Saturday, September 26, 2020

FRIDAY'S "FORGOTTEN" BOOKS AND MORE: the links to reviews and related texts: 25 September 2020

This week's books and more, unfairly (or sometimes fairly) neglected, or simply those the reviewers below think you might find of some interest (or, infrequently, you should be warned away from); certainly, most weeks we have a few not at all forgotten titles...if I've missed your review or someone else's, please let me know in comments.

Mark Baker: The Overlook by Michael Connelly

Paul Barnett/"John Grant": When It Grows Dark by Jorn Lier Horst (translated by Anne Bruce)

Brad Bigelow: 10 out of print 1956 novels (and 11 more still in print) for the #1956Club

Les Blatt: The Girl in the Cellar by Patricia Wentworth; The Adventures of Dagobert Trostler, Vienna's Sherlock Holmes by "Balduin Groller" (Adalbert Goldscheider) (translated by ?)

Elgin Bleecker: Tabloid City by Pete Hamill

Joachim Boaz: Doctor to the Stars by "Murray Leinster" (Will F. Jenkins)

Ben Boulden: Tears are for Angels by Paul Connelly; The Living End by Frank Kane; Stool Pigeon by Louis Malley

Brian Busby: Every Man for Himself by Hopkins Moorhouse

Steve Cavanaugh and Luca Veste: Lisa Hall

Douglas Cohen: Realms of Fantasy, April 1996, edited by Shawna McCarthy

Alan Cranus: A Net of Good and Evil by Michael Scott Cain

Samuel Delany: Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora and Dark Matter: Reading the Bones, edited by Sheree Renée Thomas (please see text at the end of this post)

Liz Dexter: Exchange by Paul Magrs; Growing Up by Angela Thirkell

Martin Edwards: Crime at Guilford by Freeman Wills Crofts; Unusual Suspects by Joseph Goodman; 10 "Golden Age" Detective Novelists Worthy of Rediscovery

Peter Enfantino and Jack Seabrook: Batman in DC Comics, November 1980

Will Errickson: Vampire Junction by S. P. Somtow (aka Somtow Sucharitkul)

José Ignacio Escribano: The Starvel Hollow Tragedy by Freeman Wills Crofts

Curtis Evans: Dark Tales by Shirley Jackson

"Olman Feelyus": A New Kind of War by Anthony Price

Elizabeth Foxwell: Peter Igelström on hard-boiled detectives and libraries

Paul Fraser: New Worlds SF, November 1965, edited by Michael Moorcock and Langdon Jones

Cullen Gallagher: Eldorado Red by Donald Goines; Death Wears a Gardenia by Zelda Popkin

Roxane Gay: Audre Lorde

Aubrey Hamilton: To Kill a Cat (aka Wycliffe and How to Kill a Cat) by W. J. Burley; Vulnerable by Marie Burton

Bev Hankins: Bound to Murder by Dorsey Fiske

James W. Harris: Autobiography of Reading

Rich Horton: A Backwards Glance by Edith Wharton; Castaways' World and The Rites of Ohe by John Brunner

Jerry House: Fee, Fei, Fo, Fum by John Aylesworth

Gabino Iglesias: Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

Ty Johnson: the Hance Shadowspan stories by Andrew J. Offutt

Tracy K: The Beast Must Die by "Nicholas Blake" (C. Day Lewis); "bookshelf traveling"

Colman Keane: Shadows Everywhere by John Lutz; Serenity by Craig A. Hart; A Sight for Sore Eyes by Ruth Rendell; Web of Murder by Harry Whittington; Jack and Mr. Grin by Andersen Prunty

George Kelley: Alien Archives by Robert Silverberg

Joe Kenney: Black Magic by Rochelle T. Larkin; Mafia: Operation Hijack by "Don Romano" (Paul Eiden)

Margot Kinberg: suspense fiction

Kirsten: Blue John Remembers by Clarence Baker Kearfott

Rob Kitchin: The Eye of the Cricket by James Sallis

Karen Langley: One Love Chigusa by Soji Shimada (translated by David Warren)

B. V. Lawson: Gideon's Fire by "J. J. Maric" (John Creasey)

Xavier Lechard: The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie; The Cask by Freeman Wills Crofts: GAD centennial

Des/D. F. Lewis: Year's Best Weird Fiction, Volume Three edited by Simon Stranzas and Michael Kelly

Evan Lewis: the Frederick Nebel Library;"Captain Daring" illustration by Reed Crandall, script by ?Harry Stein, Buccaneers, May 1950, edited by Stein

Steve Lewis: "The Lifeguard Method" by Kieran Shea, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, August 2009, edited by Janet Hutchings; The Paperback Price Guide by Kevin Hancer

Library of America: "The New Englander" by Sherwood Anderson, The Dial, February 1921, edited by Scofield Thayer and James Sibley Watson, Jr. 

