Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Short Story Wednesday: 1989 horror/fantasy anthologies: TALES BY MOONLIGHT II edited by Jessica Amanda Salmonson (Tor Books); BOOK OF THE DEAD edited by John Skipp and Craig Spector (Bantam); THE YEAR'S BEST HORROR STORIES XVI edited by Karl Edward Wagner (DAW), THE YEAR'S BEST FANTASY (AND HORROR), 2nd Annual, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling (St. Martin's): Reviews from (IN*SIT), January 1990


The following reviews reprinted, with minimal editing, from a longer column of mine in the third, January 1990, issue of the magazine (in*sit), edited and published by Mark Hand, Nancy Ryan, Donna Wilson, Claire Mason and myself 

Jessica Amanda Salmonson's Tales by Moonlight II is not quite a direct sequel to the original anthology of a few years back; with this volume, she has done the valuable service of surveying and collecting some of the semi-professional or little horror and fantasy press. She offers 37 short stories and poems going back to Daniel Defoe's "The Devil Frolics with a Butler", published originally in pamphlet form by Defoe himself and seen therefore by Salmonson as part of a tradition that is currently represented by dozens of small-circulation magazines and book publishers, among hundreds with wider or different emphases (in her appendix, she lists 37 little-magazine contact addresses; a 38th is that of Janet Fox's small-press market-report guide Scavenger's Newsletter)A new translation of Theophile Gautier is included, and stories from such diverse a set of writers as Ramsey Campbell, John Varley, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, John Domini, Fox and Salmonson herself, along with H. P. Lovecraft (a very enthusiastic small-press person) and "The Eldritch Horror of Oz" by "L. Frank Craftlove" (Phyllis Ann Karr)--truly fierce. Salmonson also offers an historical survey as introduction  and Grue magazine editor Peggy Nadramia offers offers tips on starting a magazine of one's own in another appendix). 

Splatterpunks...the name is derived from Gardner Dozois's coinage of "cyberpunks" to describe a group of writers who had begun seeing themselves as somewhat apart from other sf people, more aware of global concerns and the interplay of cultures, particularly on the street level, among people living on one or another edge of ever-more technologically-dependent societies. One of the loudest voices, John Shirley's, among this group of writers insisted they were "culturally on-line," with implications that others were not. Cyberpunk writers, particularly Shirley and the most popular of them, William Gibson, also can be prone to flashy writing, and graphic descriptions of the tougher edges of those societies; hence the newly graphic approaches to horror fiction, often featuring marginalized characters, seemed to have more than a little in common with cyberpunk [and writers as interested in branding themselves to gain a little more attention for themselves and their work]. Hence, David Schow's suggestion, splatterpunk: the work of John Skipp, Craig Spector, Schow, Shirley (the notable mutual member), Joe R. Lansdale [at times, though he hated the label and had no interest in being lumped in with it], Robert McCammon and Clive Barker. And with Book of the Dead, splatter punk has its first (as far as I know) all-original anthology, with Skipp and Spector as editors and stories by Lansdale, Schow, McCammon and such fellow-travelers as Ramsey Campbell and Stephen King. The whole thing [in those pre-ubiquitous zombie days] is a tribute to George Romero's Living Dead films, and all the stories involve zombies. Campbell's story is good, if a bit typical of his more sardonic work; sadly, the King is also typical of the worst of his work: dull, unimaginative, sloppily-written. The King and the one by Glen Vasey were unworthy of my time beyond their first few pages (the Vasey because those first few pages were so utterly vapid). But Schow, Lansdale and pop-culture historian and occasional fiction-writer Les Daniels serve it up just the way Joe Bob likes it: imaginatively and wittily cheesy, and tough. McCammon's story manages to be humorously touching about zombie love, veteran Ed Bryant manages to out-ugly the younger splats, and Douglas Winter's "Less Than Zombie" is devastatingly satirical of a certain work by B. E. Ellis (and by extension of similar efforts by McInerney and Janowitz) and the affectless young moderns celebrated by that work [this was before the no-better American Psycho]. The rest are at least interesting, even if Stephen Boyett's story tries that interest eventually; some of the authors, even given the premise of the anthology, might be too slavishly hewing to Romero's concept of zombies, as well. One of those stories, however, Philip Nutman's "Wet Work" [later the basis of a novel of the same title]  is a great knee-jerk  response story for any anti-establishment readers, as it's all about cannibalistic zombies at a certain Pennsylvania Avenue address...

