Friday, August 26, 2011

FFM: EPOCH, Fall 1955; ELLERY QUEEN'S MYSTERY MAGAZINE (and F&SF), September 1955

I mentioned in an FFB post a few weeks back*** that I'd recently purchased a short stack of Epoch, the Cornell-based literary magazine that in its first, Fall 1947 issue featured a short story by young lion Ray Bradbury and poems by old lion e. e. cummings and early-middle-years lion John Ciardi, and while I didn't have that issue nor the one with Joyce Carol Oates's, well, epochal "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?", I did have the Fall 1955 (8th anniversary) issue with two poems by the late Joanna Russ, who would've been 18 at time of publication and probably newly matriculated. The issue also featured a short story by R. V. Cassill and a poem by Lysander Kemp, and these along with the Russ poems might've been just as much at home on the contents page of EQMM's sister magazine The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, though the Philip Roth short story in the same issue (which Barry Malzberg advises me was his first to be published) might push the TOC in a more Partisan Review direction; scientist-poet Theodore Melnechuk pushes it back a little.

Meanwhile, in this, the 70th anniversary year of publication for Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, it only seemed fitting to take up the 14th anniversary issue, September 1955, as close as they could get to accuracy given that the first issue was dated Fall 1941. (The editorial half of "Ellery Queen," Frederic Dannay, or perhaps someone else high up on staff, decided to fudge it inside the magazine, at least, and call this issue, erroneously, the 15th anniversary.)

So, these two would've been on better newsstands at about the same time, with EQMM running 35c a copy and Epoch 75c.

As Douglas Greene indexed the issue for the FictionMags Index:

Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine (Including Black Mask Magazine) [v 26 #3, No. 142, September 1955] ed. Ellery Queen (Mercury Publications, 35¢, 144pp, digest s/b, cover by George Salter) Managing editor Robert P. Mills. "15th Anniversary issue." [sic]

3 · For Men Only [Insp. Kyle] · Roy Vickers · nv; continued on p. 125.
22 · Murder at the Poe Shrine · Nedra Tyre · ss
35 · The Most Exciting Show in Town · Cornell Woolrich · nv Detective Fiction Weekly May 16 1936, as “Double Feature”; In EQMM’s Black Mask Magazine section.
50 · Turtle Race · Paul W. Fairman · ss; In EQMM’s Black Mask Magazine section.
60 · Star Witness · Allan Vaughan Elston · ss Dime Detective Magazine Aug 1 1934; The American Magazine, May 1952, as “Caballero Alegre”.
70 · The Devil and Mr. Wooller · R. J. Tilley · ss; Department of “First Stories”.
77 · Double Your Money [Ellery Queen] · Ellery Queen · ss This Week Sep 30 1951, as “The Vanishing Wizard”; collected in Queen’s Q.B.I.: Queen’s Bureau of Investigation (Little, Brown, 1954).
83 · What Did Poor Brown Do · Mark Twain · ex (r); from chapter II of Following the Equator.
90 · A Very Odd Case Indeed [John Appleby] · Michael Innes · vi (r); Probably from The Evening Standard.
93 · The Man Who Made People Mad · Mark Van Doren · ss
105 · Killers Three: (3) First Time Machine · Fredric Brown · vi; The title in the TOC is “The First Time Machine”.
106 · EQMM’s Detective Directory · Robert P. Mills · br
108 · Dead Pigeon · Jules Archer · vi Esquire Dec 1951
111 · The Splinter · Mary Roberts Rinehart · ss

A fairly typical mix of reprints and new fiction for EQMM in those years, with its "Black Mask" section (a feature recently revived after some decades' absence in the magazine) populated by a Woolrich reprint and a Paul Fairman original, with accompanying note that fudges Fairman's career history a bit as well, soft-pedaling his work with Howard Browne at the Ziff-Davis pulp and digest magazines and omitting his very short tenure as the founding editor of If, the sf magazine Fairman did his best to make a weak echo of Browne's Amazing...which by 1955, Fairman would be editing, along with its companion Fantastic, as almost inarguably the worst editor of either. In the late 1950s, Fairman would serve for some years as Managing Editor of EQMM, as well.

Fredric Brown's vignette, the third in a sequence that year, "Killers 3," "The First Time Machine," is indicative of Dannay's fondness for the fantasticated crime story, mixed in with the contemporary and historical items; he would publish horror fiction from time to time, as well. The Tyre and the Twain are charming.

