Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday's "Forgotten" Magazine Issue: THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION, April 1973, edited and published by Edward Ferman (Mercury Press)

From the F&SF index-not a perfect tool, as one of the mistakes in Ellison's citations refers to the misbegotten television series The Starlost, which abused Ellison's "bible" and groundwork, as The Starcrossed, also correctly noted as Ellison collaborator Ben Bova's parodic novel about the travesty:

Dean McLaughlin, The Trouble With Project Slickenside nv
Avram Davidson. Books, reviewing:
Donald A. Wollheim (ed): The 1972 Annual World's Best SF; Terry Carr (ed) The Best Science Fiction of the Year; Robin Scott Wilson (ed): Clarion II; Lester del Rey (ed): Best Science Fiction Stories of the Year
Gahan Wilson, Cartoon ct
Thom Jones. Brother Dodo's Revenge ss
Edward Wellen, Chalk Talk vi
Baird Searles, Films: Return to Cobra Island
reviews Cobra Woman(1944), starring Maria Montez; The Undead (1957)
Chris G. Butler, A Coffin in Egypt ss
Gahan Wilson, The Zombie Butler vi 6th story in Moral vignettes series;
Waldo Carlton Wright, Spirit of the White Deer ss
John Sladek, Solar Shoe-Salesman by Ph*l*p K. D*ck ss
andrew j. offutt, Sareva: In Memoriam ss
Isaac Asimov, Science: Down From the Amoeba pop-science essay
Michael G. Coney, The Manya ss 1st story in Finistelle ser.
Walter H. Kerr, poem
Harlan Ellison, The Deathbird nv (Winner-1974 HUGO, JUPITER, LOCUS Awards;
Nominee-1973 NEBULA award)

So, I'd picked this issue up off a stack and browsed the Table of Contents, and realized I couldn't remember reading the Avram Davidson book review column...Davidson, the brilliant fiction writer and former F&SF editor, would occasionally drop back in duting the 1970s to offer a book column, one which otherwise would be conducted in those years by a rotating goup including James Blish till his final illness, Algis Budrys with ever-greater frequency in the latter '70s, Joanna Russ, Barry Malzberg, and others from time to time (the best lineup any fantastic-fiction magazine has ever had in this wise, F&SF in the 1970s, even if Damon Knight didn't publish reviews again in F&SF after 1960, and Fritz Leiber in the 1970s published most of his in longterm "rival" magazine Fantastic, instead). Sadly, this consideration of three of the Best of the Year annuals and a Clarion writing workshop anthology is unusually slight and terse for a Davidson review, if gracious and witty. Oddly enough, one of Harlan Ellison's few book-review essays for F&SF, a year before, was also a rundown of the available BOTYs, and a very good one.

But, quite aside from offering a gorgeous wraparound cover by Leo and Diane Dillon, one of the best the magazine has published (and it's a pity the Dillons and Ellison don't seem to work together any longer--a falling out, or is it simply that the Dillons are too expensive for most of Ellison's publishers these days?), for the best Harlan Ellison story I've read so far (both in terms of its power and breadth and even its flaws being so much of the Ellison geist)...quite aside from that, this issue also contains the one Thom Jones contribution to F&SF, a story which The Pugilist at Rest writer might be ashamed of (or he might've feared that being associated with fantastic fiction or the magazine might tar him somehow, the Vonnegut Perplex or the Hortense Calisher flitter. As it is, it is a reasonably deftly written if rather heavyhanded Orwellian animal fantasy; rather than Lenin and Trotsky with trotters, we have a convocation of Black Panthers and the American Indian Movement and the Young Lords as a Pogo-esque mixture of human-hating animals, including insects and an ill-fated "Tomming" martyr to the Revolution in the form of a cow, sacrificed not altogether accidentally to further the cause (which is greater than the fate of any one constituent, doncha know). Like myself, only fifteen years or so earlier, Thom Jones was a University of Hawaii dropout who took his degree elsewhere.

Ed Ferman's editorship was at least as notable as those around his for the occasional contributions from fiction writers better known for work in other modes...the first F&SF I ever perused, but decided against buying since I had only so many quarters on hand and the magazine was a buck, was the Janauary, 1976 issue...led off by and perhaps best remembered for Joanna Russ's "My Boat," but also featuring Stuart Dybek's disturbing "Horror Movie." Ellen Gilchrist would place her "The Green Tent" with F&SF a decade later.