Another contributor to Book of the Dead, Nicholas Royle, came up with perhaps the most difficult (from the writer's perspective, not the reader's) story there, "Saxophone". He has another good piece, first published in the British anarchosyndicalist magazine Dig, reprinted in Karl Edward Wagner's The Year's Best Horror XVII: "One of Us" is one of two yuppie-horror stories in the Wagner volume, and it involves self-piercing enthusiasts (everyone's favorite marginalized group). The other YUP story, Ian Watson's "Lost Bodies", touches on animal rights; it's also one of four stories shared by the Wagner volume and Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling's Year's Best Fantasy (and Horror, as the subtitle reminds us). With the disappearance of Arthur Saha's Year's Best Fantasy annual series for DAW Books, the Datlow/Windling and the Wagner are the only widely-available annual American multi-source collections to emphasize fantasy and horror [something very much not the case any longer, even if Datlow flies on her own these days and Wagner is alas in what afterlife there might be]; at over 600 and 350 pages respectively, they are taking up the slack well. Wagner reminds us that this is his tenth volume of the series, which began as reprints of a British annual and came under Gerald W. Page's editorship for several years in the 1970s; for Omni fiction editor Datlow,
and Windling, co-editor of the Elsewhere series of anthologies and much else, their second volume compares favorably with their colleague's. The Wagner has stories by Harlan Ellison, Dennis Etchison, Nina Kiriki Hoffman and two each by Charles Grant and Ian Watson, and has more material taken from relatively obscure British sources; the Datlow/Windling features a different Etchison, one of the Watsons (as noted above) and one of the Grants, three stories by Gene Wolfe, and William Kotzwinkle, Daniel Pinkwater, Joan Aiken, Jane Yolen and Thomas Disch, among others, and features more stories from American sources that might be obscure to many fantasy readers.  Aside from "Lost Bodies", both books feature M. John Harrison's "The Great God Pan", Ramsey Campbell's "Playing the Game" and Grant's "Snowman", and all four probably deserve their placement in both volumes. Further, there's enough in both to make the dual purchase worthwhile, despite the Brian Lumley's  slightly stodgy "Fruiting Bodies" leading off the Wagner, and a weak Richard Matheson story and Edward Bryant's rather dispiriting "year in film" article in the other. The Lumley (from Weird Tales) [then newly revived for the fourth time, with that revival--theoretically, at least--still with us after a quarter-century] does feature some imaginative nastiness (Wagner, and Page before him, have shown much good taste in selecting from rather uneven or often bad writers; two of the best Stephen King stories I've read, for example, were among those selected for their annual). As for the Bryant (a brilliant fiction writer if somewhat dicy reviewer and media journalist): I suppose someone had to like the film Child's Play [still not me]. The only sad notes are struck by the obituaries in the Windling/Datlow and the notice in the Wagner that Charles Grant has grown tired of reading bad splatter imitations and so has decided to stop assembling his Shadows and Greystone Bay original-anthologies. In a column full [of also a number of other volumes and magazines than mentioned here], these two annuals might be your best bets--certainly for a broad sense of what horror (and associated fantastic fiction) offers today. 

For more of today's books, and prompter (and fresher!) reviews, please see Patti Abbott's blog; please also see Damien Broderick's guest review of  R. Scott Bakker's Neuropath also posted on this blog. 

And happy Spring, to those in the northern hemi. (Even though it really begins on 1 March.)

From the Contento/Locus/Galactic Central indices:

Tales by Moonlight II ed. Jessica Amanda Salmonson (Tor 0-812-55371-3, Jul ’89 [Jun ’89], $3.95, 306pp, pb) Anthology of 37 horror stories from small press publications, plus an introduction by Salmonson, a piece on starting small press horror magazines by Peggy Nadramia, and a listing of those currently available.
  • 1 · A Glimpse of Supernatural Literature and the Small Presses · Jessica Amanda Salmonson · in
  • 11 · Proem: The Haunted Street · Marion Zimmer Bradley · pm The Nekromantikon #2 ’50
  • 12 · Dream of a Mannikin, or the Third Person · Thomas Ligotti · ss Eldritch Tales #9 ’83
  • 28 · Marilyn and the King · Ruth Berman · ss Grimoire #4 ’83
  • 33 · The Area · Stefan Grabinski; trans. by Miroslaw Lipinski · ss The Grabinski Reader Sum ’86
  • 45 · The Return of Noire [“They Happened”] · Michael Bullock · ss Sixteen Stories as They Happened, Sono Nis Press, 1987
  • 55 · A Light from Out of Our Heart · Jules Faye · ss Fantasy Macabre #9 ’87
  • 61 · Mr. Templeton’s Toyshop [“Selections from ‘Mr. Templeton’s Toyshop’”] · Thomas Wiloch · ss All the Devils Are Here, ed. David D. Deyo, Jr., Unnameable Press, 1986
  • 69 · The Devil Frolics with a Butler · Daniel Defoe · ss, 1726
  • 73 · The Cats of Ulthar · H. P. Lovecraft · vi The Tryout Nov ’20; Weird Tales Feb ’26
  • 77 · Dead Dogs · Denis Tiani · vi Fantasy and Terror #5 ’85
  • 80 · “W.D.” · David Starkey · ss Grue #2 ’86
  • 85 · The Drabbletails · Stephen Gresham · ss Eldritch Tales #7 ’80
  • 95 · The Gravedigger and Death [Jane Bradshawe] · Mary Ann Allen · ss Ghosts & Scholars #5 ’83
  • 103 · Taking Care of Bertie · Janet Fox · ss Eldritch Tales #11 ’85
  • 110 · Cardinal Napellus · Gustav Meyrink; trans. by Michael Bullock · ss Fantasy Macabre #8 ’86
  • 122 · The Coffeepot [1831] · Théophile Gautier; trans. by Phyllis Ann Karr · ss Fantasy Macabre #5 ’85
  • 130 · Seven · Stephen-Paul Martin · vi Asylum Jun ’87
  • 134 · Chocolate · Wendy Wees · vi Fantasy and Terror #3 ’84
  • 136 · Mousewoman · Wendy Wees · vi Fantasy and Terror #10 ’87
  • 138 · Mother Hag · Steve Rasnic Tem · ss Grue #5 ’87
  • 148 · Good Thoughts · W. Paul Ganley · vi Moonbroth #10 ’73
  • 152 · Shirley Is No Longer with Us · Jody Scott · ss Windhaven #3 ’78
  • 158 · The Ghost of Don Carlos · Michel Tremblay; trans. by Michael Bullock · ss, 1977
  • 167 · Live on Tape · Spider Robinson · ss Stardock Sum ’77
  • 175 · The Head of the Hydra Flower · Carol Reid · ss *
  • 183 · The Manhattan Phone Book (Abridged) · John Varley · ss Westercon Program Book #37 ’84
  • 189 · An Image in Twisted Silver · Charles L. Grant · ss World Fantasy Convention Program Book, 1986; story based on a J.K. Potter illustration.
  • 195 · What Used to Be Audrey · Nina Kiriki Hoffman · ss Arcane #1 ’84
  • 200 · The Day · David Madison · ss, 1969
  • 206 · A Thief in the Night · Jayge Carr · ss Room of One’s Own v6 #1&2 ’81
  • 211 · Silhouette · D. Beckett · ss Paradise Plus: Tales of Another Life, 1985
  • 222 · Laugh Kookaberry, Laugh Kookaberry, Gay Your Life Must Be · John Domini · ss, 1985
  • 242 · Azrael’s Atonement · Archie N. Roy · ss Fantasy Macabre #9 ’87
  • 250 · The Eldritch Horror of Oz [Oz] · L. Frank Craftlove · ss Ozania, 1981
  • 264 · O, Christmas Tree · Jessica Amanda Salmonson & W. H. Pugmire · ss Space & Time Jan ’79
  • 279 · The Pacific High · Grant Fjermedal · ss Fantasy Macabre #10 ’88
  • 293 · Jack in the Box · Ramsey Campbell · ss Dark Horizons #26 ’83
  • 299 · Envoy: The Scythe of Dreams · Joseph Payne Brennan · pm Sixty Selected Poems, The New Establishment Press, 1985
  • 300 · Appendix I: How to Publish Your Own Shoestring Horror Magazine · Peggy Nadramia · ar
  • 303 · Appendix II: Current Small Press Horror Magazines · Misc. · bi

