Wednesday, November 23, 2022

SSW: Guest Post: Dennis Lien on SHORT STORIES, November 1953, edited by Dorothy McIlwraith

I rarely read random issues of old magazines (these days I have little time to read much of anything, sigh) but I did recently go through this one on a whim.  (This is one of their late all-reprint digest-size issues, and a beat-up copy was cheap at DreamHaven [a Minneapolis bookstore devoted mostly to fantastica-TM].  I'd read two or three of the digest issues as a kid in the later 1950s, so there was a bit of nostalgia operating.)

Publishers reprinting old pulp stories these days frequently have recourse to reminding us that "attitudes were of the time and are reproduced as such but of course we're all much wiser today."  Well, maybe so. Anyway I did find a number of slightly queasy racial glitches in some of these, though they seriously affected my enjoyment of only one of the stories.

    ifc. · The Story Tellers’ Circle · [uncredited] · cl
    2 · Never a Law · Bertrand W. Sinclair · nv Short Stories March 10 1931
    31 · A Sagebrush Samaritan · B. M. Bower & S. Boswell · ss Short Stories February 10 1925
    51 · Three A.M. on Arrowhead Island · Karl W. Detzer · ss Short Stories December 10 1927
    72 · Kinross the Killer · Dex Volney · ss Short Stories July 10 1928
    85 · The Blunderin’ Fool · Wilbur Hall · ss Short Stories July 10 1928
    104 · The Barque in the Bottle · Wm. Doerflinger · pm Short Stories May 25 1933
    106 · Sing, You Sailors! · Bill Adams · ss Short Stories June 10 1936
    113 · The Golden Gizzard · Clifford Knight · ss Short Stories July 10 1928
    131 · Adventurers All · [uncredited] · ts
    134 · Red Desert · Norrell Gregory · ss Short Stories June 10 1936
    150 · The Judgement of Mystery Swamp · Lemuel L. de Bra · ss Short Stories December 10 1923

The cover is presumably a reprint, though not cited as such in the FictionMags Index. South Asian (?) tribesmen brandish spears at something/someone unseen stage right.

"Never a Law" is a Northern-- when his partner cracks up and suicides on their ship in the far-north Bay of Seals, Christie is framed for murder by the three crewmen who plan to make off with ship and cargo.  He escapes and sets off on foot on a seemingly hopeless nine-hundred mile journey, followed by a Mountie who is fairly sure Christie is innocent, but must try to overtake and bring him in anyway. Well-done, but not a story one wants to read at the start of a Minnesota winter.

Some natives (Eskimo, or more correctly Inuit) appear as minor characters; none get individual names, and they are described as drunks who will trade their wives for liquor.

"A Sagebrush Samaritan"--Pinto Jack has just stolen the monthly payroll from the Santa Fe railway, but it would only have gone to the "greasers" the company employed anyway, so he feels no guilt. On the run, he is befriended by a stranger and they bond over their shared hatred for Mexicans.  (A third allegedly sympathetic character introduced later also shares this trait.) When the stranger is injured, Pinto Jack risks his own capture to save his life and kidnaps a doctor to treat him, then escapes.

Perfectly good "basic decency of rogue displayed when he repays a favor at risk of his life" plot, but spoiled for me by the strange unanimity of anti-Mexican attitudes, which seem dragged in to the story rather than having an organic reason to be there.

"Three A.M. on Arrowhead Island"--Rather dull murder mystery; the evocative title is the best thing about it. I had trouble keeping straight the dull, interchangeable characters, aside from the servant, Benediction, who stands out only because he speaks in a French-Canadian dialect. (And, spoiler alert, turns out to be the murderer, though he thought he was killing someone else, who had cheated him at cards--so a pretty boring motive as well.)

"Kinross the Killer"--Seattle revenue officer Jim Kinross, his boat wrecked, struggles in stormy water for several pages before making it to shore, just where the entry point for the drug smugglers he's been seeking happens to be located. He's grudgingly rescued by an ancient thug, but soon the smugglers (all "Japs" except for one "half-breed") appear and he finds he has to kill his rescuer, then hide behind his body in the bunk bed until he has a chance to also kill the invaders and break up the "damnable" business.

