Saturday, May 29, 2010

1990s smart limited-animation self-indulgence: the Compleat DR. KATZ, PROFESSIONAL THERAPIST and DARIA




So, these, along with The Simpsons and scattered other bits here and there, were the most impressive sustained television animated series in the US in the 1990s, sitcoms featuring, respectively, a well-meaning but rather inadept psychologist (comedian Jonatan Katz) and his patients (an impressive array of standup commedians) and his friends, family, and receptionist Laura (Laura Silverman, late of the Sara Silverman Program) and an acerbic, disaffected intellectual teenager making her way in a typically bland and corrupt suburban high-school-dominated life, with the help of her bohemian artist best friend and occasionally that of her family, who all have their own crises and agendas to deal with, and infrequently her teachers and classmates.

Katz was the first major project from animator (not the talk-show host) Tom Snyder's "Squigglevision" company, which went on to offer the nearly as amusing Science Court and Home Movies series. A fine heir to The Bob Newhart Show in one way and in another a showcase for a lot of the best comedians of the latter '90s, who could do parts of their typical acts as complaints to Katz as their therapist, this ran from 1995-99 on Comedy Central cable...and is collected here with some interesting commentary, a few other extras (including a 2007 stage revival stunt featuring Katz, Silverman, H. John Benjamin reprising his role as Katz's son Ben, and Kathy Griffin, Maria Bamford, Andy Kindler and Paul F. Tompkins as patients...not a completely successful revival, as Katz seems a bit at sea [and since he's sporting a cane, might be so because he's feeling some serious chronic pain...elsewhere in commentary he refers to leg pain), and the other comedians all seem a bit overeager to compensate for that, including one blowing off a improv suggestion Katz makes altogether). The series is never worse than pleasant and is frequently casually brilliant.

Daria Morgendorfer was a character introduced in Mike Judge's Beavis and Butthead cartoons, a girl the goonish boys lusted after who in her turn found them fitfully if grotesquely amusing; the Daria series has no further input from the Judge characters, and in fact begins with the Morgandorfers relocating to the nondescript suburb of Lawndale (at about the same time that Buffy the Vampire Slayer was moving into Sunnydale); there's no lack of satiric targets for Daria and quickly acquired soulmate/best friend Jane to mock, including occasionally each other (Jane is more in touch with her physicality than Daria is, and Daria a bit more self-righteous, which are not always but can be the starting points for what ribbing they give each other, particularly as Daria quickly developes a crush on Jane's slacker rock-musician brother Trent). Easily and by far the best regularly-scheduled program in the history of MTV, 1997-2001 (as much as any program has ever been regularly scheduled on MTV, and given such rare but occasionally impressive competition as Austin Stories and The State), Daria like most MTV programs took advantage of the music rights the channel had to slather its soundtrack with current pop, which has now been denuded WKRP in Cincinatti-style for home video...it hurts less than with WKRP, because the music was usually more incidental to Daria, albeit it guts the REM "Everybody Hurts" video parody in an episode largely devoted to an ill-fated attempt to attend Lollapalooza (here given a parodic name). And the series-original music of Trent's band, and of the "Daria! The Musical" is retained...small favors, at least. The two feature-length telefilms, Is It Fall Yet? and Is It College Yet? are among the "extras"...though relatively skimpy coverage is given to behind the scenes.

I'm certainly enjoying them to overindulgence. Particularly the episodes I've missed (no few in both cases).

NPR: 'Mein Girl': Motown's Hits, Found In Translation


'Mein Girl': Motown's Hits, Found In Translation

Americans remember The Four Tops for classic hits like "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)." But Italians may know the same song under a different name: "Piangono Gli Uomini."

The Four Tops recorded their Italian-language version of "I Can't Help Myself" in 1966. In fact, they'd often record many of their hits in several other tongues.

More at the link, including the soundfiles, for several of the major Motown bands, including the pictured Temptations; this doesn't quite make up for botches like the Davis book interview, but it helps.

Friday, May 28, 2010

FFB/"forgotten" stories: UNCOLLECTED CRIMES ed Pronzini, Greenberg; UNCOLLECTED STARS ed Malzberg, Anthony, Waugh, Greenberg; FINE FRIGHTS ed Campbell





from the Contento indices:
Fine Frights: Stories that Scared Me ed. Ramsey Campbell (Tor 0-812-51670-2, Aug ’88 [Jul ’88], $3.95, 309pp, pb) Anthology of 12 horror stories.
ix · Introduction · Ramsey Campbell · in
1 · Child’s Play · Villy Sørensen; trans. by Maureen Neiiendam · ss Strange Stories, 1956
15 · More Sinned Against · Karl Edward Wagner · ss In a Lonely Place, Scream/Press, 1984
43 · Lost Memory · Peter Phillips · ss Galaxy May ’52
67 · The Fifth Mask · Shamus Frazer · nv London Mystery Magazine #33 ’57
91 · The Horror at Chilton Castle · Joseph Payne Brennan · nv Scream at Midnight, New Haven, CT: Macabre Press, 1963
119 · The Clerks of Domesday · John Brunner · nv *
157 · Thurnley Abbey · Perceval Landon · ss Raw Edges, Heinemann, 1908
187 · Cutting Down · Bob Shaw · ss IASFM Dec ’82
219 · The Necromancer [as by Ingulphus] · Arthur Gray · ss The Cambridge Review Oct 17 ’12
235 · The Greater Festival of Masks · Thomas Ligotti · ss Songs of a Dead Dreamer, Silver Scarab Press, 1985
251 · The War Is Over · David Case · ss *
269 · Upon the Dull Earth · Philip K. Dick · nv Beyond Fantasy Fiction #9 ’54

