Monday, October 31, 2011

among the best stories I first encountered in K-12 textbooks:

My 6th grade Scott, Foresman reading text

It saddens me to report that not a one of these below was actually assigned or read, as far as I know, by anyone in the classes but me, even when the text was in use in a classroom...though, for example, Ray Bradbury's "All Summer in a Day" was so employed, from the 7th grade text referred to below. More guidelines for our teacher to use the Bradbury, I suspect. And, of course, she recognized that name.

"Desertion" by Clifford Simak...a Scott, Foresman 7th-grade reading text

"Brightside Crossing" by Alan Nourse...the same text

The Door in the Wall, a novella by Marguerite de Angeli, which won the 1950 Newbery Award, found in a paperback text anthology on sale at a W.T. Grant's for 33.3c ca. 1974

"The Summer of the Beautiful White Horse" by William Saroyan (the first chapter of My Name is Aram), which I first read in a slightly battered copy of a junior-high-school reading text when I was about ten or so.

A basketball novel by William Campbell Gault (probably not Showboat in the Back Court, but an earlier one), which was the final work in a eighth-grade text for slow readers (part of the Scott, Foresman Open Highways series, if I remember correctly) that I read when I was in fifth grade (having read a few of Gault's sports-pulp short stories in various auto-racing and other sports-fiction anthologies)

"The Joker's Greatest Triumph" by Donald Barthelme, in an American literature text from 11th grade...almost certainly also a Scott, Foresman...(we did read, in class, Arthur Miller's All My Sons from that text...)

"Los dos reyes y los dos laberintos" by Jorge Luis Borges, in Imaginacion y fantasia edited by Donald Yates and John Dalbor, a literature text for Anglophone Spanish language students I picked up as a remainder somewhere ca. 1979 (certainly not the first Borges I read, but the first Borges in the original...was even able to read it to my AP Spanish class with apparently reasonably good comprehension on my fellow-students' part)

and, cheating a bit by citing classroom-use magazines rather than texts:
"Test" by Ted Thomas, reprinted in an issue of Read, the Xerox Educational Services magazine, ca. 1976

"The Battle of Chickamauga" by Ambrose Bierce, reprinted in either Scholastic Scope or Literary Cavalcade, the Scholastic Magazines publications, ca. 1976

Read through its ages...
in 1962
in 1971, looking much as I remember it

in 2011

The 1950s textbooks I would occasionally collect, such as Adventure Bound (below left)  often seemed rather exotic. Certainly exuberant and expensively-produced. Earlier similar items often seemed very drab in comparison.

Friday, October 28, 2011

A selection of Mike Hinge digest-sized magazine covers (and a few other items):

Close inspection will give evidence of some pretty impressive literary contribution to these issues, as well. Mike Hinge, Rest in Glory.

Phoebe and Jack Gaughan: two digest-sized magazine covers

painting by Phoebe and Jack Gaughan
Two striking covers I'd not seen before today, one definitely a collaboration between Phoebe and Jack Gaughan, the latter the overworked staff artist for the Galaxy group of fiction magazines in their early years as properties of UPD, Universal Publishing and Distributing, best known for erotica publishing but moving into less "shady" lines such as Tandem and Award at the turn of the 1970s...while, shall we put it, not really keeping the accounting books too well.
painting by Jack Gaughan

But Mr. Gaughan did some brilliant work for them, which I've highlighted here before, but I wasn't aware of Ms. Gaughan's work...but, then, I haven't yet taken the opportunity to read my recently-purchased copy of Luis Ortiz's biography and collection of images, Outermost.

A short film profiling Phoebe Gaughan, RIP 2017.

FFB: THE HOUSE OF THE NIGHTMARE, Kathleen Lines, ed.; several Bill Pronzini anthologies (some edited with Barry Malzberg and MH Greenberg)

Well, an old horror enthusiast like myself couldn't hold out against Hallowe'en all month, now, could I? (Even if Blogspot pulls a little trick on me in dumping the final several drafts of this message, with no means of recovery. Imagine my carefully considered response, albeit silent.) Particularly as one of the first half-dozen most important books of my youthful development as a horror reader remained unremarked:

Contents courtesy of Vault of Evil:

The House Of The Nightmare and Other Eerie Tales
Chosen by Kathleen Lines

Originally published by The Bodley Head (1967)
Later (paperback) editions published by Puffin Books; US edition 1968 from Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Foreword - Kathleen Lines
The House of the Nightmare - Edward Lucas White
The Hauntings at Thorhallstead - Allen French
His Own Number - William Croft Dickinson
Gabriel-Ernest - Saki
Hand in Glove - Elizabeth Bowen
Mr Fox - Traditional
Curfew - L.M. Boston
John Bartine's Watch - Ambrose Bierce
The Monkey's Paw - W.W. Jacobs
My Grandfather, Hendry Watty - Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch
A School Story - M.R. James
The Red Cane - E.F. Bozman
A Diagnosis of Death - Ambrose Bierce
Bad Company - Walter de la Mare
Proof - Henry Cecil
The Amulet - Thomas Raddall
The Hair - A.J. Alan
The Return of the Native - William Croft Dickinson
The Earlier Service - Margaret Irwin
'Here I am Again!' - Charles G.S.-, Esq.
The Man who Died at Sea - Rosemary Sutcliff
The Wish Hounds - Kathleen Hunt
The Man in the Road - F.M. Pilkington
My Haunted Houses - M. Joyce Dixon
In Search of a Ghost - Eric Roberts
The Limping Man of Makin-Meang - Sir Arthur Grimble

This would be my first encounter, at age 8 in 1973, with Elizabeth Bowen, W.W. Jacobs and his "Paw," M.R. James, E. L. White, Lucy Boston, only the third and most memorable so far with Saki, similarly early experience with Ambrose Bierce (interesting that he and only he gets two entries...both their excellence and their public-domain status might've played a role) and Walter de la Mare (particularly as prose-writer and not poet); the only prose I've probably seen from Henry Cecil, whose name I'd forgotten for decades, though I might well've seen some of his television scripting, for Alfred Hitchcock Presents:; his "Proof" was a deft, neat (in all senses) vignette that is particularly the kind to stick with a young reader (not unlike, say, Jerome Bixby's "Trace" or Ted Thomas's "Test" or Joseph Payne Brennan's "Levitation"). And, with the retelling of the "Mr. Fox" folktale, I had my first insight into the true meaning of my given name. The "true" encounters section was vaguely irritating, to the young skeptic I was, even when contributed by Rosemary Sutcliff, but I was a catholic reader at the time, willing to give the account a chance to spook me on its own terms (after all, slightly later, the usually fraudulently "true" Ghosts was one of the less-bad DC horror comics available, and at least one Strange, Unsolved Mysteries volume, probably from Dell but I have no memory of author, was kicking around the house with some interestingly sexually-explicit accounts among its other "true" hauntings and such). Lines, primarily a writer for young readers, would eventually produce a comparable sequel anthology, The Haunted and the Haunters (1975; with the US edition having a much better package), by which time I'd already been more than introduced to the Algernon Blackwood (multiply represented) and Joan Aiken and even Anthony Boucher and Graham Greene it proffered, though the title story was one of my first encounters with Bulwer-Lytton, before the bad-fiction contest in his dishonor was founded.

While Richard Robinson did Midnight Specials as one of his FFBs in 2009, I note it was the first anthology edited by Bill Pronzini I'd read, just after it was published in 1977 (and for good reason as it's only the second he published, I think, after a fine-looking collaboration with Joe Gores I'd missed altogether); it turned out to be an excellent and comparable supplement and peer to the eclectic Alfred Hitchcock Presents: and similar anthologies, edited by Robert Arthur, Harold Q. Masur and others, I was tearing through in the mid-'70s. All built up around trains and train-travel, it ranges from Barry Malzberg's first-publication-here sf story (which gave its title as well to one of his richest collections, the 1980 wrap-up of the previous decade) to my own first encounters with Edith Wharton, Irvin S. Cobb, and Howard Schoenfeld (like William Stafford interesting not only for his art but for his pacifism), among an otherwise stellar lineup (including a few already old favorites of mine, very much including the Bloch and Noyes stories). Pronzini's own fiction I was familiar with from various sources, mostly Hitchcock-branded (including the back-issues of AH's Mystery Magazine I'd read), but his name in the editorial by-line became one to look for. Turns out, that was a good bet.