"The Blunderin' Fool"--Western about mining disputes: cast including protagonist, his Negro blacksmith  sidekick "Skin-and-Bones" ("Ain't nobody out hya to botherate him"), a spunky young woman being cheated by her mine officials, and a few local lawmen. Routine.

"The Barque in the Bottle"--Rather good narrative poem in which sight of a ship in a bottle recalls past adventure to an old tar.

"Sing, You Sailors!"--Two mariners who keep failing their second-mate exams for steamers wind up in charge of a semi-derelict windjammer off South America, and manage to sail it back to England, even towing in a crippled steamer on the last leg. And next time around pass the exams.

"The Golden Gizzard"--Allegedly (and mildly) humorous western about "salted" gold mine claims. An escaped turkey, recaptured after roaming the area, is found by the cook to have gold nuggets in its craw. From whence, and (if not naturally gobbled in the wild) inserted by whom? All rather confusing, really. 

The "Adventurers All" article is a memoir of a reporter in China who is almost killed because of a hat he is given by an unpopular official which, in the dark, makes him mistaken for the official by his enemies. All a good joke, supposedly. The FMI lists this as "uncredited;" it's by Alfred Batson and is copyright 1938.

"Red Desert"--Another spunky young woman (with a weakling but honest brother) who owns a mine, but is being cheated by employees. Undercover agent solves things and romance blooms.

"The Judgement of Mystery Swamp"--One of the two rogues on the train actually killed Benet's brother; the other was only an associate. Benet will toss them both off in the middle of Mystery Swamp and the Swamp, as usual, will ensure that a murderer will not make it out alive.

"The Story-Teller's Circle" contains the only new material in the issue--a longish letter from SS author Caddo Cameron and a preview of the next issue, hyping a (new) serial by Frank Gruber. Cameron praises Short Stories for never printing anything unfit for a young "kid" to read.  (Well, that was *his* opinion.)

All in all, no classics.  I'd rate "Never a Law," "The Judgment of Mystery Swamp," and "Sing, You Sailors!" as the best stories, probably in that order, and "A Sagebrush Samaritan" the clunker (and I wouldn't have encouraged a young "kid" to read it) for the strange "white guys on both sides of the law bond over shared contempt for Mexicans" subtext.

Dennis Lien 

Reprinted from the FictionMags discussion list with permission. 
Copyright © 2022 by Dennis Lien
for more of today's Short Story Wednesday entries, please see 

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

SSW: Guest Post: Paul Di Filippo on STARTLING STORIES, January 1952, edited by Samuel Mines

I was reading--literally only a few pages a night--an issue of Startling Stories, January 1952.  I finally finished it last night.  Let me see if I can cast my memory back over the weeks and see what I thought of these stories in a few words. 
cover by Earle K. Bergey(?)

•  6 • The Ether Vibrates (Startling Stories, January 1952) • essay by The Editor, Samuel Mines
• 10 • Journey to Barkut (Complete Novel) • serial by Murray Leinster (book publication as Gateway to Elsewhere 1954)
• 10 •  Journey to Barkut (Complete Novel) • interior artwork by Virgil Finlay
• 15 •  Journey to Barkut (Complete Novel) [2] • interior artwork by Virgil Finlay
• 21 •  Journey to Barkut (Complete Novel) [3] • interior artwork by Virgil Finlay
• 80 • The Great Idea • short story by Raymond Z. Gallun
• 80 •  The Great Idea • interior artwork by Paul Orban [as by Orban]
• 94 • Lost Art • novelette by A. Bertram Chandler
• 94 •  Lost Art • interior artwork by Peter Poulton
• 115 • The Wheel • short story by John Wyndham
• 115 •  The Wheel • interior artwork by Peter Poulton
• 121 • How Green Was My Martian • short story by Mack Reynolds
• 121 •  How Green Was My Martian • interior artwork by Vincent Napoli [as by Napoli]
• 127 •  Letter (Startling Stories, January 1952) • [Letters: L. Sprague de Camp] • essay by L. Sprague de Camp
• 140 • Review of the Current Science Fiction Fan Publications (Startling Stories, January 1952) • essay by Jerome Bixby
• 145 • Science Fiction Movie Review: The Day the Earth Stood Still • essay by uncredited
[can be read here]

The inside front cover ad is for a noir film, The Racke
t. Very nicely eclectic ad. Where are such ads in today's printzines? Asimov's SF getting income from some Amazon Prime advertising for Knives Out? Why not?

