Friday, July 31, 2009
Friday's "Forgotten" Magazine Issue: THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION, April 1973, edited and published by Edward Ferman (Mercury Press)
From the F&SF index-not a perfect tool, as one of the mistakes in Ellison's citations refers to the misbegotten television series The Starlost, which abused Ellison's "bible" and groundwork, as The Starcrossed, also correctly noted as Ellison collaborator Ben Bova's parodic novel about the travesty:
Dean McLaughlin, The Trouble With Project Slickenside nv
Avram Davidson. Books, reviewing:
Donald A. Wollheim (ed): The 1972 Annual World's Best SF; Terry Carr (ed) The Best Science Fiction of the Year; Robin Scott Wilson (ed): Clarion II; Lester del Rey (ed): Best Science Fiction Stories of the Year
Gahan Wilson, Cartoon ct
Thom Jones. Brother Dodo's Revenge ss
Edward Wellen, Chalk Talk vi
Baird Searles, Films: Return to Cobra Island
reviews Cobra Woman(1944), starring Maria Montez; The Undead (1957)
Chris G. Butler, A Coffin in Egypt ss
Gahan Wilson, The Zombie Butler vi 6th story in Moral vignettes series;
Waldo Carlton Wright, Spirit of the White Deer ss
John Sladek, Solar Shoe-Salesman by Ph*l*p K. D*ck ss
andrew j. offutt, Sareva: In Memoriam ss
Isaac Asimov, Science: Down From the Amoeba pop-science essay
Michael G. Coney, The Manya ss 1st story in Finistelle ser.
Walter H. Kerr, poem
Harlan Ellison, The Deathbird nv (Winner-1974 HUGO, JUPITER, LOCUS Awards;
Nominee-1973 NEBULA award)
So, I'd picked this issue up off a stack and browsed the Table of Contents, and realized I couldn't remember reading the Avram Davidson book review column...Davidson, the brilliant fiction writer and former F&SF editor, would occasionally drop back in duting the 1970s to offer a book column, one which otherwise would be conducted in those years by a rotating goup including James Blish till his final illness, Algis Budrys with ever-greater frequency in the latter '70s, Joanna Russ, Barry Malzberg, and others from time to time (the best lineup any fantastic-fiction magazine has ever had in this wise, F&SF in the 1970s, even if Damon Knight didn't publish reviews again in F&SF after 1960, and Fritz Leiber in the 1970s published most of his in longterm "rival" magazine Fantastic, instead). Sadly, this consideration of three of the Best of the Year annuals and a Clarion writing workshop anthology is unusually slight and terse for a Davidson review, if gracious and witty. Oddly enough, one of Harlan Ellison's few book-review essays for F&SF, a year before, was also a rundown of the available BOTYs, and a very good one.
But, quite aside from offering a gorgeous wraparound cover by Leo and Diane Dillon, one of the best the magazine has published (and it's a pity the Dillons and Ellison don't seem to work together any longer--a falling out, or is it simply that the Dillons are too expensive for most of Ellison's publishers these days?), for the best Harlan Ellison story I've read so far (both in terms of its power and breadth and even its flaws being so much of the Ellison geist)...quite aside from that, this issue also contains the one Thom Jones contribution to F&SF, a story which The Pugilist at Rest writer might be ashamed of (or he might've feared that being associated with fantastic fiction or the magazine might tar him somehow, the Vonnegut Perplex or the Hortense Calisher flitter. As it is, it is a reasonably deftly written if rather heavyhanded Orwellian animal fantasy; rather than Lenin and Trotsky with trotters, we have a convocation of Black Panthers and the American Indian Movement and the Young Lords as a Pogo-esque mixture of human-hating animals, including insects and an ill-fated "Tomming" martyr to the Revolution in the form of a cow, sacrificed not altogether accidentally to further the cause (which is greater than the fate of any one constituent, doncha know). Like myself, only fifteen years or so earlier, Thom Jones was a University of Hawaii dropout who took his degree elsewhere.
Ed Ferman's editorship was at least as notable as those around his for the occasional contributions from fiction writers better known for work in other modes...the first F&SF I ever perused, but decided against buying since I had only so many quarters on hand and the magazine was a buck, was the Janauary, 1976 issue...led off by and perhaps best remembered for Joanna Russ's "My Boat," but also featuring Stuart Dybek's disturbing "Horror Movie." Ellen Gilchrist would place her "The Green Tent" with F&SF a decade later.
Some quick notes: Edward Wellen's vignette is one of the few linguistics fantasies, Chonskyite deep structure and all, that I've come across. Wellen, much like such others as Herny Slesar, Fredric Brown, and Miriam Allen de Ford, was a crime fiction/fantastic fiction amphibian, and like them a multiple-story contributor to F&SF and its shortlived sibling magazine Venture Science Fiction. In fact, he was enough of a favorite with Edward Ferman, editor of both magazines from the mid '60s to the turn of the '90s (well, the Venture revival lasted only a year or so at the turn of the '70s), so that Ferman took Wellen's long novella/short novel GOLDBRICK and ran it, despite it having essentially no sf nor fantasy content, in the November, 1978 issue...it was more a crime fiction, but the only cf magazine running any long stories at this point was Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, and the only long-form fiction it wanted to run were the ghosted Shayne novellas.
John Sladek's Dick parody was one of a series of short lampoons that Sladek was publishing in those years...I don't have the issue at hand at this moment, but it's a rich and dense parody, and if there's an indispensible line in it, it would be (paraphrased from memory, to be corrected later): "This was the end of existence, they all agreed."
Gahan Wilson contributed a cartoon to every issue of F&SF for 17 years, from Edward Ferman's first issuue till Ferman and Wilson had a falling out...a loss all around, particularly since Wilson's occasional fine fiction for the magazine also ceased.
andrew j. offutt often made a point of using all miniscules in his signatures in those years, and his story is almost a parody of Fritz Leiber's Conjure Wife at the point where I've broken off (I will slog through soon). offutt is probably best known these days for the rather bad relation he's had with his writer son Chris Offutt (who likes capitals). (The whole story is about how much less your kids like you than your spouse does, as well as pulling in some heavy winks about Bewitched the television series, as well.)
Baird Searles was the film, television, and general A/V club reviewer for F&SF from 1969 till moving over to be the book reviewer in Asimov's after the recently late Charles Brown left, in the early '80s. He and his life partner Martin Last ran The Science Fiction Shop in NYC in the '70s, as well. Searles had been preceded in the late 1950s by Charles Beaumont as film reviewer (with William Morrison also submitting at least one stage review), and was succeeded by Harlan Ellison, Kathi Maio, and Lucius Shepard.
Dean McLaughlin was one of the folks who did consistently good, and occasionally great, work for various magazines starting around the turn of the '60s...the last time Davidson, Ellison, and McLaughlin had been in the same issue was a decade before, when Davidson had been editing.
Walter Kerr the poet eventually started adding his middle initial to his F&SF contributions to stave off confusion with the NYC stage critic. F&SF contributor Paul Darcy Bowles felt a similar responsibility.
Isaac Asimov eventually wrote 399 monthly pop-science essays (a few touched only peripherally on science) for F&SF, and credited that series, and the predecessor column in the shortlived first run of stablemate Venture Science Fiction, with inspiring his most prominent public career, as a pop science writer.