(All the Pronzini indices from the Contento/Locus/Stephensen-Payne sites.)
Midnight Specials ed. Bill Pronzini (Bobbs-Merrill 0-672-52308-6, 1977, $10.95, hc); Also available in pb (Avon Apr ’78).
· The Signalman · Charles Dickens · ss All the Year Round Christmas, 1866
· The Shooting of Curly Dan · John Lutz · ss EQMM Aug ’73
· The Invalid’s Story · Mark Twain · ss The Stolen White Elephant, Webster, 1882
· A Journey · Edith Wharton · ss Greater Inclination, Scribner, 1899
· The Problem of the Locked Caboose [Dr. Sam Hawthorne] · Edward D. Hoch · nv EQMM May ’76
· Midnight Express · Alfred Noyes · ss This Week Nov 3 ’35
· Faith, Hope and Charity [Judge William Pitman Priest] · Irvin S. Cobb · nv Cosmopolitan Apr ’30; EQMM Apr ’52
· Dead Man · James M. Cain · ss The American Mercury Mar ’36; EQMM Oct ’52
· The Phantom of the Subway [“You Pays Your Nickel”] · Cornell Woolrich · nv Argosy Aug 22 ’36; EQMM Jun ’83
· The Man on B-17 [as by Stephen Grendon] · August Derleth · ss Weird Tales May ’50
· The Three Good Witnesses · Harold Lamb · ss Blue Book Jan ’45
· Snowball in July [“The Phantom Train”; Ellery Queen] · Ellery Queen · ss This Week Aug 31 ’52; EQMM Jul ’56
· All of God’s Children Got Shoes · Howard Schoenfeld · ss EQMM Aug ’53
· The Sound of Murder · William P. McGivern · ss Bluebook Oct ’52; ; as “The Last Word”, EQMM Feb ’63
· The Train · Charles Beaumont · ss The Hunger and Other Stories, Putnam, 1957
· That Hell-Bound Train · Robert Bloch · ss F&SF Sep ’58
· Inspector Maigret Deduces [Insp. Jules Maigret] · Georges Simenon · ss, 1944; EQMM Nov ’66
· Sweet Fever · Bill Pronzini · ss EQMM Dec ’76
· The Man Who Loved the Midnight Lady · Barry N. Malzberg · ss *
· Bibliography · Misc. Material · bi

Pronzini began editing one impressive anthology after another, many of them, from the end of the '70s till the imprint's fading away, for Arbor House, who really didn't know how to package a horror book, as the covers for these examples make entirely too clear (when The Arbor House Necropolis was reprinted by a remainder publisher as Tales of the Dead, it actually had a better and subtler cover [see below], which might be almost a unique occurrence in such relations). Nonetheless, the series was uniformly excellent, featuring as it did a lot of my favorite chestnuts along with good to great less-obvious or blatantly overlooked items to fit each monstrous category. I might've added Malzberg's "Prowl" to Werewolf!, but Malzberg (or his Doubleday editor) had left it out of his Midnight Lady collection, too, and perhaps I like it a lot better than Barry does.

Werewolf! ed. Bill Pronzini (Arbor House 0-87795-210-8, 1979, $12.95, 201pp, hc); subtitled "A Chrestomathy of Lycanthropy"

xiii · Introduction · Bill Pronzini · in
1 · Loups-Garous · Avram Davidson · pm F&SF Aug ’71
5 · The Were-Wolf · Clemence Housman · nv Atalanta Dec, 1890
37 · The Wolf · Guy de Maupassant · ss
43 · The Mark of the Beast · Rudyard Kipling · ss The Pioneer Jul 12&14, 1890
55 · Dracula’s Guest [Dracula] · Bram Stoker · ss Dracula’s Guest, London: Routledge, 1914; written in 1897 as part of Dracula, this chapter was omitted from the published book for reasons of length.
67 · Gabriel-Ernest · Saki · ss The Westminster Gazette May 29 ’09
77 · There Shall Be No Darkness · James Blish · nv Thrilling Wonder Stories Apr ’50
127 · Nightshapes · Barry N. Malzberg · ss *
135 · The Hound · Fritz Leiber · ss Weird Tales Nov ’42
149 · Wolves Don’t Cry · Bruce Elliott · ss F&SF Apr ’54
160 · Lila the Werewolf [“Farrell and Lila the Werewolf”; Sam Farrell] · Peter S. Beagle · nv guabi #1 ’69
183 · A Prophecy of Monsters · Clark Ashton Smith · vi F&SF Oct ’54
187 · Full Sun · Brian W. Aldiss · ss Orbit 2, ed. Damon Knight, Berkley Medallion, 1967
199 · Bibliography · Misc. · bi

As the very fact of the of the omnibus status of the Necropolis suggests, Werewolf! was just one of a line of single-theme volumes, though by 1981 Arbor House was apparently suspecting that large anthologies were easier to market, in trade paperback as well as hardcover, than smaller ones...the Necropolis has been much easier to find in libraries and such over the years than, say, component volume Ghoul! published on its own (the omnibus title just sounded that much better on the New Adds list, too, I suspect). It's also worth noting that after Werewolf!, Pronzini was buying new stories for anthologies in the series, which would continue as the themed anthologies gave way to the more eclectic volumes below.

The Arbor House Necropolis ed. Bill Pronzini (Arbor House 0-87795-338-4, Nov ’81, $11.50, 850pp, tp); Contains the books Voodoo!, Mummy! and Ghoul!. Tales of the Dead (Bonanza/Crown 1986), an instant remainder reprint, drops "The White Rabbit" by Joe R. Lansdale (originally published in the first edition).

