a peanut up Pikes Peak with his nose.