Friday, July 29, 2016

Friday's Forgotten Books: the links to reviews and more: 29 July 2016

A tumultuous week (and one with at least two Perry Mason novel reviews, and two of Anita Blackmon's reprint), and a day with several delays and an odd glitch which ate an earlier version of this post. Spare a thought for Bill Crider, facing tough sledding of late; and there's a sweet eulogy for Richard Robinson's tomcat Espresso just up. Sorry for the delay, folks...Patti will be back at the compilation task next week. 

Sergio Angelini: Widows by "Ed McBain" [an 87th Precinct novel]

Mark Baker: The Last Coyote by Michael Connolly [a Harry Bosch novel]

Yvette Banek: Death in the Stocks by Georgette Heyer

the BareBones staff: E. C. Comics, June 1951

Joe Barone: The Tumbler by Peter Bowen

Les Blatt: There Is No Return by Anita Blackmon

Elgin Bleecker: The Case of the Sun Bather's Diary by Erle Stanley Gardner [a Perry Mason novel]

Brian Busby: The Cashier by Gabrielle Roy

Bill Crider: Dead Horse by Walter Satterthwait

William Deeck: Campaign Trail by the Gordons

Martin Edwards: The Davidson Case by John Rhode

Will Errickson: Résumé with Monsters by William Browning Spencer; The Landlady by Constance Rauch; the Horrorscope series by Robert Lory

Curt Evans: Helen Reilly and her daughters, Ursula Curtiss and Mary "McMullen" (and brother James Reilly)

Fred Fitch: Drowned Hopes by Donald Westlake

Paul Fraser: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, December 1950 edited by Anthony Boucher and J. Francis McComas; Galaxy Science Fiction, December 1950 edited by H. L. Gold

Ed Gorman: Bone Justice by Elizabeth Fackler

John Grant: The Bone Magician by F. E. Higgins

Rich Horton: The Spy in the Ointment by Donald Westlake

Jerry House: Rocket Jockey by "Philip St. John" ("Lester del Rey")

Tracy K: Shot in Detroit by Patricia Abbott

George Kelley: Thrillers: 100 Must Reads edited by David Morrell and Hank Wagner (previous review that sparked this one)

Margot Kinberg: Our Trespasses by Steph Avery; Ngaio Marsh Award shortlist/judging

Rob Kitchin: The Dirtiest Race in History by Richard Moore

B. V. Lawson: The Cape Cod Mystery by Phoebe Atwood Taylor

Steve Lewis: The Case of the Sun Bather's Diary by Erle Stanley Gardner [a Perry Mason novel]

Todd Mason: the spoken word/reading albums (and files) of Theodore Sturgeon

John F. Norris: All for the Love of a Lady by Leslie Ford

Juri Nummelin: SF Pornography [an index] by Kenneth R. Johnson

Mathew Paust: Lies My Mother Never Told Me by Kaylie Jones

Mildred Perkins: Those Across the River and Necromancer's House by Christopher Buehlman

James Reasoner: Dropsie Avenue: The Neighborhood by Will Eisner

Richard Robinson: The Allingham Case-Book by Margery Allingham

Mark Rose: My Father, the Pornographer by Chris Offutt

Peter Rozovsky: Peter Rabe's novels

Gerard Saylor: Rough Riders by Charlie Stella; Anything Goes by Richard S. Wheeler

Steve Scott: "Labor Supply" by John D. MacDonald; "Salute to Courage" and "Tank-Town Matador" by John D. MacDonald; Elmore Leonard on John D. MacDonald

Kerrie Smith: Weekend with Death by Patricia Wentworth

Raquel Stecher: Into the Dark by Mark A. Vieira

Richard Strauss: The Mysterious Traveler Mystery Reader, September 1952 edited by Robert Arthur

Kevin R. Tipple: Holy Moly by Ben Rehder

"TomCat": The Secrets of Terror Castle by Robert Arthur [a Three Investigators novel]; Nothing Like Blood by Leo Bruce; locked-room mysteries, an anthology proposed

Prashant Trikannad: forthcoming novels

Friday, July 22, 2016

FFB: THE CRIME OF OUR LIVES by Lawrence Block (Lawrence Block, 2015 hardcover)

Lawrence Block is a friendly acquaintance. I've mostly avoided reviewing the work of friends and close acquaintances, for much the same sort of reasons Block gives here for usually not writing about his living don't want to leave anyone out (at least for praise), you don't want to strain relations by not actually loving their (creative) children, nor do you want to damn something, necessarily subjectively, that the next reader might reasonably love. He has produced this collection of his columns in Mystery Scene magazine and introductions to books (while the title essay was an assignment from American Heritage magazine), most of the books collections by the writer-subjects of the short essays, and most of those dead writers Block admired and continues to admire. Ed Gorman, a "virtual" friend to me and that and more to not a few who might read this, being one of the notable exceptions to the long line of dead men (and a few women) otherwise celebrated here (Mary Higgins Clark, Spider Robinson and Gar Anthony Haywood are the only other living writers to get their own entries in the table of contents). But reluctance and perhaps even a bit of bashfulness will out...he has a running joke throughout the Gorman piece about keeping a tally of how many words he's already put down in the essay, very much including the toting-up sentences, as he's been asked for a thousand words.