· Preface · Bill Pronzini · pr
17 · Voodoo! · ed. Bill Pronzini · an New York: Arbor House, 1980; A Chrestomathy of Necromancy
19 · Introduction · Bill Pronzini · in
33 · Papa Benjamin [“Dark Melody of Madness”] · Cornell Woolrich · nv Dime Mystery Magazine Jul ’35
77 · “...Dead Men Working in the Cane Fields” [from The Magic Island] · William B. Seabrook · ar New York: Harcourt Brace & World, 1929
89 · Mother of Serpents · Robert Bloch · ss Weird Tales Dec ’36
101 · The Digging at Pistol Key · Carl Jacobi · ss Weird Tales Jul ’47
118 · Seven Turns in a Hangman’s Rope · Henry S. Whitehead · na Adventure Jul 15 ’32
179 · The Isle of Voices · Robert Louis Stevenson · ss The National Observer Feb 4, 1893
201 · Powers of Darkness · John Russell · ss Colliers Mar 30 ’29
216 · Exú · Edward D. Hoch · ss Voodoo!, ed. Bill Pronzini, Arbor, 1980
223 · Seventh Sister · Mary Elizabeth Counselman · ss Weird Tales Jan ’43
244 · The Devil Doll · Bryce Walton · ss Dime Mystery Magazine Nov ’47
254 · Kundu · Morris West · ex Kundu, Morris West, Dell, 1956
271 · The Candidate · Henry Slesar · ss Rogue, 1961
281 · Mummy! · ed. Bill Pronzini · an New York: Arbor House, 1980; A Chrestomathy of “Crypt-ology”
283 · Introduction · Bill Pronzini · in
301 · Lot No. 249 · Arthur Conan Doyle · nv Harper’s Sep, 1892
337 · Some Words with a Mummy · Edgar Allan Poe · ss American Whig Review Apr, 1845
356 · Monkeys · E. F. Benson · ss Weird Tales Dec ’33
374 · Bones · Donald A. Wollheim · ss Stirring Science Stories Feb ’41
382 · The Vengeance of Nitocris [as by Thomas Lanier Williams] · Tennessee Williams · ss Weird Tales Aug ’28
397 · The Mummy’s Foot [1863] · Théophile Gautier; trans. by Lafcadio Hearn · ss One of Cleopatra’s Nights and Other Fantastic Romances, New York: B. Worthington, 1882; “Le Pied de Momie”
410 · The Eyes of the Mummy [Sebek (unnamed narrator)] · Robert Bloch · ss Weird Tales Apr ’38
429 · Charlie · Talmage Powell · ss Mummy!, ed. Bill Pronzini, Arbor House, 1980
447 · The Weekend Magus · Edward D. Hoch · ss Mummy!, ed. Bill Pronzini, Arbor House, 1980
459 · The Princess · Joe R. Lansdale · ss Mummy!, ed. Bill Pronzini, Arbor House, 1980
474 · The Eagle-Claw Rattle · Ardath Mayhar · ss Mummy!, ed. Bill Pronzini, Arbor House, 1980
482 · The Other Room · Charles L. Grant · nv Mummy!, ed. Bill Pronzini, Arbor House, 1980
503 · Revelation in Seven Stages · Barry N. Malzberg · ss Mummy!, ed. Bill Pronzini, Arbor House, 1980
509 · Ghoul! · ed. Bill Pronzini · an *; A Chrestomathy of “Ogrery”
511 · Introduction · Bill Pronzini · in
523 · The Edinburgh Landlady · Aubrey Davidson · pm EQMM Jun 30 ’80
525 · The Body-Snatchers · Robert Louis Stevenson · ss Pall Mall Christmas Extra, 1884
546 · The Loved Dead [ghost written by H. P. Lovecraft] · C. M. Eddy, Jr. · ss Weird Tales May-Jul ’24
559 · Indigestion · Barry N. Malzberg · ss Fantastic Sep ’77
569 · The Chadbourne Episode [Gerald Canevin] · Henry S. Whitehead · ss Weird Tales Feb ’33
586 · Disturb Not My Slumbering Fair · Chelsea Quinn Yarbro · ss Cautionary Tales, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1978
600 · Quietly Now · Charles L. Grant · nv *
629 · The Ghoul · Sir Hugh Clifford · ss The Further Side of Silence, 1916
644 · The Spherical Ghoul · Fredric Brown · nv Thrilling Mystery Jan ’43
671 · Corpus Delectable [Gavagan’s Bar] · L. Sprague de Camp & Fletcher Pratt · ss Tales from Gavagan’s Bar, Twayne, 1953
681 · Memento Mori · Bill Pronzini · ss AHMM Apr ’74; revised
689 · The White Rabbit · Joe R. Lansdale · ss *
702 · Gray Matter · Stephen King · ss Cavalier Oct ’73
717 · Bibliography · Misc. · bi

Pronzini, in beginning to put together rather more sweeping surveys of the literature of terror, brought in his friend and collaborator on both fiction and earlier anthologies, Barry Malzberg, and Martin Harry Greenberg, only beginning to become an anthology industry. And they put together some pretty damned impressive books, too...with Pronzini and Greenberg going on to do similarly impressive work in the western field as well as others, and Pronzini on his own and with Ed Gorman continuing to produce extraordinary anthologies for Arbor House and such successors as Robinson and Carroll & Graf in the "Mammoth Book" series, and more. While it fell to Robert Silverberg, who had edited The Science Fiction Hall of Fame's first, short-fiction volume (as president of the SF Writers of America at the time), to go on to edit fantasy and horror "Hall of Fame" volumes, Pronzini would do similar volumes for mystery and western fiction. While there have been similar attempts at sweeping anthologies of horror and of suspense fiction since (such as Charles Grant's similar, contemporary volume for Dodd, Mead, Peter Straub's fine recent two-volume Library of America horror set, David Hartwell's good [if not so well-introduced] historical omnibus of horror, and Jeffery Deaver's unsurprisingly somewhat disappointing suspense-fiction roundup), the Pronzini, et al., volumes compare favorably with any similar productions before or since. They certainly brightened and further broadened my reading experience toward the end of my high-school career, though by then only a few of these bylines were unfamilar. And it's notable that Arbor House had opted for rather tasteful, bold all-text covers...a wise choice.

The Arbor House Treasury of Horror and the Supernatural ed. Bill Pronzini, Martin H. Greenberg & Barry N. Malzberg (Arbor House 0-87795-349-X, 1981, $20.95, hc)

11 · Introduction · Stephen King · in
25 · Hop-Frog · Edgar Allan Poe · ss The Flag of Our Union Mar 17, 1849
32 · Rappaccini’s Daughter · Nathaniel Hawthorne · nv United States Magazine and Democratic Review Dec, 1844
62 · Squire Toby’s Will · Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu · nv Temple Bar Jan, 1868
91 · The Squaw · Bram Stoker · ss Holly Leaves Dec 2, 1893
103 · The Jolly Corner · Henry James · nv The English Review Dec ’08
135 · “Man Overboard!” · Winston Churchill · ss The Harmsworth Magazine Jan, 1899
139 · The Hand · Theodore Dreiser · ss Munsey’s May ’19
157 · The Valley of the Spiders · H. G. Wells · ss Pearson’s Magazine Mar ’03
168 · The Middle Toe of the Right Foot · Ambrose Bierce · ss San Francisco Examiner Aug 17, 1890
177 · Pickman’s Model · H. P. Lovecraft · ss Weird Tales Oct ’27
190 · Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper · Robert Bloch · ss Weird Tales Jul ’43
207 · The Screaming Laugh · Cornell Woolrich · nv Clues Nov ’38
228 · A Rose for Emily · William Faulkner · ss The Forum Apr ’30
238 · Bianca’s Hands · Theodore Sturgeon · ss Argosy (UK) May ’47
247 · The Girl with the Hungry Eyes · Fritz Leiber · ss The Girl With the Hungry Eyes, ed. Donald A. Wollheim, Avon, 1949
262 · Shut a Final Door · Truman Capote · ss Atlantic Monthly Aug ’47
276 · Come and Go Mad · Fredric Brown · nv Weird Tales Jul ’49
317 · The Scarlet King · Evan Hunter · ss Manhunt Dec 25 ’54
328 · Sticks · Karl Edward Wagner · nv Whispers Mar ’74
347 · Sardonicus · Ray Russell · nv Playboy Jan ’61
380 · A Teacher’s Rewards · Robert S. Phillips · ss The Land of Lost Content, 1970
388 · The Roaches · Thomas M. Disch · ss Escapade Oct ’65
397 · The Jam · Henry Slesar · ss Playboy Nov ’58
403 · Black Wind · Bill Pronzini · ss EQMM Sep ’79
408 · The Road to Mictlantecutli · Adobe James · ss Adam Bedside Reader #20 ’65
422 · Passengers · Robert Silverberg · ss Orbit 4, ed. Damon Knight, G.P. Putnam’s, 1968
435 · The Explosives Expert · John Lutz · ss AHMM Sep ’67
442 · Call First · Ramsey Campbell · ss Night Chills, ed. Kirby McCauley, Avon, 1975
447 · The Fly · Arthur Porges · ss F&SF Sep ’52
452 · Namesake · Elizabeth Morton · vi Amazing Jul ’81
454 · Camps · Jack M. Dann · nv F&SF May ’79
480 · You Know Willie · Theodore R. Cogswell · ss F&SF May ’57
485 · The Mindworm · C. M. Kornbluth · ss Worlds Beyond Dec ’50
498 · Warm · Robert Sheckley · ss Galaxy Jun ’53
507 · Transfer · Barry N. Malzberg · ss Fantastic Aug ’75
514 · The Doll · Joyce Carol Oates · nv Epoch, 1980
536 · If Damon Comes · Charles L. Grant · ss The Year’s Best Horror Stories: Series VI, ed. Gerald W. Page, DAW, 1978
548 · Mass Without Voices · Arthur L. Samuels · vi Nightmares, ed. Charles L. Grant, Playboy, 1979
550 · The Oblong Room [Captain Leopold] · Edward D. Hoch · ss The Saint Detective Magazine Jul ’67
560 · The Party · William F. Nolan · ss Playboy Apr ’67
570 · The Crate · Stephen King · nv Gallery Jul ’79

This one has had a long life as an instant-remainder reprint, usually in some diminished-contents way...last year, it was reprinted as Masters of Horror & the Supernatural: The Great Tales (Bristol Park Books, which I believe is a Barnes & Noble imprint), with, as ISFDb notes, three stories (by Faulkner, Capote and Samuels) dropped.

