Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday's "Forgotten" Books: with a coupla more links...

Yvette Banek: He Done Her Wrong by Stuart Kaminsky

Paul Bishop: The Adventures of Brigadier Gerard by Arthur Conan Doyle

Bill Crider: The Sixth Shotgun by Louis L'Amour

Scott Cupp: Wrack and Roll by Bradley Denton

William F. Deeck: The Lipstick Clue by Richard Goyne

Martin Edwards: Panic Party (aka Mr Pidgeon's Island) by Anthony Berkeley

Jerry House: The Man Who Mastered Time by Ray Cummings

Randy Johnson: The Classic Philip Jose Farmer: 1952-1964

Karyn: Stop Press by Michael Innes

George Kelley: Perfect .38 by William Ard

Rob Kitchin: Anarchy and Old Dogs by Colin Cotterill

K. A. Laity: Between the Angels and the Apes by Alan Moore

B. V. Lawson: The Last Vanity by Hartley Howard

Evan Lewis: Silver Wings by Raoul Whitfield

Steve Lewis: Kat's Cradle by Karen Kijewski; The Case of the Velvet Claws by Erle Stanley Gardner

Todd Mason: The Collected Stories of Carol Emshwiller, Volume 1; Mister Da V. and Other Stories by Kit Reed; A Witch's Dozen by Janet Fox; Jane Quiet, Occult Investigator by K. A. Laity and Elena Steier

Marcia Muller: Slate by Nathan Aldyne

James Reasoner: The Wrong Man by Jack Masterton

Neer: Papa’s Wife by Thyra Ferre Bjorn

John F. Norris: Murderer's Choice by Anna Mary Wells

Juri Nummelin: The Good Son by Todd Strasser; The Inca Death Squad by "Nick Carter" (in this case, Martin Cruz Smith)

Richard Pangburn: Green Shadows, White Whale by Ray Bradbury

Richard Robinson: The Pern Cycle by Anne McCaffrey

Ron Scheer: The Led-Horse Claim by Mary Hallock Foote

Cathi Stoler: the novels and plays of Ira Levin

Dan Stumpf: Diamonds of Death by Borden Chase

Kevin Tipple: It Isn't Easy Being Johnny Style by Patrick K. Jassoy

Patti Abbott will be compiling the list again next week.


The issue including Kit Reed's first published short story...and quite an impressive lot else (please see below):

Essentially four books here, though the last listed is also the first issue of a continuing series of comics devoted to a psychic investigator named in honor of Algernon Blackwood's character John Silence.

The Collected Stories, Volume One...publisher Luis Ortiz keeps having one valuable, if not always cash-cow-like, idea after another, and the brilliant Carol Emshwiller, who has written many very important and many very odd stories in what has been a long career, has also long needed a comprehensive collection of her work...volume two might be a bit shorter, when it appears, as it mostly might be made up of stories still in inventory at magazines and more importantly in the contents of anthologies not yet published. Emshwiller, as the contents list below indicates, after a first sale to a (failing) regional magazine in 1954, started publishing mostly in the magazines edited by Robert Lowndes (the crime-fiction magazines and Future, Science Fiction and SF Quarterly), which were low-budget but open to experimental and off-trail writing (James Blish placed "Common Time" in one; William Tenn "The Liberation of Earth" likewise; Edward Hoch was always happy to note that he was first published by Lowndes). Such early Emshwiller stories as "Hunting Machine" did not often offer many variations on traditional narrative storytelling, but as she noted in her introduction, they came, to one degree or another, from what writer, critic, editor and writing instructor Damon Knight referred to as "deep inside"...they have a powerful resonance that sounds throughout the reader's psyche. This, as even Emshwiller (not the most self-promoting of writers) notes, only strengthened as she continued. Such brilliant, playful and influential work as "Sex and/or Mr. Morrison" and "Strangers" would follow, even as the earlier "Pelt" took another tack on the matter of "Hunting Machine" (both prime candidates for any anthology arguing for animal rights). Not reflected in this collection are her novels, such as the historical westerns Ledoyt and its companion Leaping Man Hill or the animal fantasy Carmen Dog and the challenging novel of alien conquest of Earth, The Mount. What is here is a generous sample of the work that has won her two Nebula awards, the Philip Dick award and the Life Achievement award from the World Fantasy Convention in 1995, as well as devoted readers in several different literary communities. (Please also see Ortiz's Emshwiller: Infinity x 2, a dual biography of Carol and her husband, painter/illustrator/filmmaker Ed Emshwiller, a remarkable book about remarkable subjects.) Here, a few examples of the cover paintings for which Ed Emshwiller used Carol and himself as models (click to enlarge):

