Thursday, December 30, 2010

December's "Forgotten" Music (and others' links!): SUNDAY NIGHT/NIGHT MUSIC on NBC-TV/syndicated; Brubeck Quartet on CBS Radio

The best television music program, at least on late-night television that I'm aware of, probably will remain the 1988-1990 Sunday Night, later known (to allow syndication customers more freedom of scheduling for this series, which was shown on NBC "owned and operated" stations and syndicated to individual stations in other cities/markets) as Night Music. The Wikipedia page for this series is pretty damned good, and cites the cast of the best episode of this often-brilliant series as including the Sun Ra Arkestra, Al Green, the Pixies, Arthur Baker, Sister Carol and Syd Straw, doing their things individually and then in various combinations. Sadly, the Arkestra, the Pixies, et al. backing up Al Green doing "Let's Stay Together" doesn't seem to be online, and no one has released a legit home video of the series, which was hosted in its first season by saxophonist David Sanborn and ex-Squeeze pianist Jools Holland, and in its second by Sanborn alone; Holland has since returned to the UK and conducts a similar, but not quite as engaging, series called Later , which currently can be seen in the States on the Ovation cable channel. However, from the same episode, here's some of the Sun Ra Arkestra's set, including Al Green on cowbell in the closing credits (and since this video has since been set to "private"/restricted access, here's another example from the episode below it):

From that episode, the Pixies' "Monkey Gone to Heaven" and "Tame":

Meanwhile, earlier in that season was the episode with Philip Glass, Loudon Wainwright III, Pere Ubu and Deborah Harry...Harry's "Calmarie":

...and, in duller audio and blearier video, alas, her "I Want That Man":

...and Pere Ubu's closer, "Waiting for Mary," with Harry and Night Music Band members backing them:

Meanwhile, the Acrobat Music Group collection of airchecks from CBS Radio concerts by the Dave Brubeck/Paul Desmond quartets of 1956 and 1957 demonstrate very well how Not to introduce a band, as the CBS staff announcer is a klutz, at best...the 1956 quartet featuring the fine Joe Dodge on drums performing in two sets from the Basin Street East in New York City (the latter's recording is notably crisper than the earlier's), and, from Chicago's Blue Note nightclub (and with a notable but not intolerable drop in audio quality), the 1957 version featuring the transcendant Joe Morello on percussion, with both groups rounded out by Norman Bates (possibly the inspiration for Robert Bloch to name his most famous character, perhaps even from hearing one of these airchecks...and, no doubt, the source of endless ribbing for Bates very shortly thereafter..."No cutting contests with you, Norman..."), as Gene Wright, the bassist for the quartet's most popular and innovative years, would join in 1958 (though, as the booklet for this disc notes, Morello and Wright were on hand for a 1956 radio broadcast with Leonard Bernstein, so clearly the most memorable quartet was foreshadowed). The big treat here is a fine improvisation, "A Minor Thing," which as far as the packagers know was never again recorded by any version of the quartet. But despite some noisy audience members on a couple of tracks around the edges, the playing is uniformly impressive here, and it's a very pleasant set of recordings to have, whether a confirmed fan such as myself, or someone wanting a sense of what this group was about, as it moved from success to (occasionally controversial) megastardom in jazz.
Track List:
Theme (The Duke) and Intro #1
Gone With The Wind
Stompin’ for Mili
Out of Nowhere
A Minor Thing
In Your Own Sweet Way
The Trolley Song
Intro and Theme #2
Love Walked In
Here Lies Love
All the Things You Are
Theme and Intro #3
I’m in Dancing Mood
The Song is You

For more of this month's "Forgotten" music, please see Scott Parker's blog...only it seems Scott has taken a vacation from hosting the links, so here're the other FM links I'm aware of:

Bill Crider: recitation records (as one of the predecessors of rap?--perhaps, as with opera recitative, by example, but less directly so than talking blues and jazz and poetry recordings)
Jerry House: Cisco Houston and collaborators
Randy Johnson: Surfing with the Alien (and more), Joe Satriani
George Kelley: Come and Get It: The Best of Apple Records
Evan Lewis: "The Lone Teen Ranger" and other "Jerry Landis" (early Paul Simon) recordings (as Jerry House notes, Simon and Garfunkel first recorded as "Tom and Jerry")
Charlie Ricci: Festival of the Heart by John Boswell (well, close enough to a FM selection!)--likewise:
Patti Abbott: "Am I Blue?" by Hoagy Carmichael (and, slightly unfortunately musically, Lauren Bacall)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Billy Taylor, RIP

Dr. Billy Taylor, a good (sometimes great) player and composer, and inarguably one of the great popularizers of jazz music (an ambassador to the larger world in much of his work as an educator and dj and television bandleader/music director) died yesterday, as Jeff Meyerson, via Rick Robinson and Bill Crider, informed many of us this evening.

Not the best sound quality, but an example of one of the sessions he hosted as the musical director of the 1970s DAVID FROST SHOW:

A fine perfomance of one of his own best compositions, "C A G":

And an old favorite embed of mine...a complete episode of Taylor's 1950s tv series, The Subject is Jazz:

I saw him in concert only once, but would have difficulty toting up all the hours I've heard him on radio or enjoyed the music he helped present on television.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Friday's "Forgotten" Book: DOLLS ARE MURDER (A MWA Anthology) edited by Harold Q. Masur

index put together from various, mostly Contento and Stephensen-Payne sources:

Dolls are Murder, "from the Mystery Writers of America," edited by Harold Q. Masur. Lion Books, 1957, "by arrangement with Revere Publishing Corp." 126 pp. 25c mm pb. Cover by Mort Kuntsler.

7 · Human Interest Stuff · Brett Halliday · ss Adventure Sep ’38; EQMM Sep ’46
20 · The Homesick Buick · John D. MacDonald · ss EQMM Sep ’50
34 · I’ll Be Waiting · Raymond Chandler · ss The Saturday Evening Post Oct 14 ’39
51 · Mind Over Matter · Ellery Queen· ss Blue Book October 1939
73 · The Doctor Makes It Murder [Dr. Paul Standish] · George Harmon Coxe · ss Cosmopolitan Sep ’42 (reprinted in The Saint Detective Magazine as "The Doctor Calls It Murder," Oct '57)
92 · The Dog Died First · Bruno Fischer · nv Mystery Book Magazine Fll ’49
115· Affaire Ziliouk [Monsieur Froget] · Georges Simenon; trans. by Anthony Boucher · ss Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, May 1944; translated from Les 13 Coupables (1932).
122· Cop’s Gift · Rex Stout · ss What’s New Dec ’53 [as “Tough Cop’s Gift”]; EQMM Jan ’56 [as "Santa Claus Beat"]

So here's a slim, inexpensive (even for the time) paperback with at best a misleading title (but, thoughtfully, the MWA was kind enough to leave all the women writers out of this antho), inasmuch as some of these stories, such as "Brett Halliday"'s deft excursion into "B. Traven" territory, have no women to speak of in them (oh, wait...a minor character at the beginning is killed by the father of a young woman the mc insulted...dat's a deadly dame, doncha know). Likewise, the woman character in the JDMc story is notable mostly for being the only female character, and far less deadly than several of the males; she in fact commits no murder. But it's a solid little book, filled with stories that have become at least borderline chestnuts in the succeeding years, such as the Bruno Fischer story I first read in the Hitchcock Presents: volume I FFB'd the other week, a series, I'll note (somewhat redundantly) that Masur would eventually edit after founding editor Robert Arthur died. And the book rounds out with its shortest story, published under three different titles (I'm guessing that the title here, "Cop's Gift," might've been "Rex Stout"'s preferred one), a neat if not exactly challenging little mystery set on Christmas Eve, with the typical Stout wit and eye for small details (and not a Wolfe/Goodwin story). Much as this book itself was part of a seasonal gift from Kate Laity.

Patti Abbott is taking this week and next week off, so I might be gathering up the links I'm aware of in the next post (and next week).