The big editorial news is the start of monthly publication. The rest of the editorial is a meditation on the state of SF sales and audience appeal. The letter column starts here, but the bulk of it is at the back of the book. The quality of the letters and the earnest effort and sense of camaraderie is of course impressive, and, I think, hardly equalled by the social media commentary that dimly substitutes for such correspondence today. de Camp has a letter here.
The Leinster piece runs for almost 80 pages and is a de Camp & Pratt (with echoes of Thorne Smith) fantasy romp about a staid fellow who finds his way to a magical Middle Eastern land full of djinn, and gradually becomes the Top Dog there. The humor of course might seem antiquated nowadays--lots of silliness around naked girl djinns--but the tale is light and frothy, going down easy, and even possessed of a few scenes of surreal estrangement.  Reprinted.

The Gallun story concerns a couple of dodgy conmen on Mars. A rube arrives with a lot of cash and an idea on how to revolutionize Mars-Earth transportation.  They seem to rook him, but eventually reveal benign intentions, and the rube is acclimated to Mars. Reprinted just once in a non-English publication.

The Chandler story concerns another scammer who can find any lost artwork a buyer can name. The trick is to travel in time to find the original piece. Our hero is an innocent rocket jockey they need for their mission. Much danger ensues, in present and past, but our hero emerges okay. Chandler, not a writer I would have previously deemed conversant with sex, devotes quite a few lines to the porn collection of one buyer. "There was a painting of what, at first glance, could have been some gorgeous tropical flower. At second and subsequent glances it wasn't." Whoa, ABC, does Commander Grimes know that his adventures are coming out of such a filthy typewriter?!? Reprinted just once in a non-English publication.

The Wyndham tale is post-apocalypse. The very notion and sight of any wheel is forbidden tech. A boy reinvents it, and is sentenced to death, but a wise elder claims the crime and punishment, allowing youth to survive for a perhaps better future. Much reprinted.

The only quasi-stinker is the Mack Reynolds story about a Martian advisor to some cardboard Hollywood guys who want to sell movies--excuse me, "wires"--on Mars. The tale is so full of silly Martian words that it makes for tough slogging. Never reprinted.

I was surprised to see Jerome Bixby reviewing fanzines, as I had not thought of him as a fanzine fan. [I noted to Paul that Bixby's column would've been written about when he was leaving his editorial post at Planet Stories and Jungle Stories, and briefly (iirc) taking one on at Galaxy magazine--so while perhaps no too much Of fan culture, certainly Aware of it--TM]

The art was very fine, making me miss any such illos in modern genre publications.

All in all, with the Leinster as standout, a very pleasant reading experience. I envy the readers of 1952, who got installments of SS and other zines monthly.

reprinted with permission from the FictionMags discussion list.
Copyrigh© 2022 by Paul Di Filippo (on LJ)
for more of today's Short Story Wednesday entries, please see Patti Abbott's blog

Monday, November 7, 2022

2022 World Fantasy Award winners and shortlists

***denotes winners

participants/nominees Gordon Van Gelder, Sheree Renée Thomas, Ellen Datlow:

We are pleased to announce the nominees for the 2022 World Fantasy Awards and the Lifetime Achievement recipients! The winners of the awards will be announced on November 6th, at the World Fantasy Award Banquet in New Orleans, Louisiana.

CONGRATULATIONS to all the nominees and the lifetime achievement recipients!