Not too different is the CV of Kit Reed, who also writes as Kit Craig (mostly her crime fiction thus); her driver's license presumably tags her Lillian Craig Reed. A decade younger than Emshwiller, she got her professional fiction-writing start half a decade later, in a ridiculously good issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction from late in Anthony Boucher's editorship, for April, ridiculous that I'll give the ISFDb listing of its contents:
5 • Guardian Spirit • novelette by Chad Oliver
39 • The Watchers • poem by Anthony Brode
40 • Obstinate Uncle Otis • [Murchison Morks] • (1941) • shortstory by Robert Arthur
48 • The Grantha Sighting • shortstory by Avram Davidson
56 • The Wait • shortstory by Kit Reed
70 • No Evidence • shortstory by Victoria Lincoln
78 • The Death of Each Day • shortstory by Margaret St. Clair [as by Idris Seabright ]
88 • The Witch of Ramoth • (1953) • shortstory by Mark Van Doren
93 • Recommended Reading (F&SF, April 1958) • [Recommended Reading] • essay by Anthony Boucher
93 •   Review: Spaceways Satellite by Charles Eric Maine • review by Anthony Boucher
93 •   Review: Rocket Power and Space Flight by G. Harry Stine • review by Anthony Boucher
94 •   Review: Wasp by Eric Frank Russell • review by Anthony Boucher
94 •   Review: Year 2018! by James Blish • review by Anthony Boucher
94 •   Review: They'd Rather be Right by Mark Clifton and Frank Riley • review by Anthony Boucher
94 •   Review: The Mind Cage by A. E. van Vogt • review by Anthony Boucher
95 •   Review: The Dreamers by Roger Manvell • review by Anthony Boucher
95 •   Review: Earthman's Burden by Poul Anderson and Gordon R. Dickson • review by Anthony Boucher
95 •   Review: Robots and Changelings by Lester del Rey • review by Anthony Boucher
95 •   Review: Those Idiots from Earth by Richard Wilson • review by Anthony Boucher
95 •   Review: Three Times Infinity by Leo Margulies • review by Anthony Boucher
96 • Broken Circuit • shortstory by Arthur Oesterreicher
100 • A Deskful of Girls • [Change War] • novelette by Fritz Leiber
125 • Poor Little Warrior! • shortstory by Brian W. Aldiss

...with that first story, which Reed, as noted below, had entitled "To Be Taken in a Strange Country" and would place it as such as the lead story in her first collection, Mister Da V. and Other Stories. (Among the other things Emshwiller and Reed share is that their first collections came far too late for any sense of justice in publishing...Reed's book was published in England in 1967 and would await its US edition for six years; Emshwiller's first collection, also her first book, Joy in Our Cause, didn't appear till 1974. The Reed collection also notably lacks any introduction, either to the book or the individual stories, a bit of sadness for those of us who love the headnotes and other interstitials provided by the likes of Isaac Asimov and Harlan Ellison in their books.) "Automatic Tiger" might've been the first Reed story to gain a lot of attention in the fantasy community, a heavily metaphoric tale of a young man who gains enormously in life through the purchase of a remarkably lifelike tiger mechanism, and what fate has in store for them both; it was certainly the first Reed story I read. Reed, too, is expert in resonance and playful wit, as she demonstrates throughout this collection, in her further collections and novels since, and in her short fiction that has appeared in fantastic-fiction, contemporary-mimetic and little, and crime-fiction magazines over the years since; happily, Reed is still writing, as Emshwiller, who has been having some health reverses, might not continue to do, though we can hope the latter is not stymied. One thing that connects such writers as these two, and, say, Kate Wilhelm, who got her start neatly between Emshwiller and Reed and has had a not dissimilarly eclectic career since, is that one senses their exploration of character from the "inside", while such colleagues and similarly complete artists as Theodore Sturgeon, Damon Knight and Fritz Leiber often seem to make their observation of character at a greater auctorial distance, not so much objective as simply more divorced from identification with the characters under discussion and on display.

Including the brilliant Arcana story "Demon and Demoiselle"; the Malzberg story is actually a (very funny) collaboration with Bill Pronzini, "Another Burnt-Out Case":
Also true of the younger, later-starting, and now late (as noted here at the time of her death's announcement) Janet Fox, who published the helpful market-guide and general-interest magazine about writers and the small press, Scavenger's Newsletter, for more than a decade; she was the first to buy my creative work, a poem, to be published in a national forum. More importantly, she began publishing her own fiction, with "Materialist"...another Robert Lowndes "discovery," I belatedly remember, for his Magazine of Horror in 1970, and the first in a series of horror stories in which she takes cliches and makes them happily (if usually disturbingly) literal. Perhaps the best of this series, "Screaming to Get Out" (from Weirdbook, the co-publisher Ganley's long-running little magazine of fantasy and horror) is included in this, 2003's A Witch's Dozen, the only collection of Fox's fiction to be published during her lifetime; the only other books she would publish were a series of novels under the pseudonym Alex McDonough. This continues to gnaw at me, given the excellence of these thirteen stories, which includes three of her fantasy series-characters, Scorpia and Arcana and Morrien, with a new story of the last as the book's one original publication. Well-illustrated by Stephen Fabian, it's a volume worth seeking out, and it needs a companion. Even in what little we have of her, she's one of the best sword and sorcery writers and one of the better horror writers we've seen.

