Friday, April 29, 2016

FFM: Fritz Leiber, Jody Scott, James Sallis; Gary Jennings, Josephine Saxton, Samuel Delany, Judith Merril and Gahan Wilson; Ramsey Campbell, Robert Lowndes and Seabury Quinn: blue covers for some winter/spring fantasy magazines: FANTASTIC, February 1969, edited by Barry N. Malzberg; THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION, February 1969, edited by Edward L. Ferman; STARTLING MYSTERY STORIES, Summer 1969, edited by Robert A. W. Lowndes


Three magazine issues, with blue covers. Why care about these first 1969 issues (even the January issue of F&SF would've been on the stands for Xmas '68) from these titles? Some impressive writers whose names you might be able to, and definitely cannot, make out on these covers: 

Fantastic: Among the contributors of new fiction, Fritz Leiber, of course, but also James Sallis, Jody Scott, Pg Wyal (his first story), Robert Hoskins and others. 


F&SF: Josephine Saxton, but also Gary Jennings (before the best-sellers such as Aztec), Samuel Delany (at this point the film columnist, even as the books are handled by Judith Merril and a set of Gahan Wilson's occasional horror/dark fantasy reviews, along with Wilson's cartoon and Asimov's pop-science essay), a recent translation of Yevgeny Zamyatin and another reprint, from (eventually) mostly tv-writer/producer Larry Brody.


SMS: The magazine which "discovered" Stephen King and F. Paul Wilson features in this issue original work by Ramsey Campbell, along with debut stories by the not so prolific Donna Gould Welk and Ken Porter, interspersed with reprints.

There were more fantasy-fiction magazines publishing in the US than usual in 1969, not least because Sol Cohen, who'd left the Galaxy Magazine Group to buy Fantastic and Amazing from Ziff-Davis in 1965, and with the magazines he'd bought the unlimited serial (magazine) reprint rights to all the stories Ziff-Davis had purchased as a default for their magazine fiction since the late 1930s...as well as the legacy copyrights from earlier publishers of Amazing...Cohen was at the height of his issuing reprint magazines filled with fiction he didn't legally need to pay any royalties for, and a few of those titles he slanted toward fantasy fiction. Strange Fantasy was the first and the best of these (bettered only by a much later one-shot Sword and Sorcery Annual), and took over the volume and issue numbering for two years from Science Fiction Classics beginning in '69. Robert A. W. Lowndes added Weird Terror Tales to his growing line of no-budget, mostly-reprint magazines in '69 (Bizarre Fantasy Tales would begin its brief run in 1970); Arthur Landis got his new digest Coven 13 onto some newsstands, and while Joseph Payne Brennan produced no issue of his boutique project Macabre in '69 (and Lester del Rey's fully professional Worlds of Fantasy offered one issue each in 1968 and 1970 but none in '69), there was a second issue of W. Paul Ganley's Weirdbook among the little or semipro magazines, even if no others offering as impressive a set of contributors of fiction. But aside from Lowndes's Magazine of Horror, the elder sibling to the more psychic-detective- and borderline horror/suspense-oriented SMS, whose March 1969 issue I don't have to hand (it does contain a new R. A. Lafferty story, however) and which doesn't even have a blue cover (the nerve), the three most visible US fantasy-fiction magazines in early '69 were the three I discuss below. 


Barry Malzberg was never too happy during his short term as editor of the Cohen/Ultimate Publications versions of Fantastic and Amazing, though he had managed to get his last issue of Fantastic, this February issue, about half full of original fiction (and the balance an odd mix of relatively random 1950s reprints, including one story each from Clifford Simak, Kendell Crossen and the house
the third issue; contents below
name "Lawrence Chandler," who could've been in this case nearly anyone in a small stable of regular contributors, including founding editor Howard Browne). In fact, the precipitating argument that ended Barry's employment was over whether cover artist William Baker would be paid for his cover image, a not-extraordinarily good nor bad pastel that Cohen apparently hated (and not notably worse, I'd suggest, than the other minor work on the other covers). With the inclusion of Robert Silverberg's essay (though Silverberg had been a columnist for Amazing as edited by Cele Goldsmith Lalli at Ziff-Davis), and fiction by such Malzberg favorites as (Ms.) Jody Scott and Robert Hoskins, Barry was clearly already starting to make his mark on the magazine, even if he wouldn't have much chance to do much more; Ted White would be installed as the new editor with the next issue, and Barry's inventory was probably exhausted with Ted's first issues of the two magazines. Poet Margo Skinner, Leiber's good friend after the death of his wife, wrote two of the reviews without credit in the table of contents, but a byline on the text. Barry's headnotes and "coming next month" are full of praise for the contributors, aside from the diffidence he employs in introducing his own work.