Uncollected Stars ed. Piers Anthony, Martin H. Greenberg, Barry N. Malzberg & Charles G. Waugh (Avon 0-380-89596-X, Feb ’86 [Jan ’86], $3.50, 312pp, pb) Anthology of 16 previously uncollected stories, with a foreword by Anthony and an afterword by Malzberg.
1 · Introduction · Piers Anthony · in
6 · Time Enough · Lewis Padgett · ss Astounding Dec ’46
26 · The Soul-Empty Ones · Walter M. Miller, Jr. · nv Astounding Aug ’51
62 · Defender of the Faith · Alfred Coppel · ss Science Fiction Quarterly Nov ’52
76 · All of You · James V. McConnell · ss Beyond Fantasy Fiction Jul ’53
82 · The Holes · Michael Shaara · ss Fantastic Jun ’54
91 · Beast in the House · Michael Shaara · ss Orbit #4 ’54
102 · Little Boy [as by Harry Neal] · Jerome Bixby · ss If Oct ’54
116 · Unwillingly to School [Lizzie Lee] · Pauline Ashwell · nv Astounding Jan ’58
163 · Brother Robot · Henry Slesar · ss Amazing May ’58
178 · The Risk Profession · Donald E. Westlake · nv Amazing Mar ’61
205 · The Stuff · Henry Slesar · ss Galaxy Aug ’61
211 · Arcturus Times Three [Jerry Norcriss] · Jack Sharkey · nv Galaxy Oct ’61
244 · They Are Not Robbed · Richard M. McKenna · nv F&SF Jan ’68
275 · The Creatures of Man · Verge Foray · ss If May ’68
291 · Only Yesterday · Ted White · ss Amazing Jul ’69
301 · An Agent in Place · Laurence M. Janifer · ss Analog May ’73
311 · Afterword · Barry N. Malzberg · aw

from the Paperback Swap citation (which refers to "Manjunt" magazine)
Uncollected Crimes, edited by Bill Pronzini and Martin Harry Greenberg, fiction contents (w/o accounting the introduction, etc.)
Publisher: Berkley Pub Group
Book Type: Paperback
ISBN-13: 9780425116135 - ISBN-10: 0425116131
Publication Date: 6/1/1989
Pages: 240
(after the Walker hardcover, 1987)
[original publication sources taken from Contento/Stephensen-Payne indices and The Thrilling Detective citations of the individual stories, for the most part, when I could find such citations.]

Two O'Clock Blonde -- James M. Cain (Manhunt, August 1953)
Riddle of the Marble Blade -- Stuart Palmer ([Hildegarde Withers], nv Mystery, Nov 1934; reprinted The Saint Detective Magazine [UK] Nov 1962)
The $5,000 Getaway -- Jack Ritchie (ss AHMM May '59)
Squealer -- John D. MacDonald (Manhunt, vol. 4 # 5, May 1956)
The Cackle Bladder -- William Campbell Gault (originally as “The Corpse and the Cackle-Bladder”, nv Detective Talesm Mar 1950; reprinted Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine [Australia] Jan 1961)
Everybody Needs a Mink -- Dorothy B. Hughes (ss The Saint Mystery Magazine [UK] Jun 1965; The Saint Mystery Magazine [US] Jul 1965)
I Still See Sally -- John Jakes
Homecoming -- Michael Collins
The Deadly Mrs. Haversham -- Helen Nielsen (AHMM, Apr. 1958)
The Problem of the County Fair -- Edward D. Hoch ([Dr. Sam Hawthorne], ss EQMM Feb 1978)
The Tree on Execution Hill -- Loren D. Estleman (ss AHMM Aug 1977)
Bank Job -- Bill Pronzini (August 1978, EQMM)
Discount Fare -- John Lutz (Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, April 1979)
Consolation -- Ed McBain (1976, Mystery Monthly)

While Ramsey Campbell was recalling the "lost" stories that had made the greatest impression on him, Martin Greenberg and his collaborators sought out the stories that had never been collected in book form (I could dig out online the magazine appearances for the Unollected Crimes stories faster than I could dig out my copy from storage and copy from the acknowledgements page, I suspect, though maybe not--the only one I'd read in its original magazine appearance was Pronzini's own "Bank Job," in one of the first Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazines I purchased off the newsstand)...so the average quality of the Campbell is greater, but all three books will amply reward the Forgotten Books reader's efforts in finding them...it's almost but not quite an inevitable irony that all of these have fallen out of print, in their efforts to revive interest (Barry Malzberg, never one to let an irony slip away from him, has noted that this was the first book published under Piers Anthony's byline not to earn out its advance--I certainly picked up my copy from a huge remaindered stack in a bookstore, a relative rarity for a mass-market paperback...and, I note, nearly a quarter century later [time does fly] Anthony is now a less potent commercial force than he was in the '80s and has less presence in the marketplace than Greenberg, if still a fair amount in print).

The notion that these might be rare treasures or near-(enough-)treasures, often from writers whose careers (at least in the fields the anthologies collect) were unfairly and/or unfortunately brief, is perhaps just not a sufficient motivation to the casual readership, however much it might draw readers such as you or me. The supporting material is useful and interesting in each volume, if thinner than one would like in a few instances (and most amusingly the editors of Stars are not afraid to disagree with and correct each other in their notes.) All three, in the paperback editions (Crimes had a hardcover edition, too...from Pronzini's publisher Walker & Co. in 1987) were produced using acid-soaked paper, undistinguished at best covers (see above), and rather weak bindings (even for paperbacks of their era), so somewhat battered examples of the books are more likely than near-mint ones. But any books that will give you examples of solid work by good, and sometimes even continuingly famous, artists in the fields, and such bonuses in the Campbell as the best unfamous story by Joseph Payne Brennan I've read (and one of the best by him, better than such well-known items as "Gavagan's Back Yard") and Philip Dick's brilliant "Upon the Dull Earth" (I first read it here), are worth the quick search and reasonable expense online or at your favorite well-stocked second-hand store.

For much more prompt Friday "Forgotten" Books, see George Kelley's blog, where the vacationing Patti Abbott has apparently made her displeasure with Suicide Girl mascots for the FFB known...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

May's "Forgotten" Music: Miriam Makeba (and some mid-'90s women in punk rock)



It seems unlikely that Miriam Makeba, who died in 2008 after a life devoted to music and activism for pan-African liberation and more, and who was perhaps the most eclectic performer (and among the most influential) to come out of Africa in the '60s, could be considered forgotten...but she was also, by the careless and foolish, often not accorded sufficient respect. The documentarians who made the boxing film When We Were Kings, for example, in offering a view of the culturual and political events around the Ali/Foreman fight in Zaire in 1974, managed to throw in every scrap they could find of James Brown sweating backstage while waiting to go on (and give a rather distracted performance)...while repeatedly running only a few-seconds clip of Makeba, singing part of a click song, and meant by the fillmmakers to represent the "evil spirits" congregating over the event. A woman who had stood against apartheid, been exiled from her home country because of it, but who had also helped inspire interest around the world and particularly in the other nations of Africa in their folk song traditions (and those of others) was thus insulted; the clowns who conduct the Chicago-based radio nerdfest Sound Opinions, in attempting to eulogize Makeba, managed to mispronounce both of her names, as "Mariam Makeeba" (the surname error, for "mah-Kay-bah," is common; you have to work, as an English-speaker, to mispronounce Miriam) and to screw up the title of her biggest commercial hit in the US, "Pata Pata" (as "Pato Pato" for no earthly reason). They also, rather than running the studio/hit recording of the song, found one of the muddiest live performances they could've dug up to then play in part.