(I here poach the index of one of the instant-remainder editions for this one, for convenience/laziness's sake...)

Great Tales of Mystery and Suspense ed. Bill Pronzini, Martin H. Greenberg & Barry N. Malzberg (A&W/Galahad 0-88365-700-7, 1985 [Jan ’86], $8.98, 601pp, hc) Reprint (Arbor House 1981 as The Arbor House Treasury of Mystery and Suspense) anthology. This edition omits one story, “Crime Wave in Pinhole” by Julie Smith, in order to make it an abridgement of the original. This is an instant remainder book.

11 · Introduction · John D. MacDonald · in
17 · The Gold-Bug · Edgar Allan Poe · nv Philadelphia Dollar Newspaper Jun 21-28, 1843
48 · Hunted Down · Charles Dickens · nv New York Ledger Aug 20-Sep 3, 1859; EQMM Jan ’47
67 · The Stolen White Elephant · Mark Twain · nv The Stolen White Elephant, Webster, 1882; EQMM Jul ’43
85 · Ransom · Pearl S. Buck · nv Cosmopolitan Oct ’38; EQMM Jun ’55
108 · The Adventure of the Glass-Domed Clock [Ellery Queen] · Ellery Queen · ss Mystery League Oct ’33
126 · The Arrow of God [Simon Templar] · Leslie Charteris · nv EQMM Sep ’49; The Saint Detective Magazine (UK) Nov ’62; The Saint Detective Magazine Jan ’63
147 · A Passage to Benares [Prof. Henry Poggioli] · T. S. Stribling · nv Adventure Feb 20 ’26
174 · The Case of the Emerald Sky [Dr. Jan Czissar] · Eric Ambler · ss The Sketch Jul 10 ’40; EQMM Mar ’45
183 · The Other Hangman · John Dickson Carr · ss A Century of Detective Stories, ed. Anon., London: Hutchinson, 1935; EQMM Jan ’65
196 · The Couple Next Door [Inspector Sands] · Margaret Millar · ss EQMM Jul ’54
211 · Danger Out of the Past [“Protection”] · Erle Stanley Gardner · ss Manhunt May ’55; EQMM Mar ’61
223 · A Matter of Public Notice · Dorothy Salisbury Davis · nv EQMM Jul ’57
239 · The Cat’s-Paw · Stanley Ellin · ss EQMM Jun ’49
254 · The Road to Damascus [Daniel John Calder; Samuel Behrens] · Michael Gilbert · ss Argosy (UK) Jun ’66; EQMM May ’67
272 · Midnight Blue [Lew Archer] · Ross Macdonald · nv Ed McBain’s Mystery Book #1 ’60; EQMM Jul ’71
299 · I’ll Die Tomorrow · Mickey Spillane · ss Cavalier Mar ’60
310 · For All the Rude People · Jack Ritchie · ss AHMM Jun ’61
323 · Hangover · John D. MacDonald · ss Cosmopolitan Jul ’56
333 · The Santa Claus Club [Francis Quarles] · Julian Symons · ss Suspense (UK) Dec ’60; EQMM Jan ’67
344 · The Wager [Kek Huuygens] · Robert L. Fish · ss Playboy Jul ’73; EQMM Nov ’78
353 · A Fool About Money · Ngaio Marsh · ss EQMM Dec ’74
358 · And Three to Get Ready... · Horace L. Gold · ss Fantastic Sum ’52
368 · “J” [87th Precinct] · Ed McBain · nv, 1961
414 · Burial Monuments Three · Edward D. Hoch · ss AHMM May ’72
425 · The Murder · Joyce Carol Oates · ss Night-Side, 1977
434 · Fatal Woman · Joyce Carol Oates · ss Night-Side, 1977
439 · Agony Column · Barry N. Malzberg · ss EQMM Dec ’71
446 · Last Rendezvous · Jean L. Backus · ss EQMM Sep ’77
453 · The Real Shape of the Coast · John Lutz · ss EQMM Jun ’71
464 · Hercule Poirot in the Year 2010 [Hercule Poirot] · Jon L. Breen · ss EQMM Mar ’75
472 · Merrill-Go-Round [Sharon McCone] · Marcia Muller · ss The Arbor House Treasury of Mystery and Suspense, ed. Bill Pronzini, Barry N. Malzberg & Martin H. Greenberg, Arbor House, 1981
484 · A Craving for Originality · Bill Pronzini · ss EQMM Dec 17 ’79
491 · Tranquility Base · Asa Baber · ss, 1979
506 · The Cabin in the Hollow · Joyce Harrington · ss EQMM Oct ’74
519 · Peckerman · Robert S. Phillips · ss The Arbor House Treasury of Mystery and Suspense, ed. Bill Pronzini, Barry N. Malzberg & Martin H. Greenberg, Arbor House, 1981
531 · A Simple, Willing Attempt · Elizabeth Morton · ss The Arbor House Treasury of Mystery and Suspense, ed. Bill Pronzini, Barry N. Malzberg & Martin H. Greenberg, Arbor House, 1981
535 · Watching Marcia · Mike Resnick · ss The Arbor House Treasury of Mystery and Suspense, ed. Bill Pronzini, Barry N. Malzberg & Martin H. Greenberg, Arbor House, 1981
545 · Somebody Cares · Talmage Powell · ss EQMM Dec ’62
555 · Jode’s Last Hunt · Brian Garfield · ss EQMM Jan ’77
572 · Many Mansions · Robert Silverberg · nv Universe 3, ed. Terry Carr, Random House, 1973
596 · My Son the Murderer · Bernard Malamud · ss Esquire Nov ’68

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

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Raymond Chandler BBC Radio dramatizations; THE WIRE cast on TED Talks

2 days remain in the current window on BBC Radio 4's web pages to hear their
dramatizations of four Chandler (well, one Chandler and Parker) novels.


Judy Woodruff will be interviewing THE WIRE cast on the 29th:

PBS NewsHour Senior Correspondent Judy Woodruff will host a discussion with cast
members of HBO's critically acclaimed series "The Wire" at TedxMidAtlantic this
Saturday, October 29, 2011. Their conversation will explore the issues of inner
city communities, including unemployment and education issues, and current
initiatives aimed at solving those problems.
Cast members will include Michael K Williams (Omar Little), Sonja Sohn
(Detective Kima Greggs), Jamie Hector (Marlo Stanfield), Gbenga Akinnagbe (Chris
Partlow), as well as Donnie Andrews, who was the basis for Omar's character.
From Tedx: " 'The Wire' remains the most highly-regarded and compelling urban
drama of our time. Through complex characters and storylines, 'The Wire' has
defined and created our collective understanding of how multiple systems
...ensnare our youth and limit opportunities for achievement in spite of our
best efforts to save them; or the best intentions of all the individuals that
surround them."
TedxMidAtlantic is being held at Sidney Harman Hall in Washington, D.C. Tickets
are no longer available. The event will be live streamed here, with Judy's
segment airing at approximately 5:15 p.m.
More information about the event is available here:

October's Music: Tolkien, Swann & Elvin; Mussorgsky/Vishnevskaya; Fairport Convention; the Cramps; Jimmy Cross

A quick trip around some nostalgic bases for the season:

Was a fine if slightly unusual recording for Caedmon, the spoken-word label, to take on, given that half of it is Tolkien reading his poetry, some taken from the trilogy as published, some from the collection The Adventures of Tom Bombadil (most widely seen in the States at least as part of The Tolkien Reader)...and the other half is art-song settings of "The Road Goes Ever On and On" composed by Donald Swann, who is at the piano, with the improbably aptly-named William Elvin singing.
"In The Willow-Meads Of Tasarinan," Swann's best composition (along with "In Western Lands"), though "Errantry" below, which wraps the suite, is perhaps the most pleasantly reminiscent of Gilbert's partner Sullivan's work:

I had just begun to listen to art-song suites when I came across the Tolkien album, having fallen in love with the work of Mussourgsky...from his Songs and Dances and Death, a gender-switched performance of "Serenade" by Galina Vishnevskaya:

And, in keeping with the melancholic fantastic, here're some from Fairport Convention, first two from their most popular album (still perhaps insufficiently audited now), Richard Thompson's "Farewell, Farewell" and the folksong "Tam Lin":

And (an unfortunately "jumpy" video image for Art's Sake in the first) from the band's earlier recordings: "She Moves Through the Fair" and "It's All Right, Ma, It's Only Witchcraft"

"Better start worrying/Witchcraft's here to stay..." Werewolves, however, are more transitory: can be young love, no matter how obsessive and tragic...