A full-color page from the next Jane Quiet adventure (Quiet's future clients pictured rather than she herself; click to enlarge considerably):
And my friend Kate, K. A. Laity, and her friend Elena Steier decided to collaborate on a comic, as noted above, about a psychic investigator named in honor of John Silence; they decided further the challenge along by making this first adventure, at least, one with no dialog whatsoever, allowing Jane Quiet to live up to her name, at least as far as speaking was concerned. Steier's one proviso, as Laity notes in the introduction on the inside front cover, was that the monster be kick-ass...and so it is, as Lovecraftian (though, unlike HPL's, actually visible and seen in detail) as Mike Mignola (Hellboy) could ask for. Quiet and her confederates investigate the events that have killed one teen girl and hospitalized another, seemingly (to the survivor's terrified parents; we the "readers" are less uncertain) involving their daughter and her friend's dabbling in black magic. (Injokes: Quiet's office and probable residence is in a building that also might just house Algernon Blackwood, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Edith Wharton, or their ghosts; from some angles and in some panels, Steier draws Quiet to resemble Laity.) Things don't all go the way Quiet and company hope, but the ending, in yet another coincidence I've belatedly realized, rather reverses the situation found in Leiber's "A Deskful of Girls" (the cover story in the ridiculously good issue of F&SF detailed above). This issue, too, is great fun, and worth the procurement effort, if your local comics store is so foolish as to not have it at hand. Laity might be the literary child of Angela Carter and Peter Cook and Italo Calvino, and Steier the artistic child of Trina Robbins and Gahan Wilson and Jules Feiffer, and there's not a little dash of Joan Aiken in both, but none of that estranges them at all from the work of the other women too insufficiently celebrated here...

...and did I happen to mention that I recently picked up a 1955 issue of the Cornell-based little magazine Epoch with some of the very young Joanna Russ's poetry in it? Inasmuch as it also has stories by R. V. Cassil and Lysander Kemp, it could've been an issue of F&SF as easily as Epoch, though the Philip Roth story would nudge it more in the Partisan Review direction (a 1962 issue I bought along with the elder features just two long stories by two young men just getting their legs at the time, Ronald Sukenick and Tom Pynchon, as the latter signs himself...this would also be the magazine which, a few years later, published the career-jump-starter for Joyce Carol Oates, "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?"). Eh, later.