Block, I gather, isn't Too impressed with his work in this mode, even while often glad to do it, whether to pay back and forward simultaneously, or also to help work out or express a few ideas about the writing life (he notes his Haywood introduction is also a rumination on the place of short fiction in publishing these years).  Unsurprisingly, the longest essay in the book is about one of his closest friends, Donald Westlake; the next longest, after the title-essay which deals with several writers, is Block's memoir of working at the Scott Meredith Literary Agency, at midcentury hugely influential, particularly on crime fiction publishing in the U.S. and important beyond that, and employing not a few young writers (such as Block, Westlake, Evan Hunter and others) for such tasks as "reading fee" criticism of would-be professional writers' manuscripts, sent in to SMLA with the required fee; the standard operating procedure, set by Meredith himself, was to string the aspiring writers along and get as much repeat business out of them as possible. (The book is dedicated to Barry Malzberg, a slightly younger veteran of SMLA in various positions, including his current one of basically serving as the legatee of SMLA's remaining business.) A few details of Block's career differ from essay to essay here (not so very much, but the timeline of his first sale of a short story to Manhunt magazine is retold slightly differently in two accounts); in his concluding short essay, which touches heavily on the career of William Campbell Gault, Block  conflates a Damon Knight assessment of Gault's more or less adult sports pulp stories and his later series of YA sports good as the YA novels were, the pulp stories were better, because somewhat less self-censored (oddly enough, I read several of them in 1960s and '70s anthologies aimed at YA readers...but Gault had made a major name for himself as a YA novelist by then). 

Block, having self-published the hardcover and paperback editions of this book along with the electronic form, has a few minor copy-editing bobbles here and there (there's a typo in the page numbers in the table of contents), and one does have to consult the headnotes to each piece to find the previous publication credits (no individual copyrights page), but these are not reasons to not consider picking this one up...and Block is liquidating his stash of the hardcover at while supplies last, $9.99 a throw (Amazon Prime members get shipping for free; the paperback edition, which will remain available, currently runs $14.99; though the electronic version runs a little less than five bucks and will also continue to be offered). 

For more of today's books, please see Patti Abbott's blog...I will host the links next Friday.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

A Theodore Sturgeon Discography

Honorable Mentions:
In comments, below, SteveHL draws our attention to a streaming archive of the first episode of NBC Radio's Anthology, a 1954-55 series about poetry, which features a good interview with Sturgeon (and Helen Hayes reading Julia Ward Howe, among other bits and pieces). 

The flipside of this Radiola release is the Beyond Tomorrow (CBS Radio, 1950) adaptation of Sturgeon's "Incident at Switchpath"

Pretty-enough photos of some women doing a quotidian thing, albeit in "full" makeup, and why Are some people upset about this, anyway? (NSFW?)

I'm late to this, but I understand that various people have objected to this photo either because Ms. Olivia Cockburn (aka "Wilde"*) is breastfeeding on camera at all, or because she is Glamming Up Motherhood and making women who don't have a fashion-shoot staff working on them just before breastfeeding feel dowdy and sad. I would mostly wonder about the interaction of a diaper-free infant and an expensive gown, but it's not as if I care, and I have to wonder about those who Care Volubly in the first two cited tendencies. (Somehow, I doubt even the most impressionable teen will be moved to intentional pregnancy by actors' photos, even as many as a few dozen...the tipping point would surely occur elsewhere.)

(*Cockburn being a rather bad marquee name.)

Jaime King also among those famously sharing snaps of herself breastfeeding her child...around which is "controversy"...with some pro-lactation people arguing such things as "breastfeeding isn't nudity"...and my reflexive response tends toward, Well, even if a woman is briefly nude at the breast, why do we care? And even if, as some note with alarm or other sorts of consternation, somebody sees a breastfeeding woman as sexy, why should we care about that? (Intensely gawking or visibly salivating need not be indulged, except when that of the feeding infants themselves.) But, y'know, some people get squirrelly real quick when we are reminded of our mammalian-family membership. Perhaps some of the same people can get as upset about the dog on King's bed. 