Off the newsstand, in the POB, and such:

Along with the gift of a copy of Kit Marlowe's The Mangrove Legacy, and vastly delayed copies of the French (the original) Photo magazine, addressed to the wrong PO Box, as is apparently typical of that magazine's US agents, the weekend haul bracketing the eye-slice:
Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, March 2011
The American Scholar, Winter 2011
Asimov's Science Fiction, January and February, 2011 issues
Bitch, #49, 2010
Black Clock, Fall/Winter 2010
Black Static, October-November 2010
Downbeat, January 2011
Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, February 2011
Epiphany, Fall/Winter 2010-2011
Esquire, December 2010
Harper's, January 2011
Locus, November and December, 2010 issues
Mystery Scene, Holiday 2010
The Normal School, Fall 2010
The Paris Review, Winter 2010
Poetry, January 2011
Sight and Sound, January 2011
Suspense Magazine, December 2010
Video WatcHDog, November-December 2010
Zoetrope All-Story, Winter 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Three films in the last fortnight: LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS, BLACK SWAN, the third Salander film, LUFTSLOTTET SOM SPRANGDES (THE [WOMAN] WHO KICKED...)

So, I've seen three newish films in theaters in the last two weeks, if none on this busy weekend...and all three are about women with deficits who meet Good Men and/or Women, and in the case of the Salander film, the third of the Millennium Trilogy oddly mistitled in English, and Love and Other Drugs, the good men (and women) help out our heroine Salander and a young woman with Parkinson's and related commitment issues, to one degree or another, and in Black Swan, the good woman can't quite overcome the influences of the malefactors in the protagonist's life. Though Why women with deficits are consistently In Trouble, when men with deficits (see any Judd Apatow or Happy Madison production, or the likes of The Hangover) are Just Regular Guys, is a good question. One probably should ask why all the women leads in these films are suffering, one hopes only temporarily and role-specifically, from something akin to anorexia, as well...

The Salander films are all crowd-pleasers, with the Asperger's-spectrum heroine in this installment playing mostly by The Man's rules as noble public servants help her by rooting out the evil that government bureaus and consultants and patsies do. You can tell she's a Rebel because she wears a mohawk to trial, which would seem to be unhelpful to her case, but the suggestion here as with the other films is that we should be against the kind of condescension that retitles the novels and films in this language and this language only as The Girl..., except in the case of the second novel, wherein the Girl Who was actually a girl when playing with fire. I liked it a lot, as I did the second film also more than the first, just because the first seemed a bit more outlandish...the conspiracy that causally abuses Salander throughout the works is at least somewhat better delineated in the latter two films, both made for TV apparently rather than for cinematic distribution, as was the first.

Love and Other Drugs is also related to television, one could say, as the kind of subject matter that writer-director Ed Zwick loves to deal with in television series, ranging from thirtysomething through My So-Called Life, Relativity and, my favorite, Once and Again to the slightly disappointing web-series, later briefly televised, quarterlife. A pilot for CBS, A Marriage, was shot and declined without being shown, so far. So, instead of the kind of historical drama that Zwick has been doing for cinematic release, such as Glory and Blood Diamond, Zwick somewhat splits the difference with a romantic drama with comic bits (some perhaps broader than they need to be) and some serious subtexts involving caring for people with degenerative diseases, and the responsibilities of the "ethical" drug industry and how they are avoided (the film is loosely based on the memoirs of a pharma rep in the last years of their utter cowboy phase, ten to fifteen years ago...considerably if not sufficiently fenced in these days). Good performances, including from Judy Greer and the other smaller-role supporting players, including one of the last or perhaps the last performance by Jill Clayburgh. There are a few threads left dangling (not least in that a drug rep might well be able to provide discounted prescriptions for low-income patients), and I'm not sure whether I think it was deft to leave it vague as whether Anne Hathaway's character was a trust-fund baby or not...somewhat improbable that she can live the life she does without a financial cushion.

Black Swan is the least successful of the three, while probably the most ambitious. However, it doesn't help that there isn't a non-stereotyped character in the film, despite those characters being fleshed out by good performances by Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey and Winona Ryder among others. But, quite aside from the Fragile Diva, the Good-Sporty Potential Best Friend (and Manic Pixie Girlfriend, Free-Spirit Division), the Stage Mother, and The Bitter Dumped Star, the film as a whole will remind you, or at least it does me, of better films...not solely The Red Shoes, but also Repulsion, Persona, and a bit of the latter-day kind of horror of perception films such as Donnie Darko. Or, to some extent, Aronofsky's previous films...listening to Natalie Hershlag being interviewed about Aronofsky's attempts to create a Method rivalry between Kunis and herself did little further respect his intellect or professionalism. When the script features such Cleverness as the Svengali choreographer of the ballet troupe telling the fragile, overly-controlled, severely in need of apron-string-cutting protagonist that There will be no boundaries between them...ho, ho, So Telling! But it's well-shot, and as I mentioned, well-acted (even if, as actor Marcia Wallace notes on Jackie Kashian's podcast, "Portman" wanders throughout the film looking consistently startled, which helps the constant potential for goofiness tip in that directiton for at least some viewers). I've been told it's a love it or hate it's just a good try, on the part of the cast, by me, and not bad...not nearly as bad nor good as you might've heard or read.

Birthday gang

Let's see...Kate Laity, Richard Chizmar, and Barbara Roden, as well as Alice Chang, all have birthdays around now...and all are within shouting distance of my own age, and I'd say all have contributed more to human joy than I have, at very least in some broad-spectrum ways. And Kate and Alice, coming soon on CBS, are facing round-number bdays...while Richard and Barbara bracket me neatly. (And Patti Abbott nee Nase is the perennial New Year's Baby...)

So, huzzah! Happy days, in the recent past and the near future...and onward!

Friday, December 17, 2010

FFB: THE SHAPE OF THINGS, edited by Damon Knight (Popular Library, 1967)

from the Contento indices:
The Shape of Things ed. Damon Knight (Popular Library SP352, 1967, 50¢, 206pp, pb)
· Introduction · Damon Knight · in
· Don’t Look Now · Henry Kuttner · ss Startling Stories Mar ’48
· The Box · James Blish · ss Thrilling Wonder Stories Apr ’49
· The New Reality · Charles L. Harness · nv Thrilling Wonder Stories Dec ’50
· The Eternal Now · Murray Leinster · nv Thrilling Wonder Stories Fll ’44
· The Sky Was Full of Ships · Theodore Sturgeon · ss Thrilling Wonder Stories Jun ’47· The Shape of Things · Ray Bradbury · ss Thrilling Wonder Stories Feb ’48
· The Only Thing We Learn · C. M. Kornbluth · ss Startling Stories Jul ’49
· The Hibited Man · L. Sprague de Camp · ss Thrilling Wonder Stories Oct ’49
· Dormant · A. E. van Vogt · ss Startling Stories Nov ’48
· The Ambassadors · Anthony Boucher · ss Startling Stories Jun ’52
· A Child Is Crying · John D. MacDonald · ss Thrilling Wonder Stories Dec ’48

This thin volume, without making much of a fuss about it, was the first (and [I incorrectly wrote back in 2010] perhaps still is the only) Best-of the Samuel Merwin and Sam Mines years of Startling Stories and Thrilling Wonder Stories, the Other Good sf magazines of the late '40s and early '50s [Mines had actually published a The Best from Startling Stories that included fiction from TWS, during his run with the pulp titles]...magazines with not as distinct personalities as Astounding Science Fiction, John W. Campbell's revolutionary magazine being challenged finally, in part by writers and editors developed and inspired by Campbell but also by (as, for example, Bradbury) writers who were never too compatible with the ASF ethos, or Planet Stories, by the end of the 1940s not only the home of elegant space opera and a regular market for Leigh Brackett and others, but by those years fully as good and about as diverse as ASF...and such magazines stressing sophistication and good prose as Galaxy and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and briefly also such others as Knight's own Worlds Beyond and Howard Browne's mixed bag of the early Fantastic and the upgraded Amazing.

But, for a while, Startling and Thrilling Wonder, as burdened by their pulp-era titles as was Astounding or Amazing (at least Fantastic, and its predecessor Fantastic Adventures, and Weird Tales had descriptive titles that had some specific relevance to their content), were publishing a range of often fascinating and innovative material, including the likes of Philip Jose Farmer's The Lovers, which dealt directly with tragic interspecies romance and helped establish Farmer's reputation, and the contents of this volume...ranging from James Blish's elegant technological "problem" story (how do you rescue a city encased in an impenetrable force-field?) to Ray Bradbury's whimsical notion of a woman who gives birth to an apparently healthy blue pyramid, to Charles Harness's typical blend of space-opera and mind-blowing philosophical and cosmological speculation...Harness is yet another underappreciated writer in the field, except among those who really love and know This Kind of Thing...his influence on his younger contemporaries Jack Vance and Poul Anderson, particularly, seems pretty clear to me.