The Collected Stories of Carol Emshwiller, Volume 1, edited by Luis Ortiz and Carol Emshwiller (Non-Stop Press 2011, cover painting by Ed Emshwiller)
contents courtesy of Non-Stop Press:
Table of Contents:
Foreword by Carol Emshwiller
Built For Pleasure (Long Island Suburban, November 1954)
The Victim (Smashing Detective,Vol. 4, No. 2, September 1955)
This Thing Called Love (Future Science Fiction, no. 28, December 1955)
Love Me Again (Science Fiction Quarterly, Vol. 4, No. 2, February 1956)
The Piece Thing (Science Fiction Quarterly, May 1956)
Bingo And Bongo (Future Science Fiction, #31, Winter 1956-1957)
Nightmare Call (Future Science Fiction, No. 32, Spring 1957)
Murray Is For Murder (Fast Action Detective and Mystery, March 1957)
The Coming (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, May 1957)
Hunting Machine (Science Fiction Stories, May 1957)
Hands (Double-Action Detective, #7, Summer, 1957)
You’ll Feel Better… (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, July 1957)
Two-Step For Six Legs (Science Fiction Quarterly, Vol. 5, No. 2, August 1957)
Baby (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, February 1958)
Idol’s Eye (Future Science Fiction, #35, February 1958)
Pelt (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, November 1958)
Day At The Beach (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, August 1959)
Puritan Planet (Science Fiction Stories, January 1960)
But Soft What Light… (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, April 1966)
Chicken Icarus (Cavalier, October 1966)
Eohippus (Transatlantic Review, 1967)
Sex and/or Mr. Morrison (Dangerous Visions, ed. Harlan Ellison, Doubleday, 1967)
Krashaw (A City Sampler, July 1967)
Lib (Triquarterly, 1968; New Worlds, March 1968)
Animal (Orbit 4, ed. Damon Knight, G.P. Putnam, 1968)
Methapyrilene Hydrochloride Sometimes Helps (New Worlds, July 1968)
White Dove (New Worlds, No. 188, March 1969)
I Love You (Epoch, vol. xix, no. 1, 1969)
The Queen of Sleep (New Directions, Vol. 22; New Worlds, 1970)
Peninsula (The Richmond Review, 1970)
Debut (Orbit 6, ed. D. Knight, G.P. Putnam, 1970)
The Institute (Alchemy and Academe, ed. Anne McCaffrey, Doubleday, 1970)
A Possible Episode In The Picaresque Adventures Of Mr. J.H.B. Monstrosee (Quark/2, Paperback Library, February 1971)
Woman Waiting (Orbit 7, ed. D. Knight, G.P. Putnam, 1970)
Yes, Virginia (Transatlantic Review, 1971)
Al (Orbit 10, ed. D. Knight, G.P. Putnam, 1972)
Strangers (Bad Moon Rising, ed. Thomas Disch, Harper & Row, 1973)
The Childhood of the Human Hero (Showcase, Harper & Row, 1973)
Autobiography (Joy In Our Cause, a Carol Emshwiller collection, Harper & Row, 1974)
Maybe Another Long March Across China 80,000 Strong (Joy In Our Cause, Harper & Row, 1974)
Joy in Our Cause (Joy In Our Cause, Harper & Row, 1974)
Biography of an Uncircumcised Man (Including Interview) (Joy In Our Cause, Harper & Row, 1974)
To the Association (Joy In Our Cause, Harper & Row, 1974)
Destinations, Premonitions and the Nature of Anxiety (Joy In Our Cause, Harper & Row, 1974)
Dog Is Dead (Joy In Our Cause, Harper & Row, 1974)
One Part Of The Self Is Always Tall And Dark (Confrontation No. 14, 1977)
Escape Is No Accident (2076: The American Tricentennial, ed. Edward Bryant, Pyramid Books, 1977)
Thanne Longen Folk To Goen On Pilgrimages (The Little Magazine, vol. 11, no. 2, summer 1977)
Expecting Sunshine and Getting It (Croton Review, Vol. 1, No. 1, summer 1978)
Omens (Edges, ed. Ursula Le Guin and Virginia Kidd, Pocket Books, 1980)
Abominable (Orbit 21, ed. D. Knight, Harper & Row, 1980)
The Start Of The End Of It All (Universe 11, ed. Terry Carr, Doubleday, 1981)
Slowly Bumbling in the Void (New Directions 42, 1981)
Queen Kong (13th Moon, 1982)
The Futility of Fixed Positions (Portland Review, Vol. 28, No. 2, 1982)
Mental Health and Its Alternative (Confrontation, Nos. 25-26, 1983)
Verging on the Pertinent (13th Moon, Vol. vii, Nos. 1-2, 1984)
There Is No God But Bog (Pulpsmith, Summer 1985)
Eclipse (The Little Magazine, vol. 15, no. 2, 1986)
The Circular Library of Stones (Omni, Feb. 1987)
If Not Forever, When? (PsychCritique, vol. 2, no. 2, 1987)
Vilcabamba (Twilight Zone Magazine, August 1987)
Fledged (Omni, December 1988)
The Promise Of Undying Love (Verging on the Pertinent, a Carol Emshwiller collection, Coffee House Press, 1989)
What Every Woman Knows (Verging on the Pertinent, Coffee House Press, 1989)
Not Burning (Verging on the Pertinent, Coffee House Press, 1989)
Being Mysterious Strangers from Distant Shores (The Village Voice Literary Supplement, March 1989)
Clerestory (Croton Review, No. 9)
Living At The Center (Ice River, No. 4, June 1989)
Yukon (Verging on the Pertinent, Coffee House Press, 1989)
As If (Verging on the Pertinent, Coffee House Press, 1989)
Secrets of the Native Tongue (Ascent, vol. 14, no. 3, 1989)
Moon Songs (The Start of the End of it All, a Carol Emshwiller collection, The Women’s Press, 1990)
Acceptance Speech (The Start of the End of It All, The Women’s Press, 1990)
Looking Down (Omni, January 1990)
Peri (Strange Plasma #3 1990)
If The Word Was To The Wise (The Start of the End of It All, Mercury House, 1991)
There Is No Evil Angel But Love (The Start of the End of It All, Mercury House, 1991)
Draculalucard (The Start of the End of It All, Mercury House 1991)
Emissary (The Start of the End of It All, Mercury House 1991)
Mrs. Jones (Omni, August 1993)
Venus Rising (Edgewood Press, 1992, a chapbook)
Modillion (Strange Plasma, no. 8 1994; Green Mountain Review, 1994)
After Shock (Century, no.3, September-October 1995)
The Project (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, August 2001)
Foster Mother (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, February 2001)
Creature (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Oct./Nov. 2001)
Grandma (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, March 2002)
Notes On Stories
About The Author
from the Locus Index:
A Witch’s Dozen by Janet Fox (Wildside Press/W. Paul Ganley 1-59224-048-8, Jul 2003, $30.00, 175pp, hc, cover by Stephen E. Fabian) Collection of 13 fantasy and horror stories, one original. This is a print-on-demand edition, co-published by Wildside Press and W. Paul Ganley. Paperback edition also available.

7 · Witches · ss Tales by Moonlight, ed. Jessica Amanda Salmonson, Robert T. Garcia, 1983
19 · Small Magic · ss Amazing Jan ’82
41 · In the Kingdom of the Thorn [Scorpia] · ss Whispers Oct ’83
52 · A Witch in Time [Arcana] · ss Fantastic Sep ’73
68 · Demon and Demoiselle [Arcana] · nv Fantastic Oct ’78
88 · Morrien’s Bitch [Morrien & Riska] · ss Amazons!, ed. Jessica Amanda Salmonson, DAW, 1979
106 · Screaming to Get Out · ss Weirdbook #12 ’77
113 · Valentine · ss Shadows #2, ed. Charles L. Grant, Doubleday, 1979
123 · Taking Care of Bertie · ss Eldritch Tales #11 ’85
130 · The Skins You Love to Touch · ss Shadows #9, ed. Charles L. Grant, Doubleday, 1986
136 · Garage Sale · ss Twilight Zone Aug ’82
142 · Surrogate · ss Fears, ed. Charles L. Grant, Berkley, 1983
149 · Alliances [Morrien & Riska] · nv *

from the Contento index:
Mister Da V. and Other Stories Kit Reed (London: Faber and Faber, 1967, 21/-, 219pp, hc); Also in pb (Berkley Medallion Jul ’73).