Then again, in re glam motherhood: 
Comedian mother recreates celebrity motherhood photos

Friday, July 15, 2016

FFB: THRILLERS: 100 MUST READS edited by David Morrell and Hank Wagner (Oceanview Publishing 2010); Carolyn See, RIP

Carolyn See, RIP. 

The novelist and scholar and regular book reviewer for The Washington Post  in the years I lived in the DC area (and so much more interesting to read than Jonathan Yardley, whom IIRC the Post had retrieved from the ashes of The Washington Star, and ashen he remained) died on Wednesday, the LA Times reported, and in the fiction-magazine discussion list I'm often happy to be a part of, we were pointed to The Rumpus's not terribly well-proofread OCR scan of this article by See, posted in 2009 and not the worst unintended obituary anyone's ever written for themselves even though mostly a memoir of her father, who wrote a number of porn novels after some years of being (sometimes savagely) stymied in his literary among other ambitions, and her first great intellectual inspiration after him, academic scholar Helen Gardner. And, more offhandedly, her life-partner for the better part of three decades, John Espey. Lisa See is See's daughter, but if you know who Lisa See is, you probably know that. David Pringle suggested this was worth reading, and John Boston seconded...I agree, and you might as well even if you're not so very sure who either See or Helen Gardner have been.

By the time I finally got around to my copy of Golden Days, See's sf novel (published in one of the several New Fiction lines various publishers hoped to catch your attention with in the '80s, in this case it was a mass-market series from Ballantine/Fawcett; most were in "quality paperback" format which is now more likely the default for any bound paper publishing), it was time for one of my six or seven residence changes in my years in Northern Virginia, and it went into one box or another. Perhaps, or definitely, past time for it to come back out.

Thrillers is consciously in the mode of everyone else's "100 Best" books; editors Morrell (best known as the creator of Rambo, in the 1972 novel First Blood,  recommended here by Steve Berry's short essay) and Wagner explicitly cite the example of Stephen Jones and Kim Newman's Horror: The 100 Best Books, and that one has had a lot of company, both since and beforehand (though Morrell, a notable horror as well as suspense-fiction writer among other flavors of work, had an essay in the cited volume and I suspect it looms large in the's also one of the few to get a direct sequel). Like some, and unlike others, it draws on a range of writers to choose their favorite examples, and arranges them chronologically by date of subject's publication; in this case, the short-essay contributors are members of International Thriller Writers, for whose benefit the book has been published and which has been given the copyright.  Unlike many such books, however, the editors (and the aforementioned Steve Berry) contribute a couple/few several-page entries each, with the rest on a one recommendation per contributor basis (some such volumes give us only one choice from each contributor, others are completely written by one or two critics); also slightly unusual, two of the selections are short fiction amid the novels and occasional novella and one is Edgar Wallace's version of the script for King Kong, and three of the five Our Historical Antecedents cited works are epic poems (Homer's are given a double-header essay, along with Beowulf) while the other two are the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur (with a nod particularly toward Plutarch's recounting) and Macbeth; Katherine Ramsland chooses "The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Connell, and Thomas Monteleone handles Cornell Woolrich's "Rear Window." Beyond that, the rather wide range of what can be classed a thriller is explored, most of them suspense novels, but also science fiction, horror, adventure fiction (historical and otherwise), at least one nearly straightforward mystery, and R. L. Stine opts for P. G. Wodehouse's Summer Lightning (in the interests of demonstrating, as Robert Bloch was wont to do in  dccades past, the kinship of humor and the frightening). At this point, if you've waited this long, you can begin arguing with what has been represented and what hasn't; Robert Bloch's work isn't cited, nor is Shirley Jackson's, which was brought home by the inclusion (as the only 1959 example) of Richard Condon's The Manchurian Candidate (which I still need to read, but '59 would've been a hell of a year with only Psycho and The Haunting of Hill House to its credit; certainly the cinema isn't complaining); Robert Levinson (co-creator of Columbo among much other work) does the honor there. 