2021 World Fantasy Awards

Final Ballot and Life Achievement Award Winners



Samuel R. Delany

Terri Windling

Black Water Sister by Zen Cho (Ace Books/Macmillan)

A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark (Tordotcom/Orbit UK)

The City Beautiful by Aden Polydoros (Inkyard Press)
***The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri (Orbit US/Orbit UK)
The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward (Nightfire/Viper UK)

“For Sale by Owner” by Elizabeth Hand (When Things Get Dark)

Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw (Nightfire)
***And What Can We Offer You Tonight by Premee Mohamed (Neon Hemlock Press)

Finches by A. M. Muffaz (Vernacular Books)

“A Canticle for Lost Girls” by Isabel Yap (Never Have I Ever: Stories)

"The Failing Name" by Eugen Bacon and Seb Doubinsky (Fantasy Magazine

Aug. 2021)
"The Demon Sage's Daughter" by Varsha Dinesh (Strange Horizons, 8 Feb 2021) 
“If the Martians Have Magic” by P. Djèlí Clark (Uncanny Magazine #42, 

Sep/Oct 2021)

“#Spring Love, #Pichal Pairi” by Usman T. Malik (, Mar 3 2021)

“Where Oaken Hearts Do Gather” by Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny Magazine #39, 

Mar/Apr 2021)

***“(emet)” by Lauren Ring (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction

July/Aug 2021)

Professor Charlatan Bardot’s Travel Anthology to the Most (Fictional) 

Haunted Buildings in the Weird, Wild World (2021 Edition), eds. Charlatan 

Bardot and Eric J. Guignard (Dark Moon Books)

When Things Get Dark: Stories Inspired by Shirley Jackson, ed. Ellen Datlow 

(Titan Books)

The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror Volume Two, ed. Paula Guran (Pyr)

***The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction (2021), ed. Oghenechovwe 

Donald Ekpeki (Jembefola Press)

Speculative Fiction for Dreamers: A Latinx Anthology, eds. Alex Hernandez, 

Matthew David Goodwin, Sarah Rafael García (Mad Creek Books, an 

imprint of the Ohio State University Press)

Tales the Devil Told Me by Jen Fawkes (Press 53)

Big Dark Hole: Stories by Jeffrey Ford (Small Beer Press)

***Midnight Doorways: Fables from Pakistan by Usman T. Malik (Kitab)

The Tallow-Wife and Other Tales by Angela Slatter (Tartarus Press)

The Ghost Sequences by A. C. Wise (Undertow Publications)

Never Have I Ever: Stories by Isabel Yap (Small Beer Press)

Odera Igbokwe

***Tran Nguyen

Aleksandra Skiba
Charles Vess

Charlie Jane Anders, for Never Say You Can’t Survive (Tordotcom)

Cam Collins and Steve Shell, for Old Gods of Appalachia (podcast)

Irene Gallo, for

***Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda, for Monstress Volume Six: The Vow 

(Image Comics)
Sheree Renée Thomas, for editing F&SF


Gautam Bhatia and Vanessa Rose Phin, for Strange Horizons

Maria J. Pérez Cuervo, for Hellebore

Michael Kelly, for Undertow Publications

***Tonia Ransom, for Nightlight: A Horror Fiction Podcast

Arley Sorg and Christie Yant, for Fantasy Magazine

Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas, for Uncanny Magazine

"Thanks to the Judges: C. S. E. Cooney, Julie Crisp, C. C. Finlay, 

Richard Kadrey, and Misha Stone"

Friday, November 4, 2022

Saturday Music Club: "I Need You"

 The Kinks:

The Who: 

The Beatles: 

The Impressions:

Elmore James:

Jon Batiste:

Eric Legnini and the Afro Jazz Beat featuring Krystle Warren: 


Jelly Roll:

Lynyrd Skynyrd:

The Ascots (covering the Kinks):

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Short Story Wednesday: FANTASTIC, September 1974, edited by Ted White; THE PARIS REVIEW, Autumn 1974, edited by George Plimpton; THE ONTARIO REVIEW, Autumn 1974, edited by Raymond J. Smith; THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION, September 1974, edited by Edward Ferman: Late Summer 1974

Late Summer 1974

Remarkable what an almost random look backward can turn up. 45 years ago [in 2019]. Not too long before I first began reading the magazines, and had already read some stories from them, or would first read them in that year and the next. I had my tenth birthday in August of 1974, and while I wasn't too fond of how life in general was going, I was more than happy enough about what I was finding in literature of various sorts. 