11 · To Be Taken in a Strange Country [“The Wait”] · ss F&SF Apr ’58
31 · Devotion · ss F&SF Jun ’58
42 · The Reign of Tarquin the Tall · ss F&SF Jul ’58
59 · Ordeal [“The Quest”] · nv Fantastic Universe Jan ’60
(70) · Judas Bomb · ss F&SF Apr ’61 (in the pb)
95 · Piggy · ss F&SF Aug ’61
113 · Mister Da V. · ss Seventeen May ’62
128 · The New You · ss F&SF Sep ’62
141 · Automatic Tiger · ss F&SF Mar ’64
(136) · I Am Through with Bus Trips · ss *
172 · Golden Acres · nv *
195 · At Central · ss *
209 · Janell Harmon’s Testament · ss *
Script by K. A. Laity; art by Elena Steier; published in 2008 by Steier and Laity; 40pp.

Aside from the images of the review items (from their publishers' sites), images courtesy of Galactic Central or ISFDb and their Visco files.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

July's "Forgotten" Music: THE WITCHES OF LUBLIN

The Witches of Lublin is a radio drama with music...mostly klezmer, or proto-klezmer Middle-European Jewish folk/dance music, and a thoroughly enjoyable one. While the writing (by fantasist and radio vet Ellen Kushner, Elizabeth Schwartz and musician Yale Strom) is better than the performances of some of the cast--while Tovah Feldsuh is unsurprisingly the most impressive of the actors, Neil Gaiman as an amateur actor doesn't give the worst performance, but close--the music is consistently good (musicians: Yale Strom, composer/arranger and violin; Elizabeth Schwartz, singer; Alexander Fedoriouk, tsimbl [somewhat similar to a simpler autoharp]; "Sprocket" as bassist; Peter Stan, accordion). The story makes its points, about sexism and other sorts of chauvinism (including, unsurprisingly, Christian hostility to Jews...aspects that reminded me how much better-off we are in many ways over larger chunks of territory in the world than we have been in decades and centuries past...not to suggest that we've achieved paradise by any means, but how far we've come...).

For more of this month's music picks, please see Scott Parker's blog.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Late Overlooked A/V entry: REFLECTION OF LOVE

Molly Brown's cheerfully goofy retelling of the Narcissus myth, in narrated slideshow format with the conceit that it's from a romance comic book (you might want to blow up the image from this embed by double clicking, and read the comic-bookish ads at the end...squelchy!)(Though, as too often for some of my friends' taste, I suspect the women in the production are better looking by most standards than the men...a slight flaw, perhaps, in a retelling of Narcissus and Echo's tale...).

As the notes note: "Winner of the Quickflick London Golden Quickie Award for best short film on the theme of: "Mirror," awarded by audience vote at the Quickflick London screening of 26 July, 2011. And also very silly. ;) Hope you enjoy it."

Friday, July 8, 2011

FFB: the titles/reviewers links roundup

Yvette Banek: Detective by Parnell Hall
Joe Barone: The Smell of the Night by Andrea Camilleri (translated by Stephen Sartarelli)
Bill Crider: Unfaithful Servant by Timothy Harris
Scott Cupp: The Best of Randall Garrett edited by Robert Silverberg
Martin Edwards: Crossword Mystery by E.R.Punshon
Barry Ergang (at Kevin Tipple's blog): Catspaw Ordeal by Edward Ronns
Jerry House: The Room in the Dragon Volant by J. Sheridan Le Fanu
Randy Johnson: The Santa Dolores Stage by W. C. Tuttle
George Kelley: Wolf of the Steppes by Harold Lamb
Margot Kinberg: Speak For the Dead by Margaret Yorke
Rob Kitchin: Red Riding 1974 by David Peace
K. A. Laity: The Fallen by Dave Simpson
B.V. Lawson: Danger in D.C.: Cat Crimes in the Nation's Capital edited by Ed Gorman and M. H. Greenberg; Murder in Japan: Japanese Stories of Crime and Detection edited by M. H. Greenberg and John L. Apostolou
Evan Lewis: The Gracie Allen Murder Case by S.S. Van Dine
William F. Deeck at Steve Lewis's Mystery*File: Poor Prisoner’s Defense by Richard Sheldon
Todd Mason: "Turn Off the Sky" by Ray Nelson; "Deadly Beloved" by William Campbell Gault; "Four Deuces" by Stuart Dybek
John F. Norris: Wind, Sand and Stars by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (translated by Lewis Galantière)
Richard L. Pangburn: High Hunt by David Eddings; Death is a Lonely Business by Ray Bradbury
Eric Peterson: What of Terry Conniston? by Brian Garfield
David Rachels: Round Trip [a.k.a. Too Many Girls] by Don Tracy
James Reasoner: Slocum and the Invaders by "Jake Logan"
Gerard Saylor: Run, Boy, Run by Uri Orlev; Otto Dix edited by Otto Conzelman
Michael Slind: The Hot Rock by Donald Westlake
Kerrie Smith: Gallowglass by Barbara Vine (Ruth Rendell)