Book of the Dead ed. John M. Skipp & Craig Spector (Bantam 0-553-27998-X, Jul ’89 [Jun ’89], $4.50, 390pp, pb) [Living Dead] Original anthology of 16 zombie stories set in the same universe as George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead.

The Year’s Best Horror Stories: XVII ed. Karl Edward Wagner (DAW 0-88677-381-4, Oct ’89 [Sep ’89], $3.95, 351pp, pb) Anthology of 20 horror stories from 1988, with an introduction by the editor.

  • 11 · Introduction: Ten Years After · Karl Edward Wagner · in
  • 15 · Fruiting Bodies · Brian Lumley · nv Weird Tales Sum ’88
  • 44 · Works of Art · Nina Kiriki Hoffman · ss Pulphouse: The Hardback Magazine: Issue One, ed. Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Pulphouse, 1988
  • 53 · She’s a Young Thing and Cannot Leave Her Mother · Harlan Ellison · ss Pulphouse: The Hardback Magazine: Issue One, ed. Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Pulphouse, 1988
  • 71 · The Resurrection Man · Ian Watson · ss Other Edens II, ed. Christopher Evans & Robert Holdstock, London: Unwin, 1988
  • 88 · Now and Again in Summer · Charles L. Grant · ss Fantasy Tales, v.10 #1, ed. Stephen Jones & David A. Sutton, Robinson, 1988
  • 100 · Call 666 · Dennis Etchison · ss Twilight Zone Feb ’88
  • 113 · The Great God Pan · M. John Harrison · nv Prime Evil, ed. Douglas E. Winter, NAL, 1988
  • 140 · What Dreams May Come · Brad Strickland · ss F&SF Dec ’88
  • 151 · Regression · R. Chetwynd-Hayes · nv The Fourth Book of After Midnight Stories, ed. Amy Myers, London: Kimber, 1988
  • 168 · Souvenirs from a Damnation · Don Webb · ss Pulphouse: The Hardback Magazine: Issue One, ed. Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Pulphouse, 1988
  • 176 · Bleeding Between the Lines [Dennis Cassady] · Wayne Allen Sallee · ss 2AM Win ’88
  • 186 · Playing the Game · Ramsey Campbell · ss Lord John Ten, ed. Dennis Etchison, Northridge, CA: Lord John Press, 1988
  • 201 · Lost Bodies · Ian Watson · ss Interzone #25 ’88
  • 216 · Ours Now · Nicholas Royle · ss Dig Magazine #6 ’88
  • 224 · Prince of Flowers · Elizabeth Hand · ss Twilight Zone Feb ’88
  • 242 · The Daily Chernobyl · Robert Frazier · pm Synergy #2, ed. George Zebrowski, HBJ Harvest, 1988
  • 247 · Snowman · Charles L. Grant · ss Gaslight & Ghosts, ed. Stephen Jones & Jo Fletcher, 1988 World Fantasy Con/Robinson Pub., 1988
  • 258 · Nobody’s Perfect · Thomas F. Monteleone · ss Pulphouse: The Hardback Magazine: Issue One, ed. Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Pulphouse, 1988
  • 276 · Dead Air · Gregory Nicoll · nv Ripper!, ed. Gardner Dozois & Susan Casper, Tor, 1988
  • 301 · Recrudescence · Leonard P. Carpenter · nv Amazing Jan ’88

The Year’s Best Fantasy: Second Annual Collection ed. Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling (St. Martin’s 0-312-03007-X, Jun ’89, $12.95, 579pp, tp) Anthology of 46 horror and fantasy stories, with summaries of the past year in horror by Datlow, fantasy by Windling, and film by Edward Bryant. Also available in hardcover (-03006-1 $24.95).