Here's "Pata Pata," apparently in a performance for Brazilian television:


...but while a fine and danceable song, such others on that first album I heard by her (her eleventh released in the US, and her second for Warner/Reprise) as "Yetentu Tizaleny," "Maria Fulo" and "Saduva" were even better...and her plainspoken protest song "A Piece of Ground" made it's point clearly. Happily, the album Pata Pata, among several others, is still pretty easy to find on cd or as a download.

Makeba's career was slightly parallel to that of the Weavers in the US...eclectic folk and folkish repetoire, sometimes some pop commercial sweetening to tempt "crossover" listeners, oppression on the part of their national governments, and yet the basic appeal of their work allowed them to reach wide audiences around the world. Certainly both the Weavers and Makeba had some success covering Solomon Linda's "Mbube" before the Tokens or Disney got their hands on it...



She was married for a while to her fellow expat Hugh Masekela, and they were likely to collaborate throughout their careers:



And here's a performance in Ghana in 1973, about which I know nothing, including the name of the song she's performing, but it's wonderful stuff despite some decidedly anti-professional camera work (worth putting up with DailyMotion's ads):



And to wrap up this brief gloss of her career, a jazzy bit of singing with the staff of the anti-apartheid newspaper Drum, from the film Have You Seen Drum Lately?.



Briefly noted:
In the early 1990s, there were at least two schools of feminist women's punk rock, one of which was growing in visibility as Riot Grrl (or Grrrl, add Rs to taste or anger), which among other aspects featured usually young women hoping to reclaim their girlhood when they felt that it had been stolen from them, and otherwise find a way of making feminism comfortable and fun for themselves...and their most prominent cheerleaders were the band Bikini Kill:



While more likely to apply feminist critique in macro and micro circumstances without resort to nostalgia, and representing more what Alice Walker called a "womanist" perspective, were a number of bands who might offer more direct insight, and at least as forcefully, none moreso than Spitboy:






I was wearing a Spitboy t-shirt when I met birthday man Harlan Ellison, age 76 tomorow (he was signing Dream Corridor issues and didn't ask); I met Spitboy lead singer Adrienne Droogas once; she was a bit distracted at the time, considering as she was at the time, if I'm not mistaken, leaving the band (which would gain another member and become Instant Girl; Droogas would go on to the Pennsylvania-based Aus Rotten). Kathleen Hanna, most common lead singer of Bikini Kill, was pretty consistently rude to me when we'd meet in DC in the '90s, but that didn't worry me too much; the music was still good (up till the bland last album and its attempt at pop; Le Tigre, her next band, was an improvement over the last BK album, if not over Bikini Kill itself).

See the roundup of May "forgotten" music posts at Scott Parker's blog, where various forms of Star Wars has been the subject of the week...

For some reason the Comments "button" below has only intermittently been visible unless one is in this post specifically...ah, sweet mysteries of Blogspot. Which gives me another chance to plug the wonders of the CBS's continuing series (even doing well in the ratings), The Good Wife, which is probably minute by minute the best serial drama on US television right now. And on commercial broadcast. Amazing.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday's "Forgotten" Books: BEST SF '71 ed. by Harry Harrison & Brian Aldiss (Berkley 1972); YEAR'S FINEST FANTASY ed. by Terry Carr (Berkley 1978)










More landmarks, personally at least
















Best SF: 1971 ed. Harry Harrison & Brian W. Aldiss (G.P. Putnam’s LCC# 74-116158, 1972, $5.95, 253pp, hc); In the UK as The Year’s Best Science Fiction No. 5 (Sphere 1972).
9 · Introduction · Harry Harrison · in
14 · Doctor Zombie and His Furry Little Friends · Robert Sheckley · ss Can You Feel Anything When I Do This?, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1971
25 · Conquest · Barry N. Malzberg · ss New Dimensions I, ed. Robert Silverberg, Doubleday, 1971
31 · Gehenna · Barry N. Malzberg · ss Galaxy Mar ’71
37 · A Meeting with Medusa · Arthur C. Clarke · nv Playboy Dec ’71
83 · The Genius · Donald Barthelme · ss New Yorker Feb ’71
90 · Angouleme · Thomas M. Disch · ss New Worlds Quarterly, ed. Michael Moorcock, London: Sphere, 1971
108 · If “Hair” Were Revived in 2016 · Arnold M. Auerbach · fa The New York Times, 1971
110 · Statistician’s Day · James Blish · ss Science Against Man, ed. Anthony Cheetham, Avon, 1970
120 · The Science Fiction Horror Movie Pocket Computer · Gahan Wilson · ms The National Lampoon Nov ’71
124 · The Hunter at His Ease · Brian W. Aldiss · ss Science Against Man, ed. Anthony Cheetham, Avon, 1970
144 · The Cohen Dog Exclusion Act · Steven Schrader · ss Eco-Fiction, ed. John Stadler, Washington Square, 1971
149 · Gantlet · Richard E. Peck · ss Orbit 10, ed. Damon Knight, G.P. Putnam’s, 1972
162 · Report · Kingsley Amis · pm The New Statesman, 1971
163 · Fisherman · Lawrence Sail · pm The New Statesman, 1971
164 · The Ideal Police State · Charles Baxter · pm The Little Magazine, 1971
165 · The Pagan Rabbi · Cynthia Ozick · nv The Hudson Review, 1966
198 · (Untitled) [from Cancerqueen] · Tommaso Landolfi · ex, 1971
200 · An Uneven Evening · Steve Herbst · ss Clarion, ed. Robert Scott Wilson, Signet, 1971
210 · Ornithanthropus · B. Alan Burhoe · ss If Dec ’71
224 · No Direction Home · Norman Spinrad · ss New Worlds Quarterly 2, ed. Michael Moorcock, London: Sphere, 1971
242 · Afterword: A Day in the Life-Style of... · Brian W. Aldiss · aw