Robert Lopresti: "The Cough" by Lynn Chandler Willis, Writers Crushing Covid-19, edited by Lawrence Kelter

Gideon Marcus: Galaxy Science Fiction, October 1965, edited by Frederik Pohl 

Todd Mason: The Year's Best Horror Stories, edited by Richard Davis, Gerald W. Page, and Karl Edward Wagner; 1992 Horror and Fantasy Annuals

Ed McBride: High Priest of California by Charles Willeford

Steven J. McDermott: Passion Isle by "Curt Aldrich" (?William Knoles); Campus Doll by "Edwin West" (Donald E. Westlake);  Campus Tramp by "Andrew Shaw" (Lawrence Block) 

Neeru: Passenger to Nowhere by "Anthony Gilbert" (Lucy B. Malleson)

Stephen Nester: East of A by Russell Atwood

Jess Nevins: The Flying Spaghetti Genre: The Development of Science Fiction

John F. Norris: The Harness is Death by W. Stanley Sykes

John O'Neill: Islands and Journey by Marta Randall

Paperback Warrior: The Dark Brand by H. A. DeRosso; God's Back Was Turned by Harry Whittington; The Net by "Edward Ronns" (Edward Aarons); "In a Small Motel" by John D. MacDonald, Justice, July 1955, edited by Harry Widmer

Matt Paust: A Cloud in My Hand by Erika Byrne-Ludwig

Mildred Perkins: The Silo Trilogy by Hugh Howey

J. Kingston Pierce: It Takes a Thief by David Dodge

Jordan Prejean: Great Stories from The Twilight Zone, 1983 annual (in place of October 1982); The Twilight Zone Magazine, December 1982, both edited by T. E. D. Klein

James Reasoner: The Quest of the Sacred Slipper by "Sax Rohmer" (Arthur Sarsfield Ward)

Richard Robinson: Settling Scores edited by Martin EdwardsExploring the Horizons edited by Gardner Dozois

Gerard Saylor: Montreal by Helga Loverseed

Steve Scott: "John D. MacDonald: Travis McGee Does His Own Swashbuckling" by Rick Barry, Florida Accent supplement to the Sunday Tampa Tribune, 20 February 1977 (to promote Condominium); "Dear Old Friend" by John D. MacDonald, Playboy, April 1970, edited by Hugh Hefner

Jack Seabrook: "The Twelve-Hour Caper" by Mike Marmer, Cosmopolitan, May 1961, edited by Robert C. Atherton

Kerrie Smith: The Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Myerson

Marina Sofia: A Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe

Dan Stumpf: The Humming Box by Harry Whittington; Build My Gallows High by Geoffrey Homes

Kari Sund: 5 Hollywood novels: Merton of the Movies by Harry Leon Wilson; Minnie Flynn by Frances Marion; Twinkle, Little Movie Star by Lorraine Maynard;  Remember Valerie March by Katherine Albert; In a Lonely Place by Dorothy B. Hughes

Scott Thompson: Farthing Gate by "Kay Carroll" (Katherine Alexis Charles)

Kevin Tipple: The Religious Body by Catherine Aird

"TomCat": A Wreath for the Bride by "Maria Lang" (Dagmar Lange)(translated by Joan Tate)

David Vineyard: Havana Libre by Robert Arello

Bill Wallace: Evergreen Review, March 1968, edited by Barney Rosset; features Rosencrantz and Guilderstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard

Steve Weddle/Beau Johnson: The One That Got Away by Joe Clifford

Gary K. Wolfe: Sheree Renée Thomas, editor of Dark Matter and Dark Matter: Reading the Bones and author of Nine Bar Blues: Stories of the Ancient Future among other books

A. J. Wright: Scottsboro: A Tragedy of the American South by Dan T. Carter; Judge Horton and the Scottsboro Boys by Barbara Bauer and Robert F. Moss; the books of Prentiss Ingraham