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

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V

Emma Caulfield, JoBeth Williams, Hayden McFarland and Michelle Borth in TiMER (2009)

Thanks as always to all the contributors to (of which I suspect there will be a few more heard from today) and all the readers of this roundelay...please let me know if you have a blogpost I've missed in comments (and please do feel free to leave other comments on each "commentable" post!). And...Happy Hallowe'en!

Bill Crider: Girls Town (trailer)

Brian Arnold: "Skeleton Frolic"; The Terror of Frankenstein (1977)

Chuck Esola: The Candy Tangerine Man

Dan Stumpf: Ride the Pink Horse

David Schmidt: Troll Hunter; Ratline

Evan Lewis: The Thin Man (1958-59)

Iba Dawson: Death at a Funeral (2007)

Ivan G. Shreve: Svengoolie

James Reasoner: The Giant Gila Monster; The Killer Shrews

Jerry House: Hallowe'en at the Movies: "The Case of the Screaming Bishop"; "The Story of the Ghost"; Robot Monster trailer; Dead Men Walk; Teenagers from Outer Space; The Screaming Skull

John Charles: The Bushwacker

Juri Nummelin: Serie Noire

Kate Laity: Alan Moore, reading from Jerusalem; Interview with John Peel

Patti Abbott: The ABC Afternoon Playbreak

Randy Johnson: Station West

Ron Scheer: Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace

Scott Cupp: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

Stacia Jones: Gothic (1986)

Steve Lewis: Law of the Jungle (1942); Red Dust (1932); Impulse (1990)

Todd Mason: The Thrilling Adventure Hour; Deadlock (the Paretsky Warshawski novel adapted for BBC radio); An Unreasonable Man; TiMER; Targets (please see below)

Walter Albert: Arsène Lupin (1932); The Unknown (1927)

Yvette Banek: Topper Returns

Related matters:

George Kelley: Pulp Fiction on Blu-ray

Jake Hinkson: The Noir of Orson Welles

Scott Parker: Thoughts on Acting

Vince Keenan: Margin Call

Some quick takes from me this week:

The Thrilling Adventure Hour is a not entirely parodic revival of adventure radio drama, up to its 44th posted installment with this, its third under the aegis of The, Amelia Earhart, Fearless Flyer: "Vive le Reich?" (Earhart is a timecop, with a slightly surprising and rather bloodthirsty female partner). I'd just not gotten around to listening to their previous work; but the average of those I've heard so far is simply charming.

BBC Radio 4 Extra is repeating Deadlock, the V. I. Warshawski novel by Sara Paretsky, dramatized in six weekly installments featuring Kathleen Turner as Warshawski. I always felt that Turner could do a better job with Warshawski than the film allowed (and Eleanor Bron as supporting actress doesn't hurt a bit), and while this dramatization isn't up to the novel, either, it's an improvement (one of the most awkward choices made by dramatist Michelene Wandor is in having Warshawski ruminate in internal monologue in the prose of the passages straight from the novel, which doesn't convince).

An Unreasonable Man is the 2006 profile documentary about Ralph Nader, touching on his career from his earliest campaigning for seat belts in cars and other safety equipment, through the shift in the tactics driven by the Democrats' cowardice and nearly complete sellout to corporate interests in the Reagan years onward (Nader stops being primarily an inside the Beltway lobbyist and becomes a organizer and sparkplug of public-interest organizations). And then, in 1996, he makes his first, very token run for the Presidency, an effort that he makes much more serious in 2000, and thus gained the childish enmity of antirational Democrats, desperate (as often is the case) for anyone but they and their candidates to be responsible for the defeat of those 2000, of course, their candidate by all reasonable measures won, and managed to not fight sufficiently nor effectively to make the win stick (and the albatross the Bush 2 Administration should always be hung around the necks of the Supreme Court, and particularly swing vote Sandra Day O'Connor who particularly foolishly decided younger Bush would be her kind of Republican). (Todd Gitlin and Eric Alterman get to spout off as the voices of petulance with pretensions of pragmatic leftist outrage.) The film makes a very clearly rational case why Nader's Green and independent runs didn't "deny" any candidate the votes they "deserved" (quite the opposite, Nader, by no means a perfect candidate--I haven't forgiven his 1996 line about "gonadal" politics, meaning that many rights matters didn't rate for him--was still the best candidate we had from my point of view for the last several elections...he has now run four times, and probably won't run a fifth...and that might even be a pity). Meanwhile, even Pat Buchanan, as candidate of the Reform Party in 2000, sums his experiences in that race as reinforcing his belief that our electoral process is largely a sham. Something that Nader himself refuses to concede, even given all the corrupt roadblocks the large parties put up, the degree of their collusion to keep independent voices as quiet as possible...which tends to create the kind of opposition that results in Reform Parties, Tea Parties and Occupy protests. Pity such efforts can too often be so effectively neutralized or hijacked.

TiMER is a mildly science-fictional film which is also a romantic comedy that still has some actual thought, if not always profound thought, behind its tale of an alternate present-day Los Angeles, where nearly everyone wears a digital clock on their non-dominant wrist (righthanders wear it on their left) called a TiMER (TM), which somehow unexplainedly can tell you how long before you meet the One Love of Your Life...if that other person is also outfitted with a TiMER (as the film doesn't quite make clear at first). TiMERs are also forcibly implanted in the wrist, yet manage to not cause any bleeding on implantation (an unfortunate echo of Jerry Sohl's novel Point Ultimate, and also faintly reminiscent of the initial flaw in the similarly mildly sfnal Gattaca). So the film has the basic technological advance Dumbth working against it, as well as rather blithely asserting a society where everyone seems to believe there is Just One True Soulmate for everyone (a highly dubious proposition, both that there is Just One, and that the vast majority of Angeleños will believe this so strongly as to mutilate themselves with the device...but perhaps in the land of unnecessary and often rather bad plastic surgery, I kid myself), but unlike Gattaca, which goes forth pompously, staggering ever more under the solemnity with which its stupid premise is lavished (and even Alan Arkin's fine performance can't help much), this film otherwise manages to be relatively intelligent in its consideration of the relation between two stepsisters who are best friends, similarly unlucky in love despite taking very different approaches to romance (Emma Caulfield's Oona is somewhat exasperated by her lack of success at proper courtship; Michele Borth's Steph suspects any sort of true love is unlikely, and is quite content to go from one one night stand to another, even though they've both been fitted with the devices). Oona and Steph have to treat with their family (they are both suffering from a kind of extended adolescence in several ways, albeit Oona is at least professionally employed as an orthodontist; Steph holds down two slightly more boho part-time jobs). Oona takes Steph's advice, and tries a fling with a younger man (22 to her 29), shocking Steph when they don't simply quit after the first encounter. Steph meets a widower who actually might be a man she could get serious about. Their younger half brother (the son of Oona's mother and Steph's father) gets his TiMER at age 14 (the legal age of consent) and is matched up within days with the daughter of the family's new maid, much to the bemusement and slight dismay of nearly everyone involved. Basically, not much new ground broken here, but it's all done so briskly and rather wittily and the reactions of the characters within their circumstances feel right...this would be a partial contradiction, among those who long for screwball comedies, to the lament They Just Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To...this one is not much if any more contrived than Bringing Up Baby, and while not as deft might even ring a bit truer.

