Friday, January 8, 2010
Friday's "Forgotten" Books: STURGEON'S WEST by Theodore Sturgeon and Don Ward
From the Contento index:
Sturgeon’s West Theodore Sturgeon & Don Ward (Doubleday, 1973, hc)
· Ted Sturgeon’s Western Adventure · Don Ward · in
· Well Spiced · Theodore Sturgeon · ss Zane Grey’s Western Magazine Feb ’48
· Scars · Theodore Sturgeon · ss Zane Grey’s Western Magazine May ’49
· Cactus Dance · Theodore Sturgeon · nv Luke Short’s Western Magazine Oct/Dec ’54
· The Waiting Thing Inside · ss EQMM Sep ’56
· The Man Who Figured Everything · nv EQMM Jan ’60
· Ride In, Ride Out · nv *
· The Sheriff of Chayute · ss *
Theodore Sturgeon, often in collaboration with Zane Grey's Western Magazine editor Don Ward (in the open in contributions to other magazines, and perhaps in the usual editorial interplay at ZGWM), wrote a series of western stories initially for that fine digest (Zane Grey seems to have been the National Geographic of western fiction magazines...to judge by the eBay population, no one seems ever to have thrown them away...though the issues that Didn't run a usually truncated Grey reprint were the better ones--I have a late one with a much superior Cliff Farrell novella where the Grey mass would otherwise martyr trees). The shortlived Luke Short magazine took one, and as one sees above, they apparently couldn't place two of them before this book was released (though I should go back to check the Sturgeon Project volumes about that). "Cactus Dance" deals with, shall we say, altered perception; "Scars," among other things, deals with the vagaries of love and affection in a typically Sturgeonish way (and these two were the only stories here included previously in Sturgeon's fantastic-fiction collections, despite having no blatantly fantasticated elements to them).
As with the other sorts of fiction that Sturgeon tackled, the empathy and clear-eyed analysis of the many ways we can betray and unexepectedly support each other are all over these pages...I'm not sure how much Ward, who might not've produced any solo fiction, contributed, but the collaborations certainly read like Sturgeon.
(And it should be noted that the digest-sized Zane Grey Western was published by Dell in the '40s and '50s, and the title was revived by Leo Margulies's Renown Publications at the end of the '60s for a few years as a US standard-sized "bedsheet" magazine, with lead novelets attributed to ZG's son but ghosted, as with other Renown magazines, by a roster of folks including in this case Bill Pronzini...none of which is likely to be confused with the later Dell Magazines project, after they bought the Davis fiction group including EQMM, Louis L'Amour Western Magazine, which also was a notable market for Pronzini among others....)
For more Friday books, please see Patti Abbott's blog.