I've read that on the strength of this kind of material, Startling managed to become for a while the best-selling of sf magazines, presumably outselling Astounding, just starting to drift due to Campbell's fascination with Dianetics, psi powers, and other matters from the fringes of science, and Amazing, just after Howard Browne dumped the lunatic-fringe-stroking Shaver Mystery material (akin to Ancient Astronauts and the more irresponsible UFOlogy coverage then just coming into vogue, with, as with Dianetics and other pop mysticism, some past-life regression elements) that Browne's predecssor Ray Palmer had used to put that magazine into the circulation stratosphere...and before the insurgence in late 1950/early 1951 of Galaxy.

And yet, these magazines from the Thrilling Group pulp chain, which had been morphed (essentially) into the paperback publisher Popular Library, had been so thoroughly eclipsed, a dozen years after the titles were merged and folded, so that the packaging for this book didn't even bother to mention opposed to highlighting the kinds of writers and fiction they were publishing. (Popular Library had published several Wonder Story Annuals in the '50s and '60s, to test the waters, apparently, for the old title.) That legacy stands...even if this volume is now as obscure, certainly to the average reader, as the magazines it draws from.

For more "forgotten" books this week, please see, as usual, Patti Abbott's blog.

Friday, December 10, 2010


from the Contento index:
Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Stories Not for the Nervous [ghost edited by Robert Arthur] ed. Alfred Hitchcock (Random House LCC# 65-21262, 1965, $5.95, 363pp, hc); Derivative Anthologies: Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Stories Not for the Nervous (Dell 1966) and Alfred Hitchcock Presents: More Stories Not for the Nervous.
ix · A Brief Message from Our Sponsor · Alfred Hitchcock · in
3 · To the Future · Ray Bradbury · ss Colliers May 13 ’50
18 · River of Riches · Gerald Kersh · ss The Saturday Evening Post Mar 8 ’58
31 · Levitation · Joseph Payne Brennan · ss Nine Horrors and a Dream, Arkham, 1958
36 · Miss Winters and the Wind · Christine N. Govan · ss Tomorrow May ’46
42 · View from the Terrace · Mike Marmer · ss Cosmopolitan Dec ’60
53 · The Man with Copper Fingers [“The Abominable History of the Man with Copper Fingers”; Lord Peter Wimsey] · Dorothy L. Sayers · ss Lord Peter Views the Body, London: Gollancz, 1928
72 · The Twenty Friends of William Shaw · Raymond E. Banks · ss Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine Mar ’60
81 · The Other Hangman · Carter Dickson · ss A Century of Detective Stories, ed. Anon., London: Hutchinson, 1935
95 · Don’t Look Behind You · Fredric Brown · ss EQMM May ’47
107 · No Bath for the Browns · Margot Bennett · ss Lilliput Nov ’45
111 · The Uninvited [“A Prince of Abyssinia”; Daniel John Calder; Samuel Behrens] · Michael Gilbert · ss Argosy (UK) Mar ’62
122 · Dune Roller · Julian May · nv Astounding Dec ’51
163 · Something Short of Murder [as by O. H. Leslie] · Henry Slesar · ss AHMM Nov ’57
177 · The Golden Girl · Ellis Peters · ss This Week Aug 16 ’64
182 · The Boy Who Predicted Earthquakes · Margaret St. Clair · ss Maclean’s, 1950
192 · Walking Alone · Miriam Allen deFord · ss EQMM Oct ’57
206 · For All the Rude People · Jack Ritchie · ss AHMM Jun ’61
220 · The Dog Died First · Bruno Fischer · nv Mystery Book Magazine Fll ’49
242 · Room with a View · Hal Dresner · ss AHMM Jul ’62
252 · Lemmings · Richard Matheson · vi F&SF Jan ’58
255 · White Goddess · Idris Seabright · ss F&SF Jul ’56
261 · The Substance of Martyrs · William Sambrot · ss Rogue Dec ’63
269 · Call for Help · Robert Arthur · ss Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine Apr ’64
285 · Sorry, Wrong Number · Lucille Fletcher & Allan Ullman · n. New York: Random House, 1948

So, I indulged in a bit of nostalgia, and picked up a used copy of this in a Doubleday Book Club edition (whether from the DBC, the Literary Guild, the Mystery Guild, or even the SF Book Club, I know not). And, as the table of contents above might suggest to you, this book is about as rewarding a read now as it was as part of my continuing discovery of the "Hitchcock" books as a child in the 1970s, when the hardcovers were widely available in libraries and the Dell paperbacks, usually halving the contents into two volumes, were often put back into print if they slipped out of availability. Though my previous edition, deep in storage, was a used copy of the Dell paperbacks.

Robert Arthur was a deft and ingenious writer in nearly every medium available to him...screenwriting and radio drama as well as of his most prominent editorial gigs before taking on the AHP project in 1955 was the magazine The Mysterious Traveller, named for his radio drama anthology series. Hence, quite likely, the presence of a Mike Marmer story here, as Marmer was a very busy television writer into the 1980s, albeit one whose work on the Smothers Bros. series and Get Smart! probably was more rewarding than his late work on Punky Brewster. But, more importantly, memorable fiction ranging over the fields of suspense, mystery, horror, fantasy and sf were taken from classic and relatively contemporary sources. The sheer number of important writers these anthologies introduced me to, with eminently entertaining stories, was simply joyous...even when I'd come across a few of the stories before, such as Brennan's "Levitation," which remains perhaps his best story I've read. Arthur, as would his successor Harold Q. Masur though perhaps not quite to the same extent, loved particularly to tap the work of writers nearly as diverse in their output as he; Margaret St. Clair is represented by two stories, one for each of her common bylines; Fredric Brown, Miriam Allen deFord, Henry Slesar, Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury, Gerald Kersh, and the relatively slick William Sambrot were all protean talents, as well. Lucille Fletcher's novella famously began life as a radio play. And Arthur's eye was sharp...Julian May is represented by her most famous story, even after some well-received novels later on, and the Jack Ritchie is one of his, if not the, best-renenbered. Arthur was particualrly keen on placing a Kersh story in his volumes, so I was aware of this superior talent, even as he was already fading from public consciousness in the '60s...Harlan Ellison's slightly later collection of his work was an attempt to bring Kersh greater attention. And Sayers, Peters and John Dickson Carr (as Carter Dickson) should dissuade no one from looking up this book...any more than Fischer, Gilbert or Benett should...

Little engaged me more than a new (to me) AHP volume in my youth...and they hold up well.

Also bright in my memory, but not yet dug out for review, is the first McCone novel by Marcia Muller I read, Trophies and Dead Things, which I had reason to mention on Patti Abbott's blog yesterday and which is getting to be twenty years old...and sadly, like too many Mysterious Press items, out of print. It was triggered, as a novel and as a rumination about life and society, by the near-simultaneous deaths of Huey Newton and Abbie Hoffman, and the signficace of both their lives and deaths. It was, and I suspect is, a superb read, and I hope to rediscover that and perhaps report back here sooner rather than later.

For more of today's "Forgotten" Books, please see Patti Abbott's blog.

Friday, December 3, 2010


Three collections, none definitive, all rewarding.

Title: The Green Flash and Other Stories of Horror, Suspense, and Fantasy
Author: Joan Aiken
Year: 1973-00-00
Catalog ID: #3235
Publisher: Dell Laurel-Leaf
Pages: 176
Binding: pb
A View of the Heath • (1971) •
Belle of the Ball • (1969) •
Dead Language Master • (1965) •
Follow My Fancy • (1971) •
Marmalade Wine • (1958) •
Minette • (1971) •
Mrs. Considine • (1969) •
Searching for Summer • (1969) •
Smell • (1969) •
Sonata for Harp and Bicycle • (1958) •
Summer By the Sea • (1971) •
The Dreamers • (1971) •
The Green Flash • (1971) •
The Windshield Weepers • (1971) • (aka The Windscreen Weepers 1969)
(index courtesy ISFDb)