FFB: long stories: Ray Nelson, "Turn Off the Sky" (1963); William Campbell Gault, "Deadly Beloved" (1956); Stuart Dybek, "Four Deuces" (2011)

Three novelets and/or novellas this week, from old favorites...including one I've been meaning to read for more than thirty years, the Nelson.
"Turn Off the Sky" appears to be the first professionally-published fiction of Ray Nelson (who has also signed his fiction R. Faraday Nelson), and first and so far I think only has appeared in the August, 1963, issue of F&SF, getting a pretty striking Ed Emshwiller cover illustration, and sharing cover-space with Asimov (the pop-science columnist for F&SF; he and editor Avram Davidson didn't get along very well; previous editor Robert Mills, who had asked Asimov to start the column, was referred to by Asimov ungrammatically as the Kindly Editor; typically, Davidson took this as a cue to refer to himself as the Cruelly Editor) and Heinlein (whose influence on Nelson in this story is strong, and whose not atypically flawed fantasy novel Glory Road saw the second of three parts of its serialization in this issue)(typically flawed in that it had started well and with typically pointed Heinleinian asides, about the Vietnam War and other matters, that helped ground it in reality, only to see those asides take over the story and remake it into a dull lecture about Heinlein's worldview, not too far along). Davidson mentions in his long headnote that he'd read the Nelson four years before, and had been looking for an opportunity to help it into print; Nelson was already a well-known or Big Name Fan, having been active as a cartoonist and writer for fanzines for some years, and credited as the inventor of the propeller beanie as the shorthand indicator of sf fannishness in those cartoons (this has since gone well beyond sf fandom to be a nearly universally-recognized mark of the enthusiastic geek in all sorts of geekish subcultural portrayal). Nelson was also already well-known in fandom for his sharp observation, and sophisticated take on matters both within and outside the subculture, and that's reflected in the story as well.

It's a very much Beat sf story, when there were relatively few such in evidence (William Burroughs was just beginning to publish his own within the several years previous, and Fritz Leiber, Damon Knight, Davidson, Heinlein and a few others, particularly Theodore Sturgeon, were first exploring the Beat subcultural tendencies, tentatively yet for more than mere outre background, as many of their peers had been doing); the influence of Jack Kerouac on the approach and the content is at least as strong as Heinlein's, even if Heinlein is name-checked at one point. In an affluent, post-scarcity social-democratic world state of the not terribly distant future, among an often shallow and conformist but influential bohemian fringe, a youngish African-American pacifist anarchist named Abelard Rosenburg interacts with greater or lesser degrees of disillusionment with his fellow bohos, and escapes from an increasingly hostile party (a "clean" musician was being forcibly introduced to opiates, with little Rosenburg could do to help him, in a stinging satire of countercultural peer pressure) and meets his dream woman, Reva, on the subway. Reva engages him intellectually, emotionally and sexually, but is too much a free spirit to choose to stick with Abelard initially; she vanishes after a day or so till a fortuitous reunion at a coffee shop, when she's in the company of a FSU (or "fuck shit up") pseudo-anarchist would-be terrorist who goes by Little Brother (whether this was further inspiration to Cory Doctorow's much later work is unknown to me); Little Brother, who admires Lenin and Trotsky (those murderers of anarchists and enemies of anarchism) more than anyone else, is all barely-contained id, and attacks Abelard, losing Reva to Abelard as a result. Reva and Abelard enjoy a bit of an idyll, but Little Brother isn't through with them yet.

A clever and mostly engaging tale, with indicators of Early Work apparent here and there (such later work as "Nightfall on the Dead Sea" was much more thoroughly assured, if also less ambitious), and worth the effort to procure the back-issue; not long after, F&SF would publish the Nelson vignette "Eight O'Clock in the Morning," which would much later serve as the basis for the rather less mordant film They Live!. I would've loved "Sky" that much more when I was thirteen, when the not altogether dissimilar John Varley novella "The Persistence of Vision" was blowing my doors off. Following the Nelson in the issue is a Calvin W. Demmon vignette, Demmon being another fannish writer who contributed mostly clever and disturbing vignettes to Davidson's F&SF and later fiction to Ted White's magazines, but is underappreciated; such similar writers as Samuel Delany and Chet Anderson and Richard Brautigan and Thomas Pynchon were just beginning to publish at about the same time, and the still-new Carol Emshwiller and Joanna Russ to begin to take on similar matter.