Some quick notes: Edward Wellen's vignette is one of the few linguistics fantasies, Chonskyite deep structure and all, that I've come across. Wellen, much like such others as Herny Slesar, Fredric Brown, and Miriam Allen de Ford, was a crime fiction/fantastic fiction amphibian, and like them a multiple-story contributor to F&SF and its shortlived sibling magazine Venture Science Fiction. In fact, he was enough of a favorite with Edward Ferman, editor of both magazines from the mid '60s to the turn of the '90s (well, the Venture revival lasted only a year or so at the turn of the '70s), so that Ferman took Wellen's long novella/short novel GOLDBRICK and ran it, despite it having essentially no sf nor fantasy content, in the November, 1978 was more a crime fiction, but the only cf magazine running any long stories at this point was Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, and the only long-form fiction it wanted to run were the ghosted Shayne novellas.

John Sladek's Dick parody was one of a series of short lampoons that Sladek was publishing in those years...I don't have the issue at hand at this moment, but it's a rich and dense parody, and if there's an indispensible line in it, it would be (paraphrased from memory, to be corrected later): "This was the end of existence, they all agreed."

Gahan Wilson contributed a cartoon to every issue of F&SF for 17 years, from Edward Ferman's first issuue till Ferman and Wilson had a falling out...a loss all around, particularly since Wilson's occasional fine fiction for the magazine also ceased.

andrew j. offutt often made a point of using all miniscules in his signatures in those years, and his story is almost a parody of Fritz Leiber's Conjure Wife at the point where I've broken off (I will slog through soon). offutt is probably best known these days for the rather bad relation he's had with his writer son Chris Offutt (who likes capitals). (The whole story is about how much less your kids like you than your spouse does, as well as pulling in some heavy winks about Bewitched the television series, as well.)

Baird Searles was the film, television, and general A/V club reviewer for F&SF from 1969 till moving over to be the book reviewer in Asimov's after the recently late Charles Brown left, in the early '80s. He and his life partner Martin Last ran The Science Fiction Shop in NYC in the '70s, as well. Searles had been preceded in the late 1950s by Charles Beaumont as film reviewer (with William Morrison also submitting at least one stage review), and was succeeded by Harlan Ellison, Kathi Maio, and Lucius Shepard.

Dean McLaughlin was one of the folks who did consistently good, and occasionally great, work for various magazines starting around the turn of the '60s...the last time Davidson, Ellison, and McLaughlin had been in the same issue was a decade before, when Davidson had been editing.

Walter Kerr the poet eventually started adding his middle initial to his F&SF contributions to stave off confusion with the NYC stage critic. F&SF contributor Paul Darcy Bowles felt a similar responsibility.

Isaac Asimov eventually wrote 399 monthly pop-science essays (a few touched only peripherally on science) for F&SF, and credited that series, and the predecessor column in the shortlived first run of stablemate Venture Science Fiction, with inspiring his most prominent public career, as a pop science writer.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday's "Forgotten" Books: EXPLAINERS by Jules Feiffer (Fantagraphics, 2008); IMPOLLUTABLE POGO by Walt Kelly (Simon & Schuster, 1970)

I don't know what comics meant to you, but if you're reading my blog or have found this entry through one of the other blog rolls, I suspect they were pretty integral to your esthetic growth. While long-form comics are going through some meliorated good times (even as the comic magazine or "book" might be in trouble as a form, the graphic novel is doing fine, and not only as it rides the commercial coattails of the explosion of US and general foreign interest in Japanese manga and European fumetti and their offshoots), the newspaper strips are in the kind of trouble that being associated with a dying form can bring (the other day, a bit of improvisational jam between daily strip cartoonists got essentially no attention that I was aware of, beyong the strips themselves...a dragon in Lio reaching over and eating the eponymous Fred Bassett out of a neighboring strip, for example...)...but also are one of the forms of newspaper-related entertainment that can easily flourish on the web...and have certainly flourished, when they have made the "cut" of collection in book form, in the literary marketplace. Hence these lifelong favorites of mine, two folks who are infrequently credited, but should be, with helping to establish the "graphic novel" as a form even if they didn't use the term initially.