The Best of Margaret St. Clair Margaret St. Clair (Academy Chicago 0-89733-164-8, 1985 [Nov ’85], $4.95, 271pp, pb) Collection of 20 stories plus a new introduction by the author, edited by Martin H. Greenberg.
v · Introduction · in
1 · Idris’ Pig [“The Sacred Martian Pig”] · nv Startling Stories Jul ’49
40 · The Gardener · ss Thrilling Wonder Stories Oct ’49
53 · Child of Void · ss Super Science Stories Nov ’49
70 · Hathor’s Pets · ss Startling Stories Jan ’50
84 · The Pillows · ss Thrilling Wonder Stories Jun ’50
98 · The Listening Child · ss F&SF Dec ’50
109 · Brightness Falls from the Air [contest story] · ss F&SF Apr ’51
117 · The Man Who Sold Rope to the Gnoles [as by Idris Seabright] · ss F&SF Oct ’51
122 · The Causes [as by Idris Seabright] · ss F&SF Jun ’52
135 · An Egg a Month from All Over [as by Idris Seabright] · ss F&SF Oct ’52
143 · Prott · ss Galaxy Jan ’53
159 · New Ritual [as by Idris Seabright] · ss F&SF Jan ’53
168 · Brenda · ss Weird Tales Mar ’54
180 · Short in the Chest [as by Idris Seabright] · ss Fantastic Universe Jul ’54
190 · Horrer Howce · ss Galaxy Jul ’56
203 · The Wines of Earth [as by Idris Seabright] · ss F&SF Sep ’57
211 · The Invested Libido · ss Satellite Aug ’58
220 · The Nuse Man [Nuse Man] · ss Galaxy Feb ’60
232 · An Old-Fashioned Bird Christmas · nv Galaxy Dec ’61
255 · Wryneck, Draw Me · ss Chrysalis 8, ed. Roy Torgeson, Doubleday, 1980
(index courtesy the Contento/LOCUS indices)

Thirteen O’Clock and Other Zero Hours C. M. Kornbluth (Dell, 1970, pb); Cecil Corwin stories, edited by James Blish.
· Preface · James Blish · pr
· Thirteen O’Clock [combined version of “Thirteen O’Clock” and “Mr. Packer Goes to Hell”, Stirring Science Stories Feb & Jun ’41, both as by Cecil Corwin; Peter Packer] · nv *
· The Rocket of 1955 · vi Escape Aug ’39
· What Sorghum Says [as by Cecil Corwin] · ss Cosmic Stories May ’41
· Crisis! [as by Cecil Corwin] · ss Science Fiction Quarterly Spr ’42
· The Reversible Revolutions [as by Cecil Corwin] · ss Cosmic Stories Mar ’41
· The City in the Sofa [as by Cecil Corwin] · ss Cosmic Stories Jul ’41
· The Golden Road [as by Cecil Corwin] · nv Stirring Science Stories Mar ’42
· MS. Found in a Chinese Fortune Cookie · ss F&SF Jul ’57
(from the Contento indices)

Three books that give a sense, if not the fullest sense, of what their authors were capable of. The Green Flash is a decent cross-section of the short fiction of Joan Aiken, with an eye to her younger audience who had found her through The Wolves of Willoughby Chase and its companions...but not incompatible with the interests of her gothic readers, if less so perhaps with her more straightforward romance-fiction readers (and surely welcomed by those who'd known of her short fiction over the previous decades). "The Green Flash" itself is a charming bit of misdirection, and it introduced me to the notion of the rarely-seen atmospheric prism effect of a green flash at sundown. "Marmalade Wine" is perhaps the story which sruck me hardest at the time, neat and vicious, while "The Windscreen Weepers" manages to overcome its weak title conceit (and apparently was a particular favorite of either Aiken or her book editors, as most of these stories were drawn from an earlier, more comprehensive collection that took its title from this one).

I'd been looking around (for a post last year) for a good image of the handsome cover Ace put to her The Crystal Crow, and managed to finally find it...though not the the more "edgy" cover that at least onne other of her gothics for them sported. Meanwhile, her other work in this mode seems also likely to be more interesting than the usual run of the gothic lines of the times, including her Heyeresque sequelization of Austen:

Margaret St. Clair has been only very inadequately represented in collections so far, despite a decent selection in the Greenberg compilation, which nonetheless slights her fantasy and horror work in favor of her sf, I'd say...also true of her other two, earlier collections.

I've had the great pleasure to read some of the stories I hadn't realized were uncollected (at least in a volume of her work), particulary from St. Clair's run around the turn of the 1950s in Weird Tales, while for reasons I'm not yet clear on, she seemingly preferred to publish as "Idris Seabright" in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in the same years.

Here's the issue of WT featuring St. Clair's "Professor Kate" and the F&SF with Seabright's "The Man Who Sold Rope to the Gnoles" (featuring two cover creatures capable of some serious necking, if so inclined). Her sf could often track back to the horrific as well, as with the fine Galaxy story "Horrer Howce," but the absense of such stories as "The Little Red Owl" (WT, July 1951) is felt in the MHG selection. St. Clair could use a fat NESFA Press career-encompassing collection. Otherwise, one might need to buy this Famous Fantastic Mysteries issue to read the only other story in it aside from the cover novella, St. Clair's "The Counter-Charm"...or to seek out this fine issue of F&SF for, among others, St. Clair's "Sawdust" (not that some collectors wouldn't appreciate the mammary attention of artists Lawrence and Freas):

Happily, C. M. Kornbuth, at least, has already had a NESFA Press retrospective, more than a quarter-century after Dell published this interesting project, interesting in part because Dell felt it worth publishing a collection focusing on the Very early work of a writer, still in his teens when seeing most of these published, who had never quite gained his commercial due (and a man who loved to publish under pseudonyms of various sorts, in part because most of the stories collected here were among several by Kornbluth under various names filling each of the issues of his friend Donald Wollheim's nearly unbudgeted pulp magazines Cosmic Stories and Stirring Science Stories)--even if Dell gave it as little support as possible. James Blish takes some arguable editorial liberties here, in combining the first two stories, and refuses to include a fragment, published much later than most of these, under the Corwin name but apparently without Kornbluth's permission. "Thirteen O'Clock" is famously the young Kornbluth at his most antic, "The Rocket of 1955" first displaying his bitter black humor and trenchancy (to come to full flower in such stories as "The Marching Morons," emulated, to be kind, in a dumbed-down fashion without credit by Mike Judge's film Idiocracy), and has become one of the classic vignettes in science fiction, after extensive reprinting from the little magazine or fanzine (depending on one's point of view) that first published it--Stirring Science Stories was the first to reprint it, in this issue:

The existence of the NESFA His Share of Glory volume almost makes this volume retroactively redundant, but the omnibus doesn't include Blish's notes nor the version of the conjoined stories presented here.

As with the other books and other work under discussion here, eminently worth seeking out.

For more Forgotten Books this week, please see Patti Abbott's blog.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday's "Forgotten" Book: THE HUGO WINNERS, Volumes I and II, edited by Isaac Asimov

Somehow, to someone who started reading sf regularly in the 1970s, the notion of The Hugo Winners volumes being out of print is remarkable, to say the fannish argot, croggling. Even the third Asimov volume, and the much more recent Connie Willis and Gregory Benford-edited volumes which followed Asimov's death, are all out of print...but the similarly astounding decade-long lack of in-print status for The Science Fiction Hall of Fame volumes was rectified by Tor a few years back, and they're still in print today. For now.

Collecting the short fiction which won the World SF Convention polls, with their writers given variations on the trophy pictured on the back cover of the SFBC edition, named in honor of the pioneering editor, publisher and writer Hugo Gernsback, seemed a pretty natural idea. Asimov brought a sense of fannish patter and his toastmaster's skill to the introductions to the three volumes he oversaw; he was originally chosen to edit (as much as editing was needed) as the biggest name in sf who had not ever won the award, which fate he inveighed against with mostly good humor in the individual story introductions as well as the general introductions to each volume, collected as jacketed above for the perennial Science Fiction Book Club omnibus. One clumsy oversight by Asimov, leaving out Fritz Leiber's "Ship of Shadows" from the second volume even when its award-winning status is noted in the appendix, is even worse than the clumsy mistitling of Robert Bloch's "That Hell-Bound Train" as "The Hell-Bound Train" in the first volume...and both are more than indicative of the lack of useful attention being paid to these products by Doubleday, in preparing the trade editions or revising them for the book club.