Some of the contributors are matched with exactly the item you'd expect (Max Allan Collins with One Lonely Night, Raymond Benson with From Russia with Love), some are less unsurprising but not startling good choices (Joe R. Lansdale writes up The Postman Always Rings Twice and Bev Vincent opts for a Thomas Harris novel rather than a Stephen King). The 1970s-1990s are overrepresented in contrast to other decades (not terribly surprising, given the age of most of the contributors), and that only The Da Vinci Code is cited post-2000 likewise (the editors note that they wanted to wait and see on books published in this century). That last, and that only The Green Ripper is cited as an example  of John D. MacDonald's work, are among the more questionable choices, but this kind of book is meant to spark some arguments, pay back to great influences on the writers contributing and pay forward to the readers who might not yet have caught up with the items under discussion nor thought of them in quite the manner suggested...pretty much what we do with Friday Books, only with no concern whatsoever for citing the items not nearly Forgotten...the latter need to be included, in fact. Though that no one suggested an anthology, not even one of Robert Arthur's or Harold Q. Masur's Alfred Hitchcock Presents: volumes, is a crying shame. But you do go from Deliverance to The Bourne Identity and many likely stops between.

The far more reasonably prompt examples of our citations are toted up at Patti Abbott's blog (she, and her daughter, will be popping up in such projects as subjects sooner rather than later, I suspect).

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Overlooked A/V: Films, Television, Radio and more: links to the reviews, interviews and more

The weekly roundup of reviews, interviews, and other citations of (often, though not always) underappreciated examples of the dramatic and related arts; an sf-film countdown is in progress at Wonders in the Dark, and other blogathons are in full flower As always, please let me know if I've missed your or anyone else's contribution this week in comments... thanks. 

Anne Billson: Finding Vivian Maier

Bhob Stewart: "Terminus"; Carnival of Souls; Baby Doll; Cassini Mission true-color imagery of Saturn

The Big Broadcast: 10 July 2016
  • 7 p.m. Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar
    "The McCormack Matter" Part 2 and Part 3 (CBS, Original airdates October 4 and October 5, 1955)
  • 7:30 p.m. Maxwell House Coffee Time Starring George Burns & Gracie Allen
    “How Jack Benny Became Cheap” (NBC, Original airdate March 31, 1949)
  • 8 p.m. Gunsmoke
    “Odd Man Out”, episode 276 (CBS, Original airdate November 24, 1957)
  • 8:30 p.m. The Adventures Of Maisie
    Program #66 (Syndicated, Original airdate May 17, 1951)
  • 9 p.m. The Adventures of Superman
    “The Meteor of Kryptonite” (MBS, Original airdates September 24 and September 25, 1945)
    “The Roswell Reports” from ABC’s Headline Edition
    July 8, 1947 
  • 9:30 p.m. X Minus One
    “Pictures Don't Lie” (NBC, Original airdate October 24, 1956) 
  • 10 p.m. Lux Radio Theater
    “The Day the Earth Stood Still” (CBS, Original airdate January 1, 1954)

Elizabeth Foxwell: University of the Air: "Clarence Darrow"; Bank Shot   

Eric Hillis: The Ox-Bow Incident

Gary Deane: Dancing with Crime

George Kelley: The Cabin in the Woods; Our Kind of Traitor

"Gilligan Newton-John": How to Murder Your Wife and other films with similar theme; some NSFW imagery

Iba Dawson: Little Dorrit; Bleak House

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: The Line-Up; Lou Grant

Jack Seabrook: Alfred Hitchcock Presents: "Invitation to an Accident"    

Jackie Kashian: Heather Simmons on Lewis Carroll and the "Alice" novellas and their legacy

Jackie Kashian and Laurie Kilmartin: The Jackie and Laurie Show

Jacqueline T. Lynch: Tiffany Vasquez  

Jaimie Grijalba: The Box

James Reasoner: Precious Cargo

Janet Varney: Dave Hill; Matt Gourley

Jerry House: "Superman: Terror on the Midway"

John Grant: Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1931 film), among the many; Unashamed; Rogues Gallery

John Scoleri: Dark Shadows Before I Die: the episodes reviewed

Jonathan Lewis: Attack!

Karen Hannsberry: The Strange Love of Molly Louvain; Queen Christina

Kate Laity: The Living and the Dead (BBC television); International Medieval Congress; Caroline Aherne

Ken Levine: missed actors; default standing ovations; checking the ego

Kliph Nesteroff: Huey; "The Champs Step Out"

Kristina Dijan: 20,000 Years in Sing Sing; The Nuisance

Laura G: His Girl Friday; Suspicion (1941 film)

Lee Price: Invaders from Mars (1953 film)

Lesley Gaspar: Grand Hotel

Lindsay: Night Must Fall

Lucy Brown: Shetland

Martin Edwards: Fear Island; Secret Beyond the Door; The Murderer Lives at Number 21

Marty McKee: Gridlocked; Mission Mars; The Mutilator

Mildred Perkins: Zathura

Mitchell Hadley: TV Guide, week of 10 July 1965

Movie Sign with the Mads: Independence Day: Resurgence, among much better films. (Trace Beaulieu, Frank Conniff and Carolina Hidalgo)