  • xiii · Summation 1988: Fantasy · Terri Windling · ar
  • xxvi · Summation 1988: Horror · Ellen Datlow · ar
  • xlvii · 1988: Horror and Fantasy on the Screen · Edward Bryant · ar
  • liv · Obituaries · Jim Frenkel · ob
  • 2 · Death Is Different · Lisa Goldstein · ss IASFM Sep ’88
  • 17 · The Tale of the Rose and the Nightingale (And What Came of It) · Gene Wolfe · nv Arabesques, ed. Susan Shwartz, Avon, 1988
  • 39 · It Was the Heat · Pat Cadigan · ss Tropical Chills, ed. Tim Sullivan, Avon, 1988
  • 54 · The Cutter · Edward Bryant · ss Silver Scream, ed. David J. Schow, Arlington Heights, IL: Dark Harvest, 1988
  • 67 · The Freezer Jesus · John DuFresne · vi The Quarterly Fll ’88
  • 71 · Voices of the Kill · Thomas M. Disch · ss Full Spectrum, ed. Lou Aronica & Shawna McCarthy, Bantam, 1988
  • 87 · Secretly · Ruth Roston · pm Pandora #19 ’88
  • 90 · The Devil’s Rose · Tanith Lee · nv Women of Darkness, ed. Kathryn Ptacek, Tor, 1988
  • 111 · Wempires · Daniel M. Pinkwater · vi Omni Oct ’88
  • 115 · Scatter My Ashes · Greg Egan · ss Interzone #23 ’88
  • 126 · Unfinished Portrait of the King of Pain by Van Gogh · Ian McDonald · nv Empire Dreams, Bantam Spectra, 1988
  • 150 · Shoo Fly · Richard Matheson · ss Omni Nov ’88
  • 165 · The Thing Itself · Michael Blumlein · ss Full Spectrum, ed. Lou Aronica & Shawna McCarthy, Bantam, 1988
  • 179 · The Soft Whisper of Midnight Snow · Charles de Lint · ss Pulphouse: The Hardback Magazine: Issue One, ed. Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Pulphouse, 1988
  • 193 · Roman Games · Anne Gay · ss Other Edens II, ed. Christopher Evans & Robert Holdstock, London: Unwin, 1988
  • 201 · The Princess, the Cat, and the Unicorn · Patricia C. Wrede · ss The Unicorn Treasury, ed. Bruce Coville, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1988
  • 212 · The Book and Its Contents · Robert Kelly · ss Doctor of Silence, McPherson, 1988
  • 225 · The Great God Pan · M. John Harrison · nv Prime Evil, ed. Douglas E. Winter, NAL, 1988
  • 246 · Lost Bodies · Ian Watson · ss Interzone #25 ’88
  • 256 · Two Minutes Forty-Five Seconds · Dan Simmons · ss Omni Apr ’88
  • 265 · Preflash · John M. Ford · ss Silver Scream, ed. David J. Schow, Arlington Heights, IL: Dark Harvest, 1988
  • 284 · Life of Buddha · Lucius Shepard · ss Omni May ’88
  • 302 · Appointment with Eddie · Charles Beaumont · ss Selected Stories, Arlington Heights, IL: Dark Harvest, 1988
  • 316 · Fragments of Papyrus from the Temple of the Older Gods · William Kotzwinkle · ss Omni Apr ’88
  • 324 · Spillage · Nancy Kress · ss F&SF Apr ’88
  • 335 · Snowman · Charles L. Grant · ss Gaslight & Ghosts, ed. Stephen Jones & Jo Fletcher, 1988 World Fantasy Con/Robinson Pub., 1988
  • 344 · The Scar · Dennis Etchison · ss The Horror Show Win ’87
  • 352 · Laiken Langstrand · Gwyneth Jones · ss Other Edens II, ed. Christopher Evans & Robert Holdstock, London: Unwin, 1988
  • 365 · The Last Poem About the Snow Queen · Sandra M. Gilbert · pm Blood Pressure, W.W. Norton, 1988
  • 367 · Pinocchio · Sandra M. Gilbert · pm Blood Pressure, W.W. Norton, 1988
  • 370 · Game in the Pope’s Head · Gene Wolfe · ss Ripper!, ed. Gardner Dozois & Susan Casper, Tor, 1988
  • 377 · Playing the Game · Ramsey Campbell · ss Lord John Ten, ed. Dennis Etchison, Northridge, CA: Lord John Press, 1988
  • 389 · Faces · F. Paul Wilson · nv Night Visions 6, ed. Anon., Arlington Heights, IL: Dark Harvest, 1988
  • 413 · Snowfall · Jessie Thompson · ss F&SF Sep ’88
  • 418 · Seal-Self · Sara Maitland · ss The Book of Spells, Michael Joseph, 1987
  • 428 · No Hearts, No Flowers · Barry N. Malzberg · ss 14 Vicious Valentines, ed. Rosalind M. Greenberg, Martin H. Greenberg & Charles G. Waugh, Avon, 1988
  • 438 · The Boy Who Drew Unicorns · Jane Yolen · ss The Unicorn Treasury, ed. Bruce Coville, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1988
  • 446 · The Darling · Scott Bradfield · nv The Secret Life of Houses, Unwin Hyman, 1988
  • 463 · Night They Missed the Horror Show · Joe R. Lansdale · ss Silver Scream, ed. David J. Schow, Arlington Heights, IL: Dark Harvest, 1988
  • 478 · Your Story · Rick DeMarinis · ss The Coming Triumph of the Free World, Viking, 1988
  • 489 · Winter Solstice, Camelot Station · John M. Ford · pm Invitation to Camelot, ed. Parke Godwin, Ace, 1988
  • 495 · The Boy Who Hooked the Sun · Gene Wolfe · vi Cheap Street; New Castle, VA Dec ’85
  • 499 · Clem’s Dream · Joan Aiken · ss The Last Slice of Rainbow, London: Cape, 1985
  • 506 · Love in Vain · Lewis Shiner · nv Ripper!, ed. Gardner Dozois & Susan Casper, Tor, 1988
  • 525 · In the Darkened Hours · Bruce Boston · pm The Nightmare Collector, 2AM, 1988
  • 529 · A Golden Net for Silver Fishes · Ru Emerson · ss Argos Win ’88
  • 538 · Dancing Among Ghosts · Jim Aikin · nv F&SF Feb ’88
  • 575 · Honorable Mentions: 1988 · Misc. · bi
A Redux Post.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Short Story Wednesdays: the links to the reviews: 15 March 2023

Frank Babics: The Hugo Winners (eventually retitled, Volume 1), annotated and introduced by Isaac Asimov