In fact, most of Jules Feiffer's early relevant work was more like graphic novelets, notably "Munro", about a child drafted into the post-Korean War US Army, and early on adapted for an animated short (and first collected, I believe, in Passionella and Other Stories). Fantagraphics Books, that enterprising if maddeningly non-punctual publisher, has produced several collections of of a set of the Collected Works, the first of which is already out of print (and collects strips which, I believe, predate "Munro" and the famous strips collected in the book under consideration)...and they have offered Explainers, which is still in print but hardly seems to have taken the world by storm commercially, despite being an apparently complete collection of the first decade of strips he began running in The Village Voice in 1956 and eventually elsewhere in syndication. Such collections of these as Sick, Sick, Sick once were potent commercial properties, and were much prized by me when I came across them. The mockery of (would-be and actual) sophisticates as well as the kinds of folks who bedevil those sophisticates is sometimes here still in larval form, but usually still carries a punch, and the historical interest of even the few weak strips is stong...this is the work that led to such other good work from Feiffer as his plays (such as Little Murders, somewhat unfairly overlooked in its film version and even better as a play), his nonfiction (about comics and other matters), and just the continuing good work that the latter-day Voice (and Washington Post) were fools to let go.

While Feiffer was blazing a trail in the "alternate" papers, Walt Kelly was famously doing much of the best satirical work in the daily press, his Pogo being one of the most fondly remembered strips by the diminishing number of folks who were able to catch it before Kelly's death in 1973...which was just before I stumbled across this, the last of his (slightly) augmented collections of the daily strip to be published during his life (at least, the "original," non-cherry-picking retrospective collections, as Kelly also issued), and one of the best-distributed (I'm not sure that too many of the others were ever released in mass-market paperback). Pogo and his fellow humanoid/(mostly) literate/humanoid animal denizens of the Okeefenokee Swamp were hugely influential, somewhat unsurprisngly, within the fantastic-fiction community, but also beyond it...only Al Capp, with L'il Abner (also set in the rural Southesst albeit with a mostly human cast), seemed to get in nearly as much trouble or have a very similar impact in their time (even if Charles Schulz and Johnny Hart might verge on their territory from time to time, and Gary Trudeau and his heirs were clearly their children). The strips in Impollutable Pogo took on Spiro Agnew when he was still a potent, if foolish, attack dog for the Nixon Adminsitration (and thus portrayed as such), particularly in tirades against popular culture and any form of dissent...and, as collected, were a fine vehicle for yet another illustration for one of the most pervasive of Pogo catchphrases, "We have met the enemy, and He Is Us." It was my introduction to the strip, and I quickly picked up as many of the collections as Simon and Schuster was still keeping in print in the '70s, and finding what I could among the older, OP titles. You could do similarly...any collection, particularly such Kelly-compiled volumes as I Go Pogo (including his volumes of long-form stories that were released originally in book form, such as The Jack Acid Society Black Book), could be a fine introduction, where one is needed. Perhaps Fantagraphics will be able to get around to Kelly soon (as they've promised)...even as the Schulz/Peanuts and Love and Rockets collections help keep them afloat in these tough times...

For more "forgtten" books, please see Patti Abbott's blog...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday's "Forgotten" Books: FIRST HUBBY by Roy Blount, Jr. (Villard, 1990)

(Note on Friday morning...I know I was exhausted last night, but the edits and corrections I made to this draft, written on Wednesday night, were for some reason Gone and the uncorrected version was posted. Sorry about that.)

First novels by writers established in other forms have their own perils. Particularly if the writer in question doesn't usually write prose, per se...recall Bob Dylan's fairly unreadable Tarantula (which, to be fair, is more like a selection of rambles than a short story collection or novel) and Penn Gillette's utterly unreadable Sock (definitely an attempt at a novel which is instead a collection of punchlines, many redundant). Roy Blount, Jr., a seasoned essayist and journalist by 1990, doesn't fall into those traps, and while he creates and falls into a few others, I rather enjoyed First Hubby, and was impressed by how many not-too-far-off guesses it included (being, as it is, a near-future sf novel of a 1993 which sees the inauguration of the first woman to become the U.S. President).