Time grows tight, so I will note for now that William Campbell Gault's "Deadly Beloved" is a Joe Puma story, wherein Puma is, typically, as quick with his fists when he needs to be and as attractive to women who are game as most of his peers in fictional private detection in the 1950s, but Gault never lets the tropes take over the story, nor force him to be less than verisimilitudinous; Puma knows better, as a former boxer, than to pick fistfights he's likely to lose, and is acutely aware that not every woman is actually attracted to him, even when some of them might pretend to be. The web of jealousy surrounding the murder of a mildly philandering unsuccessful actor (and all but gigolo) is reasonably well worked-out here, but the characterization of Puma and the other characters, even when they could just as easily be straight stock ciphers, is the biggest draw. I haven't yet checked if this Manhunt novelet (October, 1956) has been collected or anthologized, but Richard Moore is kind enough to remind us in comments that it's included in Bill Pronzini's collection of Gault short fiction, Marksman and Other Stories (Crippen and Landru).

Stuart Dybek's "Four Deuces" is the longest piece of fiction in the current issue, 13, of A Public Space, and I haven't quite finished it yet, but it's a fine example of Dybek's way with character and pacing, as well. Rosie, the owner and widow of the co-owner of the Chicago bar which shares its name with the story, gives an account to a customer of how the bar came to be, and her late husband's obsession with Rosie's apparent ability to pick winning horses, which led up to the bar's purchase; the story is all in the form of her side of the conversation.

All three stories are perhaps linked in my mind in part because of the diversity of ethnicities of the characters running through them; ameliorated tragedies (and love stories), all, too.

I first read Nelson with "Nightfall on the Dead Sea" (1978) and "Eight O'Clock in the Morning" (1963) in, respectively, new and back issues of F&SF in 1978.

I first read Gault with his pulp-magazine auto-racing short stories in anthologies and at least one of his YA baseball or basketball novels in the mid-1970s (sports fiction was his first love, and if there was anyone better at it, I don't know of them...though a few about as good).

I first read Dybek with "Horror Movie" in the first F&SF I ever actually saw, January 1976, which leads off with Joanna Russ's "My Boat."

For more of today's books (most of them, at least, books!), please see Patti Abbott's blog.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

a few more links: Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V: 5 July

[7pm, 5 July:] Sorry about the delay; I was visiting family and the computer I would've used to post the links was in need of upgrade. [9am, 6 July: some new links added]

Bill Crider: The Bad and the Beautiful
Brian Arnold: Legends of the Superheroes
Dan Stumpf: Captive Wild Woman; Jungle Woman; Jungle Captive
Ed Gorman: The Seventh Victim
Evan Lewis: Punch Drunks
Iba Dawson: Devil in a Blue Dress
James Reasoner: Covington Cross
Jeff Meyerson: Man Push Cart; Chop Shop (see comments following post at the link)
Jerry House: The Adventures of Captain Marvel (1941)
Kate Laity: ReaderCon
Michael Shonk: T.H.E. Cat; Department S
Patti Abbott: Flirting
Pearce Duncan: eXistenZ
Randy Johnson: The Magnetic Monster; Red Planet Mars
Robert Napier: RPF and Other Abuses
Rod Lott: Jackie Chan's Crime Force
Ron Scheer: Rancho Notorious
"Rupert Pupkin": Going in Style, et al.
Samuel Wilson: La Rebelion de las Muertas aka Vengeance of the Zombies aka Walk of the Dead
Scott Cupp: Cronos (1993)
Steve Lewis: Good Girls Go to Paris
Tise Vahimagi: Prime-Time Suspects: Themes and Strands (Durbridge Cliffhangers)
Todd Mason: Blue Cha Cha (please see below)
Walter Albert: The Texan (1930)
Yvette Banek: Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror

related matters:
Barna Donovan: Conspiracy Films: A Tour of Dark Places in the American Conscious
Ed Gorman: John Carpenter
Ed South: Wet Hot American Summer; North Shore; The Jungle Book (1967)
George Kelley: John Sayles's novel Moment in the Sun
Paul Bishop: Paul Bishop, ABC-TV star
Poggiali/DeCirce: The Plastic Dome of Norma Jean
Stephen Gallagher: pitching...and catching?; Ray Harryhausen