Targets is almost certainly not overlooked by most folks who've read this far, but despite the limitations of the budget and the inexperience of writer/director/supporting actor Peter Bogdanovich, this remains probably his best film, only a bit heavy-handed at times as it tells the tale of a young, repressed, Campus Republican-style fellow in 1967 who goes on a Charles Whitman-style rampage in Reseda and the surrounding Los Angeles suburbs, and of a bitter Boris Karloff, in the film going by the name Byron Orlok, tired of the kind of middlin' to awful films he's making these days and of being hustled by low-rent filmmakers (Targets uses the 1963 quickie The Terror as the stand-in for all the weak films Karloff made in that decade, like Targets a Roger Corman production, one which starred Karloff and Jack Nicholson and was shot in days and it shows) (it was written even more quickly, and that definitely shows as well). Among talent available was, says IMDb, Samuel Fuller as uncredited co-scripter (which certainly is believable), and László Kovács as cinematographer, with Bogdanovich and set and costume designer Polly Platt having come up with the treatment. The house young Bobby Thomspon (Tim O'Kelly) lives in with his parents (he invariably calls his domineering father "Sir") and his wife is remarkably set-like and sterile, and yet was apparently shot in a real house; this is the role most people remember O'Kelly for, since he quit film and television acting not long after, but he's certainly adept (and scary as hell for most of the picture, even all these years and a/v psychos later, as well as being no little pathetic in his understanding that he's losing his grip, much to the oblivious but well-meaning insufficient concern of his family). Karloff has an apparent ball with the role, getting to be actor (portraying and occasionally parodying an actor/himself), storyteller and critic of the filmmaking business at various points, as well as a (realistic) avenger. The film has some scenes that have stuck with me since seeing it as a kid, even when they aren't staged quite as well as they should be. And Nancy Hsueh, who is pretty charming here, would go on to a more limited career than she had had earlier, and would die at age 39; another member of the cast was an acquaintance of mine, Arthur Peterson, later best known as the demented "The Major" on the sitcom Soap, taught at George Mason University (and was a historian with the Federal Theater Project Archives there) while I was an undergrad in the latter '80s, and with his wife Norma Ransom continued their fine production of The Gin Game at GMU.

Monday, October 24, 2011

FFB special: Beyond and Alongside Tolkien: Among His Peers (more or less) completed...

This was meant to be a quick set of pointers for Jackie Kashian, whom I promised some advice as to whose work to look for for non-Tolkien-derivative work in fantasy and related fiction (particularly science fiction by the same people, since often she prefers sf), inasmuch as she (like most of us) never really needs to read FNORD OF THE THINGS and other heavily derivative work again...there's plenty of Tolkien for that purpose...and while she's familiar with a number of impressive writers who've worked in this and similar modes, it's still entirely too easy to miss entirely too much, given the Well-Organized and Thorough Book Publishing and Distribution Industries, etc. I encourage suggestions of what and where I've completely overlooked someone or something can rest assured that Stephen Donaldson and Terry Brooks have mostly been overlooked on purpose.

Fantasy, as with such arguably later related developments as science fiction and surrealist fiction, of course comes out of mythic traditions, but also requires at least some distance from full immersion in those myths...while there are certainly believers in the supernatural (Tolkien, obviously, was no dithering Christian, and C. S. Lewis even less so; Arthur Conan Doyle is probably only the most famous spiritualist to write a lot of fantasy, even if his most famous character was an utter, if addicted, rationalist) who've written the great works, they almost invariably employ a certain metaphoric distance even in their most blatant allegories and parables (Tolkien doesn't have "traditional" demons running about, but does have at least one hugely famous character who is essentially possessed, among other obvious parallels). So, basically, as fantasy fiction was coalescing as a self-conscious mode of prose fiction, after all the centuries of Homer's and others' poetic epics and folktales of all sorts (including what we often call "fairy tales" and such collections as the Arabian Nights), we see the emergence of satiric fantasy (among the most obvious, Jonathan Swift), and the employment of fantastic tropes as strong vehicles for Transcendence (19th century folks such as William Morris and his literary heirs such as David Lindsay and William Hope Hodgson followed in the paths broken by William Blake, as well as reaching into the folklore of their cultures), for the Decadents (as the knot of folks around Huysmans and Baudelaire in France, and clustering around The Yellow Book and similar productions in England...where, for example, Aubrey Beardsley would publish his illustrations of Edgar Allan Poe's fiction)--also children of Blake, in many ways!--and including such fellow-travelers as Oscar Wilde, who preferred the term "Aesthete" for himself, and the continuing tradition of satirists (such as Samuel Butler with Erewhon, or Twain with his Connecticut Yankee and his Adam and Eve) and those who submerged their satiric or similar messages rather more deeply into their texts or were writing at least some of their fantasies rather blatantly for kids, or both, such as Hawthorne and Kipling and, of course, "Lewis Carroll" and the Alice books and more, and L. Frank Baum, of the Oz series. H. G. Wells, like Mary Shelley before him doing pioneering work in no-bones-about-it sf in this (frequently satirical and/or cautionary) mode, was also particularly fond of writing the kind of fantasy where magical things are happening within the context of otherwise everyday reality..."The Man Who Could Work Miracles" being a rather obvious title in this mode...a mode rather akin to horror fiction and to tall-tale traditions and hoax-stories. So, by the early 1900s, one could find the likes of James Branch Cabell, E. R. Eddison, Lord Dunsany, Virginia Woolf (even if only occasionally, with the likes of Orlando) and such adventure-fantasists as H. Rider Haggard all drawing on these traditions and more. Among the best and most popular writers of the fantastic popping-up-in-the-everyday mode was Thorne Smith.

And so, H. P. Lovecraft and his friends, who clustered around the magazine Weird Tales and formed an extended correspondence network, "the Lovecraft Circle," featured such influential folks as HPL (who wrote some early fantasies very imitative of Dunsany's work before settling in to write his existential horror and borderline sf in his more typical quasi-1780s prose), Robert Howard (Conan, and much else), and Clark Ashton Smith, perhaps the best of the three in many ways, a visual artist as well as poet and fiction writer very influenced by the Decadents, who is his turn was the great model (though many of the others above were also strong influences on his work) for my first recommendation for a Tolkien peer, Jack Vance.

Jack Vance
has written some of the most deft and acerbic of fantasy, science-fantasy and sf (among other work) to be published over the last century; his first great work might be that which is collected into a sort of novel, The Dying Earth, which saw sequels of sorts in The Eyes of the Overworld, Cugel's Saga and Rhialto the Marvellous. These might be the places to start with Vance, though it's hard to go too wrong with his work, particularly such arguably overlooked sf novels as The Languages of Pao, his massive Lyonesse trilogy, or such award-winning work as "The Dragon Masters" and "The Last Castle." Michael Moorcock's work in the fantasy field draws on many of the same influences, though his early fantasies were too often written hastily and that is sometimes obvious in the result; later fiction he could take more time with, such as Gloriana, gives a better indication of what the admittedly more mature Moorcock could achieve.

Fritz Leiber was both a member of the Lovecraft Circle, joining with his wife Jonquil on her initiative not long before Lovecraft's death (and it's notable that Leiber and the other most junior member of the Circle, Robert Bloch, were the most innovative and important writers to pick up on Lovecraft's development of existential horror fiction, and explore its implications in many ways better than Lovecraft himself could), and an occasional professional actor whose parents owned a touring Shakespearean company; Leiber was thus particularly influenced by such Jacobean playwrights as John Webster as well as the folks already cited. He began publishing in the pages of Unknown Fantasy Fiction (a magazine devoted particularly to the H.G. Wells/Thorne Smith mode of fantasy, but by no means exclusively), Weird Tales, and Astounding Science Fiction, the most influential and sophisticated of fantasticated pulp magazines of their time, and his work from the beginning was challenging, innovative, and influential. His fantasy series, begun as almost a role-playing mail game with his old friend Harry Fischer, the stories of Fafhrd (the Leiber character) and the Gray Mouser (the Fischer), became a consistent thread in his work throughout his long life; some of the F&GM stories are weaker than others, but the three included in the "origin" volume, which verges on a novel, Swords and Deviltry (in its original Ace editions with the Jeff Jones cover; the White Wolf repackage, with the Mike Mignola cover, takes its title from the third story, "Ill Met in Lankhmar"), are among the more brilliant. He wrote three horror novels, one at the beginning of his career (Conjure Wife, 1943, in one issue of Unknown), one a little less than a decade later, when his influence was already being widely felt, You're All Alone (short form in Fantastic Adventures magazine, 1950), and one toward the end of his career, Our Lady of Darkness (a short form, entitled The Pale Brown Thing, was serialized in two issues of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1977). And he wrote a number of good to brilliant sf novels, though perhaps none of those had quite the impact of such short stories as "Smoke Ghost" (Unknown, 1940) or "Coming Attraction" (Galaxy sf magazine, 1950), which can be reasonably said to have revolutionized their respective fields. His play in prose, The Big Time, might be the best of his science fiction novels.