Year’s Finest Fantasy ed. Terry Carr (Berkley/Putnam, 1978, hc)
· Introduction · Terry Carr · in
· Jeffty Is Five · Harlan Ellison · ss F&SF Jul ’77
· The Bagful of Dreams [Cugel; Dying Earth] · Jack Vance · nv Flashing Swords! #4, ed. Lin Carter, Dell, 1977
· The Cat from Hell · Stephen King · ss Cavalier Jun ’77
· Black as the Pit, from Pole to Pole · Steven Utley & Howard Waldrop · nv New Dimensions 7, ed. Robert Silverberg, Harper & Row, 1977
· The Kugelmass Episode · Woody Allen · ss New Yorker May 2 ’77; F&SF Dec ’77
· Manatee Gal Ain’t You Coming Out Tonight [Jack Limekiller] · Avram Davidson · nv F&SF Apr ’77
· Getting Back to Before It Began · Raylyn Moore · ss F&SF Aug ’77
· Descent of Man · T. Coraghessan Boyle · ss The Paris Review Spr ’77
· Probability Storm · Julian Reid · nv Universe 7, ed. Terry Carr, Doubleday, 1977
· Growing Boys · Robert Aickman · nv Tales of Love and Death, Gollancz, 1977

So, here are two books which, along the horror anthologies and the Hitchcock antologies and the humor anthologies and eventually the Judith Merril anthologies (among much else, of course), helped shape my view of what literature cuold do, and why attempts at hard and fast distinction between "genre" fiction and (most pathetically) "literary" fiction are useless at best and pernicious and destructive at worst...they've certainly helped limit and end careers for talented writers throughout the previous century, at least.

It's difficult to read "The Genius" by Donald Barthelme side by side with "Angouleme" by Thomas Disch and say that the first is literary art and the second a mere entertainement written to preconceived limitations, and even if that was remotely true of the Disch, one would have to wonder why it was assumend no preconceptions were at play in the compostion of the Barthelme. As it was, these were two of the stories which utterly floored me in the book, even in the presence of such major work as the Clarke, and the duo from Malzberg, the Spinrad and one of the best stories, slightly time-displaced in a Best of 1971 volume, by Ozick. "The Genius" certainly spoke to me as I reread it on a school bus, on the long hike back from a field trip to the New England Seaquarium as I recall, with my busmates in my vicinity wondering why I was so engrossed in that odd book. What are the responsibilities of being a genius? Can one choose not to be one? A compelling set of questions; nearly as memorable, the convocation of geniuses, several hundred geniuses in one room, reminding our protagonist of his less than utter uniqueness and putting him in a bad mood for several days.

Landolfi's Cancerqueen excerpt haunted me ("Cancroregina" in the language of the author and my grandfather's family), even as Wilson flowchart guide to monster movies (reptinted illegibly in the Sphere edition, even when I had good eyes) blew me away even among the many funny shorter bits, and the acid not so short Sheckley lead-off, included here.

Bill Crider recently reprinted George Kelley's contemporary review of the Carr volume for Paperback Quarterly, and while I commented extensively there, I'd still like to note here that while this volume wasn't quite as unworried about going "outside" the "boundaries" for its contents, it still kept alive the traditions Carr had established with his fine New Worlds of Fantasy trio of anthologies back in the latest '60s and earliest '70s (more directly contemporaneous with the Harrison/Aldiss volume above); this first volume of his annual, which would continue as Fantasy Annual after moving with Carr's publisher's editor David Hartwell from Berkley to Pocket Books, after a second volume with B/P) would've contained Jorge Luis Borges's "The Book of Sand" as well, if Carr was willing to pay the stiff reprint fee demanded. As it was, this volume stands as an iterestingly mixed bag, with excellent stories (unsurprisingly) from Vance, Aickman (which got across to adolescent me the potentially creepish aspects of parenthood), Ellison (not his best fantasy, but just a cut below) and Davidson (though it took me longer to warm up to the Limekiller stories than it did to some of Davidson's more flashily erudite and hilarious work). Ir also, with the inclusion of "The Cat from Hell," confirmed for me that I often found King's work suprisingly dull, crude, and generally dismal, particularly given how much people seemed to love it (while also finding the occasional story, such as "Children of the Corn" as collected in a contemporary Year's Best Horror Stories annual volume, suprisingly good, leaving me to wonder why dreck such as "Cat" was being written, published, and lauded); the (bad sort of) ridiculously smug and cutesy "Descent of Man" was the first exposure, I believe, I had to Boyle, who has tended in his shallow and striving way to appear in magazine issues and anthologies I often otherwise enjoy with appalling frequency over the decades since, usually offering a sort of sub-Ellisonian attempt to be clever and challenging and failing dismally...I have read one, and only one, decent story by him, in Zoetrope All-Story several years back, which just makes me wonder what he might achieve if he didn't so consistently attempt to be so clumsily ironic and fashionably broad in his affect. The Woody Allen story of sorts is typical of his literay work, a series of some good and other jokes barely stuck together as a narrative...a sketch in prose rather than a truly realized story. The early Utley/Waldrop, like the Reid, is more promising than indicative of what the former duo, at least, could do...Utley was already producing better work, and Waldrop would really flower in the next decade. The Moore has most of the flaws of the Boyle, as most of her work did, without being quite as impressed with itself. Oddly, I remember reading some of this one for the first time in the Hirschorn Museum in DC, as I was resting after taking in a good chunk of the collection that day, in a month or so I spent in DC in '78.

All in all, interesting books, not perfect ones, and they did nothing to quell my continuing habit of picking up annuals, even in the rare occasion that I've read most of the contents.

For more "forgotten" books, please see George Kelley's blog...at least he and Bill Crider are highlighting books this week by the late Manly Wade Wellman, whose birthday anniversary is today.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

On the newsstands: WORLD LITERATURE TODAY International SF issue; ASIMOV'S SF, ELLERY QUEEN'S MYSTERY MAGAZINE



World Literature Today, that fine, if at times a bit slight, magazine, has put together an issue on international sf that looks good enough to at least take a close look at (I have just picked it up, haven't had time to read it yet)...



The July Asimov's would be all but necessary reading even if it only contained Alice Sola Kim's "The Other Graces," an excellent evocation of the life of a Korean-American teen facing not a few challenges...with a bit of the fantastic rather organically woven in. Would that this would reach the Twilight audience, as opposed to the poorly-written glop they get instead. If wishes were hobbyhorses, I'd ride even longer than I do.



The July Ellery Queen's features an almost ridiculous lineup, so as is often the case with EQMM, some of the key names were left off the cover for no good reason, but be aware that along with the cover folks, Bill Pronzini and Ed Gorman have stories in this issue, and Bill Crider's as well as Jon Breen's columns continue...and there's something by whoever's calling themselves "Dixon Hill" these days, and Phil Lovesey, and more...and EQ might be overdoing it on the consistency of use of the retro covers, but I hope they're helping...