Blount basically seems to be taking Vonnegut's novels as model, making a lecture, one full of asides, out of the book, even as it's folksier and at base considerably less bleak than the typical KV. The jokes tend just a bit more juvenile than his model's, when Blount is in the mood for a juvenile joke, and Blount seems more comfortable with sex, at least between the protagonist, a Guy Fox, who while he might just get his day, doesn't attempt to blow up any legislative bodies, and the current and, in flashback, eventual Madame President, Clementine Fox, nee Searcy.

Clementine's portrayal is that of a love letter, one tempered by the frustration of a multiply-divorced man...she verges on perfect in most ways, yet particularly in the present-day sequences she seems a bit distant, and to take Guy for granted, in ways that bother him even more than his status as appendage to the well-spoken, famously level-headed, comparatively youthful and attractive first-of-her-sort President. Fox is very clearly a variation on Blount, himself, and one hopes he's had some approximation of Clementine in his life...he both dedicates his book to his literary agent and makes her a minor character in the book, a member of a feminist activist group somewhere between NOW and the Yippies but less leftist than either, which is one of the elements that coalesce into a credible third-party Presidential bid...eventually with student-, civil-, and women's-rights movement veteran Clementine as the VP candidate to a maverick billionaire who finances his reformist, yet relatively centrist, campaign out of pocket...and manages to get himself elected in 1992, versus a scandal-weakened George H. W. Bush and an improbable second go-round for a newly re-energized Dukakis (an attempt at a coup led by Marilyn Quayle has led to J. Danforth being dropped by the GOP in favor of Colin Powell for VP, while Dukakis's running mate is Jesse Jackson...Blount never spells out what I suspect is his suspicion, that a white woman might well have a better shot at the #2 job in 1992 than a black man). The new President DaSilva gets as far as pushing through the appointment of Secretary of Defense Ralph Nader not long before being killed in a freak accident (a rather too freakish and convenient accident, the former to help us get past the latter I suspect)...leaving Clementine in charge. That's a lot of guesses about the shape of and players in the next decade's national politics that're both good and lucky.

Blount gets to go off on tangents about political hypocrisy among other kinds, makes a recurring theme of the remarkable ubiquity of childhood sexual abuse, and explores the various ways a writer not yet satisfied with his career can find to accommodate to a life of modest success in the shadow of his much more celebrated spouse. It's usually a funny, and at times a moving, book. Not perfect, by any means, and it can lose its thread at times, but vastly to be preferred to such other Southern Comics as, say, A Confederacy of Dunces...very little of Blount's book, unlike Toole's, seems forced, indeed a little more shaping would've helped. But Blount has a way with a telling vignette in the middle, or at the end, of a chapter.

Please see Patti Abbott's blog for more Friday Books.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Emmy nominations

The Emmy Award nominations have been announced, and as usual they are a mix of reasonably good and unreasonably foolish choices, and the "big" awards as usual are probably the biggest miscarriages of taste and appreciation, in part. For example:

Outstanding Comedy Series
30 Rock • NBC • Broadway Video, Little Stranger, Inc. in association with Universal Media Studios
Entourage • HBO • Leverage and Closest to the Hole Productions in association with HBO Entertainment
Family Guy • FOX • Fox Television Animation
Flight Of The Conchords • HBO • Dakota Pictures and Comedy Arts in association with HBO Entertainment
How I Met Your Mother • CBS • 20th Century Fox Television
The Office • NBC • Deedle-Dee Productions and Reveille LLC in association with Universal Media Studios
Weeds • Showtime • Showtime Presents in association with Lionsgate Television and Tilted Productions, Inc.

--First, where's Scrubs or Samantha Who?, the two best (but not industry-favored) sitcoms of the last season? And if the pleasant-enough Weeds or How I Met Your Mother are getting nods, The New Adventures of Old Christine, probably the most improved sitcom, deserves a shot, as well (fellow blogger Patti Abbott might be irked that The Big Bang Theory didn't get recognition). The Sarah Silverman Program isn't up to her best work, but certainly if the inane and obnoxious Family Guy (a dullard variation on The Simpsons, and a particular target of well-deserved South Park mockery of late) is so honored...well, Futurama would make a better choice in this category, certainly, among the animated sitcoms. The Venture Bros. probably didn't produce new episodes in the past year, but I'm sure would be overlooked.

