Friday, September 23, 2011

FFB: THE WORLD FANTASY AWARDS, Volume Two, edited by Fritz Leiber and Stuart David Schiff (Doubleday, 1980)

courtesy the Contento index:

The World Fantasy Awards Volume Two ed. Stuart David Schiff & Fritz Leiber (Doubleday 0-385-15380-5, 1980, $10.95, 224pp, hc) Cover painting by Roger Dean.

· Preface · Stuart David Schiff · pr
· Introduction: Terror, Mystery, Wonder · Fritz Leiber · in
· The Whimper of Whipped Dogs · Harlan Ellison · ss Bad Moon Rising, ed. Thomas M. Disch, Harper & Row, 1973
· Jerusalem’s Lot · Stephen King · nv Night Shift, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1978
· The October Game · Ray Bradbury · ss Weird Tales Mar ’48; AHMM Jun ’57
· Smoke Ghost · Fritz Leiber · ss Unknown Oct ’41
· Belsen Express · Fritz Leiber · ss The Second Book of Fritz Leiber, DAW, 1975
· Special Award: Professional, Donald M. Grant · Misc. · bg
· The King’s Shadow Has No Limits [Dr. Eszterhazy] · Avram Davidson · ss Whispers Dec ’75
· The Ghastly Priest Doth Reign · Manly Wade Wellman · ss F&SF Mar ’75
· A Visitor from Egypt · Frank Belknap Long · ss Weird Tales Sep ’30
· It Only Comes Out at Night · Dennis Etchison · ss Frights, ed. Kirby McCauley, St. Martins, 1976
· The Barrow Troll · David Drake · ss Whispers Dec ’75
· Special Award: Non-Professional, Carcosa · Stuart David Schiff · bg
· Two Suns Setting [Kane] · Karl Edward Wagner · nv Fantastic May ’76
· The Companion · Ramsey Campbell · ss Frights, ed. Kirby McCauley, St. Martins, 1976
· Best Artist: Frank Frazetta · Roger Dean · bg
· There’s a Long, Long Trail A-Winding · Russell Kirk · nv Frights, ed. Kirby McCauley, St. Martins, 1976
· Appendix: World Fantasy Awards 1973-1976 · Misc. · bi

-between pages 106 and 107, two-sided plates of two illustrations each from Tim Kirk and Stephen Fabian are included.

Perhaps even more than the first volume, edited by Gahan Wilson who had also designed the Howard, or HP Lovecraft bust that was the actual physical World Fantasy Award statue, this book is an essential slice through the fantasy field in the 1970s, and reaching forward and backward...though the women are remarkably absent in this volume (Patricia McKillip and Betty Ballantine at least were presences in the first)...except in the not insignificant role of being some of the editors who shepherded the careers of these writers along, and in Jonquil Leiber's case taking the initiative to write first to H. P. Lovecraft, bringing her new husband and his writing partner Harry Fischer to HPL's attention, and all three into the corresponding "Lovecraft Circle." Leiber's introductory essay, which I've reread for the first time in thirty years, notes this in the course of its leisurely, but densely-packed, passage in response to Lovecraft's personal note, criticizing earlier major horror-fiction writers including Poe for not sufficiently engaging the cosmic (Leiber ultimately decides Lovecraft is too sweeping...I should say so). The essay, indeed about "Terror, Mystery, Wonder," also responds to and expands upon "Supernatural Horror in Literature," Lovecraft's hugely influential essay, and particularly adds the actor Leiber's love of fantasy film, particularly that of Ingmar Bergman and Jean Cocteau, to the discussion. I'm going to need to read the essay again, and it by itself would justify the book (or its purchase) even without the often brilliant fiction and fine examples of visual art (and useful reportage about the awards) also offered.

If anything, the fiction selections for this second volume, which was meant (on its oddly delayed basis) to collect and cover the second and third annual Howard awards honorees, are even better than those of the first, including a mix of the winning and nominated short fiction, Stephen King's pendant story to his second novel, and selections from the collections of those who won for those collections or for life achievement; if Whispers magazine, Schiff's baby, and the original anthology Frights, edited by Kirby McCauley, are overrepresented, that is not truly damaging to this book nor the experience of reading it, particularly three decades later (particularly given that Whispers was the best fantasy/horror-fiction magazine of the '70s, Frights one of the best original anthologies); it also doesn't hurt that F&SF, Fantastic and other contemporary sources are represented, as well, and it can probably be forgiven that "The October Game," Bradbury's entry, isn't a fantasy (though a hell of a story, reprinted in the Hitchcock magazine in part because AH wanted to, and was eventually able to, adapt it for his television series). Arguable Spoiler****: Jeff Segal reminds me that the good Drake story, which I haven't yet reread, is also not quite fantasticated as it plays out.

Inasmuch as my copy, just purchased last week for a few dollars (it turns out to have been signed by Bradbury, Etchison and Campbell, in 1988 to judge by Bradbury's signature), was obtained with far greater ease than adolescent I could've found it for sale in 1980 (when I borrowed a public library copy to read it), I'd recommend doing the same...there are worse gifts, as a nice mix of the epochal ("Smoke Ghost") and the utterly brilliant (the Davidson, the Wagner) and the Campbell story King called the best "postwar horror story I have read"...and nobody here not at least trying to swing for the fences.

How casually we can treat our treasures, which, of course, is what FFB and similar projects (such as continuing columns in the fiction magazines F&SF and Tin House) are all about...for more of today's books, please see Patti Abbott's blog.


George said...

That table of contents has plenty of gems on it!

Todd Mason said...

Yes, it's considerably easier to isolate the non-gems.

Richard Moore said...

Not sure how I missed picking up this anthology, other than the fact that in 1980 my oldest daughter was a year old and another was on the way and I was preparing to move to Washington. Makes me tired thinking about it. But I will look for a copy now. I'm familiar with most of the stories as I subscribed to Whispers, Fantastic, and most of the other mags. Whispers was an impressive publication and it was a joyful day when an issue arrived.

The year 1980 was when I met Karl Wagner at the Deep South Con in Atlanta after corresponding with him for a time before. After years of correspondence I drifted away from Karl but he was on top of the world in 1980. What a wonderful talent! His best stories are worthy of many readings. I prefer his present day horror stories to Kane but perhaps that is because I have not recently read the Kane. Bless his memory. He knew the horror field as well or better than anyone.

And Fritz Leiber! The November 1959 All-Leiber issue of Fantastic converted me.

Here is another book you've convinced me I have to order. And I thank you Todd.

Todd Mason said...

Well, I doubt you'll be too upset when this arrives, either...and thanks for the comment! I like Wagner's contemporary horror, too, but he was one of the great writers of S&S...and Kane never strayed too much away from horror. Wagner was also kind enough to praise my first published short story.

Among the more unusual ways that Leiber was unique...the only person to have special issues of all three of FANTASTIC (1959), FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION (1969) and WHISPERS (1979) devoted to him, though only the first was comprised almost exclusively of his fiction...