The Epoch issue runs thus:

Epoch [v. VII, #1, Fall 1955] edited by Baxter Hathaway, Morris Bishop, Carl Hartman, Robert O. Brown, Hazard Adams, Herbert Goldstone, and Bruce R. Park. "Non-Resident": John A. Sessions and Harvey Shapiro; Asssitant Editors: Steven Katz, Barbara D. Long, Ronald Sukenick and Nina Zippin. (Epoch Associates, publishers; quarterly; $3/year; approx. 8.5 x 5.5"; 64pp plus covers).

3· When Old Age Shall This Generation Waste · R.V. Cassill· ss
20· Savors · T. Melnechuk · pm
21· False Autumn · Rosanne Smith-Robinson · ss
33· Tenebrae: Seven Variations · Frederick Eckman · pm
35· Two Poems · Joanna Russ · pm
· Botanical Gardens · pm
· A La Mode · pm
36· Where the Tiger Walks · Chris Bjerknes · pm
37· The Contest for Aaron Gold · Philip Roth · ss
51· Orpheus Again · Lysander Kemp · pm
53· Sing, and Singing Praise · Peter Cohen · pm
54· Two Poems · Richard Hugo · pm
· Anti-Social Easter · pm
· The Gull Hardly Explained · pm
55· War in the Pacific · Bruce Cutler · pm
60· Notes, Reviews, Speculations · Anon. · ed

The Cassill is a fine representation of the more cosmopolitan society of the mid-'50s, and how said folks had to tread carefully among the louts so easily stirred up all around them (among other points about the Literary Scene in NYC at that time); the Russ poems are very promising, the Melnechuck poem very clever in its cummings-esque usage of typography for multiple layers of meaning. The Roth story is decent early work, rather more sentimental than he was later likely to indulge in.

Meanwhile, the September issue of F&SF, arguably its sixth anniversary issue, featured (as per ISFDb)--edited by Anthony Boucher; cover by Chesley Bonestell (Vol 9, No 3, Whole No 52 ". . . Nearly in the Usual Manner" is an anecdote about Robert Fulton from "Temple of Reason"; it was contributed by Rita Gottesman.):

3 • The Man Who Cried "Sheep!" • novelette by J. T. McIntosh
32 • ". . . Nearly in the Usual Manner" • (1801) • (filler) essay by uncredited
33 • The Fourth Man • (1933) • short story by Agatha Christie
47 • The Science Screen • reviews by Charles Beaumont
52 • Personal Monster • short story by Margaret St. Clair [as by Idris Seabright]
63 • Too Many Bears • (1949) • short story by Eric St. Clair
68 • Old Story • short story by Ward Moore
83 • The Music on the Hill • (1911) • short story by Saki
88 • Recommended Reading • reviews by Anthony Boucher
93 • Rudolph • (1954) • short story by Thyra Samter Winslow
99 • Pottage • [The People] • novelette by Zenna Henderson
127 • Too Far • vignette by Fredric Brown

--the Saki being another of his most telling horror stories, the Henderson a key story in her "the People" series, the St. Clairs fine examples of what they could do, and the Brown one of the best recomplicated punning vignettes I can recall reading.

So, that would've been a good month...

***I'd mentioned this in the FFB post noting Carol Emshwiller's retrospective collection, and yesterday this news about Emshwiller, from her son, Stony, on FaceBook:

My 90-year-old mom, Carol Emshwiller, had a "cardiac event" (which
apparently is, to a "heart attack," what "breaking wind" is to "farting").
She's doing okay, thankfully. Since she's a life-long atheist (second
generation), asking for your prayers would no doubt piss her off royally. So
instead I'll ask you to track down one of her stories or books on-line (or
even in a bookstore) and give a few lines (or more) a read. She's awesome.

Get well soon, Mom!

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


George said...

The covers on EQMM and F&SF were way more provocative back in the 1950s. Then the trend in more recent decades trended towards blandness.

Todd Mason said...

I'm not sure that's quite fair, George...(and you didn't have the chance to see it, but the EPOCHcovers have improved enormously over the decades, albeit the all-text format did have a certain quiet dignity). EQMM covers went very dull in the subscriber copies with the very next issue after this, while the newsstand covers for the next several years were devoted to photography of Betty Page and colleagues, then, not long after the sale of EQ to Davis Publications, they went to (usually) all-text covers (and increasingly cheap printing, from the same folks in Holyoke, MA who had been working for all the marginal magazines of the '50s), a slump they didn't really start to pull out of till the latter '70s, when Davis bought ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S MYSTERY MAGAZINE, as well (Davis actually improved their covers, albeit in the early '80s, not by much). F&SF covers have always been at least as variable as EQMM's, but never went through as sustained an ugly period, and I think they've had good covers throughout their career, with most of the lesser ones the work of Ron Walotsky in the '70s, and a few others in other decades.