Christina Applegate got an actress nomination as a sympathy prize, I suspect.

Outstanding Drama Series
Big Love • HBO • Anima Sola Productions and Playtone in association with HBO Entertainment
Breaking Bad • AMC • High Bridge, Gran Via Productions, Sony Pictures Television
Damages • FX Networks • FX Productions and Sony Pictures Television
Dexter • Showtime • Showtime Presents in association with John Goldwyn Productions, The Colleton Company, Clyde Phillips Productions
House • FOX • Universal Media Studios in association with Heel and Toe Films, Shore Z Productions and Bad Hat Harry Productions
Lost • ABC • Grass Skirt Productions and ABC Studios
Mad Men • AMC • Lionsgate Television

--While I don't like Damages or Lost, I don't find either truly aggressively stupid, and the other noms seem reasonable, even if Life (particularly) or Life on Mars or Burn Notice or Sons of Anarchy, or even True Blood or In Treatment needed to be left off, I'm not sure that Big Love quite deserved to be on. But it's certainly better, and more intelligent and artistically ambitious, than the first two (the enigma-fest and the hugger-mugger legal soap, I mean). At least the voters didn't feel the need to throw a sop to such obvious tripe as Gray's Anatomy this year.

If I were to choose for these categories, I'd probably give the statues to Samantha Who? and Life, and among the nominees probably to House and The Office (despite some weak episodes this season of the latter), with regrets for 30 Rock and Breaking Bad.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday's "Forgotten" Books: DELIGHT by J. B. Priestley and FANCIES AND GOODNIGHTS by John Collier

The Contento Index for Fancies and Goodnights, Doubleday 1950 (pagination from the current, NYRBP edition):

1 · Bottle Party · ss, 1939
9 · De Mortuis · ss New Yorker Jul 18 ’42
16 · Evening Primrose · ss, 1940
28 · Witch’s Money · ss New Yorker May 6 ’39
40 · Are You Too Late Or Was I Too Early · ss New Yorker Apr 14 ’51
44 · Fallen Star · ss
56 · The Touch of Nutmeg Makes It · ss New Yorker May 3 ’41
64 · Three Bears Cottage · ss
70 · Pictures in the Fire · ss
84 · Wet Saturday · ss New Yorker, 1938
91 · Squirrels Have Bright Eyes · ss
97 · Half-Way to Hell · ss The Devil and All, Nonesuch Press, 1934
104 · The Lady on the Grey · ss New Yorker Jun 16 ’51
112 · Incident on a Lake · ss New Yorker Jul 26 ’41
118 · Over Insurance · ss
124 · Old Acquaintance · ss
132 · The Frog Prince · ss
138 · Season of Mists · ss
146 · Great Possibilities · ss
154 · Without Benefit of Galsworthy · ss
159 · The Devil, George, and Rosie · ss The Devil and All, Nonesuch Press, 1934
178 · Ah, the University · ss
182 · Back for Christmas · ss New Yorker, 1939
188 · Another American Tragedy · ss New Yorker Jun 1 ’40
195 · Collaboration · ss
202 · Midnight Blue · ss New Yorker Jan 22 ’38
208 · Gavin O’Leary · ss, 1945
217 · If Youth Knew If Age Could · ss
228 · Thus I Refute Beelzy · ss Atlantic Monthly Oct ’40
233 · Special Delivery · nv, 1941
249 · Rope Enough · ss New Yorker Nov 18 ’39
255 · Little Memento · ss New Yorker Sep 17 ’38
260 · Green Thoughts · ss Harper’s May ’31
275 · Romance Lingers, Adventure Lives · ss
279 · Bird of Prey · ss Presenting Moonshine, New York: Viking, 1941
287 · Variation on a Theme · ss London: Grayson, 1935
299 · Night! Youth! Paris! and the Moon! · ss Presenting Moonshine, New York: Viking, 1941
304 · The Steel Cat · ss Lilliput Feb ’41
311 · Sleeping Beauty · ss Harper’s Bazaar (UK) May ’38
327 · Interpretation of a Dream · ss New Yorker May 5 ’51
333 · Mary · ss Harper’s Bazaar May ’39
346 · Hell Hath No Fury · ss The Devil and All, Nonesuch Press, 1934
352 · In the Cards · ss, 1951
358 · The Invisible Dove Dancer of Strathpheen Island · ss Presenting Moonshine, New York: Viking, 1941
365 · The Right Side · ss The Devil and All, Nonesuch Press, 1934
370 · Spring Fever · ss
378 · Youth from Vienna · ss
398 · The Possession of Angela Bradshaw · ss The Devil and All, Nonesuch Press, 1934
403 · Cancel All I Said · ss
415 · The Chaser · ss New Yorker Dec 28 ’40