Edward Ferman and his family business (his father, Joseph Ferman, would still be publishing the magazine for the next few years) were readying themselves for the release of the revival of Venture Science Fiction, which would begin with an issue cover-dated May 1969. (Another, shorter-lived project, a magazine about proto-New Age matters, Inner Space, would soon follow.) However unkind fate might be to their other publications, F&SF continued to steadily appear on a monthly basis, and while it didn't have the kind of financial support Analog (as a publication of Condé Nast) had, it faced less instability than any of the other magazines in the fantastic-fiction field; the monetary inflation of the Nixon era, very much including that faced by publishers specifically in terms of paper and postage among other expenses, helped doom both the other titles, however.  This is a solid issue of the magazine, featuring a lead novella by the somewhat underrated James Schmitz, who nonetheless had allowed his fiction to fall into a bit of a rut by this point in his career, and featuring such F&SF frequent or at least repeat contributors as Gary Jennings, who published a string of short stories with the magazine in the 1960s and '70s well before becoming a bestselling novelist and for a while after; that only his series of Crispin Mobey stories from the magazine have
been collected (and they published under a pseudonym in book form as if a novel) is an odd sort of oversight, even if they might not appeal so readily to his novels' larger audience, and Vance Aandahl, Josephine Saxton, Doris Pitkin Buck (with a rather slight bit of verse, not one of the stronger poems she'd publish with the magazine), and Patrick Meadows (who like Schmitz came to F&SF from Analog, but Meadows only published a single story in John Campbell's magazine before placing a handful with Ferman over a short period). F&SF, like Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine on which it was modeled, was never afraid to include interesting reprints, and this issue includes two from rather different sources: television writer Larry Brody provides a fantasticated spy story, reprinted from 1967 first issue of the comics fanzine Gosh! Wow! (both the story and the fanzine won Alley Awards for that year, then the comics equivalent of a Hugo Award)(Ferman notes a weakness for this kind of thing, and the previous Xmas issue had featured Harlan Ellison's send-up "Santa Claus vs. S.P.I.D.E.R."; Delany's review column is devoted to the film of Barbarella), and the enormously influential Soviet dissident writer Yevgeny Zamyatin's 1920 story "The Cave" is offered in a 1968 translation by consistent 1960s translator Mirra Ginsburg, with an introduction by Sam Moskowitz.  It's notable that both Fritz Leiber, in the 
Maybe the best # of this Ultimate
title, thanks to the Bloch reprint.
Fantastic, and Judith Merril have engaging takes on Clifford Simak's science-fantasy novel The Goblin Reservation in these issues; Samuel Delany's film column for the magazine was sadly short-lived, and their first since Charles Beaumont had conducted one in the late 1950s (with "William Morrison"/Joseph Samachson contributing a more occasional column on stage drama alongside Beaumont's); radio dramatist and bookseller Baird Searles would soon follow Delany at the magazine  for more than a decade, and be succeeded by Harlan Ellison, Kathi Maio and Lucius Shepard, sometimes in alternation. Gahan Wilson's cartoon was already a regular feature, one of Ferman's first innovations in the magazine, and it would appear in every issue till the two had some sort of falling-out in the early '80s...only Isaac Asimov, with his science column, was a more durable regular than Wilson and his cartoons in the magazine's history. 


If Fantastic in those years had relatively randomly-selected reprints, and F&SF rather more carefully-chosen ones that usually ran to relatively recent but (to most fantasy/sf readers, probably) obscure sources, Robert A. W. Lowndes's magazines for the very marginal Health Knowledge Publications managed to get by through Lowndes combing through his collection of pulps and anthologies and collections of fantasy and other sorts of fiction, looking for public-domain items of various sorts and checking with the Copyright Office for records of renewals on the pulp items, often taken from such orphaned magazines as Strange Tales. 