Avram Davidson began publishing fiction in the Jewish-American magazines in the early '50s, first appearing in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction with the superb "My Boyfriend's Name is Jello" in 1954. He would contribute extensively to the fantasy, sf, and crime-fiction fields, and occasionally to other fictional traditions, as well as becoming one of the premiere writers of true-crime histories in the country, work which garnered him awards and also served as the contemporary setting for his great, very funny early sf novel Masters of the Maze, in which a more typical "men's sweat" writer finds himself responsible, in part, for foiling an invasion of the Earth by a kind of crustacean-like aliens, the Chulpex, who in their turn are very well drawn, as one of a long line guardians of a sort of gateway between worlds, the maze of the title, which has been traditionally been guarded by a sort of Masonic organization throughout history. Davidson thus lightly touches on the kinds of conspiracies of history Robert Anton Wilson, among many others since, have churned out megabookery about. Davidson's most ambitious work, a fantasy sequence about Vergil Magus (the folkloric reimagining of the poet Vergil) that begins with The Phoenix and the Mirror, is sadly less fully-realized than Davidson clearly wanted, though it is magisterial in its own right; far more fully-evocative of what Davidson could do are the series of linked stories collected first as The Enquiries of Doctor Eszterhazy, and later, with newer stories (some a bit lesser) added, as The Adventures of Doctor Eszterhazy, which I think will satisfy anyone who tends to prefer novels, even in its necessarily episodic structure. Eszterhazy is a polymathic troubleshooter in a section of what very much resembles the collapsing Austria-Hungary of the turn of the 20th century, who is usually brought in to deal with the fantastic and outre threats and difficulties faced by and within the kingdoms; the stories are so brilliantly witty, erudite and elegant at their best that they almost beggar description. As with Jorge Luis Borges, Davidson relished scholarship for its own sake without stuffiness or any sort of turf protection; he was here to show us all the world's wonders, and those apparently beyond he could find. Further examples of Davidson's work, aside from the brilliant short fiction (including such crime fiction as "The Lord of Central Park" which will nonetheless reward any fantasy reader who seeks it out), that come close to these peaks include his first novel (a collaboration with the undersung Ward Moore), the historically rich fantasy Joyleg; and his last to be published during his lifetime, a collaboration with his ex-wife and executor, Grania Davis (an accomplished fantasist in her own right), Marco Polo and the Sleeping Beauty, and the collection of fantasticated essays, Adventures in Uhhistory.

Jorge Luis Borges never wrote a novel, nor as far as I recall attempted to, but his short fiction helped revolutionize world literature at least as much as all the other 20th century folks mentioned so far, and he actually got some credit for that (it perhaps helped that he wrote primarily in Spanish, and while first published in English in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine in the 1940s, was more flashily published in bulk by the university and avant-garde presses of the earliest 1960s, which made his excursions into the fantastic "safer" to admire among the literary establishment of the time. And well they might admire the work collected in such volumes as Dreamtigers and particularly Labyrinths, which play with literary form and reintroduce more sophisticated forms of the literary hoax as well as playing with mind-expanding concepts ("The Library of Babel," for obvious example, the infinitely vast library which includes volumes that include all the possible combinations of letters and words, and what the implications of that are...); and, even more than any of the others here save Davidson, Borges was drawn to worldwide traditions to explore, very much including the Arabian Nights and other related material. As with Leiber, Borges also was frequently willing to fantasticate his own life in fruitful and challenging ways; he embarked, as a fluent English speaker, on a program of translation of his own works for Dutton in the late '60s with Norman Thomas DiGiovanni which are, for the most part, the definitive translations of his work, and the best of those volumes is probably the one with the long autobiographical essay, The Aleph, and Other Stories: 1933-1969; unfortunately, some financial shenanigans with the contracts for these translations, giving DiGiovanni a disproportionate share of the revenue, has led to the Borges heirs keeping these out of print in recent decades, and the comparably atrocious current Penguin editions of new translations, in such volumes as Collected Fictions, average much worse than both the Borges versions and the early translations by James Irby and others in the early volumes such as Labyrinths.

Joanna Russ, as I've noted earlier in this blog (in eulogizing her and otherwise), had a career which in many ways paralleled that of her friend Fritz Leiber; they both began their professional writing careers, having had a strong grounding in dramatic arts (Leiber primarily as an actor, Russ primarily as a playwright and scholar of drama at university), as mostly writers of horror fiction, though by no means exclusively; they soon added important science-fictional work to their resumes, often controversial work that, particularly in the case of Russ's best novel, the playful, innovative, yet devastatingly satirical The Female Man, managed to find audiences well beyond frequent sf readers; Leiber was a pacifist and pro-feminist even as his career began, if usually not too stridently so, while Russ became a strong voice for feminist thought from early in her career, becoming perhaps the most prominent voice for such in fantastic fiction, or at least alongside such others as Ursula Le Guin, Angela Carter, Judith Merril and eventually Alice "James Tiptree, Jr." Sheldon, along with such folks at the periphery of fantastic fiction as Marge Piercy and Margaret Atwood. And, like Leiber, Russ had among her personal analog figures in her writing a fantasy (near anti-) hero, the thief and troublemaker Alyx, in a series of short fiction and a novel, Picnic on Paradise, which has been collected in the omnibus The Adventures of Alyx, which I can recommend to any fantasy reader...along with such major fantasies as "My Boat" (and such deft horror as "Come Closer" and "There is Another Shore, You Know, On the Other Side") from her three other collections of short stories (Alyx and Fafhrd, the Leiber analog from his series, each appear in one story by the other writer, as well, in their respective series; at least as charming a grace note as when Robert Bloch and H. P. Lovecraft wrote stories in which each had the other killed, many years before, published in issues of Weird Tales magazine.)

Ursula K. Le Guin, of course, is probably the best-selling (at least in English) and the most widely-respected (probably after Borges) of the writers I've chosen to highlight in this post, and probably needs little introduction for almost anyone likely to see this...but (as she notes in the essay included in the Beagle-edited anthology pictured at the head of this post, which I finally got around to reading this morning, or after writing all up through the Leiber passage) she is not above a little irritation at the remarkable notion that a novel aimed at young adult readers and easily readable by adults as well, about a school for young wizards, might be taken for a remarkably new vision when offered by J. K. Rowling when it's also the matter for the first in Le Guin's most famous series of novels, A Wizard of Earthsea. If Russ was perhaps the most devoted feminist among the writers I highlight, Le Guin vies with Atwood as the most famously so in fantastic fiction (setting aside for the moment such foremothers as Mary Shelley and Charlotte Perkins Gilman), as well as the most famous anarchist, which are among the factors which have helped shape the fantasies she has written, relating to Earthsea and otherwise, as well as such major sf novels as The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed. Le Guin, also like Russ (and Leiber, though his work thus remains mostly uncollected, and of course Tolkien and Lovecraft), has also been a major essayist about fantasy fiction, with such collections as The Language of the Night being necessary reading (and it's amusing, as I hope to note further in a future review here, the small degrees to which Le Guin's essay disagrees with the other collected in the Beagle anthology, by David Hartwell, though both are matched in insight by Beagle's own introduction). Such other occasional fantasists as Algis Budrys, Barry Malzberg, Damon Knight and James Blish have published similar collections of reviews and related essays, theirs usually more focused on sf (as their writing careers were, as well). Also worth mentioning in this context is the literary-historical and biographical work of L. Sprague de Camp, as controversial as some of the latter is, which he began in the early 1970s as supplement to his work about folklore and history (such as Lost Continents) and his own fiction, which on his own and in collaboration with Fletcher Pratt is also at least as impressive as that of many of the folks cited so far...though I've enjoyed his posthumous collaborations with Robert Howard less (though he was better at this than such other pickers at the scraps of Howard's work as Lin Carter, with whom De Camp also collaborated thus); Fletcher Pratt on his own also produced notable historical nonfiction (the Civil War history Ordeal by Fire, most obviously) and epic fantasies such The Well of the Unicorn and The Blue Star which can stand alongside such other midcentury work as Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast trilogy and T. H. White's Arthurian fantasies, collected eventually as The Once and Future King, and that of Tolkien's fellow Inklings C. S. Lewis, Roger Green and Charles Williams--among the work I'm slighting here!