Friday, May 14, 2010

FFB: Romances That Dare Not Speak...: Kate Wilhelm, Joyce Carol Oates, Margaret Atwood, Maggie Gee, Jack Finney, Richard Matheson, Joanna Russ, et al.










Copy forthcoming, and already late...but I've been reading romance fiction starting certainly no later than Jack Finney's "The Love Letter" (collected in the Finney volume above), and romance plays an important role in much fiction aimed at men as well as women...but these novels are, in whole or in part, romances in the sense of being primarily or significantly about the relationships at the center of them...but no one dare call them by that name (except perhaps the Matheson and the Finney), as they don't actually follow the Strictures of commercial romance publishing.

If I'd ever gotten very far with John Updike's Couples, it might be here, too. None of these has the cover from the editions I have, except the blurry Listen, Listen image (which includes "The Winter Beach," the novella from Redbook later expanded to novel length as Welcome, Chaos).

So...why are they romances? Well, On Strike Against God is in large part a contemporary mimetic analog of one of the threads of Russ's The Female Man, dealing with a mature woman trying to decide if she can, ethically, indulge her desire for an affair with a much younger woman; Solstice, the first Oates novel I read, is also a lesbian romance albeit a far less cheerful one (we are talking Oates, here). Wilhelm's novella and novel both, as do many Wilhelm works, mixes tendencies from all sorts of fiction, with a protagonist in both versions here who is beguiled by the kind of condescending, yet dashing, man of action who tends to Learn Better in commerially-tailored romance fiction. The Gee is about the end of the affair (hey, where's Graham Green here?) and is arrayed cleverly, broken into three sections and multiple chapters within...while Lady Oracle touches on metafiction (if not as much as Surfacing), while being about a romance-fiction writer who finds herself in a mildly relevant situation.

Still haven't seen the tv film from "The Love Letter" and haven't sat still for the film from Bid Time Return.

For less tardy Friday "Forgotten" Books, please see the running log at George Kelley's website.

Two bonus "repurposing" packages...Conjure Wife and O.G. (original gothic) Northanger Abbey offered to the Victoria Holt audience...wonder how they did in such new bottles? (The Austen courtesy Kate Laity's blog):



Sadly, the brilliant Diane and Leo Dillon cover for The Crystal Crow, iirc, by Joan Aiken, a book a bit more in the tradition of Du Maurier's Rebecca, seems to be eluding me (no longer, please see below)...as publisher Ace Books used to note, they were the First in Gothics of the sort that resurged in the '60s, and were apparently the inventors of the cover format with a woman in foreground, vaguely sinister man in background, and mansion or castle with one brightly lit window in further background...




Just received from the UK, no less...the second Pyramid edition, with a different cover stressing the contributors more, from the Dorothy McIlwraith editorship of WEIRD TALES (for $4):

The Unexpected ed. Leo Margulies (perhaps actually without DR Bensen nor Sam Moskowtz ghosting) (Pyramid G590, Feb '61, 35¢, 160pp, pb)
6 • Introduction • Leo Margulies • in
7 • The Professor's Teddy-Bear • Theodore Sturgeon • ss Weird Tales Mar '48
17 • Legal Rites [Pohl as James MacCreigh] • Isaac Asimov & Frederik Pohl • nv Weird Tales Sep '50
42 • The Strange Island of Dr. Nork • Robert Bloch • ss Weird Tales Mar '49 60 • Mrs. Hawk • Margaret St. Clair • ss Weird Tales Jul '50
67 • The Handler • Ray Bradbury • ss Weird Tales Jan '47
76 • The Automatic Pistol • Fritz Leiber • ss Weird Tales May '40
91 • The Unwanted • Mary Elizabeth Counselman • ss Weird Tales Jan '51
102 • The Valley Was Still • Manly Wade Wellman • ss Weird Tales Aug '39
115 • The Scrawny One • Anthony Boucher • vi Weird Tales May '49
119 • Come and Go Mad • Fredric Brown • nv Weird Tales Jul '49
154 • The Big Shot • Eric Frank Russell • ss Weird Tales Jan '49

--and bought locally at lunch yesterday for $2 from the best secondhand store I'm aware of around here, half out of FANTASTIC and almost all out of Howard Browne's years as editor of the Ziff-Davis fiction magazines, with one ringer each from Ray Palmer and Cele Goldsmith issues (and what I have is the Belmont-Tower original edition, while this is the Award reprint, shoddily packaged as was Award's wont and with a misleading promise that this is the first time this collection has been offered):

Time Untamed [edited by Ivan Howard] ed. Anon. (Belmont 50245, 1967, 75¢, 175pp, pb)
5 • Sally • Isaac Asimov • ss Fantastic May/Jun '53
23 • You'll Never Go Home Again • Clifford D. Simak • ss Fantastic Adventures Jul '51
41 • The Eye of Tandyla [Poseidonis] • L. Sprague de Camp • nv Fantastic Adventures May '51
65 • Tomorrow and Tomorrow • Ray Bradbury • ss Fantastic Adventures May '47
83 • The Hungry Eye • Robert Bloch • nv Fantastic May '59
102 • The Dark Room • Theodore Sturgeon • nv Fantastic Jul/Aug '53
139 • The Eternal Eve • John Wyndham • nv Amazing Sep '50
164 • I'm Looking for "Jeff" • Fritz Leiber • ss Fantastic Fll '52

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Coming soon...THRILLER on DVD, Maria Bamford on WTF

Apparently to roll out at the end of summer...at a century note and a half, but still by me necessary...



Meanwhile, among the podcasts I'm most likely to listen to on its semi-weekly appareance is that of comedian and former Air America commentator/host Marc Maron, WTF and on his schedule for Thursday's episode is an hour or so of conversation with Maria Bamford, as Maron and Bamford carpool back from MaxFunCon to Los Angeles. My goodness. (I'm sure I would've enjoyed being at MaxFunCon, if I could've taken the time off and enjoyed sleeping in dorms.)

Ah, well. Counting the minutes.

Monday, May 10, 2010

NPR KIND OF dribbles BLUE...


NPR's Guy Raz punted an interview with pompous British jazz fan Richard Williams, and it was broadcast on Saturday, as the last (more than) ten minutes of an hour of "news"...which would've been fine if Williams didn't do such a fine job of convincing me that his book was an even more overblown attempt at intellectualization than Greil Marcus's Lipstick Traces.