Joachim Boaz: Far Out by Damon Knight

Brian Busby: The Marathon Murder by James Moffatt

Jose Ignacio Escribano: Maigret's Christmas: Nine Stories by Georges Simenon (translated by Jean Stewart)

"Olman Feelyus": The Naked City by Stirling Silliphant

Paul Fraser: "Retention" by Alec Nevala-Lee, Analog, July-August 2020, edited by Trevor Quachri; "The Store of the Worlds" by Robert Sheckley, Playboy, September 1959, fiction editor Ray Russell

Aubrey Hamilton: Gideon and the Young Toughs and Other Stories by John Creasey

Bev Hankins: Blood on the Tracks edited by Martin Edwards

Rich Horton: Infinity Science Fiction, June 1956, edited by Larry Shaw; "Exiles' Grace" and "The Jazz Age" by Mark Tiedemann (Analog, March/April and November/December 2022, edited by Trevor Quachri)

Kate Jackson:  The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, new edition

Terrance E. Hanley: Anthony Rud, and "Ooze", the first cover story for Weird Tales magazine, March 1923, edited by Edwin Baird

Jerry House: "The Case of the Suspected Sweethearts" by "Della Street" (Erle Stanley Gardner? Irving Vendig?) Radio and Television Mirror, May 1950, edited by Doris McFerran; John D. MacDonald fiction in Cosmopolitan, et al.

Colman Keane: "The Long Drop" by Jake Hinkson, Beat to a Pulp: Superhero edited by David Cramner and Scott D. Parker, 2012

George Kelley: Lost Objects: 50 Stories About the Things We Miss and Why They Matter edited by Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker

B. V. Lawson: Murder at the Foul Line edited by Otto Penzler

Steve Lewis:  Astounding Science Fiction, September 1948, edited by John W. Campbell; Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, May 1967, edited by Frederic Dannay

Robert Lopresti:  "Kimchee Kitty" by Martin Limon, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, March/April 2023, edited by Linda Landrigan

Todd Mason: Women Should Be Allowed by Wilma Shore, among other work; Yesterday's Tomorrows edited by Frederik Pohl; Editors edited by Saul Bellow and Keith Botsford; some other Futurian editors (Larry Shaw, Robert Lowndes, Doris Baumgardt, Donald Wollheim, et al.)

John O'Neill: Supernatural Sleuths and Sci-Fi [sic] Private Eye, edited by Charles Waugh and M. H. Greenberg; Isaac Asimov's Detectives, edited by Sheila Williams and Gardner Dozois

James Reasoner: Startling Stories, November 1947, edited by Sam Merwin, Jr.; Range Riders Western, January 1948, ?edited by G. B. Farnum?

Jack Seabrook: "One of the Family" by James Yaffe, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, July 1943, edited by Frederic Dannay

Doris V. Sutherland: Body Shocks edited by Ellen Datlow

Kevin Tipple: Desert Heat, Desert Cold and Other Tales of the West by Charlie Steel

Kris Vyas-Myall: New Writings in SF 12, edited by John Carnell; Famous Science Fiction Fall 1967, Winter 1967/68 and Spring 1968, edited by Robert A. W. Lowndes

collected for 22 March at Patti Abbott's blog

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Short Story Wednesday: James Baldwin: "The Rockpile"; Mildred Clingerman: "Birds Can't Count"; William Sansom: "A Woman Seldom Found"; Lorrie Moore: "You're Ugly, Too"

Four stories, from several volumes/other sources I've been meaning to deal with more completely for some time.

"The Rockpile" by James Baldwin; first published in Going to Meet the Man (Dial Press 1965); first reprinted in the UK in Argosy, November 1965.

"Birds Can't Count" by Mildred Clingerman, first published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, February 1955, edited by "Anthony Boucher"; reprinted in The Best from Fantasy and Science Fiction, Fifth Series, edited by Boucher, S-F: The Year's Greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy (1956) edited by Judith Merril and A Cupful of Space (Ballantine, 1961) and The Clingerman Files (Size 5 1/2 B Publishing, 2017) by Clingerman

"A Woman Seldom Found" by William Sansom, first published in A Contest of Ladies and Other Stories by Sansom (Hogarth Press, 1956), and widely reprinted

"You're Ugly, Too" by Lorrie Moore, The New Yorker, 3 July 1989, edited by Robert Gottlieb; widely reprinted since, including in Best American Short Stories of the Century, edited by John Updike and Katrina Kenison, after appearance in Best American Short Stories 1990, edited by Shannon Ravenel and Richard Ford

Both the Dial Press volume above and the hc below were Dell Books,
albeit Dell back-sold hardcover rights to Gnome Press initially.

cover design by Edmund Emshwiller. who was not responsible for misspelling
Avram Davidson's name.

Aside from occurring to me as stories from anthologies and the like that have been hanging fire in my drafts file, something or another nudged me to look to these four for this week's entry, and they are kind of a disparate set, aside from sharing wit (usually of an arguably eccentric or bitter nature, or both), various sorts of yearning, and consideration of how easily things can go wrong between mates or potential mates...and a certain elegance. Also,  three of them (Moore's excepted) were first or most widely circulated in Dell (including the Dial Press) editions, also a bit of coincidence...Dell, in its long heyday, was an interesting publisher.