Delight is the More Forgotten Book here, a collection of essays by the often brilliant fiction-writer and playwright J. B. Priestley, whom I'd first read for his horror fiction when I was very young, about the sort of things that actually delighted him, oddly enough. He apparently wrote them to cheer himself as much as anything, undergoing at the time some ongoing dental as well as financial problems. Meanwhile, the Collier collection is not nearly forgotten by the standards of most the books cited in this series, and is indeed in print, quite deservedly so, from the New York Review of Books Press...but there was a long stretch during which that the only form of the book available in the US, at least, was the ridiculously abridged (and widely found in library booksales and other secondhand sources) Time Reading Program edition. At least in the '70s, the Collier was in print as a component of the The John Collier Reader, which also included some newer short fiction and the novel His Monkey Wife, in part perhaps Collier's answer to David Garnett's Lady into Fox.

Aside from both men being connections between the Edwardians who helped form their, and my, esthetic senses (Kipling, Wells, the Bensons, Wharton, et al.) and their fellow writers, slightly younger, working similar modes from mid-century onward (Shirley Jackson, Robert Bloch, Fritz Leiber, Muriel Spark), it's also notable how different their approaches were...Collier (1901-1980) was quite open about taking his rage and compressing it into his lapidary prose, sharp and funny and easily cutting whenever he wanted it to be...while Priestley (1894-1984) was, if not inherently gentle, at least drawn to the desire to be as generous of spirit as his "perverse," "peevish" nature would allow. Collier, with the other folks cited, was a major force in reshaping the horror story in the mid-20th century, largely through the stories collected here...Priestley's influence was more diffuse, as he was less focused on any one form. Collier leads off his collection with a story that makes a joke of gang-rape, and it's typical of Collier that it's a brilliantly conceived and well-told joke; Priestley reninds you of the joy of being able to wear essentially what one chooses (his example of this being long trousers, versus the knickers he was required to wear as a child) and eat what one chooses (the sparkling mineral water in foreign hotels standing in for this in that essay). Collier wants to debunk romance and Romance, even while spinning out much of the basis of contemporary "ubrban" or "real-world" fantasy; Priestley, while noting that he's always been a "leftish intellectual," yearns at least at times for a life in an idyllic principality.

Priestley recorded a fine album of readings from Delight, audible here.

Two of my lifetime favorites.

Please see Patti Abbott's blog for the other choices for this week.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Friday's "Forgotten" Books: GUMMITCH AND FRIENDS by Fritz Leiber (and friends) (Donald M. Grant, Publishers 1993)