Noel Vera: Taxi (2015 Iranian film)

Patricia/Patti Abbott: Brian's Song

Patricia Nolan-Hall: The Beast of the City

Paul D. Brazil: The Krays; The Hitch-Hiker

Randy Johnson: Drummer of Vengeance (aka Il giorno del giudizio)

Raquel Stecher: Johnny Doesn't Live Here Anymore

Rick: Steel Collar Man; Always a Bride; The March Hare; five great war films; 7 television series I remember

Robert Hornak: Primer

Rod Lott: Island of Death; Hijack!; Clown; Terror in the Jungle

Ron Scheer: The Sons of Katie Elder

Rupert Pupkin: Deadline U.S.A.; Invisible Invaders

Ruth Kerr: The Old Dark House (1932 film); The Robe

Salome Wilde: Two Seconds; The Old Dark House (1932); The Brighton Strangler; A Woman's Secret; Vice Squad (1953 film)

Sanford Allen: shadows on Ceres

Scott Cupp: Michael Shayne, Private Detective

Stacia Jones: Tickled; Leslie Caron: The Reluctant Star

Stacie Ponder: Martyrs

Stephen Bowie: The Kraft Theatre: "Three Plays by Tennessee Williams"

Stephen Mullen: Plan 9 from Outer Space

Steve Lewis: Dark Streets of Cairo; Crime, Inc.

Television Obscurities: surviving episodes, Kraft Television Theatre

Theresa Brown : Hot and Bothered: the Films of 1932 (Day 1)

Tynan: 101 Dalmatians (1961); 3 Women; Random Harvest; Shadow of a Doubt; 4 "good girls" of film noir

Victoria Loomis: Gilda

Vienna: The Good Fairy

Friday, July 8, 2016

FFB: ISAAC ASIMOV PRESENTS THE GREAT SF STORIES 18 (1956) edited by Isaac Asimov and Martin H. Greenberg (DAW Books 1988); SPEAKING OF HORROR: INTERVIEWS WITH WRITERS OF THE SUPERNATURAL by Darrell Schweitzer et al. (Milford Series #48) (Borgo Press 1994)

Isaac Asimov and Martin Greenberg began their retro Best of the Year series with a volume devoted to the (predominantly, but not quite exclusively) science fiction stories published in 1939...a few fantasies found their way in over the course of the series of anthologies, which ended by both design and (almost) necessity with the volume gathering 1963 stories, published in 1992 shortly after the deaths of both Isaac Asimov and publisher Donald Wollheim, two of the most active sf professionals among the (former) members of the Futurian Society of New York in their youth...a very active bunch of budding and eventual professionals in the field.  The hook was that 1939 was the year Asimov first saw a short story of his in print in a professional sf magazine, Amazing Stories; it was also the year that, in the more literarily ambitious Astounding Science-Fiction magazine, that Asimov's mentor John W. Campbell, Jr. really began to find his footing as an editor, and began publishing Asimov and a number of his other most important contributors, including Robert Heinlein, A. E. van Vogt and others. Also, no one published a BOTY volume in sf until 1949, when E. F. Bleiler and Ted Ditky becan a decade-long series with the now-obscure but then reasonably visible publisher Frederick Fell; and they were not joined in their efforts until Judith Merril began her rather more widely-read annual in 1956. As it happens, Bleiler and Ditky's annual skipped a year (and the last, 1958 volume of their series appeared from the small press Advent: Publishers), so that between them two volumes of their series barely touched the stories published in 1956; Merril's 1957 volume shares several stories with the Asimov/Greenberg, but in this case (and not every case where they overlap) I'd suggest the selection in the latter-day series is stronger than Merril's contemporary sampling was...this might be the single best volume in the DAW Books series, which Greenberg apparently felt was his most useful and important project. 

As Jerry House has noted in a comment on this blog recently about the similar matter of this year's Retro Hugos, Asimov and Greenberg had the advantage of the perspective of the decades in making their choices, not least in having the example of which 1956 stories had been the most anthologized (including several first by Merril) and apparently most influential...Merril didn't even have the Hugo Awards results for 1956 publications to guide her as she assembled her second annual volume. 