Williams's thesis is that the Miles Davis Sextet album Kind of Blue was a singular catchpoint in cultural history, in part because it's one of the most popular albums in jazz...as if things don't tend to become more popular because they're already popular (Kind of Blue has become the best-selling album attributed to Davis, but I believe both Sketches of Spain and then Bitches Brew had outsold it until relatively recently). In the process of mentioning how Davis magically came up with modal improvisation, without once mentioning how Bill Evans brought the concept to the band after working with the originator of the concept in jazz, George Russell, Williams does as a European congratulate European whites for letting the young Davis meet Jean-Paul Sartre nearly a decade before the album was recorded...you see, Davis, as a black (American, non-Algerian or otherwise African "colonial," non-Caribbean) was able to be exposed to a ferment that the intellectually deprived folks back home, such as Langston Hughes or Zora Neale Hurston or James Baldwin (to say nothing of African-American intellectuals who never toured Europe at all), just missed out on.

"What I wanted to do was look at the what I conceive to be the effect of Kind of Blue on the world," Williams tells host Guy Raz. "Not just on jazz either, because I do think of Kind of Blue as a kind of lens that focused a set of feelings that were around in the late 1950s, and really then disseminated them to the world of music as a whole." Thus is Williams quoted as a teaser on the NPR page for the archive recording...not the worst passage, but still bloviation, since the kind of pensive approach demonstrated by Kind of Blue was of a piece with any number of albums in the Cool, West Coast, Third Stream and Chamber Jazz modes coming out in the years before KOB was released. Of course, given the cults that developed around Davis, Evans and John Coltrane over the years, it is almost inevitable that this record would become a touchstone for half-educated hipsters...and it's a fine album. Guy Raz proves he falls into that category with his ignorant question about the Birth of the Cool sessions, recorded at about the same time youngish Davis was hanging on the Left Bank, but not released till the latter '50s when they were, for commercial reasons, attributed to Davis as opposed to more properly (like the orchestral albums Sketches, Porgy and Bess and Miles Ahead) being largely credited to Gil Evans, who hosted the collaborators to the Birth sessions and put together the sessions for the later albums with Davis as featured soloist. Raz says, hey, wow, Birth was pretty straightforward bop, eh? Remarkable that nine years later that Davis sounded so different, hah? To his credit, you can almost hear Williams's distressed expression at such an ignorant softball, since Birth is very much not straightforward bop and it's not particularly surprising that even as self-important an artist as Davis might evolve over a decade of his early adulthood.

Miles Davis was perhaps the most awful person who was a major artist in jazz, and it's remarkably stupid at this late date to be attempting to further the cult of this serial spouse/partner abuser (most famously of wife Cicely Tyson), a guy who exploited his disproportionate sway with sycophantic fans and would-be tastemakers to try to ruin the careers of artists such as Coltrane, Cecil Taylor, and Ornette Coleman, and for most of his last years a remarkably dull performer (except in those rare occasions when he chose to actually play). Particularly when, at least in the lengthy promo for one's book on the record, one is ignoring its actual significance in favor of more mythmaking.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Television notes: SATISFACTION, GRAVITY, and better things



Not quite good enough, are the new series Gravity on the pay-cable channel Starz; and the Showtime Australia series Satisfaction, which has played in Canada on SCN but is debuting in the US on website Hulu. They're not good enough in roughly the same way, in dealing with rather loaded matters (the lives of suicide-attempt surivors in the first, the lives of prostitutes in a relatively upscale brothel in the other) in a soapy and insufficiently fresh fashion, with flashes of wit and occasional honesty met in the next scene or two with predictable hack, or stock setpieces. (You can see at least the first two episodes of Gravity at the Starz site, and ten episodes, perhaps the entire run, of Satisfaction at Hulu--though since it's rated TV-MA, S, you'll have to sign in).

Krysten Ritter plays Lily Champagne (no less) in Gravity, a young woman who works at a makeup counter in a department store (in mentioning this, she immediately appends "I change lives..."; it's a good joke the first time, an indication of her boredom the second time, and of her desperation by the third time...this might be the most innovative touch in either of the first two episodes, and well put across by Ritter, who resembles a somewhat more dollish Anne Hathaway...with large facial features like Hathaway, and thus the brightly contrasting makeup Lily favors makes her face look more awkward and vulnerable than it might with more subtle shades. She makes an almost unwilling connection with Ivan Sergei's Robert Collingworth (character names are Not a strength of the series); they meet cute with a ridiculously zipless coupling outside their court-ordered twelve-step meeting. It's all trying very hard to be distinctive, and just doesn't make it...though it's not unwatchable nor genuinely bad, just not different enough from the difference-splitting between HBO's Six Feet Under and Showtime's Dead Like Me that it so clearly is descended from. Starz's somewhat improvisational sitcom Party Down remains their best series by some distance, with Megan Mullally in for Jane Lynch, and Mullally proving that she could make about as convincing a Sarah Palin as Tina Fey does. (Episodes available on the Starz site, as well.)

Satisfaction is no less derivative, though it features a game Australian cast who are clearly engaged in an attempt to create a local franchise of the UK's Secret Diary of a Call Girl, which plays on the Showtime mothership in the US...and on broadcast television in the UK. There are more confrontations than one might expect in any workplace that isn't a bar or a prison, probably more than most bars. Lotsa declamations of potted attitudes about sexual politics, etc--why, don't you see that pros are simply wise enough to get paid for what other women Give Away for Free, some wise and some pompous characters note, depending on the point this or that script is trying to make. About as much flesh on display as Starz's perfervid Spartacus or HBO's dour, one-season Tell Me You Love Me, more than Call Girl or the male prostitute sitcom Hung...but the US remains probably the most prudish of Anglophone countries this way...