The stories that won the awards (and since Brian Aldiss's "Hothouse" series of stories won the short-fiction award in 1962, no individual story was selected as representative for inclusion in the book, rather another slight) are at this remove an impressive bunch, though not uniformly so...Bloch's story was also the first no-bones-about-it fantasy to win what began its run as the Science Fiction Achievement Award, though the "Hothouse" cycle, Avram Davidson's "Or All the Seas with Oysters" and the Jack Vance "The Dragon Masters" were almost textbook examples of what was meant by science fantasy, when that term was not being used to cover the whole range of fantastic fiction, as speculative fiction and "fantastika" are often used today. Harlan Ellison's "'Repent, Harlequin!'" can seem a bit precious, in a way that his "I Have No Mouth..." certainly still doesn't, even if the other work in the latter's vein since, from Ellison and others, has taken some of the edge off that story's blade. The Daniel Keyes has always trembled on the edge of excessive sentimentality without falling in; the Leiber which is present, another utter fantasy, is still as powerful a fable now as it was then. Clifford Simak, Arthur C. Clarke, Poul Anderson, Samuel Delany, Robert Silverberg and Gordon Dickson are well-represented by the stories offered...if Anne McCaffrey and Larry Niven are perhaps a bit less so, they also turned out to be perhaps more limited artists than the others, including the modestly-demeanored but diversely-talented Dickson (and it's rather sad McCaffrey is the only woman writer in the book, and Delany the only non-Caucasian, but that's how the field was rewarding folks at the time, and the writers were largely male and overwhelmingly pale)...the Nebula Award volumes had the space to feature all the stories on the shortlists from the final ballots, making for a better representation of the best work in the field, I would certainly argue...but this was and remains a vital book, as do its sequels, and that there's no ebook nor in-print edition for any of the five volumes I've seen really should be addressed.

The Contento index:
The Hugo Winners, Volumes One and Two ed. Isaac Asimov (Nelson Doubleday, 1972, 849pp, hc)
v · The Hugo Winners, Volume 1 · an Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1962
x · Introduction · Isaac Asimov · in
5 · The Darfsteller · Walter M. Miller, Jr. · na Astounding Jan ’55
64 · Allamagoosa · Eric Frank Russell · ss Astounding May ’55
80 · Exploration Team [Colonial Survey] · Murray Leinster · nv Astounding Mar ’56
123 · The Star [Star of Bethlehem] · Arthur C. Clarke · ss Infinity Science Fiction Nov ’55
132 · Or All the Seas with Oysters · Avram Davidson · ss Galaxy May ’58
145 · The Big Front Yard · Clifford D. Simak · na Astounding Oct ’58
193 · That Hell-Bound Train · Robert Bloch · ss F&SF Sep ’58
208 · Flowers for Algernon · Daniel Keyes · nv F&SF Apr ’59
236 · The Longest Voyage · Poul Anderson · nv Analog Dec ’60
266 · Appendix: The Hugo Awards · Misc. · bi
269 · The Hugo Winners, Volume 2 · an Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1971
273 · Here I Am Again · Isaac Asimov · in
280 · The Dragon Masters · Jack Vance · na Galaxy Aug ’62
363 · No Truce with Kings · Poul Anderson · na F&SF Jun ’63
421 · Soldier, Ask Not [Childe Cycle] · Gordon R. Dickson · na Galaxy Oct ’64
477 · “Repent, Harlequin!” Said the Ticktockman · Harlan Ellison · ss Galaxy Dec ’65
492 · The Last Castle · Jack Vance · na Galaxy Apr ’66
546 · Neutron Star [Beowulf Shaeffer] · Larry Niven · nv If Oct ’66
567 · Weyr Search [Pern] · Anne McCaffrey · na Analog Oct ’67
618 · Riders of the Purple Wage · Philip José Farmer · na Dangerous Visions, ed. Harlan Ellison, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1967
681 · Gonna Roll the Bones · Fritz Leiber · nv Dangerous Visions, ed. Harlan Ellison, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1967
702 · I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream · Harlan Ellison · ss If Mar ’67
721 · Nightwings [Watcher] · Robert Silverberg · na Galaxy Sep ’68
769 · The Sharing of Flesh · Poul Anderson · nv Galaxy Dec ’68
800 · The Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World · Harlan Ellison · nv Galaxy Jun ’68
813 · Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones · Samuel R. Delany · nv New Worlds Dec ’68
847 · Appendix: Hugo Awards 1962-70 · Misc. · bi

For more of today's books, please see Patti Abbott's blog.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

November's "Forgotten" Music: Third Streaming

So, here are four of the best of the many brilliant third stream (jazz/"classical" hybrid) albums I've loved for decades, and all had been essentially out of print, till last month's rerelease of the two Modern Jazz Quartet albums they recorded for Apple Records in the latter '60s, and high time. The Teo Macero tracks on What's New? have been reissued in several Macero compilations over the years, including his own release of The Best of Teo Macero; the George Russell item is barely in print in import status (the Koch disc does include some different bonus tracks than the BMG/RCA Bluebird first cd issue from the 1980s); and the Brubeck Quartet/NY Symphony Orchestra album was repackaged on vinyl, but never actually offered in its entirety on cd...the Bernstein showtune tracks were shunted off onto a showtune compilation disc, and only one movement of four of the Howard Brubeck "Dialogues" has been issued on cd. As in, time for some barking and nipping, and not just of the owners of the RCA masters for Russell.

As with ebooks not exactly solving all our OP books problems, not by a long shot, so too has the failure of mp3 and similar technology to speed certain reissue plows been disenheartening...though thank goodness at least occasional movement in the right direction, such as the Apple remasters, are made. It's a nice reading of "Yesterday" by the MJQ, the bonus track.

Please see Scott Parker's blog for more "forgotten" music, perhaps leaning Xmassy for most (mine will make fine seasonal/solstice gifts...).

Friday, November 19, 2010


Two of the more influential critical volumes in my reading so far, from often maligned critics (I remember a typically inane parody of Simon by David Sedaris in The New Yorker, too representative of both writer and magazine), about which I will have more to write after doctor visits and other business this morning!

And now we dig in a little. Both of these books are out of print, which is ridiculous, but some of Ellison (notably a new edition of Harlan Ellison's Watching with a Leonard Maltin intro) and much of Simon (huge compilations of even longer stretches of his film crit) are still earning some royalties, one hopes. Both men are seen as cantankerous, but are both relatively free of overarching ideology so much as personal conviction in their reviews...which by some benighted folks is a debit. However, both bring a wide-ranging knowledge of the arts (and beyond) to their work, and an incisive writing style, and a love and knowledge of their chose areas of study...even if Ellison (probably in Watching) wonders if Simon isn't just too divorced from the art to be a fully-successful critic; Simon doesn't return that favor, but in Reverse Angle does assess, rather evenhandedly, such other film columnists as Pauline Kael, Andrew Sarris, and the fellow I take to be Simon's greatest model, James Agee (some of whose own critiques have been re-released in the last decade). Ellison's greatest model might be his predecessor not only as brilliant fiction-writer and (often embittered) a/v script-writer but as visual/dramatic media columnist for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Charles Beaumont (the editor of the subject of Jeff Segal's guest FFB from last week, below)...Beaumont, with supplement from William Morrison reviewing stage drama, was F&SF's columnist in the late '50s.

Ellison's "The Glass Teat" was his first regular tv column, for the Los Angeles Free Press around the turn of the 1970s, and The Other Glass Teat almost didn't get published, despite the The Glass Teat being a rather solid seller for Ace Books...Ellison notes that one of the columns collected in Other managed to reach Spiro Agnew, in which the Veep was accused jokingly of masturbating with copies of Reader's Digest, and Agnew let it be known through back channels that He Didn't Like This, and Ace put the first book out of print, and cancelled the contract on the second, allowing Pyramid to have it as one of the new books in their mid-1970s Ellison program (with Agnew by this time already facing his post-political career). This volume includes his reviews of some pretty impressive examples of the good and bad of television of that time, and a valuable example of a script he was commissioned to do for the Young, Hip, Relevant series The Storefront Lawyers...with co-lead Zalman King, of all people, in his pre-softcore (more or less) career (he did do some biker movies around then). And Ellison gets to note how the episode is messed with. The instructional aspect is comparable to his essay "With the Eyes of a Demon...".

Meanwhile, Simon keeps his wit and grace about him even when excoriating some of the worst excesses of the films of the '70s and '80s. His praise for the advances of the art, including the works of Ingmar Bergman and consistent Rara-Avis punching bag The Long Goodbye (as scripted by Leigh Brackett from the Chandler novel and directed by Robert Altman), are at least as searching and enthusiastic as his rending of the gauche and self-indulgent, including such monsters of self-indulgence as Jean-Luc Godard and Barbra Streisand, two of his targets which seem to get him in the worst trouble with the shallow of varying stripes. And, of course, he was in a short film for Saturday Night Live some years back.

Both men are feeling their years, these days, and neither is actively publishing film or television criticism (though Simon is still, I believe, writing about stage drama even after being clumsily fired by New York magazine a few years back. Neither has nothing left to prove, however, and digging into their work, and the work they admire, you will be rewarded if you explore.