But they did a very impressive job, while focusing only on those stories published in the magazines devoted to fantastic fiction (and only several of those, as it happens in this volume):

Isaac Asimov Presents the Great SF Stories: 18 (1956) ed. Isaac Asimov & Martin H. Greenberg (DAW 0-88677-289-3, Aug ’88 [Jul ’88], $4.50, 366pp, pb) Anthology of 15 sf stories from 1956.
  • 9 · Introduction · Martin H. Greenberg · in
  • 13 · Brightside Crossing · Alan E. Nourse · nv Galaxy Jan ’56
  • 35 · Clerical Error · Mark Clifton · nv Astounding Feb ’56
  • 75 · Silent Brother · Algis Budrys · ss Astounding Feb ’56
  • 96 · The Country of the Kind · Damon Knight · ss F&SF Feb ’56
  • 111 · Exploration Team [Colonial Survey] · Murray Leinster · nv Astounding Mar ’56
  • 161 · Rite of Passage · Henry Kuttner & C. L. Moore · nv F&SF May ’56
  • 203 · The Man Who Came Early · Poul Anderson · nv F&SF Jun ’56
  • 230 · A Work of Art [“Art-Work”] · James Blish · nv Science Fiction Stories Jul ’56
  • 248 · Horrer Howce · Margaret St. Clair · ss Galaxy Jul ’56
  • 261 · Compounded Interest · Mack Reynolds · ss F&SF Aug ’56
  • 276 · The Doorstop · Reginald Bretnor · ss Astounding Nov ’56
  • 286 · The Last Question · Isaac Asimov · ss Science Fiction Quarterly Nov ’56
  • 300 · Stranger Station · Damon Knight · nv F&SF Dec ’56
  • 327 · 2066: Election Day · Michael Shaara · ss Astounding Dec ’56
  • 344 · And Now the News... · Theodore Sturgeon · ss F&SF Dec ’56
--And, of course, there's the good chance that I like this selection better than any other the Asimov/Greenbergs, or than Merril's 1956-stories volume, because I read a number of these when I was very young and even more prone to be devastated by a brilliant story than in my not quite jaded later years.  But I first read "The Country of the Kind" by Damon Knight in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume One anthology Robert Silverberg put together out of a poll of SFWA members, and it's one of the most brilliant stories in that impressive collection, as well as perhaps the single best here. Knight's "Stranger Station" (the one Knight story in the Merril) is almost as good, though not quite..."Kind" is a twisting knife of a story that challenges the reader to think about criminality, institutional punishment, the limits of utopian thought and practice, the nature of art and the degree to which artists have to be troublemakers at least...and at what point that level of deviance is no longer worth putting up with to gain the art or other work in question. It's also a fiction designed to have particularly sf readers of a more reflective sort thinking about how they fit into society. That's a hell of a lot to drop on a ten year old, relatively ingenious misfit. Knight doesn't's a hell of a lot to drop on any reader in the course of a remarkably well-controlled, beyond-mordant short story.

But that is only the best of an impressive lot here...we have (another very early read for me) Alan Nourse's survival-on-planet-Mercury adventure "Brightside Crossing," which, as with Michael Shaara's "2066: Election Day" is the one story almost anyone will think of first when its author is mentioned...though of course that's true of the Shaara only in the context of his impressive, if only intermittent, career in science fiction, which bookended his rather more obvious career as a writer of historical fiction (The Killer Angels) and to a lesser extent sports fiction (For the Love of the Game; The Broken Place). "And Now the News" by Theodore Sturgeon is one of his stories of this period, in the 1950s, that is Just Barely sf if you squint, being primarily about the mutual support news-media coverage and psychopathic rampagers offer each other...and what the attention we give to both suggests about us all (particularly in the wake of all our recent gunfire massacres, at home and abroad) a sense, an only slightly less devastating and wide-ranging consideration of what the Knight masterwork addresses; among Sturgeon's other work, "A Saucer of Loneliness" and the slightly later novel Some of Your Blood are of a similar nature. As with the Shaara, former political science professor Greenberg and lifelong enthusiastic welfare-state liberal Asimov could hardly pass up Mack Reynolds's ingenious "Compound Interest," in which a deft time-traveler manages to set himself up with the most overwhelming fortune imaginable, and what effect that has on the course of human events...another story that might just be the first one most of its author's readers might think of. 