Blue Cha Cha (2005, as Shen hai or "Deep Sea"), which can be seen here in streaming video as part of Link TV's Made in Taiwan series, is an elegant, well-shot, very sad film about a youngish, conventionally pretty woman named A Yu, released from prison at the beginning of the film, who arrives on the doorstep of her previously-released jailhouse friend Anne (or An-An), whom at first seems like she might be her mother (another character eventually assumes that Yu is Anne's sister). However, her first bit of advice to Yu is that the latter "lose" her prison-prescribed medication for compulsive, even psychotic, behavior. Anne runs a hostess bar, and after a day or so of Yu working the bar, Anne pimps Yu out on long-term assignment with one of her regulars; Yu seems rather ill-suited to the role of paid companion as she tends to bite the fingers of her john (the skin quotient of this film, fwiw, is about as little as that for US broadcast television, but the necessary points are made). The john "returns" her shortly thereafter, asking Anne to "take care" of her; Yu resents being treated like disposable goods, and slaps him and snatches his cell phone as he attempts to dismiss her and engage in business conversation; he tries to beat her, but Anne won't allow it, and throws him out. Anne gets her a job at an electronics factory, where Yu's supervisor takes a shine to her, even though she seems odd, to say the least; she asks if she can move in with him, and since he agrees, she tells Anne she's moving out and thus enrages Anne, who has warned Yu about taking men too seriously, while also seeming to find the younger woman more a burden than a friend. (Anne's stint in prison had been as a result of something her former lover had done, she says; we don't find out why Yu was incarcerated till very late in the film.) Yu notes repeatedly that she doesn't know how to flip the switch off inside herself, which will allow her to not act out; and Anne and the factory supervisor/boyfriend doggedly and with greater exasperation continue to deal with Yu, as she attempts to make her way in the world. There is a happier ending than much of what leads up to it, and none too soon, but this is worth seeing, as an interesting take on the treatment of mental illness in another culture, and how it isn't terribly different from how it's dealt with in this one, and also as a portrait of a woman trying her best to re-enter society and find a way to her own happiness and to help further that of those she cares about. Ex-MandoPop idol Tarcy Su (Yu), Yi-Ching Lu (Anne), and Wei Lee (as Hao/"Howard" the supervisor/boyfriend) are all very good, and the film is fully comparable to US indies...such as Paper Covers Rock, a not dissimilar effort I recommend, as well.

Friday, July 1, 2011

FFB: THE EVERGREEN REVIEW READER: 1957-66 edited by Barney Rosset et al.; SMILING THROUGH THE APOCALYPSE, edited by Harold Hayes, et al.

Two of the more clangorous magazines of the 1960s, I think we can all agree, were the newly energized Esquire, essentially the daddy of all the men's magazines of its era (even if the photography stayed away from the mild explicitness of Playboy and most of its imitators, Playboy having been almost an offshoot and certainly in part a response to Esquire by Esky staffer Hugh Hefner) and the ever more challenging, mildly avant-garde Evergreen Review, the rather big little magazine published by Grove Press, the more "literary" and intellectually grounded of the intertwined enterprises that also were publishing fairly adventurous, even avant-garde, porn as the Olympia Press. Though I believe The Story of O was available under both imprints. Meanwhile, very indirectly, Esquire was even a sort of daddy even to men's sweat magazines, as Argosy particularly was turning itself in the earliest 1950s from a wide-spectrum (though emphasizing adventure fiction) pulp magazine into a sort of more machismic, less ambitious version of Esquire, a policy which it maintained till its end in the 1970s (and its brief rebirth as a paleoconservative politics and lifestyle magazine)...a model that the likes of Adventure would emulate, and shortly thereafter the success of Saga and the newly sleazier (post-Ken Purdy) True would help inspire even more seedy and down-market "true" men's adventure titles.

Meanwhile, back at the fathership, new editor Harold Hayes was, to say the least, livelying up the magazine starting in 1963, getting some of the best and some of the more innovative reporters and essayists to work...often taking the typically inane celebrity profile into new territory, or simply adding depth and style to it (such as Gay Talese's famous "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold," famous also in sf/fantasy circles for Talese's account of Sinatra's peevish hassling of Harlan Ellison, and Ellison's refusal to truckle causing the club management to try to eject him). Norman Mailer unsurprisingly took further opportunity to make a public ass of himself in these pages, and Gary Willis, in covering Martin Luther King, Jr. and other people and matters, found in Esquire one of his primary markets as he moved leftward away from his early work for National Review, as one of William Buckley's great discoveries.
Talese, Tom Wolfe, and other "New Journalists" got that ball rolling in one of its most widely-read fora here. It was an impressive achievement, and then suddenly in 1973, Hayes was gone and Esquire was back to being the mildly engaging, mostly trivial magazine it remains.

Hardcover and (below) paperback editions of the anthology.

Meanwhile, as noted, Evergreen was both more self-consciously "literary" and was started as the kind of magazine that would publish Samuel Beckett, as well as help serve as an organ to advertise other Grove Press writers and help push the same boundaries the book imprints were striving to widen or break. After all, "Pauline Reage" was published in very explicit excerpt early on in the magazine, and not she alone, along with nude photography by Salvador Dali and others, and eventually a satiric as well as sexually semi-explicit (no genitals, a fair amount of semi-parodic misogynist perversity) serial comic, "The Adventures of Phoebe Zeit-Geist," which was very much of the mindset that scripter Michael O'Donoghue would bring to National Lampoon and Saturday Night Live, only its targets tended to be more literary and hipsterish. But Jorge Luis Borges was as much in evidence here as Terry Southern (even as Southern but not Borges was in Esquire), and Evergreen never gave up its ambition to be a first-rate literary magazine even as it also became a crusade for First Amendment rights. And mostly succeeded. And, then, in 1973, it was gone...the press 4 Walls 8 Windows has published a second Reader collecting from 1967-73.

For more of today's books, please see Patti Abbott's blog. And the goofballs at Time had at least the good taste to ask Patti's daughter Megan to mention a book she's reading this summer...