Baldwin's short story, original to his first volume collecting those (as late as 1965), "The Rockpile", immediately puts us in the context of two NYC kids ca. 1960 (I'd guess), raised in a deeply Christian working class black community intermingling with folks of other descriptions, particularly two half-brothers forbidden to go play on the stone outcropping in an otherwise undisturbed lot visible from their parents' apartment's fire escape, which serves as a sort of balcony for the they watch other neighborhood kids climb and skirmish and roughhouse. The younger of the two boys decides to go down and get involved with the rambunctious game of king of the hill, leaving his slightly older brother wondering what to do, as their mother talks with a fellow churchwoman in the kitchen and tends to the baby, and the older boy's stepfather and the other children's gruff father is due home any time. Questions of family responsibilities, unresolved resentments within the family, pressures of various sorts on everyone in the family and applied in every direction are dealt with gracefully, as this is a Baldwin story. Perhaps the least thoroughly imbued with humor of the four, it nonetheless is present, as the family deals with what they need to, at least for now.

Mildred Clingerman's "Birds Can't Count" is the most cheerful of our quartet, involving as it does a married couple's rather excessively settled ways being suddenly disrupted by the advent of a rather odd apparition invading the protagonist's bedroom, as she's attempting to catch a nap to cope with a hangover (from the previous night's dinner party) with her tomcat's company. The preening nature of the discussions at the previous night's party, delivered in elegant flashbacks (including some lubricious one-liners), rather anticipate the slightly more grim chatter in Lorrie Moore's story. 

William Sansom's "A Woman Seldom Found", is about as close to being a joke story that a horror story of sorts can be, and the shortest of today's quartet. A romantic but somewhat resigned, still relatively young man is on his first visit to Rome, and hopes against hope to find la dolce vita if at all possible, realizing its improbability. Nonetheless, he encounters a lovely young woman who seems as interested as he in living passionately...things take a surprising turn, even for those who suspect that things might already be too good to be true. 

And Lorrie Moore's story, her first for The New Yorker just after the change in regime there, is packed with (reasonably) increasingly bitter wit, as the protagonist is finding herself pressured by events serious and simply irritatingly trivial, as she takes a short Hallowe'en trip from her small-town Illinois campus life as a professor to visit her sister in NYC, who in her turn unknowingly simply makes things worse for her visiting sibling, not least in setting the prof informally up with a single man, and more than a bit of a dullard, at the holiday party the younger sister throws. As Moore noted in a profile in the Fall 1998 issue of Ploughshares:

'"You're Ugly, Too" was the first of many of her stories to be published in The New Yorker (and then to be reprinted, with regularity, in annuals such as The O. Henry Awards and The Best American Short Stories), but, in 1989, it was a controversial piece for the magazine. "All through the editing process, they said, 'Oooh, we're breaking so many rules with this.' " Robert Gottlieb had taken over as the editor, but the turgidity of his predecessor, William Shawn, still gripped the institution. "I could not say 'yellow light,' I had to say 'amber light,' " Moore remembers. "And that was the least of the vulgarities I'd committed."'

So, hints, as too often with this blog, of things to come; for more of today's SSW reviews and more, please see Patti Abbott's blog.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

SSW: WORLDS OF IF: A RETROSPECTIVE ANTHOLOGY and GALAXY: THIRTY YEARS OF INNOVATIVE SCIENCE FICTION edited by Frederik Pohl, Martin H. Greenberg and Joseph Olander; TQ 20 (for the 20th Anniversary of TRIQUARTERLY) edited by Susan Hahn and R. Gibbons

 A Wednesday's Short Stories combo redux post, inspired in part by Rich Horton's recent review of an issue of If from 1957; for more of today's posts, please see Patti Abbott's blog:

FFB: WORLDS OF IF: A Retrospective Anthology, Pohl, Greenberg & Olander, ed. (Bluejay '86); TQ 20 (TriQuarterly 20 years), Gibbons & Hahn, ed. (Pushcart '85; essentially a reprint of TriQuarterly issue 63, Spring/Summer 1985)

Nearly contemporary issues:

Executive summary: 

Two impressive slices through the first two decades of two important, but not always sufficiently respected, fiction magazines. If, aka Worlds of If, ran from 1952-1974, with some weak attempts at revival afterward (at the end of 1974, it was merged into its longterm stablemate Galaxy, which itself staggered into folding and sporadic revival by 1980); even at its weakest points editorially under original publisher James Quinn, If was an elegantly-produced magazine, and while the later publishers at the "Digest Productions"/Guinn/Galaxy group and UPD Publications varied in their investment, it was often striking later as well. TriQuarterly began as a relatively modest physical production, though less so in content, in 1964, had made itself into one of the most visually as well as literarily impressive of little magazines throughout the 1970s thanks to founding editor Charles Newman and successors Elliot Anderson and Robert Onopa, the latter being rewarded by being unceremoniously dumped for daring to treat "popular fiction" as essentially no different from "literary fiction"; TQ never quite recovered its spirit, though it did continue, and is now a webzine.

What's good about these anthologies: Take a quick look at their contents, below. As the material about each magazine in their respective volumes makes clear, the not terribly well-measured consensus view about these two magazines was that they were very well in their way, but not the Serious Contenders that were, say, the hidebound 1969 Analog or The Hudson Review, nor even the resolutely lively contemporary issues of The Paris Review or Galaxy, when If and TQ had also been hitting their very comparable high-quality marks for some years, would continue in If's case till merger in 1975 and in TriQuarterly's case was allowed to continue doing so for another half-decade beyond that year. Again, look below at the evidence. In addition to the good to great fiction in the If volume, you get a plethora of reminiscences by the writers and editors, some taken not long before these folks died or otherwise became incapable of comment (the book was also delayed for several years). The material about the magazine is less generous in the TQ, perhaps in part because the book's editors were also TQ's editors after the shameful putsch in 1980/81, but to help make up for that, the selection of poetry and artwork as well as fiction is even larger.

