Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday's "Forgotten"...: FIRST WORLD FANTASY AWARDS edited by Gahan Wilson (Doubleday 1977) and (the album) Jawbox: FOR YOUR OWN SPECIAL SWEETHEART

Cover by Gahan Wilson, of course:

From the Contento Indices:

First World Fantasy Awards ed. Gahan Wilson (New York: Doubleday 0-385-12199-7, Oct ’77, $8.95, 311pp, hc)
9 · Introduction · Gahan Wilson · in
11 · Map of Providence · Gahan Wilson · il
15 · The Convention · Kirby McCauley · ar *
17 · About the Fantasy Awards · Gahan Wilson · ar *
19 · The Awards · Gahan Wilson · bi *
21 · The Bat Is My Brother · Robert Bloch · ss Weird Tales Nov ’44
36 · Beetles · Robert Bloch · ss Weird Tales Dec ’38
46 · Acceptance Speech · Robert Bloch · sp *
53 · About Robert Bloch · Misc. · bg *
55 · from The Forgotten Beasts of Eld · Patricia A. McKillip · ex New York: Atheneum, 1974
63 · An Essay · Robert Aickman · ar *
66 · Pages from a Young Girl’s Journal · Robert Aickman · nv F&SF Feb ’73
97 · The Events at Poroth Farm · T. E. D. Klein · na From Beyond the Dark Gateway #2 ’72
137 · A Father’s Tale [Brigadier Ffellowes] · Sterling E. Lanier · nv F&SF Jul ’74
168 · Sticks · Karl Edward Wagner · nv Whispers Mar ’74
187 · Come Into My Parlor · Manly Wade Wellman · ss The Girl With the Hungry Eyes, ed. Donald A. Wollheim, Avon, 1949
198 · Fearful Rock · Manly Wade Wellman · na Weird Tales Feb ’39 (+2)
253 · About Manly Wade Wellman · Misc. · bg
254 · The Ballantines · Misc. · bg
256 · Lee Brown Coye // An Appreciation · Gahan Wilson · ar Whispers #3 ’74
260 · The Bait [Fafhrd & Gray Mouser] · Fritz Leiber · vi Whispers Dec ’73
263 · The Vampire in America · Manly Wade Wellman · ar Whispers Dec ’73
268 · The Shortest Way [Dama (& Vettius)] · David Drake · ss Whispers Mar ’74
277 · From “Chips and Shavings” · Lee Brown Coye · ar Mid-York Weekly Oct 17 ’63
279 · The Soft Wall · Dennis Etchison · ss Whispers Jul ’74
290 · Toward a Greater Appreciation of H.P. Lovecraft · Dirk W. Mosig · ar Whispers Jul ’73
302 · The Abandoned Boudoir · Joseph Payne Brennan · pm Whispers Jul ’74
302 · Cradle Song for an Abandoned Werewolf [“Cradle Song for a Baby Werewolf”] · H. Warner Munn · pm Whispers Jul ’73
303 · Guillotine · Walter Shedlofsky · pm The Fantastic Acros, 1970
304 · The Farmhouse · David A. Riley · ss New Writings in Horror and the Supernatural #1, ed. David A. Sutton, London: Sphere, 1971; Whispers Jul ’74

Okay, so, more than any other single book, except perhaps the Ellison collection/anthology Partners in Wonder, this one's responsible for my typing this bit of electronically-captured prose...for it was a rather delayed but nonetheless welcome celebration and representation of the First World Fantasy Convention, in Providence, RI, in 1975 (venue chosen in honor of H.P. Lovecraft, in whose likeness the annual award statues, the Howards, are struck, from a design by editor and world-famous cartoonist Wilson. I was aware, distantly, of the fannish subculture that had developed around sf and fantasy, and had spread to help create similar subcultures around crime fiction and comics (and was helping to create one around punk rock as this book was being published, even as it had particularly around folk music in the '60s), but this book is also an invitation to the ongoing World Fantasy Conventions and all their sibling gatherings, publication, etc. Isaac Asimov's introductions to The Hugo Winners volumes and the SFWA Nebula Award anthologies also had a similar effect, but they documented the fannish apparatus rather more sketchily than the speech transcripts, the bits of on-the-scene journalism and other matter usually not published in a trade-press (as opposed to fannish-press) book, left out at libraries where not-particularly-innocent children can stumble right across them (I was already a fan of first Life Achievement Award-winner Robert Bloch, whose stories collected here were more rare [at that time] than good, and of Manly Wade Wellman (his sample stories are better and more representative), and certainly knew of J.P. Brennan's and Robert Aickman's work...but I believe this might've been my first exposure to Dennis Etchison, Fritz Leiber, and certainly to T.E.D. Klein and Patricia McKillip, her excerpt being the major representative of non-horror fantasy in these proceedings (though David Drake, whose work I believe I'd seen in The Year's Best Horror Stories annual, skirts the line there, too). Never did develope a taste for Sterling Lanier's club stories in the Brigadier Ffellowes series, in the tradition of Gerald Kersh and Lord Dunsany, among others (who did it better)...Lanier might be remembered longest for being the editor at the Philly-suburb how-to publisher Chilton who encouraged them to take on a much-rejected epic sf novel by newish writer Frank Herbert, Dune, which gave him some leeway to publish some further fiction titles there, including his own work. And Lee Brown Coye...just the other day, the town of Hamilton, NY, saw an auction to fundraise to preserve a mural Coye did there...all in all, a fine anthology, but a more important document (that Stuart Schiff's Whispers magazine started publishing best-of/new fiction anthologies the next year didn't hurt, either).