Lisa Yaszek/Library of America: "The Miracle of the Lily" by Claire Winger Harris, Amazing Stories,  April 1928, edited by Hugo Gernsback

Samuel Delany: 

on Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora edited by Sheree Renée Thomas

sSalmtSeptpeenmboeifr 20 ddSatin 7al:edfs0og5csrf fsAeMdl 

In 1999, I was proud to have a story and an essay picked for inclusion in this anthology. I was proud to see students of mine such as Octavia E. Butler and Nalo Hopkinson and friends such as Jewel Gomez and Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes, and Paul Miller and all the other fine and interesting writers who share the book, from my old family friend, the late W. E. B. Dubois, and other fine writers, younger than I, including Walter Mosely, Evie Shockley, and Ishmael Reed.

Look at the subtitle—A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora—and if you read all the cover matter carefully, you will find two things: 1) Unless it occurs at the beginning a sentence, "black" is never capitalized. 2) There is no mention of the white critical term, "Afro-Futurism" coined by white critic Mark Geary in the late sixties, that was, indeed, about myself, Estelle Butler, Greg Tate, Trischa Rose, and others, including white Virginia writer (another friend and former student) William Gibson.

You should know: The lower case "b" on black comes directly from an oppositional stance formulated by W. E. B. DuBois and activists who followed him, and means the same thing as the lower case "w" on "white." Contrastingly, the upper case "B" on Black is a recent, post-1978, reactionary term, based on a "feel good"/"let's not offend anyone" position, that masks itself as "respect" and is really about maintaining separation and suppressing conflict, harmless in its place but historically deaf. (If you want to read about its history, see my 2007 novel Dark Reflections, recently released in a Dover Thrift Edition.)

So let’s go back to the term that is there: "African Diaspora." First of all, there have been major ones going on from as far back as 300,000 bce; 250,000 bce, and 80,000 bce. In short, these migrations produced what we call the human race, wherever it ended up on the planet. Pigments, facial shape, eyes and lips and noses changed for optimal survival in local conditions. In short, all of us—not just the ones in this book—started out there. That includes everyone in the GOP.

There is a more recent one, that the subtitle refers to: when Arabian, African, and white European slavers captured largely tribal Africans and shipped them by the thousands to England and the Americas, and even further afield.

Among the great commemorative works responding to this is Robert Hayden's poem, "Middle Passage," published in his book 1962/'66 volume, A Ballad of Remembrance and his Collected Poems. (I have always thought of it as the missing section that Hart Crane once intended to include in The Bridge.)

Because of that beginning, many of us whose ancestors came here through this historical trajectory have found herself, like the Amerindian peoples who predated the European settlers in more or less critical tensions with many those folk. The existence of such an anthology as this is not readable without a sense of that tension.
                                                    * * *
Although "Aye, and Gomorrah . . ." is certainly my best-known story, I've always wondered if it was the best for the book. But, then, I wasn't the editor. And I think Sheree Thomas certainly did a fine, fine job.

The existence of "Afro-Futurism" (which I take to be the American fascination of what black and white writers both are saying about black folk and their relation to whites in SF terms) has influenced me enough to put together a lecture on the topic. At least one black African critic, K'eguro Makaria, writing about my last and largest SF novel, has accurately (I felt) nailed its overarching topic: "black livability." That makes me happy. (It is not the novel that made it into the LoA volume, though the central character there is also a black man.) Giving in to demands, I have written a lecture on "Afro-Futurism" which you can hear me deliver in the News & Events section of my website. But it is not a topic that obsesses me in any way, nor is a topic one that I feel inclined to discuss as a moment's notice.

Having said that, I hope those of you who don't know this book will get it and read it—or, if you have it, read it again.
And if you want to know what I feel about some of these questions, at least in the last century, when most of my fiction writing was done, there are all sorts of books that can tell you, listed on my website (Atlantis, The Three Tales, The Mad Man...) and listen to recordings of my talks from the last few years on the topics.

There is a second volume edited by Sheree Renée Thomas, which is just as interesting and brings together a different slate of black writers.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

FRIDAY'S "FORGOTTEN" BOOKS AND MORE: the links to reviews and related texts: 18 September 2020

painting by Jeffrey Catherine Jones
This week's books and more, unfairly (or sometimes fairly) neglected, or simply those the reviewers below think you might find of some interest (or, infrequently, you should be warned away from--a few more than usual this week); certainly, most weeks we have a few not at all forgotten titles...if I've missed your review or someone else's, please let me know in comments.