Most of the rest aren't so much the defining short fiction of their authors' careers as they are simply among their better efforts. Budrys's "Silent Brother", the late Moore/Kuttner story (not long before his death and her retirement), Clifton's "Clerical Error" and Anderson's "The Man Who Came Early"  are very effective examples of the kind of concerns each writer would return to in their work, the Anderson perhaps the closest to the final word in its kind of story (a sort of reproach to Mark Twain and other arguable time-travel optimists, the protagonist here finds he doesn't have "the machines necessary to make the machines" to help him revolutionize the past era he finds himself in. Margaret St. Clair's "Horrer Howce" is, for her work, typically incisively satirical and (as its title suggests) very effectively borderline horror fiction in its account of blood-sport entertainments of the future; again, not her best work, but not far from it, even as it deftly overcomes the improbability of the basic situation presented (I first read that one in the Galaxy: 30 Years retrospective anthology)...yet more consideration of what do we Really want. James Blish turns to one of his most effective studies of one of his most central and artists (albeit in somewhat less dire opposition to much of what's best in us, so much as how it's included). The Leinster was the Hugo winner for this year, and again one of his very better stories, not far from his best; only the Asimov (his own personal favorite of his short stories) and the Bretnor (though a compact account of how frightening it can be to contemplate all that space beyond the sky and what might exist out there) strike me as relatively minor, if amiable...I think Asimov loved how his was almost in the form of a joke story, but with rather more import than his usual efforts in that regard; it might also put you in mind of "Nightfall" in some ways, and that might be part of why Asimov rated "Question" so highly--he was both happy about "Nightfall" as a story and how it got him his first wide-audience attention, and rather put off that so many readers might suggest to him that a story he wrote as a late teen, very much at the explicit suggestion of John Campbell, was the Best Thing He Ever Wrote. (I agree that "Nightfall" is nothing of the kind, but neither is "The Last Question.")

The headnotes and Greenberg introduction (with its running joke throughout the series' prefaces that charts whether Greenberg favorite Mel Brooks was still referring to himself as Melvin Kaminsky) are more than adequate, though not terribly profound, though Asimov's notes can be more so than Greenberg's (which in their turn do most of the heavy lifting in terms of brief biographies and other factual matter). And while Merril in her volume was already casting her net a bit beyond the typical sf and fantasy fiction magazines (which trend would grow with time, to mixed response then and even now), Greenberg and Asimov have managed a very impressive book while focusing on work from essentially only four magazines (officially five; other volumes draw from more sources, but rarely from a non-sf/fantasy magazine or anthology of new fiction)...six stories from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, five from Astounding (which would change its name to Analog in 1960 and still publishes thus), two from Galaxy (which by the mid-'50s was starting to lose some of its edge, if less drastically than Astounding would by decade's end) and two from two of the magazines edited by another ex-Futurian, Robert A. W. Lowndes, which had very low budgets but a receptiveness to experimental work greater than most magazines in the field (and Lowndes not afraid to tap fellow ex-Futurians such as Blish on the shoulder, as well). 

But even such focus doesn't detract from the impressive nature of this volume in a very impressive series. 

For swank, here's the contents of the 1957 Merril volume, as above a Contento index--Merril took the Malpass from a 1956 reprint in Maclean's, the Canadian news/general interest magazine--and it really is nearly as good a selection, and somewhat more wide-ranging in several senses:
    SF:’57: The Year’s Greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy ed. Judith Merril (Gnome Press LCC# 56-8938, 1957, $3.95, 320pp, hc)
    • 9 · The Man Who Liked Lions · John Bernard Daley · ss Infinity Science Fiction Oct 1956
    • 25 · The Cosmic Expense Account · C. M. Kornbluth · nv F&SF Jan 1956, as “The Cosmic Charge Account”
    • 51 · The Far Look · Theodore L. Thomas · nv Astounding Aug 1956
    • 81 · When Grandfather Flew to the Moon · E. L. Malpass · ss The Observer Jan 2 1955, as “Return of the Moon Man” by Samson Darley
    • 88 · The Doorstop · Reginald Bretnor · ss Astounding Nov 1956
    • 98 · Silent Brother · Algis Budrys · ss Astounding Feb 1956
    • 119 · Stranger Station · Damon Knight · nv F&SF Dec 1956
    • 146 · Each an Explorer · Isaac Asimov · ss Future #30 1956
    • 161 · All About “The Thing” · Randall Garrett · pm Science Fiction Stories May 1956, as “Parodies Tossed”
    • 164 · Put Them All Together, They Spell Monster · Ray Russell · ss Playboy Oct 1956
    • 173 · Digging the Weans · Robert Nathan · ss Harper’s Nov 1956
    • 181 · Take a Deep Breath · Roger Thorne · ss Tiger 1956
    • 187 · Grandma’s Lie Soap · Robert Abernathy · ss Fantastic Universe Feb 1956
    • 206 · Compounded Interest · Mack Reynolds · ss F&SF Aug 1956
    • 220 · Prima Belladonna [Vermilion Sands] · J. G. Ballard · ss Science-Fantasy #20 1956
    • 235 · The Other Man · Theodore Sturgeon · na Galaxy Sep 1956
    • 290 · The Damnedest Thing · Garson Kanin · ss Esquire Feb 1956
    • 298 · Anything Box · Zenna Henderson · ss F&SF Oct 1956
    • 313 · The Year’s S-F, Summation and Honorable Mentions · Judith Merril · ms

