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
Stardust
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 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 film...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 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...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 them...as 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

FFB: Robert Arthur, editor: ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS: STORIES NOT FOR THE NERVOUS; noted: Marcia Muller: TROPHIES AND DEAD THINGS



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 prose...one 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 Abby 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

FFB: Joan Aiken, THE GREEN FLASH; THE BEST OF MARGARET ST. CLAIR (Greenberg, ed.); C. M. Kornbluth, THIRTEEN O'CLOCK AND OTHER ZERO HOURS (Blish, ed.)

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
Contents:
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.