For more "forgotten" books, please see Patti Abbott's blog...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Guest FFB: Jeff Segal on THE FIEND IN YOU edited by Charles Beaumont (Ballantine, 1962)

My friend Jeff Segal is a writer, a true fan of the outré among much else, and a civil servant native to and residing in the Philadelphia area. (My own FFB offer this week follows, below--TM)

from the Contento index:

The Fiend in You ed. Charles Beaumont (Ballantine F641, 1962, 50¢, 155pp, pb)
vi · Introduction · Charles Beaumont · in
7 · Finger Prints · Richard Matheson · ss *
14 · Fool’s Mate · Stanley Ellin · ss Stanley Ellin’s Mystery Magazine, 1948; EQMM Nov ’51
31 · Big, Wide, Wonderful World · Charles E. Fritch · vi F&SF Mar ’58
35 · The Night of the Gran Baile Mascara · Whit Burnett · ss Transition Fll ’29; EQMM Jul ’65
46 · A Punishment to Fit the Crimes · Richard M. Gordon · ss, 1962
54 · The Hornet · George Clayton Johnson · ss Rogue Sep ’62
59 · Perchance to Dream · Charles Beaumont · ss Playboy Oct ’58
68 · The Thirteenth Step · Fritz Leiber · ss *
75 · The Conspiracy · Robert Lowry · ss New York Call Girl, 1958 (a Lowry collection)
84 · Room with a View · Esther Carlson · ss Fantastic May/Jun ’53
90 · The Candidate · Henry Slesar · ss Rogue, 1961
98 · One of Those Days · William F. Nolan · ss F&SF May ’62
103 · Lucy Comes to Stay · Robert Bloch · ss Weird Tales Jan ’52
110 · The Women · Ray Bradbury · ss Famous Fantastic Mysteries Oct ’48
121 · Surprise! · Ronald Bradford · ss, 1962
127 · Mute · Richard Matheson · nv *

In addition to being an acclaimed fiction-writer and screenwriter for tv and the cinema, the late Charles Beaumont served as an editor. Along with another versatile writer in The Group, William F. Nolan, auto-racing enthusiast Beaumont co-edited the nonfiction theme anthologies, The Omnibus of Speed and When Engines Roar.

He is listed as the solo editor for the psychological-horror anthology The Fiend in You (Ballantine 1962). Beaumont included selections from Group associates Nolan, Richard Matheson (two yarns, in fact) and George Clayton Johnson.

Beaumont's premise, summed up in the introduction, is that the traditional fear-figures--ghosts, shape-shifters, witches, vampires, etc.--were no longer scary. "...After centuries of outstanding service to the human imagination, the classic terrors...have suddenly found themselves unable to get work, except as comedians. [1] We love them, of course. And we feel sorry for them. But we are not afraid of them any more."

So, The Fiend in You offers a "new" horror, a menace which would replace the traditional things that went bump in the night. The new monster he focuses on is The Mind. Beaumont quips, in Robert Blochian fashion, that "These stories must be taken internally. Any one of them could serve to prod the slumbering fiend in you."

The bulk of the contributions were copyrighted 1962. Several had been previously published as recently as '62, though a few of the tales date back to the 1930s and late '40s. With the Mind as monster as a thematic link, Beaumont pillaged distinct genres to fill out this book.

The first of the sixteen stories is Matheson's "Finger Prints," about the male narrator's uncomfortable encounter and subsequent victimization on a bus by a manipulative passenger...or so it appears. I had not previously read the yarn but noted its connection to other very personal short stories and novels by the author which pit a contemporary man against a force which upsets his equanimity and even threatens his masculinity.

The anthology concludes with another Matheson, "Mute," which is the story of a young child, altered by a strange experiment, who nonetheless responds to the affection of a foster mother. It is a perceptive story about an attempt to "advance" an individual and the expression of humanity by which the child connects again with our species was reminiscent of Theodore Sturgeon's work.

Mystery writer Stanley Ellin's "Fool's Mate," as with a few other tales here, had been published some decades previously; the story of one man's cold marriage and hot obsession over chess with no opponent, it shares themes of literal split personality and obsession with several of the other stories. Ellin's dark humor contrasts with the initial grim Matheson tale even as it showcases another horror of the mind.

"Let's have a nightmare" a protagonist suggests in "Big, Wide, Wonderful World," a short work by Charles E. Fritch which depicts what, at first, appears to be a speculative future whose inhabitants are insulated by scheduled doses of medication from the nightmares that would otherwise afflict the population. When Chuck persuades his two friends to go off their regimented meds, just to briefly endure the novel effects, Fritch anticipates the rich and varied rubber reality which still informs everything from Robert McCammon's "I Scream Ice Cream" to, more obviously, The Matrix. The reader is left wiser than the surviving characters.

Whit Burnett's ironic "The Night of the Gran Baile Mascara" involves murder and madness in Spain. Burnett's rich style neatly endows the story with a dream-like quality, right through the climax that circles back to the opening passages.

Richard M. Gordon's "A Punishment to Fit the Crime" is an overtly supernatural story built around the trial of a historic personage and the folks whose gory deaths made him into a legend. The defendant's plea that he is ill and wasn't properly raised encourage the infernal judge to impose a peculiar and exquisitely ironic sentence. The reader's knowledge of historical true-crime might untangle the twist from the ending before they finish it, but the story is otherwise amusing.

Of Beaumont's circle of friends, I have read the least amount of George Clayton Johnson. His effort, "The Hornet," could have been written in the heyday of the pulp magazine Weird Tales. A parable of karmic retribution that anticipates the climax of Peter Straub's novel Ghost Story, it doesn't shoulder as much thematic weight as the other tales from the Group included here but does provide a few moments of light entertainment and an open ending.

Beaumont's own contribution, "Perchance to Dream," addresses the intrusion of nightmares into the real world. The story begins naturally enough, given the objectives of The Fiend in You, with a psychiatric-couch confession and depicts the protagonist's belief that each time he dreams, he will advance one step closer to certain doom. It is well-written and may have resonance with folks disturbed in their waking hours by their particularly trying nightmares. It even offers an alarming Robert Bloch-caliber concluding zinger.

Fritz Leiber's "The Thirteenth Step" toys with a supernatural occurrence at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. The state of mind of the frazzled female protagonist and the cynicism she encounters from other alkies would seem to be the primary reasons that this yarn was included, but the intrusion of the unnatural into a vividly-described mundane setting (one that he might have had some personal knowledge of) very much brands the tale with Leiber's stamp.

Robert Lowry's "The Conspiracy" at first seems like it will match the opening Matheson tale in terms of ordinary folks placed into a psychologically extraordinary situation (a couple and the seemingly drunken woman who claims she lives in their apartment) but takes a trip into the Twilight Zone by the conclusion.

Esther Carlson's "Room with a View," featuring a hungry artist who creates an alternate imaginary world for himself, definitely fleshes out several recurring themes in the book. As with Ellin's "Fool's Mate," it case-studies a gradual descent into insanity and concludes on a fateful, if logical, note. And as with several other stories, the protagonist's obsession, depicted in great detail by Carlson, leads to his undoing.

Henry Slesar's wicked contribution, "The Candidate," establishes the corroding mindset of someone caught up in office politics before introducing what may or may not be the uncanny. The meat of the story, about the power of belief, is an elaborate set-up for its abrupt and chilling twist conclusion. It is one of several stories dwelling on the darker side of obsession and self-delusion but handles these aberrant mindsets differently than do the other tales.

Nolan's peculiar contribution, "One of These Days," drops the reader into someone's already insane mindset, with the entire story rendered off-kilter. It is probably the most peculiar fiction Nolan's written I have read to date, even allowing for Helltracks, his novel-length expansion of the tale "Lonely Train A' Comin'." Here, the subjective narrative that gives "One of These Days" bizarre perspective.

Robert Bloch's "Lucy Comes to Stay" is one of his aberrant-psychology tales, involving here a hapless young woman whose best friend violently schemes to free her from clinging family members. Or is there a best friend? The story was adapted, with relatively restrained changes, for the Amicus-produced, Bloch-scripted horror portmanteau anthology film, Asylum. Decades of writing certainly had not blunted the genre-hopping author's skills and "Lucy Comes to Stay" is as potent as Bloch's Depression-era fiction.

Ray Bradbury's "The Women" is, after the Ellin and the Burnett, the oldest story included in the book. It involves a man caught unknowingly in a rivalry, if one can call it that, between two feminine forces. H. P. Lovecraft, burdened with neuroses over the ladies, might approve of the depiction of one of the "women", though even he might wonder why that vast force would pay attention to a mere mortal. The symbolism of a feminized ocean as casual destroyer should have earned this tale more attention.