As I consider the four magazines here now, it occurs to me that all four were eclectic in their remit to a greater degree than most of their peers, and openly so...two in making clear that they mixed fantasy (of all sorts, including horror fiction) and science fiction (and were certainly willing to publish some notable fiction that wasn't fantasy or sf by any reasonable standard on occasion, or impressive stories which could be considered truly fantasticated only by squinting very the 1970s, Stuart Dybek's "Horror Movie" or Edward Wellen's short novel Goldbrick in F&SF, or Bill Pronzini and Barry Malzberg's "Another Burnt-Out Case" or Jack Dann's "Days of Stone" in Fantastic come to mind), the other two in being open to a greater degree to all sorts of fiction than many of their little-magazine peers (perhaps only the Boston-based and not the CCNY FictionAntaeus and TriQuarterly were as eclectic in the '70s), and proclaiming their internationality in their very titles, an English-language magazine initially out of Paris, an intentionally interculturally Anglophone North American magazine initially out of border city Windsor, Ontario. All four were founded in a certain spirit of defiance as well as openness, ambition beyond simply attempting to produce good magazines, and all found themselves a matter of a certain degree of controversy as a result (though in The Paris Review's case, much of that controversy was generated by the ultimate source of some of its funding, as the facts of CIA involvement went from quietly rumored to documented and revealed).  The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction began publishing in 1949, Fantastic in 1952, The Paris Review in 1953...and while this was the first issue of The Ontario Review, the geist of the magazine was not too different from that of its not too elderly peers.

--much more to come--see indices below:

Fantastic Stories [v23 #6, September 1974] Ted White, editor (75¢, 132pp, digest, cover by Jeff Jones)
can be read here

The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction [v47 #3, #280, September 1974] edited by Edward Ferman (75¢, 164pp, digest, cover by Jeannine Guertin)
can be read here. 

    The Paris Review #59 Fall, 1974 $1.95
      can be read online, at least in part, with a subscription.

      Frederick Busch: Widow Water
      Lamar Herrin: The Rio Loja Ring-Master
      Mike Kempton: Long Green
      Ray Russell: Rational Moments
      David Shaber: Progress Report

      Gore Vidal: The Art of Fiction No. 50

      Ameen Alwan: Two Poems
      Paul Anderson: Falling
      Maxine Chernoff: Two Poems
      W. K. Engel: Two Poems
      Albert Goldbarth: Organization
      Thomas Johnson: Two Poems
      Erica Jong: Wrinkles
      Erica Jong: Becoming a Nun
      Greg Kuzma: Two Poems
      Naomi Lazard: Two Poems
      David Lehman: Greeting Where No Kindness Is
      Molly McKaughan: Ms. Delilah Hoffritz
      Rush Rankin: Poem
      Vern Rutsala: You
      Ira Sadoff: Five Poems
      Aram Saroyan: Two Poems
      Louis Simpson: Three Poems
      Albert Stainton: The Limestone Statue Boxing Factory
      Charles Webb: Two Poems

      Peter Ardery: In Memoriam

      William Wegman: Portfolio of Drawings

    The Ontario Review #1 Fall 1974 $2.50
    can be read here.

    A Conversation with Philip Roth by Joyce Carol Oates 9

    Stanley Cooperman, from The Jerusalem Poems 23 

    Conrad Hilberry, Two for Alfred North Whitehead 28 
    Miroslav Holub, Loneliness of the Minotaur 30 
    Ernest Sandeen, T wo Poems 31 
    J. Michael Yates, from Burn Tissue Cycle 47 
    John Ditsky, Three Poems 50 
    John R. Reed, Love Poem 53
    Derk Wynand, Snowscapes 54 
    Tom Wayman, Three Poems 67 
    William Heyen, Two Poems 71 
    Philip J. Klukoff, Deaf Mute 74 
    Carl Dennis, Prowlers 75 
    Robert Bringhurst, For Robert Grosseteste 76

    Lynne Sharon Schwartz, Lucca 33 

    Bill Henderson, Pop 56

    A. G. Smith, Landscapes from Coastal Carolina 41

    Paul Marx, Harvey Swados 62

    John R. Reed, Instructive Alchemies 78 

    Linda W. Wagner, Four Young Poets 89 
    Gloria Whelan, The Poem as Myth 98 
    Raymond Smith and Joyce Carol Oates, Briefly Noted 102 

    Notes on Contributors 107 

A redux post, to be finally expanded
For more of today's stories, please see Patti Abbott's blog.