Such other new series as CBS's The Good Wife, HBO's Treme and FX's Justified remain much more impressive in nearly every way, and I'm still enjoying veterans such as Fox's House and AMC's Breaking Bad...and the sitcoms NBC offers on Thursday night, with this week's Community, a parody of take-no-prisoners action/suspense films, striking me as particularly amusing in a good bunch. My sneaking fondness for the often goofy spy dramas Chuck (NBC) and Burn Notice (USA) continues pretty much unabated. It's a pity there are no first-rate fantasticated series on the schedules, at least moreso than the technothriller-esque hardware and paranoia of the spy series. But you can still see the fine Journeyman
on Hulu, and the nearly as good Other Moon Bloodgood timeslip fantasy Day Break there as well. At least the two surviving vampire series, True Blood(HBO) and Vampire Diaries (CW) have at least some intermittent charm.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Friday's "Forgotten" Novella (and Bonus Book): THE REAL PEOPLE by Algis Budrys (1953); GHOST BREAKER by Ron Goulart (1971)



Contents of issue #3, November 1953 (courtesy ISFDB):
2 • The Real People • novella by Algis Budrys
57 • The Helpful Haunt • short story by Richard Deming
70 • Hush! • short story by Zenna Henderson
80 • House . . . Wife • novelet by [Ms.] Lyle G. Boyd and William C. Boyd [as by Boyd Ellanby]
109 • Just Imagine • short story by Ted Reynolds
113 • The Big Breeze • short story by Franklin Gregory
128 • Sorry, Right Number • short story by Richard Matheson
140 • My Darling Hecate • novelet by Wyman Guin
159 • Prediction (Beyond Fantasy Fiction, November 1953) • house ad/comming attractions by H. L. Gold

My little project of reading four issues of the highest-profile US fantasy fiction magazines of the years 1953-54 is off to a slow start, in part because I'm good at mislaying my reading glasses and even at mislaying somewhere in the apartment the F&SF issue I chose, so I might substitute another. But I have reread (for the first time in a number of years) Algis Budrys's novella, "The Real People," which leads off the issue of Beyond. Despite being collected in Thomas Dardis's best-of Beyond, it's rather a mess, if also a promising work from a writer not much more than a year into his professional career at the time, and perhaps introducing some of the trademark concerns of Budrys which would recur in much more assured work later on.

"The Real People" offers a protagonist who, having barely survived a catastrophic car crash in the first paragraphs of the story, begins noting anomalies about his healing abilities and his experience of hospitalization. For a man who clearly needed reconstructive surgery on his face and the setting and healing of a severely broken arm, to fully wake up for the first time since the accident after a week and be essntially completely healed seems more than a little implausible to him. He begins to question the staff and his own sanity, or at least his recollection of events, and discovers that he apparently can alter the course of events, even the nature of reality, at will. But is it all delusional? He seeks out a college buddy from some years back, now a practising psychologist (not a psychoanalyst, as the friend is quick to point out) and they have a long discussion laden with references to Bishop Berkeley, a good way of incorporating one's research as well as showing that one isn't simply reacting to such previous paranoid or solipsistic fantasy as Theodore Sturgeon's "The Ultimate Egoist," Robert Heinlein's "They" or Fritz Leiber's You're All Alone, but is actually plumbing a bit further back, if not quite as far as when Plato was getting at similar matters in a less systematic way. In fact, the infodumps (long discursive conversations) in this story are one of its telling weaknesses, more indicative perhaps of H. L. Gold's anxious editing that they are of Budrys's original text...Gold liked his magazines' fiction to make sure the reasonably intelligent slick-magazine reader would be able to follow the concepts presented, though as the protagonist tests his perceptions and the apparent reality around him, Budrys's often subtle and rather abrupt indications of those changes could easily have thrown the casual reader. The protagonist, having decided he actually does have dominion over space and time, sets up a trap for himself in the form of murder confession, just to see how much trouble he can get himself in and out of, only to discover that his trial will not accede to his force of will, nor will his eventual stretch on death row...until a fashion model, whose picture inspired him to fabricate the murder, mysteriously visits him in his cell, and helps him realize, after much discursive argument and some playing around with space and time on both their parts, that they are part of a small minority of "real" people, as she puts it, who have some ability to force events by their desires, but that all the other "real" people among the "unreal" drones one comes in contact with might easily interfere with the first's desires; and the two, or however many there might be in any given population center, might well negate each others' abilities, except when their desires are in concert or congruent enough. It turns out that the protagonist and the model had been a romantic item, and the model, who had been an isolated "real" person for quite some time and found their union in some ways threatening, created the circumstances for the protagonist's accident, which in its turn caused his memory-loss and the other deficits which have driven his behavior throughout the story. They reconcile and live Really happily for now.

As noted, the exploration of megalomania and solipsism, though rather well-worked out conceptually and in often elegant prose, seems in several ways derivative of better fiction published in the decade previous to this story, and such different near-contemporary approaches to similar concerns as Damon Knight's "You're Another" (F&SF, June 1955) and Philip Dick's "Upon the Dull Earth" (in Beyond issue #9, undated aside from year 1954) are both more innovative and much more assured. But among the recurring elements in Budrys's work are the fine details of story structure (as the changes wrought by the protagonist keep reframing the story with little notice), the questions of true identity versus the possibly false (and possibly the only possible) identity as determined in large part by the perceptions of others, and even the details of the protag's injuries--his face and arm ruined, which would be echoed either directly or metaphorically in such major later Budrys work as Who?, The Death Machine aka Rogue Moon, and Michaelmas.

So, interesting, promising, but unrealized early work. One Really has to wonder how much the famously heavy-handed Gold fiddled with it editorially.

***Apologies to Bill Crider, who correctly noted that the short form of "Who?" by Budrys appeared in the issue of Fantastic Universe with the Frank Kelly Freas cover that was replicated for the 1970s Ballantine paperback edition...my scrambled memory, not helped by an innaccurate reference site, of Budrys's account of being inspired by a Freas image for Astounding , then writing the story and placing it with FU, and the three versions of the Freas image is written up by Budrys in one of his columns for F&SF, if I now remember correctly. Don't bet the farm.



And, briefly noting that James Reasoner was kind enough to pass along an eBay vendor's poaching one of my revision-needed earlier entries in the Forgotten Books series, for The Unexpected, and William Contento's index of the book, without permission or credit...James's own recent Friday choice of Ron Goulart's anthology The Hardboiled Dicks brought a nice comment from Goulart, somewhat wistfully wishing someone would review one of his in-print titles. I will now fail to do that, but will once again endorse what remains my favorite of Goulart's books, the not quite complete collection of stories about the part-time psychic/paranormal-phenomena detective Max Kearny, Ghost Breaker, which stories are at least as deftly funny and grounded in augmented reality (Kearny is almost an autobiographical figure, in the more quotidian details of his life and outlook as a youngish advertising copywriter and such, when not helping an old friend beat a curse that turns the fellow into an elephant for forty-eight hours on national holidays, and similar adventures) as anything else I've read in this mode, by anyone. Don't let Karel Thole's rather odd if typically well-rendered cover put you off...seek this out. Along with work Goulart is still earning royalties on. (E-reader this book, sir, if Night Shade or Subterranenan or Crippen and Landru can't bring themselves to offer a more complete reissue...or even if they do.)