Damon Knight 
by John-Henri Holmberg 
(reprinted with permission from Facebook)

Today, September 19, was the birthday of a lifelong favourite science fiction author. On this day, in 1922, Damon Francis Knight was born in Baker City, Oregon. Like so many of us, he began reading sf as a child, as a teenager discovered and became active in sf fandom, and at eighteen moved to New York where he shared an apartment with Robert A.W. Lowndes and became a member of the Futurians, one of the seminal sf clubs in America – among its other members were Frederik Pohl, Isaac Asimov, Donald A. Wollheim, James Blish, Cyril Kornbluth, and Judith Merril, all of them among the most influential editors, critics and authors in sf over the next several decades. He wrote fascinatingly about this in The Futurians, 1977.
Damon Knight was all of that. As a critic, he was probably the first to take sf seriously as an adult literary form, and wrote analytically, often harshly but always with respect and understanding of the form. His collection of critical essays, In Search of Wonder, was first published in 1956 and was the first knowledgeable critical book on sf published. An expanded second edition followed in 1967; a third, even more expanded, in 1996. Later on, he published Turning Points: Essays on the Art of Science Fiction, 1997, an anthology of his own and others’ critical writings on sf.
As an editor, Damon Knight was in a sense unlucky – he twice became the editor of science fiction magazines, first of Worlds Beyond, which was discontinued after only three issues (1950–1951), then of If, but again only for three issues (October 1958–February 1959). He had greater luck with anthologies. His first, A Century of Science Fiction, was a revelation when I read it at fourteen – the first book I had seen that put sf in a historical context, and reprinted stories from as early as 1859. More than anything else, I believe this was the book that made me interested in the history of sf, and of sf as a specific form of literature with a long tradition behind it. Damon Knight went on to publish a further 26 anthologies, all of them excellent and all of them distinguished by Knight's genius for finding seldom-reprinted but first-rate stories. His huge A Science Fiction Argosy was a seminal anthology containing much of the best sf written; Happy Endings fascinatingly mixed sf and mainstream stories in, I suspect, an attempt to tell both sf and mainstream readers that the other field also had much to offer [Bobbs-Merrill sold it as an anthology of the macabre...which it mostly was. TM]. And in 1966, he launched Orbit, an annual original anthology series which became the longest running so far in sf, and which presented a stunning number of first-rate stories. It ended, finally, with Orbit 21, in 1981.
Then there was Damon Knight the author. He published fourteen novels, but was seldom entirely at ease with the long format; of his novels, in my view, only a handful are first-rate: The People Maker, 1959, The World and Thorinn, 1981, and the last two, Why Do Birds?, 1992, and Humpty Dumpty: An Oval, 1996. But if novels were not Damon Knight’s strongest format, he excelled in short stories and novellas. I pity those who have never read “The Country of the Kind”, “The Earth Quarter”, “Stranger Station”, “Ticket to Anywhere”, “Dio”, “Thing of Beaury”, “The Handler”, “Mary”, “Masks”, “I See You”. In all, he published just over a hundred shorter works, and together they comprise one of the very few finest bodies of short fiction I have seen anywhere, in or out of science fiction. Sometimes hysterically funny, sometimes wryly satirical, sometimes bitter, sometimes poetical; always beautifully written and brilliantly conceived. He published fourteen collections. If you like science fiction, you should find them and read them.
On a personal note, I never knew Damon Knight. I met him several times, talked to him a few times, but know him I never did. Even so, he was a considerable influence: during my first world sf convention, Judith Merril brought me along to the SFWA suite, introduced me to him, and sat down to discuss with him; I spent hours sitting on the floor at their feet, listening to them talking about the “new wave” versus traditional science fiction. I’ll admit to siding with Damon Knight in that discussion; his idea was that the reason that sf exists at all is that it isn’t just mainstream fiction with speculative flourishes, but that it actually offers viewpoints and values not to be found in either fantasy or mainstream fiction. For my money, he was one of the few renaissance men in science fiction. He died on April 15, 2002. That was much too early. With Damon Knight, we lost an irreplaceable both critic of and shaper of the beginnings of modern science fiction.