The Magazine of Horror was the first of the fiction magazines Lowndes was able to launch at HK, which was mostly in the business of publishing imitations of the magazine Sexology and the like (after HK collapsed in 1971, Lowndes would be hired at that magazine, at Gernsback Publications). Startling Mystery Stories and Famous Science Fiction followed, and a small slew of others followed those, before the collapse...what distinguished SMS from its elder sibling, as noted above, was that it was devoted more to psychic detective stories, such as those of  Seabury Quinn, once the most popular contributor to Weird Tales (outpacing the likes of H. P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith and Edmond Hamilton by some distance during Farnsworth Wright's editorship), who retained quite a following among the more nostalgic readership of the MOH; SMS not only served as outlet for Quinn stories, so that not so many need appear in the elder magazine, but also served as a place to run stories by horror fiction aspirants whose work wasn't Quite what Lowndes wanted
Lowndes's '69 3rd fantasy title.
for the mothership title (hence the "first stories" by King and Wilson appearing in Startling Mystery rather than Horror; Terry Carr and Ted White's somewhat surreal "The Secret of the City" had appeared in an earlier issue). But aside from some engaging pulp (and earlier p.d. fiction) reprints, some first-rate originals appeared in SMS, as well, including this issue's "The Scar," one of the better early Ramsey Campbell short stories, marking his beginning to take on his own voice and becoming somewhat less simply a promising acolyte of H. P. Lovecraft, and one of August Derleth's most treasured discoveries thus. Much of the issue, as in part with all Lowndes magazines going back through the not quite as low-budget but still low-budget Columbia fiction-magazine days, was devoted to a long editorial (in this issue discussing Poe's contribution to mystery fiction, sparked in part by an article in an early issue of The Armchair Detective), a bibliography of Quinn's Jules de Grandin stories, a Lowndes book and magazine review piece, and a long letter column (free copy, aside from the time spent transcribing letters and answering them). 


The ISFDB indices to these issues, slightly corrected:

the first issue, 1969
the 2nd, and only 1969, issue
For more of today's (actual) books, please see Patti Abbott's blog.

And...the contents of the third Strange Fantasy, "#10", pictured above (courtesy the FictionMags Index):

11 comments:

Bill Crider said...

Great stuff!

Todd Mason said...

Thanks! I wanted to review more of the stories, etc., by this morning, but haven't had the full time nor attention to do so...

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Sheer wonderment - well done Todd, this must have taken such a long time to put together - thank you.

Jim C. said...

I remember The Magazine of Horror fondly and still have my copies of the early issues. They introduced me to some great writers. Thanks for posting!

Todd Mason said...

Thanks, Sergio...not as long as all that, though of course double-checking a few factual matters, and determining the source of the Brody story (since the Fermans were a bit coy about that...interesting to learn about the Alley Awards, though) took a scrap of time, as did correcting the ISFDB citations particularly to include the items Lowndes reviewed...atop all else, this did cut into my reading time...even if only this morning...

Jim, glad to reactivate some good memories...interesting also the writers such as Anna Hunger and Stefan Aletti who rarely if ever published other than in the Magazine of Horror...and those such as Janet Fox who went on to do excellent work published elsewhere but haven't gotten the attention they deserve...

Jack Seabrook said...

Very nice post. What does FFM stand for?

Jerry House said...

A great post as always, Todd. It also reminded me of a question I've been wondering about for years: Why hasn't anyone brought out a collection of Vance Aandahl's stories?

Richard Krauss said...

Man, love this stuff! Thanks for a great post Todd! Keep 'em coming!

Todd Mason said...

Thanks, Jack. FAMOUS FANTASTIC MYSTERIES in most relevant contexts, of course, but in this case Friday's "Forgotten" Magazines...

Jerry, he's yet another whose output has been just sporadic enough to not create a coterie audience...and I don't believe he has ever worked at fiction as more than an avocation, so he probably hasn't felt the need to shop one around...and thank you, too. There are way too many about which this can be asked...I'll occasionally ask it about the likes of Daphne Castell, David Redd, R. Faraday Nelson...and Gary Jennings, above, with the one odd exception.

Well, Richard...thanks! You'll find this kind of thing rather frequently among the posts on this blog...

George said...

I remember many of these digests well. I read them and owned them. Nothing like these great publications exist today.

Todd Mason said...

George, you keep saying such things, but in fact there are still even some newsstand items, such as CEMETERY DANCE, which are still coming out, and abroad BLACK STATIC and INTERZONE are still getting newsstand presence, not to mention all the littles such the revived WEIRDBOOK and LADY CHURCHILL and ON SPEC and all...take heart. Clearly I need to start reviewing some more new material, not least to help dispel some melancholia...Walker Martin, talk to George!

I'n certainly looking forward also to Liz Hand's upcoming issue of CONJUNCTIONS. Helps soften the blow a little from losing BLACK CLOCK.