Cullen Gallagher said...

I really like those George Salter EQMM covers. I have a few of them here I picked up at the local mystery bookstore. They had stories by Fredric Brown, Jim Thompson, and Craig Rice. The owner knows I like those authors, so they held the aside for me. That is one of the perks of being friends with the local bookstore owners.

Todd Mason said...

At least a few of Salter's covers for EQMM have struck me as very weak, though...I like his F&SF covers on balance better, I think that magazine inspired him more. Definitely befriend the much-put-upon booksellers!

Richard Moore said...

Many of the Salter covers were quite striking, more than enough to forgive the weaker ones. I am away from home (ArmadilloCon in Austin, TX), so can't pick out examples.

Nedra Tyre was an interesting writer. I recall enjoying this story and believe it was reprinted a time or two.

Tyre was born in Georgia and began her writing career in that state as well as her career in social work. Her first book RED WINE FIRST was published in Simon and Schuster in 1946 and drew on that social work experience.

Later she turned to mysteries both shorts and novel form with some success. I recall a Celestine Sibley column where she said Nedra was the most accomplished of the Georgia mystery writers.

At some point, she moved to Richmond. I seem to recall that she worked as a librarian. She died in Richmond in 1990. I wish I had written her to tell of my admiration for her work. Although most of her mystery novels did not (IIRC) have paperback reprints, several were quite good.

Alas, as with so many good intentions, I never wrote the letter early in the 1980s and then read an interview with her which said she had lost her sight. I still should have written that letter but didn't.

Todd Mason said...

Well, goodness, Rich...I can certainly share your sense of missed opportunity, in part in not wanting to bother writers I've admired (I passed on an opportunity to meet Fritz Leiber at his apartment; as I've noted here before, I think I'll permanently regret not letting Joe Gores know what an influence he had on me, and thanking him for that)...but I hope, at least, that someone might've been handy to read a letter to Tyre, whose work I've enjoyed when I've come across it (usually, I think, in HITCHCOCK PRESENTS: anthologies and their ilk) always...I should seek out more, including the novels. Hope ArmadilloCon was a blast.

This would be my current favorite example of Salter's weaker EQMM covers, though indeed he did do much, much better ones as well...I still maintain his F&SF covers averaged better.

Richard Moore said...

ArmadilloCon was a blast. Always a pleasure to see pals Joe Lansdale, Bill Crider and James Reasoner. Met Bruce Sterling and Paolo Bacigalupi with great pleasure. Michael Moorcock paid a surprise appearance, now that was a thrill.

I know someone would have read Nedra my letter. But my life was very hectic in those days (and usually) and it is easier to think on the metro about doing something and another to actually do it.

I did write some of those letters. I wrote Ray Palmer while I was in Vietnam. He never answered but I'm sure he got the letter. I wrote Joel Townsley Rogers after I looked him up in the Washington phone book around 1981 and while he was crippled by a stroke, his wife wrote me back and she read him the letter.

There are others but where I was sensitized about this was with Phil Dick. I discovered him in the 1950s and hung on his every word. I assumed he was a super successful writer and it never dawned on me to write him of my admiration.

Then he died, way too soon. And I learned belatedly of his at times hand to mouth existence when a cheerful letter might not have paid the bills but it might provide a bit of egoboo. The man was a genius and I wish I had told him that opinion.

So I have tried to be more outgoing on these letters. Most of the regrets you have are the honest thoughts and admiration that you don't express.

Todd Mason said...

That's why I try to spout off as much as possible...

Rose Lemberg said...

Dear Todd,

Sorry to leave you a comment here, I couldn't find your email. I'm a SF/F poetry editor and I've been, for some time, trying to get my hands on poetry by Joanna Russ. There's not a lot of it floating around. I was very excited to hear about these poems you've discovered, and was wondering if there was any chance I could get a look at these poems?

Thank you very much,

Todd Mason said...

(I sent them along to her, not long after.)(Wonder what the status of a collection or other project might be.)

Paul Fraser said...

I quite like that EQMM Salter cover although I'm not a fan of his early F&SF ones. Bar maybe the April '51 ( and June '55 ( And his title and cover design. I realise that probably makes me some kind of pulp heretic....
As to the Zenna Henderson story in F&SF, I just read through the first book of the series (the magazine versions) and, while I enjoyed it, didn't think it as strong as the first two. IIRC, the next couple rather repeat what has gone on in the first few before getting to the lovely 'Jordan'. How the one before that was a Hugo finalist and not it baffles me.