What's not so great about these anthologies: Don't let your book be the last Bluejay book nor the second Pushcart anthology of material the Pushcart folks didn't shape for themselves...because signs of haste and slipshoddery will be evident all over the productions, beginning with the covers. Both manage to have half-good covers, with some boldish graphics not employed quite properly...clearly the white space in the If was meant to hold some writers' names, and the TQ would work better if the cover gave a legible indication what "TQ" meant...the contributors' names in both cases are almost illegible on the back cover, if the casual browser gets past the front cover. The "If" in the one should've been larger, to resemble the magazine's frequent logo; the spine of the TriQuarterly jacket *doesn't have the title "TQ 20" on it anywhere*. It takes some effort to get much more clumsy than this.

Unfortunately, the bad packaging gives way in the If to some very blatant typos (Charles Beaumont's The Hunger and Other Stories becomes the "Hunter"; the Zelazny here is incorrectly cited as the only story he published in If; there's a more unforgivable one that I'll have to find again--it's Martin Greenberg's contention that Larry Niven was rare in being conversant in both "hard" science fiction and adventure if Poul Anderson and at least arguably Jack Vance and the predominance of the contributors to the magazine Unknown didn't rather roundly contradict that). Perhaps even more of a mixed bag is the uncorrected nature of a number of the memoirs; several contributors, Algis Budrys for one and P.J. Farmer to a gross extent, manage to get historical facts out of order (Budrys misremembers Fairman as the editor after Quinn), but mostly the disagreements between the nonfiction contributors are reasonable disagreements of judgment, and useful assessments. (One which definitely caught my eye detailed editor Larry Shaw's run-ins with Evan Hunter, whom he found unpleasant, not least when Shaw sought to have him correct an error in his famous, overrated story "Malice in Wonderland," and Hunter replied, "Well, it's only science fiction, after all." A kind of irresponsibility I tend to find in all the Hunter [McBain, et al.] fiction I've read.)

The TQ basically reshoots the pages of the magazine for the book; the typefaces are unmistakable, and so any typos in the original magazine run are presumably reproduced here (I haven't spotted any blatant ones yet); and, again, as little as possible is said about the purge of Anderson and Onopa from the magazine; in fact, Onopa is neither reprinted (he contributed interesting fiction, as well) nor mentioned. Very much down the memory hole.

At left, a 1974 issue; below left, one of the last Anderson/Onopa issues, from 1980.

These books are valuable documents, if not quite what they could've been; the magazines treated, as their staffs were, with insufficient respect once again. And, in part as consequence, they are long out of print. But they will reward you if you seek them out, and they won't cost you too much...unless you don't look for the bargains. The better work represented here is even worth a premium price.

Some If covers through the years, below:

Fact (I believe) about If: it employed more book-publisher editors as its editor or associate/assistant editor than any other sf magazine has, before or since: founding editor Paul Fairman might make the weakest link (in several ways!) by being the editor in charge of the Ziff-Davis fiction magazines later when they published the one volume/issue of Amazing Stories Science Fiction Novels, Henry Slesar's novelization of 20 Million Miles to Earth (I wouldn't be surprised if Fairman eventually edited books for others, as well). James Quinn (Handi-Books--or did he not wield an editorial hand there as well as publishing?), Larry Shaw (Lancer Books), Damon Knight (Berkley), H. L. Gold (Galaxy Novels), Frederik Pohl (Ace, Bantam), Judy-Lynn Benjamin/Del Rey and Lester Del Rey (Ballantine/Del Rey), Ejler Jakobsson (Award and other UPD lines), James Baen (Ace, Baen Books) and Jean Marie Stine (Donning/Starblaze Books).

courtesy the Locus Index:
Worlds of If: A Retrospective Anthology ed. Frederik Pohl, Martin H. Greenberg & Joseph D. Olander (Bluejay 0-312-94471-3, Dec ’86, $19.95, 438pp, hc) Anthology of 24 stories. This is the last Bluejay book.

1 · Introduction · Frederik Pohl · in
6 · As If Was in the Beginning · Larry T. Shaw · ar, 1986
19 · Memoir · Philip K. Dick · ms
20 · The Golden Man · Philip K. Dick · nv If Apr ’54
50 · Memoir · Robert Sheckley · ms
51 · The Battle · Robert Sheckley · ss If Sep ’54
57 · Last Rites · Charles Beaumont · ss If Oct ’55
71 · Game Preserve · Rog Phillips · ss If Oct ’57
85 · The Burning of the Brain · Cordwainer Smith · ss If Oct ’58
95 · Memoir · Algis Budrys · ms
103 · The Man Who Tasted Ashes · Algis Budrys · ss If Feb ’59
117 · Memoir · Poul Anderson · ms
119 · Kings Who Die · Poul Anderson · nv If Mar ’62
147 · Memoir · Fred Saberhagen · ms
148 · Fortress Ship [Berserker] · Fred Saberhagen · ss If Jan ’63
158 · Father of the Stars · Frederik Pohl · ss If Nov ’64
177 · Trick or Treaty [Jame Retief] · Keith Laumer · nv If Aug ’65
202 · Memoir · R. A. Lafferty · ms
203 · Nine Hundred Grandmothers · R. A. Lafferty · ss If Feb ’66
214 · Memoir · Larry Niven · ms
216 · Neutron Star [Beowulf Shaeffer] · Larry Niven · nv If Oct ’66
234 · Memoir · Roger Zelazny · ms
235 · This Mortal Mountain · Roger Zelazny · nv If Mar ’67
272 · Memoir · Harlan Ellison · ar *
289 · I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream · Harlan Ellison · ss If Mar ’67
305 · Memoir · Samuel R. Delany · ms
306 · Driftglass · Samuel R. Delany · ss If Jun ’67
324 · Memoir · Isaac Asimov · ms
326 · The Holmes-Ginsbook Device · Isaac Asimov · ss If Dec ’68
336 · Memoir · Philip José Farmer · ms
338 · Down in the Black Gang · Philip José Farmer · nv If Mar ’69
359 · Memoir · Robert Silverberg · ms
361 · The Reality Trip · Robert Silverberg · ss If May ’70
378 · Memoir · James Tiptree, Jr. · ms
379 · The Night-Blooming Saurian · James Tiptree, Jr. · ss If May ’70
385 · Memoir · Theodore Sturgeon · ms
388 · Occam’s Scalpel · Theodore Sturgeon · nv If Aug ’71
409 · Memoir · Clifford D. Simak · ms
410 · Construction Shack · Clifford D. Simak · ss Worlds of If Jan/Feb ’73
424 · Memoir · Craig Kee Strete · ms
427 · Time Deer · Craig Kee Strete · ss Red Planet Earth #4 ’74
433 · Afterword: Flash Point, Middle · Barry N. Malzberg · aw

