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"


George said...

At one time, I believed Theodore Sturgeon was the best short story writer in the world. I have the complete set of Sturgeon's collected short stories which I can hope I can read in its entirety once I enter Retirement in 2017.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Hi Todd! Where do you think I should start reading Theodore Sturgeon?

Todd Mason said...

George, he's still one of the better short-fiction writers, at his best certainly, that American literature, at very least, has produced.

Prashant, if you were hoping to choose a single collection of Sturgeon's to begin with, I'd probably suggest E PLURIBUS UNICORN or THE GOLDEN HELIX. If you're asking for a single story, that's even tougher...and you could do worse than to take up any of the COMPLETE SHORT STORIES volumes George mentions, particularly any volume focusing on Sturgeon's work from the 1950s.

SteveHL said...

Prashant and Todd, I think the best single-volume collection of Sturgeon's short fiction is Selected Stories, as close to a "Best of..." collection as there has been so far. There are many other of his stories I wish had been included, but I guess that's what the Complete Short Stories is for.

highwayknees said...

I agree with George . My first intro to Sturgeon was with a PB copy of E Pluribus Unicorn and Caviar. The first amazing award -winning novel would be More Than Human. Still a stunner after all these years!

Todd Mason said...

And in the Caedmon records above, of course, Sturgeon reads from the three novellas that make up MORE THAN HUMAN...

Steve, the SELECTED STORIES is definitely solid. David Printle, on FaceBook noted his intro selection as well, A TOUCH OF STURGEON. As I mention there, I think a collection focusing on Sturgeon's horror work could be valuable...

Todd Mason said...

In fact, the SELECTED STORIES (John Clute was the credited editor? No mention in the LOCUS or ISFDB indices), if it didn't overlap with E PLURIBUS UNICORN as much as it does, would nudge THE GOLDEN HELIX our of my first rec...and it probably is the single best sampler in a single volume. Though I've never loved "Killdeer!" as much as many have.

Selected Stories Theodore Sturgeon (Random House/Vintage 0-375-70375-6, Oct 2000, $14.00, 439pp, tp) Collection of 13 stories.
3 · Thunder and Roses · ss Astounding Nov ’47
27 · The Golden Helix · na Thrilling Wonder Stories Sum ’54
83 · Mr. Costello, Hero · nv Galaxy Dec ’53
109 · Bianca’s Hands · ss Argosy (UK) May ’47
118 · The Skills of Xanadu · nv Galaxy Jul ’56
146 · Killdozer! · na Aliens 4, Avon, 1959; revised from Astounding Nov ’44.
216 · Bright Segment · nv Caviar, Ballantine, 1955
241 · The Sex Opposite · nv Fantastic Fll ’52
269 · The (Widget), the (Wadget), and Boff · na F&SF Nov ’55 (+1)
353 · It · nv Unknown Aug ’40
378 · A Way of Thinking · nv Amazing Oct/Nov ’53
407 · The Man Who Lost the Sea · ss F&SF Oct ’59
419 · Slow Sculpture · nv Galaxy Feb ’70

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Todd and Steve, thank you for the recommendations. I am looking forward to read Theodore Sturgeon.

Todd Mason said...

(The spell-checker Hates "Killdozer!"), You should, Prashant...he was Bradbury's primary model, and better than Bradbury in most if not all ways.

SteveHL said...

Somewhat off topic, Paul Williams's very good notes in The Complete Stories usually say when a story as originally published differs significantly from the version appearing elsewhere, but he didn't mention that the magazine version of "A Way of Thinking" has a very different ending from the one that is commonly seen.

And while on the subject, another item that I think would have been worth a note is in Sturgeon's "Fear Is a Business". There is a passage that says:

I'll quote something: 'Long had part of the idea; McCarthy had the other part. McCarthy got nowhere, failed with his third party, because he attacked and destroyed but didn't give. He appealed to hate, but not to greed, no what's-in-it-for-me, no porkchops.' That's from the works of a reformed murderer who now writes reviews for the New York Herald Tribune.

The "reformed murderer" was author/editor/critic Anthony Boucher (born William Anthony Parker White), who frequently used the pseudonym "H.H. Holmes", particularly for his reviews, including those in the Herald Tribune. "H. H. Holmes" was a nineteenth century American serial killer. The story Sturgeon was quoting was Boucher's "The Other Inauguration".

I know that this has nothing to do with anything in the earlier posts, but I have been waiting for an opportunity to show off with this for years.

Todd Mason said...

Well, given I tend to refer to Trump as Huey Long (or George Wallace) without the gravitas (the part of the joke that no one seems to register), seems like an opportune time to do so. Not only did White/Boucher use "H. H. Holmes" for his NY HERALD-TRIBUNE column (since he was Boucher in his NY TIMES column running at the same time), but "Holmes," the "Murder Castle" "Devil in the White City" at the Chicago Exposition (Robert Bloch's novel AMERICAN GOTHIC is about him and his crimes), apparently was a pseudonym for the turn of the century mass-murderer...another of his aliases was "Herman W. Mudgett", which White/Boucher used mostly to sign doggerel he employed as space-filler at the ends of stories and articlles in F&SF.

As Barry Malzberg noted as he recalled one of Boucher's Pacifica Radio opera broadcasts, he was all but giggling when describing the castrati of opera culture of the past...Boucher had a dark sense of humor.

That;s interesting about the "alternate" ending of "A Way of Thinking" in AMAZING...I"ve never picked up the issue...I wonder if Sturgeon decided on a better ending, or if Howard Browne or someone decided to rework the ending somehow for the first magazine appearance (and the story really should've been in FANTASTIC, but it probably filled a last-minute hole in the sf magazine issue). How do they differ?

SteveHL said...

In case anyone is actually reading this, SPOILER ALERT:

The two stories are almost identical up to the last page. The later, more common version adds some clarifying material regarding what Kelley must have done to the girl. This is important; the only reason I can think that this was left out in Amazing is that it is somewhat graphic, but not really that much so.

The main difference in the two versions is that the later version has one sentence near the very end which changes the narrator's opinion of Kelly's actions from accepting to disapproval. The magazine version says:

When I got home the phone was ringing.
"Hi," said Kelley.
I said, "It's all gone. The doll's all gone."
"All right," said Kelley.

The later version is the same, except that it adds a sentence after "The doll's all gone."

"Kelley," I said, "stay away from me."

BTW, the actual Selected Stories book doesn't have an editor listed.

I seem to have problems sending websites, but if the one below works, it is an old radio show about poetry and Sturgeon is interviewed.

Todd Mason said... least in the expanded text, and while still inexplicit, the story is proto-splatterpunk. If in a far less blatant way than, say, "The Cone" by H.G. Wells.

Perhaps that aspect helped keep it, like "Bianca's Hands," from finding a place in a magazine for some years.

One of the better stories about dealing with charming psychopaths..."You're Another" by Damon Knight being, well, another.


Todd Mason said...

I typo David Pringle's name above...he edited A TOUCH OF STURGEON. And that was the first episode of the NBC Radio poetry series ANTHOLOGY...Cool.