The Contento Index:
Gummitch & Friends Fritz Leiber (Donald M. Grant 1-880418-18-5, Feb ’93, $30.00, 222pp, hc, cover by Alicia Austin); Collection of 16 stories and sketches by Leiber and six poems by Margo Skinner (plus one by Poul Anderson) about cats, with an introduction by Leiber, an afterword by Margo Skinner, and a number of appreciations of Leiber. A slipcased 1,000 copy limited edition (-17-7, $60.00) is also available, signed by Margo Skinner Leiber and Roger Gerberding, and containing 34 additional pages of various tributes written just after Leiber’s death. Order from Donald M. Grant, PO Box 187, Hampton Falls NH 03844.
1 · Preface · Ann R. Howland · pr
3 · Fritz Leiber, Felines and Son · Justin Leiber · ms
6 · Fritz Leiber · Poul Anderson · ms
9 · Ballade of a Loss, Fritz Leiber: 1910-1992 · Karen Anderson · pm
11 · Fritz Leiber · Robert Bloch · ms
13 · Fritz Leiber · Ray Bradbury · ms
15 · Fritz Leiber · Ramsey Campbell · ms
17 · Remembering Fritz Leiber · Catherine Crook de Camp · ms
19 · The Leiber - de Camp Duel · L. Sprague de Camp · ms
21 · ...And Last Words · Harlan Ellison · ms
22 · A Few Too Few Words · Harlan Ellison · ms
25 · Fritz Leiber · Dennis Etchison · ms
27 · Fritz Leiber · Stephen King · ms
30 · Emancipation Proclamation · Judith Merril · ms
32 · Fritz Leiber · Andre Norton · ms
33 · Fritz Leiber · Frank M. Robinson · ms
11 · Introduction · in
· Cat Stories
19 · Space-Time for Springers [Gummitch] · ss Star Science Fiction Stories #4, ed. Frederik Pohl, Ballantine, 1958
39 · Kreativity for Kats [Gummitch] · ss Galaxy Apr ’61
53 · Cat’s Cradle · ss The Book of Fritz Leiber, DAW, 1974
75 · The Cat Hotel [Gummitch] · ss F&SF Oct ’83
97 · Thrice the Brinded Cat · ss *
107 · The Lotus Eaters · ss F&SF Oct ’72
115 · Cat Three · ss F&SF Oct ’73
127 · The Bump · ss Infinity #4, ed. Robert Hoskins, Lancer, 1972
133 · The Great San Francisco Glacier · ss A Fantasy Reader, ed. Jeff Frane & Jack Rems, 1981
143 · Ship of Shadows · na F&SF Jul ’69
· Cat Poems
207 · Earthbound · Margo Skinner · pm As Green As Emeraude, Dawn Heron Press, 1990
209 · God and the Cat · Margo Skinner · pm As Green As Emeraude, Dawn Heron Press, 1990
211 · A Sinister of Siamese · Margo Skinner · pm As Green As Emeraude, Dawn Heron Press, 1990
213 · Lullaby for a Cat Names Fatima · Margo Skinner · pm As Green As Emeraude, Dawn Heron Press, 1990
215 · Origin of the Species · Karen Anderson · pm F&SF Jun ’58
217 · Sestina of the Cat in the Doorway · Poul Anderson · pm Smorgasbord, 1959
219 · Afterword · Margo Skinner · aw

I'm breaking my perhaps cardinal rule with this one--this collection, meant originally to be a celebration of Fritz Leiber's great love of cats, and perhaps particularly of the cat character Gummitch, modeled in part on a small cat that Jonquil and Fritz Leiber kept in the '50s and '60s, and then suddenly expanded to become a memorial volume for Leiber, is still in print.

And it's a handsome thing, with a slipcase and charming illustration (including an illo for the humanoid/felinoid Tigerishka, from the novel The least favored of the Leiber novels I've read, but one which has its following. The two probably indespensible stories in the book are two of Leiber's most famous, "Space-Time for Springers" (which introduced Gummith and his people, including the analogs for Jonquil and Fritz Leiber, and with their son Justin transmogrified into a troubled daugher), and "Ship of Shadows" (published after Jonquil's death, a story of a man desperatedly trying to swim out of chemical dependency, even as Leiber himself was at that time, with the not so gentle prodding of a sentient and voluble cat).

The rest of the Gummitch stories are not up to "Space-Time," but it was a good idea to bring them all together. As noted, Leiber's death, not quite sudden, turned this into a memorial volume, and the econmia from Leiber's friends (including Margo Skinner, his companion in thier last years...she died with a year or so of his passing). The short essays vary in quality, some more impeded by grief than others (and some by folks closer to Leiber than some of the others).

This is not the Leiber volume for the beginning reader of this genius, though it's good thing to have, for the simple elegance of the book-making and the better contributions, from Leiber and others (I wish I could find some good in Skinner's poetry, but I don't). Cleveland Amory (or Dewey) -fan cat lovers are not, on the whole, the natural audience for this book, etiher...but if you already know Leiber's Conjure Wife and You're All Alone, Our Lady of Darkness and The Big Time, the Fafhrd and Gray Mouser saga, and so many brilliant shorter fictions...this is a book you will eventually need to read.

Please see Patti Abbott's blog for more "forgotten" books for this week.