The newly rereleased album's cover on DeSoto, and the original Atlantic cover.

Meanwhile, a "forgotten" album is about to be re-released...Jawbox was the best of the punk/postpunk bands to form in DC in the late '80s (better than Fugazi, certainly, and better than such wonderful live acts that recorded poorly as Fidelity Jones or Autoclave...), and they did one superb (incorporating their wonderful ep and another anthology track) and one good album on Dischord Records, the legendary DC-based indie label, and went on to sign with Atlantic Records in 1993, the first of the DC punk bands to follow in the wake of Husker Du to take that gamble (it paid off about as poorly for them as for the Minneapolis band...though, having interviewed Jawbox with my then not yet Ex Donna some months back and having been one of their most voluble fans in the various media available to me at the time ["alternative" newspaper, fanzine, radio--the show Sweet Freedom, actually], I ran into J. Robbins at someone else's concert just after they'd signed the contract and just after I'd sold my first short story, and we wondered just how much of the world was breathlessly awaiting our next steps). Since then, Jawbox has broken up (it's been a dozen years now) and while their members, particularly Kim Coletta, have made a real label out of DeSoto Records (formerly an injoke that various DC sorts would slap on their self-released items), having released among much else an excellent odds and ends collection My Scrapbook of Fatal Accidents and now a remastered version of the first, brilliant Atlantic album, For Your Own Special Sweetheart, which I thought sounded pretty damned good the first time promote this rerelease, the band will be reforming to play on NBC's chat show Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on December 8th. Perhaps a tour will follow, which would be nice.

Here's FYOSS, including the song "Motorist" inspired by J.G. Ballard's novel Crash, recorded well before the David Cronenberg-directed film adaptation.

For more of today's books, please see Patti Abbott's blog.


George said...

FIRST WORLD FANTASY AWARDS is a historically important book, as you point out, Todd. Some would argue that for the next decade or two fantasy became more popular than science fiction. As for JAWBOX: different strokes for different folks.

Evan Lewis said...

Hey, I really enjoyed Partners in Wonder. Good to know there's something else of its caliber.

C. Margery Kempe said...

Words and music -- hurrah! Yes, a real landmark publication, but instead I'm stuck on the newly popularised use of "sketchy" which even one of my adult friends (as opposed to my students) used to mean "dubious" as opposed to less than sharply drawn, which seems to have tipped over that tipping point. A wor din my own time whose meaning has been lost. But isn't that exactly what these represent? Ideas whose "category" has changed in the intervening time?

Todd Mason said...

Well, George, fantasy has Always been more popular than sf, since it can hook into the psyche a little bit can use a wider range of metaphors, at least. But as for what's labelled fantasy by publishers, a linguistics prof from England had a lot more to do with that than did this anthology, or even the award and convention it celebrates.

Evan--Well, as I wrote, the book is a bit of a mixed bag, but then so is PARTNERS. It is, however, an important document no matter how you slice it...and a good read, even if "The Bait" is a charmingly slight F&GM vignette, etc.

Kate--Ah, where does "sketchy" come in? In one of the links? As you know doubt know, sketchy has always suggested vague, not yet filled in, which is an easy step toward that which is dubious or at least can easily be. Somehow the ad campaigns of Skechers shoes should be involved, but almost certainly have not.

It's a pity that the second volume from the convention series was the last (so far)...edited by Fritz Leiber and Stuart David Schiff.

Todd Mason said...

And for the uninitiated, perhaps a quick tour of Jawbox on Rhapsody should include, on FYOSS, "Breathe" and "Motorist" ("Savory" was the minor hit single)...on MY SCRAPBOOK OF FATAL ACCIDENTS, "Bullet Park" (more reminiscent of DC at the time than John Cheever, but nonetheless no colder than the world outside...the first Jawbox song many people heard) and "Apollo Amateur" (the version of "Tongues" is mixed a bit better than the one on NOVELTY)...on GRIPPE, the original EP's "Twister" and "Footbinder" and "Consolation Prize"...

pattinase (abbott) said...

Did you ever get an email from me re: the anthology? I don't have a checkmark next to your name.