courtesy WorldCat:
TQ 20 : twenty years of the best contemporary writing and graphics from TriQuarterly magazine
Editors: Reginald Gibbons; Susan Hahn
Publisher: Wainscott, NY : Pushcart Press, ©1985.
Description: 667 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.

Preface/1964-1984 --
Forward / Charles Newman --
Fragments from the unpublished death fantasy sequence of Judgment day / James T. Farrell --
To friends in East and West "A New Year's greeting" / Boris Pasternak --
Three essays / Roland Barthes --
Two stories / Richard Brautigan --
In a hole / George P. Elliott --
Two poems / Anne Sexton --
Why is American poetry culturally deprived? / Kenneth Rexroth --
Storm still / Brock Brower --
TV / Howard Nemerov --
Two essays / E.M. Cioran --
The fly / Miroslav Holub --
Two poems / Vasko Popa --
A damned man / Aleksander Wat --
From the wave / Thom Gunn --
Meeting hall of the Sociedad Anarquista, 1952 / Irving Feldman --
Few things to say / John Frederick Nims --
The town / C.P. Cavafy --
Tuesday siesta / Gabriel García Márquez --
The sea / Jorge Luis Borges --
The doll queen / Carlos Fuentes --
From unusual occupations / Julio Cortázar --
Montesano unvisited / Richard Hugo --
Possibility along a line of difference / A.R. Ammons --
Life / Jean Follain --
Footprints on the glacier / W.S. Merwin --
The Eagle Exterminating Company / James Tate --
The double dream of spring / John Ashbery --
Toward a new program for the university / Christopher Lasch --
Three meetings / Stanley Elkin --
Three / W.S. Merwin --
Pain / Maxine Kumin --
That's what you say, Cesar? / Andrew Glaze --
Enigma for an angel / Joseph Brodsky --
Two poems / Osip Mandelstam --
To Edward dahlberg / Jack Kerouac --
Confessions / Edward Dahlberg --
From The tunnel: why windows are important to me / William H. Gass --
The wheel / Aimé Césaire --
A tale from Lailonia / Leszek Kolakowski --
Men fought / Jorge Luis Borges --
Meredith Dawe / Joyce Carol Oates --
From Ninety-two in the shade / Thomas McGuane --
Torpid smoke / Vladimir Nabokov --
My encounters with Chekhov / Konstantin Korovin --
Commitment without empathy : a writer's notes on politics, theatre and the novel / David Caute --
Human dust / Agnes Denes --
Heart attack / Max Apple --
The reurn of Icarus / David Wagoner --
With Uncle Sam at Burning Tree / Robert Coover --
Gala / Paul West --
The sewing harems / Cynthia Ozick --
Two shoes for one foot / John Hawkes --
Coyote hold a full house in his hand / Leslie Marmon Silko --
Dillinger in Hollywood / John Sayles --
Walking out / David Quammen --
Where is everyone? / Raymond Carver --
Hunters in the snow / Tobias Wolff --
From A flag for sunrise / Robert Stone --
Embryology / Magdalena Abakanowicz --
Going to the dogs / Richard Ford --
Editorial / Reginald Gibbons --
Dear Lydia E. Pinkham / Pamels White Hadas --
Somg of napalm / Bruce Weigl --
Three prose pieces / Stephen Berg --
Had I a hundred mouths / William Goyen --
From Steht noch dahin / Marie Louise Kaschnitz --
Prayer for the dying / Willis Johnson --
Don't they speak jazz? / Michael S. Harper --
Aubade / Roland Flint --
The third count / Andrew Fetler --
In the cemetery where Al Jolson is buried / Amy Hempel --
June harvest / W.S. Di Piero --
Ambush / John Morgan --
Instructions to be left behind / Marvin Bell --
Gill Boy / Dennis Schmitz --
From A minor apocalypse / Tadeusz Konwicki --
The belly of Barbara N. / Wiktor Woroszylski --
Two poems / Stanislaw Baranczak --
Isaac Babel / R.D. Skillings --
The story tellers / Fred Chappell --
Night traffic near Winchester / Dave Smith --
Sweet sixteen lines / Al Young --
Father and son / Morton Marcus --
His happy hour / Alan Shapiro --
The last class / Ellen Bryant Voigt --
Two poems / C.K. Williams --
Recovering / William Goyen --
On welfare / William Wilborn --
Two poems / William Heyen --
The hooded legion / Gerald McCarthy --
Snowy egret / Bruce Weigl --
Three epigrams / Elder Olson --
Interview with Saul Bellow / Rockwell Gray, Harry White and Gerald Nemanic --
Fulfilling the promise / Lisel Mueller --
The Aragon ballroom / John Dickson --
The city / Lorraine Hansberry --
The address / Marga Minco --
Departures / Linda Pastan --
He, she, all of them, ay / John Peck

Every issue of If online at the Internet Archive.
All print issues of TQ now online.

Brian Lindemuth's Spinetingler magazine blog [now dead/removed] will be offering the links to other FFBs this week, as Patti Abbott is at [the 2011] BoucherCon. [She's home, now, at last report.]