Ronald Bradford's "Surprise!" is another yarn that quickly shrugs off the reality-anchor of an opening sentence declaring it set on the hottest day ever in the town of Beaglesville and swiftly descends into the insanity of its characters. The subjective narrative is reminiscent of the Nolan story. While applauding the creativity invested in such stories, I usually find them gimmicky to the point of being difficult to follow since we are offered protagonists that we cannot easily empathize with. However, The Fiend in You would be less complete without such stories.

Beaumont largely succeeds in his objective of showing the many monstrous faces of the Mind, thanks to the variety of tales he included. One wishes that he edited even more anthologies in his tragically short but prolific career.

[1] Though the scope and execution of The Fiend in You is solid, Beaumont knew that bump-in-the-nighters had made a comeback prior to the publication of the book, not just in televised Creature Feature packages and the success of periodicals such as Famous Monsters of Filmland, but also with a revival of new movie production--the colorful Hammer monster costumers, the thickly atmospheric cinema of Italy, the Edgar Allan Poe movies of Roger Corman [including the notable The Masque of the Red Death, adapted by Beaumont and R. Wright Campbell--TM] and aesthetically successful one-shots such as City of the Dead (aka Horror Hotel), The Haunting, Curse (or Night) of the Demon, The Innocents, and the adaptation of Fritz Leiber's novel Conjure Wife which Beaumont himself co-scripted with Matheson, Burn, Witch, Burn! (aka Night of the Eagle). Psychological frights would continue to be popular in fiction and visual entertainment but not to the exclusion of shambling monstrous terrors; the traditional monsters could occasionally still terrify fans, though they often had to be as brutal as the era they were written or filmed in.

--Jeff Segal

For more of Friday's "Forgotten" Books, please see Patti Abbott's blog.

Friday's "Forgotten" Magazines: Dorothy McIlwraith, ed.: WEIRD TALES (March 1948); Howard Browne, ed.: FANTASTIC ADVENTURES (July 1951)

There were two booksellers set up at the NoirCon, a biannual convention wherein I managed (between work obligations, social obligations, and simple exhaustion) to catch about a third of the planned events, at least those at the Society Hill Playhouse. Happily, I did get to meet, non-virtually, Patti and Phil Abbott, Scott Cupp, and Cullen Gallagher, as well as a small slew of other writers and fans (Howard Rodman, the younger, was startled to see me, as I apparently strongly resemble a lifelong friend of his; my response to this was to say, in regard to his friend's regard, "Poor bastard!"). I dropped some change with both sets of booksellers, a number of items, including the promise of Damned Near Dead II, from the new-book vendor, Farley's (based in New Hope), and found myself gravitating toward some decent-condition pulps with the used-book dealers, slightly overpaying for a couple of Weird Tales issues and a Fantastic Adventures.

(As I write, a bulletine comes across NPR noting the merger of Newsweek and The Daily Beast..."Newsbeast" will be all over search engines by midnight.)(Tina Brown has become the first female editor of Newsweek...which at this late date seems a bit odd, particularly as it was under the control of Katherine Graham for quite some time. Certainly, all three of the major US fantasy-fiction magazines on the stands in 1950, Weird Tales, Fantastic Adventures, and Famous Fantastic Mysteries and its stablemate Fantastic Novels, were under women's direction at least in part, between McIlwraith at WT, FA and Amazing managing editor and primary editorial writer and letter-column conductor [Ms.] L. E. Shaffer, and editor Mary Gnaedinger at FFM and FN. But, then, of course, literature has always been More Trivial than Rilly Important Badly-Written news analysis, no? And pulp-magazine fantasy literature...I mean, infra-dig.)

And the two I choose to consider here are among the best issues the two magazines published...the 25th Anniversary issue of WT and the FA featuring Robert Bloch's novella "The Dead Don't Die!" and Theodore Sturgeon's "The Travelling Crag," along with decent or better stories by notable writers, including the best (by some distance--with the possible exception of editor Howard Browne himself) of the Ziff-Davis group of space-fillers, Philadelphia's own William P. McGivern.

Perhaps not so oddly, both magazines feature notable contributions by Bloch and Sturgeon, two of the more revolutionary writers in fantasy and horror, among other forms, of the day. The anniverasry issue of Weird Tales did its best to favor shorter work, so as to cram as many of the notable contributors to both the Farnsworth Wright (Dorothy McIlwraith's predecessor, who was mostly responsible in his cantankerous way for highlighting the work of Seabury Quinn, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Edmond Hamilton, Carl Jacobi and Clark Ashton Smith; Wright resigned for health reasons in 1940 after sixteen years) and the current regime (McIlwraith was mostly responsible for the prominence given the mature or post-slavishly-Lovecraftian work of Robert Bloch, and for featuring Manly Wade Wellman, Ray Bradbury, Fritz Leiber, Theodore Sturgeon, and such now-underappreciated contributors as Alison V. Harding and, in the last years leading up the magazine's first folding in 1954, Margaret St. Clair and Joseph Payne Brennan). Algernon Blackwood and H. Russell Wakefield being examples of horror-fiction writers, already well-established outside the magazine, who were drawn to contibute to WT throughout its original run. August Derleth, already well-established as regionalist and historical-fiction writer, became the most thoroughly enmeshed of this group of writers, as the greatest champion (and arguably also greatest corruptor!) of Lovecraft's legacy, but also a great friend of many other WT writers, through his and his partner Donald Wandrei's small press Arkham House.

This issue, once one is past the handsome cover by Lee Brown Coye (and the Listerine as scalp tonic ad on the inside--bacteria as dandruff-instigator...hmmm), one finds the editorial column largely given over to reminisces by Derleth and Quinn (the latter the most popular writer in the magazine in the Wright years, largely unread today except by pulp fans). I've just started Edmond Hamilton's story, but it feels so far like the kind of thoughtful, often even morose "weird-scientific" fiction of which he was the star provider for WT...though certainly both HPL and CA Smith would skirt that area often enough, and not they alone. (Hamilton saved most of his world-wrecking adventure mode for the more purely sf magazines.) Wakefield's "Ghost Hunt" is the first at least midly famous story from this issue, perhaps less for its own sake than as the source of a rather influential episode of the CBS Radio series Suspense, and in turn as perhaps at least partial inspiration for any number of "documentary" explorations of haunted houses, "live" on radio or television or in the surviving found footage from missing student filmmakers. The most widely-read and, in adaptation, -seen stories from the balance of the issue include what's probably still Bradbury's best suspense story, "The October Game," which is followed immediately by a solid Bloch story, "Catnip"--both widely reprinted, and "Catnip" adapted for the good television anthology series Darkroom; the Bradbury was included in the one early volume of the Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Random House book series not ghost-edited by Robert Arthur so much as by NBC censors, Stories They Wouldn't Let Me Do on TV. Lovecraft's contribution is a minor, rather sing-song, but not terrible, poem; Smith's unusually late story involves sinister crabs (an inspiration for Guy Smith?). Sturgeon's "The Professor's Teddy Bear" is another rather widely-reprinted story, and with good reason, as it packs an remarkable amount of unease into its few words; the Blackwood wraps the magazine (one of his BBC reading stories?) and is handsomely illustrated by Boris fact, Coye, Dolgov and John Giunta are consistently impressive throughout.