I meant to review Darrell Schweitzer's good, short book of interviews last week (or, as Borgo Press packaged it, also a magazine issue, with both International Standard Book and Serial Numbers). The interviews can dip in to some meat even in their short focus (though Brian Lumley's doesn't have much chance of that, being of vignette length), and it's unfortunate that only the late Tanith Lee is present among women writers, no one in the book is unworthy of inclusion or attention. Darrell can use a bit too much shorthand at times (his first question in the first interview as collected here is asking Robert Bloch why he might be the only "Weird Tales crowd" writer to have any serious Hollywood scripting experience...given that magazine back in the pulp and early '50s digest days published Val Lewton and Richard Matheson, the most egregious further examples among others, one gathers he meant among the Lovecraft Circle writers, or at least the most prolific contributors...but that last would also include Ray Bradbury and...). But the biggest flaws in the book are Borgo's doing...the odd page layout and microprint, which I suspect are replicated in the Wildside reprint (though I haven't seen that yet). Atop the intelligent interviews, Schweitzer's timelines/select bibliographies, dating as they do from before web-accessible databases were in place, is a very useful supplementary feature...and this book is worth the look alongside Darrell's other collections and such similar interview selections as Douglas Winter's, Ed Gorman's, Paul Walker's and Charles Platt's (were Bhob Stewart's ever collected? Shall Go Look...).

For more of today's books, please see Patti Abbott's blog...where it's Rex Stout day! 

--I continue to recommend this memoir, by Martha Foley, a great friend and writing colleague of Stout's, as informative about the early development of Wolfe and co.:
THE STORY OF STORY MAGAZINE by Martha Foley (assembled and notes added in part by Jay Neugeboren), W.W. Norton 1980

The Hugo Ballot for work published in 1956 (with a few awards for 1955 work):
Best Novel
WinDouble StarRobert A. Heinlein
NominationNot This AugustC. M. Kornbluth
NominationThe End of EternityIsaac Asimov
NominationThe Long TomorrowLeigh Brackett
NominationThree to ConquerEric Frank Russell
Best Novelette
WinExploration TeamMurray Leinster
NominationA Gun for DinosaurL. Sprague de Camp
NominationBrightside CrossingAlan E. Nourse
NominationBulkheadTheodore Sturgeon
NominationHome There's No ReturningC. L. Moore and Henry Kuttner
NominationLegworkEric Frank Russell
NominationThe Assistant SelfF. L. Wallace
NominationThe End of SummerAlgis Budrys
Best Short Story
WinThe StarArthur C. Clarke
NominationCitizen in SpaceRobert Sheckley
NominationEnd as a WorldF. L. Wallace
NominationKing of the HillJames Blish
NominationNobody Bothers GusAlgis Budrys
NominationThe DragonRay Bradbury
NominationThe Game of Rat and DragonCordwainer Smith
NominationTwinkTheodore Sturgeon
Best Artist
Win----Frank Kelly Freas
Nomination----Mel Hunter
Nomination----Virgil Finlay
Nomination----Edward Valigursky
Nomination----Chesley Bonestall
Nomination----Ed Emshwiller
Best Book Reviewer
Win----Damon Knight
Nomination----Villiers Gerson
Nomination----P. Schuyler Miller
Nomination----Groff Conklin
Nomination----Anthony Boucher
Nomination----Floyd C. Gale
Nomination----Henry Bott
Nomination----Hans Stefan Santesson
Best Fanzine
WinInside - 1955 (Fanzine)Ron Smith
NominationA BasBoyd Raeburn
NominationFantasy Times - 1955 (Fanzine)James V. Taurasi and Ray Van Houten
NominationGrueDean A. Grennell
NominationHyphen - 1955Walt Willis and Chuck Harris
NominationObliqueCliff Gould
NominationPeonCharles Lee Riddle
NominationPsychotic / Science Fiction ReviewRichard E. Geis
NominationSky HookRedd Boggs
Best Feature Writer
Win----Willy Ley
Nomination----R. S. Richardson
Nomination----Rog Phillips
Nomination----Robert A. Madle
Nomination----L. Sprague de Camp
Best Professional Magazine
WinAstounding Science Fiction - 1955John W. Campbell, Jr.
Most Promising New Author
Win----Robert Silverberg
Nomination----Frank Herbert
Nomination----Henry Still
Nomination----Harlan Ellison