The Contento Index of Ghost Breaker:
Ghost Breaker Ron Goulart (Ace 11182, 1971, 75¢, 142pp, pb) [Max Kearny]; with the novel Clockwork’s Pirates.
7 · Please Stand By · Ron Goulart · nv F&SF Jan ’62
31 · Uncle Arly · Ron Goulart · ss F&SF Jul ’62
42 · Help Stamp Out Chesney · Ron Goulart · ss *
54 · McNamara’s Fish · Ron Goulart · ss F&SF Jul ’63
73 · Kearny’s Last Case · Ron Goulart · ss F&SF Sep ’65
86 · Breakaway House · Ron Goulart · ss F&SF May ’66
97 · The Ghost Patrol · Ron Goulart · ss F&SF Oct ’68
113 · The Strawhouse Pavilion · Ron Goulart · ss Coven 13 Jan ’70
126 · Fill in the Blank · Ron Goulart · ss F&SF May ’67

(One late published Kearny story, "The Return of Max Kearny" [F&SF Dec 1981] has been anthologized in one of Elana Lore's "Hitchcock"-branded anthologies, but has not yet been collected with the others; at BoucherCon 2001, Goulart mentioned an unfinished late Kearny manuscript as well).

For more of this week's FFB, please see Patti Abbott's blog for an index.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

And...13 Surrealist, SF, or Fantasy Films Resembling Horror and Suspense Films You Probably Should See:

Häxan [aka] Witchcraft through the Ages
Un Chien Andalou
The Thief of Bagdad (1940) (though the 1924 film isn't too shabby, either)
All that Money Can Buy [aka] The Devil and Daniel Webster
I Married a Witch
Beauty and the Beast (1946)
Orpheus (1950)
The Devil's Eye
The Exterminating Angel
Woman in the Dunes
Quatermass and the Pit [aka] Five Million Years to Earth
Twelve Monkeys
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

--So...a nebulous category, and at least as arguable a list as any so far...I expect I might see questions about, say, (These Are) The Damned or The Company of Wolves...or Paperhouse or A Matter of Life and Death...or, of course, Monty Python and the Holy Grail or The Fisher King...I'm feeling the lack of The Testament of Orpheus and several Bergmans.

And this list does include two remakes that improve on their originals, though perhaps more people would argue with me about La jetée (1962), source of 12 Monkeys (and a "deconstructive" version of the original released a couple of years ago), than would about the silent Thief.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Similarly, 13 Suspense Films You Probably Should See...

The Seventh Victim
Odd Man Out (1947)
Les Diaboliques (1955)
Psycho (1959)
Peeping Tom
Odds Against Tomorrow
The Virgin Spring
Repulsion
Z
The Conversation (1974)
The Silent Partner (1978)
The Stepfather (1987)
With a Friend Like Harry

...if one is willing to see a Polanski film at the moment, that is...of the any number of films that could substitute on that ground, among those which almost made this list but seemed perhaps too obvious and Not Psycho nor Diablolique or not quite right for the first baker's dozen at this hour were the "open" mystery Wild Things (1998), the original The Vanishing, The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane, the original Assault on Precinct 13, Deliverance and Bullitt.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Big Broadcast celebrates a century of Norman Corwin

WAMU's Sunday night umbrella of vintage radio, The Big Broadcast, has devoted a couple of hours plus to Norman Corwin's impressionisitc documentaries, for those who'd like to sample them or recall them. (After 90 minutes of (usually good) Big Broadcast staples: Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, Dragnet, and Gunsmoke. Dragnet's hostility toward the general public can be a bit trying (nearly every witness tries to make her- or himself the star of their account or otherwise is a pain in the ass).

I must admit I often have found Corwin florid over the years, and Orson Welles's narration does nothing to overcome the wartime Chauvinism against the Japanese in the first offer...wartime, yes...atrocities, yes...still hard to take the demonisation of the entire people.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

So...why Sela Ward?

Not too long ago a fellow blogger, a peer and near-contemporary of actor/ex-model/ex-cheerleader Sela Ward, wondered, close paraphrase, Why are all men so crazy about her, anyway?



Well, aside from her talent, beauty (which by me peaked in the years she was doing the rather mixed bag of a series Sisters and such films as The Fugitive, and hasn't eroded much since) and demonstrated intelligence, she also has a persona, which often comes through in her roles as well as her interviews, that suggests she's the kind of woman who might cheerfully consider sleeping with a man she might meet, if circumstances were propitious (such as if she wasn't already apparently happily married)...or at least becoming friendly acquaintances...and actually might enjoy talking with him just about as much or at least along with the physical intimacies (and she comes across as one who wouldn't feel threatened by other women, either). She comes across, in other words, as adult, and not guarded (a quality understandably common in either the conventionally pretty or the famous), and certainly sensible and friendly--not always true, frequently not true, of women who've had similar careers.



Simple as that.

Fantasy Fiction Magazines of the Early 1950s...

I think these relatively randomly selected 1953/54 issues (important common factor--I have copies at hand, and I haven't read them through yet) will be my next little project for reading...since Bill Crider has been revisiting the Fantastic issues of his youth, and some of Fantastic's lesser contemporaries (Fantastic was a *Much* better magazine in 1953 and certainly in 1959 than it was in the, say, 1956 issues Bill has been rereading--even though Kate Wilhelm's first published story, "The Pint-Sized Genie," was one of the few highlights of the October, 1956 issue). These are the good fantasy magazines of the era (along with the moribund Weird Tales, which would end its first run of 31 years in 1954, and the often agreeable and occasionally impressive Fantastic Adventures, which would be folded into Fantastic the same year) that lasted some length of time (or at least more than a few issues, though Beyond ran for only ten issues in 1953-1955)...and all were eclectic enough to include sf in their remit, Beyond perhaps the least (it was seen as a good financial move...magazines labeled "science fiction" tended to sell better than those labeled "fantasy," perhaps in part because the sf audience could find less of what they liked in the eclectic magazines, pulps and otherwise, and in book form, than could fantasy readers). Certainly Fantastic Universe lasted nearly a decade, with an awkward title that tried to get across its eclecticism (often referred to as the "poor man's F&SF" though publishing some notable fiction, including work by a number of crime-fiction crossover writers and historical fiction specialist Howard Fast), and Fantastic managed to survive consistently neglectful and/or underfunded publishers till 1980, when it was folded into its stablemate Amazing. F&SF continues to publish today, and is joined on at least some newsstands by Realms of Fantasy, a sustained revival of Weird Tales, Cemetery Dance, Space and Time (a long-running sf/fantasy title), Black Gate, Black Static, and such eclectic smaller magazines as Black Clock (is there a color scheme emerging?), among others.