Three years later, and for five cents more (over thirty more but less-text-heavy pages), Fantastic Adventures offers a rather less well-composed cover (Robert Gibson Jones could certainly paint a woman figure to the cheesecake standards asked of him, but his women characters tend to seem midly suprised or a bit put out by the supernatural menaces that have snared them). But this issue offers an even better Robert Bloch story, this one a long novelet about latter-day zombies (well before the creatures were beaten back up out of the ground), and the superior illustrator Virgil Finlay has a bit of fun, as well, in portraying the protagonist as Robert Bloch, himself. This story has been collected several times, including fairly recently in Stephen Jones's The Mammoth Book of Zombies, and was adapted for a 1975 television movie, title dropping the exclamation mark (Ziff-Davis magazines in those years loved exclamation points) Romero, and post the great success of The Night Stalker and The Night Strangler as tv movies, among a few others. The Sturgeon, a shorter novelet, is not quite up to his best, but is still readable if a little too easily jocular at first (the kind of exercise a writer doest to get himself going at the keyboard, and this story does date from a period in which Sturgeon was fighting out of his first great writer's block. I've not yet had an opportunity to read the Clifford Simak or Walt Sheldon stories, but their presence in this issue, when surrounding issues are full of contributions from the usual Z-D stable under the usual set of pseudonyms, most issues lightly sprinkled with "outsider" contributions but rarely so much as in this issue, makes me wonder if the famously casual editor Howard Browne wanted to make a few genuinely good issues, in part as illustration, for office-planning/argument's sake, of what he would eventually do with the semi-slick, well-budgeted and fitfully impressive new magazine Fantastic Z-D would first offer in 1952. Ziff and Davis had briefly considering upgrading the packages of Fantastic Adventures and sfnal stablemate Amazing in 1950, perhaps in part in response to the greater sales other competing upgraded established sf titles were seeing, and the mild splash made by the new Magazine of Fantasy (which added "and Science Fiction" to its title witht he second issue), particularly the smashing commercial success of the upgraded Startling Stories and the new Galaxy in 1950-51. But also notable in this issue is that the best of the Z-D stable, young McGivern, not yet ready to strike out on his own with such novels as The Big Heat and Odds Against Tomorrow, and the reliable and occasionally impressive Rog Phillips, along with the ubiquitous and tolerable Paul Fairman (who would succeed Browne as an even more casual editor of the Z-D fiction group, and then move on to a stint as managing editor at Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine after B.G. Davis quit Z-D and bought EQMM to start his new Davis Publications with), are the only "regulars" to contribute fiction, as distinct from the usual many notional filler articles...and while Phillips's is a pleasant, unremarkable bit of whimsey (and the Fairman unsuprisingly less than that), the McGivern is an engaging and slightly haunting bit of surrealism that neatly foreshadows the early major story by Thomas Disch, "Descending" (in Cele Lalli's consistently interesting Fantastic in 1964)...only in the latter, the central metaphor is a protagonist coping with a Kafkaesque array of endlessly descending escalators, while in the McGivern, the protagonist is trapped in a building where the elevator will only go, endlessly, upward...a no more cheering prospect, if less freighted with literary reference in this story than is the Disch. The illustrations in the issue are all professional and usually amusing enough, albeit except for the inside-joking Finlay not as distinctive as the WT doubt in response to editorial policy.

(Indices courtesy of ISFDb)
Title: Weird Tales, March 1948
Editor: Dorothy McIlwraith
Year: 1948-03-00
Publisher: Weird Tales (Short Stories, Inc.)
Price: $0.20
Pages: 98
Binding: Pulp
Cover: Lee Brown Coye
Notes: Vol. 40, No. 3.
Interior art credit for "The House" per Jaffery & Cook The Collector's Index to Weird Tales
2 • Weird Tales (masthead) • (1941) • interior artwork by Hannes Bok
3 • The Eyrie (Weird Tales, March 1948) • [The Eyrie] • essay by Dorothy McIlwraith
3 • 25th Anniversary Issue • essay by August Derleth
3 • Weird Tales, a Retrospect • essay by Seabury Quinn
4 • The Might-Have-Been • novelette by Edmond Hamilton
5 • The Might-Have-Been • interior artwork by Lee Brown Coye
16 • Ghost Hunt • shortstory by H. Russell Wakefield
16 • Ghost Hunt • interior artwork by Lee Brown Coye
19 • Ghost Hunt • interior artwork by E. J. Beaumont
20 • The Leonardo Rondache • [John Thurnstone] • shortstory by Manly Wade Wellman
20 • The Leonardo Rondache • interior artwork by Boris Dolgov
27 • The House • (1920) • poem by H. P. Lovecraft
27 • The House • interior artwork by Boris Dolgov
28 • The Coming of M. Alkerhaus • novelette by Allison V. Harding
29 • The Coming of M. Alkerhaus • interior artwork by John Giunta
38 • The La Prello Paper • (1948) • shortstory by Carl Jacobi
38 • The La Prello Paper • interior artwork by John Giunta
44 • Something in Wood • shortstory by August Derleth
44 • Something in Wood • interior artwork by Boris Dolgov
52 • The October Game • (1948) • shortstory by Ray Bradbury
52 • The October Game • interior artwork by Lee Brown Coye
57 • Catnip • (1948) • shortstory by Robert Bloch
57 • Catnip • interior artwork by Boris Dolgov
64 • The Master of the Crabs • (1934) • shortstory by Clark Ashton Smith
64 • The Master of the Crabs • interior artwork by Lee Brown Coye
72 • The Professor's Teddy Bear • shortstory by Theodore Sturgeon (aka The Professor's Teddy-Bear)
72 • The Professor's Teddy Bear • interior artwork by Lee Brown Coye
78 • The Merrow • (1948) • shortstory by Seabury Quinn
78 • The Merrow • interior artwork by Lee Brown Coye
87 • Roman Remains • shortstory by Algernon Blackwood
87 • Roman Remains • interior artwork by Boris Dolgov

Title: Fantastic Adventures, July 1951
Editor: Howard Browne
Year: 1951-07-00
Publisher: Ziff-Davis Publishing Company
Price: $0.25
Pages: 132
Binding: Pulp
Cover: Robert Gibson Jones
Notes: Volume 13, Number 7.
Cover suggested by "The Dead Don't Die!".
Managing Editor L. E. Shaffer initials the editorial with the initials 'LES'.
Interior artwork credited for each story on the table of contents.
Contents (view Concise Listing)
fep • Men Behind Fantastic Adventures: Robert Bloch • essay by Robert Bloch
6 • The Editor's Notebook (Fantastic Adventures, July 1951) • [The Editor's Notebook (Fantastic Adventures)] • essay by L. E. Shaffer
7 • The Moon? Maybe . . . • essay by Henry Bott [as by Charles Recour ]
7 • Beyond the Veil . . . • essay by John Weston
8 • The Dead Don't Die! • novella by Robert Bloch
8 • The Dead Don't Die! • interior artwork by Virgil Finlay
23 • The Dead Don't Die! [2] • interior artwork by Virgil Finlay
54 • The Magic Transformation • essay by E. Bruce Yaches
54 • Too Good to Be Used! • essay by Pearl Miller
55 • The Cancerous Virus! • essay by Carter T. Wainwright
55 • How Deep Is the Ocean . . .? • essay by Merritt Linn
56 • There's No Way Out! • shortstory by William P. McGivern
56 • There's No Way Out! • interior artwork by Frank Navarro
64 • Just Bleed Old Mother Earth • essay by Salem Lane
65 • "You're Crazy, Doc!" • essay by Sandy Miller
65 • The Zeroth Law! • essay by Jon Barry
66 • The President Will See You . . . • shortstory by Rog Phillips
66 • The President Will See You . . . • interior artwork by Murphy Anderson
71 • Law of the Universe • essay by Peter Dakin
71 • Older Even than Methuselah • essay by U. Arteaux
72 • "You'll Never Go Home Again!" • interior artwork by Leo Ramon Summers
72 • "You'll Never Go Home Again!" • shortstory by Clifford D. Simak (aka Beachhead) [as by Clifford Simak ]
87 • The Universe of Hoyle • essay by John Fletcher
88 • Witness for the Defense • shortstory by Paul W. Fairman
88 • Witness for the Defense • interior artwork by Frank Navarro
93 • "Science and Life" • essay by William Karney
93 • Celestial Rock-Crusher • essay by Jonathon Peterson
94 • Mission Deferred • shortstory by Walt Sheldon
94 • Mission Deferred • interior artwork by Robert Gibson Jones
99 • Preview of Creation! • essay by Lee Owens
99 • The Shrinking Planet • essay by Dale Lord
100 • The Traveling Crag • novelette by Theodore Sturgeon
100 • The Traveling Crag • interior artwork by Lawrence
122 • Reader's Page (Fantastic Adventures, July 1951) • [Reader's Page (Fantastic Adventures)] • letter column conducted by L. E. Shaffer; letters from L. Sprague de Camp and several others
126 • Want to Race? • essay by Frederic Booth
126 • Panacea --- or Phoney? • essay by June Lurie
127 • Spoor from Space! • essay by A. T. Kedzie
128 • The Dying Skyscraper . . . • essay by Jack Winter

For more of Friday's "Forgotten" Books, please look to the guest example from Jeff Segal to post above mine later this morning, and to Patti Abbott's blog .

To Read the FANTASTIC ADVENTURES--the Bloch novella, the Sturgeon, the Simak, the interesting if not fully realized McGivern:…/Fantastic_Adventures_v13n07_1951-07