Jane Yolen, more than any of the other folks mentioned so far, has been a serious scholar of folkloric traditions in a way that rivals such folks as Jack Zipes and Italo Calvino; like Calvino, but perhaps to not as wide acclaim, she has also been a first-rate writers of fantastic fiction, often drawing heavily on the folkloric traditions but bringing to them fresh insights and contexts; among her best work at novel length for adults (for she has been one of the most important of children's writers over the last several decades as well, for a while the head of her own imprint) being the jarring, elegant Briar Rose, which takes interesting liberties with story structure (thus not too different thus with Calvino, famous for doing similar things in his more personal work, and like Yolen's often set as if being orally told to the reader) as it mixes the Sleepy Beauty folktale with the experiences of a survivor of the Polish WW2 extermination camps and her family in the present day. Along with her collections and anthologies of folktales, she has also published at least one sf novel, Cards of Grief (which, as she notes, still "feels like fantasy"). The similarly brilliant writer William Kotzwinkle has had a somewhat parallel career, with a large following in children's literature (not least for his antic Walter the Farting Dog books), seemingly straddled borders with his grim animal fantasy Doctor Rat and lighter, satirical The Bear Went Over the Mountain, and work that despite accessibility to younger readers is thoroughly adult, ranging from the grim timeslip fantasy The Exile to the charming, heavily illustrated The Midnight Examiner and such collections as The Hot Jazz Trio.

And then, as I note below, there are such other major creators in the field as Sylvia Townsend Warner (who in addition to her own impressive work in novels starting with Lolly Willowes and in short fiction, notably collected in Kingdoms of Elfin, also wrote a biography of T. H. White),
the foremothers of science fantasy in the pulps, Leigh Brackett and C. L. Moore, with Brackett augmenting her basically serious and graceful space opera (such as that collected in Sea-Kings of Mars and Otherworldly Stories) with more soberly extrapolative sf, such as The Long Tomorrow, and several crime fiction novels, the first of which, No Good from a Corpse, led directly to her being hired to adapt Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep for film as part of a team including Jules Furthman and a bitter, drunken William Faulkner), the beginning of screen career that would include the solo adaptation of The Long Goodbye and one of her last works, the first draft of The Empire Strikes Back, the least bad of the Star Wars films. Moore, initially on her own and then in partnership with her writer-husband Henry Kuttner, produced the Jirel of Joiry series of female freebooter science fantasies, and the Northwest Smith series (leaning a bit more, with its male protagonist, into traditional sf adventure), but also such definitive sf work as "No Woman Born" (almost certainly a key influence on Anne McCaffrey's work) and "Vintage Season." Moore and Kuttner were so enmeshed as writing partners that it has become both a parlor game and a scholarly grail to try to tell where one left off and the other began in such major stories under their joint pseudonym "Lewis Padgett" (best known for the classic story "Mismy were the Borogoves"), and even the work each signed just their own name to, that such matters are unlikely to ever be clearly settled. Brackett, too, was married to a major sf/fantasy writer, Edmond Hamilton, but their literary careers were rather more distinct, though they did collaborate on occasion. Gene Wolfe has been one of the most productive of the more complex writers of science-fantasy, since getting his start professionally in fiction in 1966, lavishing his frequently dense and allusive prose on matters of moral ambiguity and the state of humanity, most clangorously in The Book of the New Sun, a novel published in four volumes that has now seen both pendant books and sequelization at nearly as great length. And Peter Beagle was perhaps the "purist" of US fantasists to not be shunted into category publication throughout the first decade of his career, at least, as he began with A Fine and Private Place (1960), and his shorter work was published in The Atlantic Monthly and other relatively, if not actually hostile, than often fantasy-indifferent markets. Perhaps his most famous novel remains his second, The Last Unicorn (1968). His career since has ranged from Star Trek: The Next Generation scripting to Tolkien biography to further award-winning fantasy, though rather as with the adult work of William Kotzwinkle, much if not most of his publications over the last two decades have been tagged and marketed as fantasy fiction. Among other major writers of the era to mostly work in short form, mention must be made of John Collier (Fancies and Goodnights), Roald Dahl (Kiss, Kiss), Joan Aiken (The Green Flash), Harlan Ellison (Deathbird Stories), Ray Bradbury (Dark Carnival), Keith Roberts (Pavane and Anita) and Theodore Sturgeon (E Pluribus Unicorn), all of whom have done brilliant work in fantasy and horror fiction, and all of them have produced novels, though aside from Collier's three fantasticated novels, most of the relevant work by all these writers has been in novels for young readers, crime-fiction novels, or in Roberts and Sturgeon's cases sf novels (with only Sturgeon's last, controversial work, Godbody, being a straightforward fantasy).

And as I noted when I had to break off previously: Wow...this was meant to be a short take, a briefly annotated list, but the work will take over (I'll have to edit it down, eventually!). And I meant to cite some particularly undersung examples by each writer, though that's pretty tough for Leiber...a collection such as Shadows with Eyes or Night Monsters might have to be the example here (though certainly even The Book of Fritz Leiber has been out of print too was notable how Leiber was perhaps the only writer in fantastic fiction to have three, arguably four career retrospectives published in the 1970s with little if any overlap: The Best of FL, The Worlds of FL, The Book of FL and its sequel, The Second Book of FL...and all of these have been out of print for far too long, not quite supplanted by further retrospective volumes since.

This will have to be continued, with the following writers to be particularly highlighted:

Joanna Russ
Ursula K. Le Guin
Avram Davidson
Jorge Luis Borges
Jane Yolen
, with many others cited...
...or, at least, that's my plan...

Here's what I ended up posting on Friday over at Jackie Kashian's The Dork Forest, in response to Maria Bamford's interview of Jackie (the second of two turnabout episodes):
At my blog, I finally tried to get down today the Quick and Dirty list of fantasy (and at least some sf) from people who were comparable to, and not imitative of, Tolkien, only to find myself beginning to write a long essay...but the writers I chose to suggest boil down to:
FRITZ to start with, SWORDS AND DEVILTRY (or ILL MET IN LANKHMAR, in its revised edition); alternate/sf novel to start with: THE BIG TIME (borderline horror/fantasy to start with, in the Kafka/Philip Dick mode, only before Dick started publishing: YOU'RE ALL ALONE).
JOANNA to start with: THE ADVENTURES OF ALYX; alternate/sf novel to start with: THE FEMALE MAN.
AVRAM to start with: THE ENQUIRIES OF DOCTOR ESZTERHAZY (or THE ADVENTURES OF DOCTOR ESZTERHAZY, in its expanded edition). Alternate/sf novel to start with: MASTERS OF THE MAZE. Alternate historical fantasy, written with his ex-wife Grania Davis, MARCO POLO AND THE SLEEPING BEAUTY.
JANE YOLEN...novel to start with: BRIAR ROSE. Alternates to start with...nearly any of her collections (she does tend to excel in short forms).
JACK to start with: THE DYING EARTH and its three loose sequels, starting with THE EYES OF THE OVERWORLD; alternate sf novel to start with: among so many, THE LANGUAGES OF PAO. The LYONESSE trilogy is definitely worth looking into.
URSULA K. LE GUIN (seems particularly unlikely you haven't given her a spin, but just in case) to start with: A WIZARD OF EARTHSEA. Alternate sf to start with: THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS. Alternate science-fantasy border straddler: THE LATHE OF HEAVEN.
JORGE LUIS to start with: well, the closest things to novels this extraordinarily influential writer offered were the collections of linked stories in THE UNIVERSAL HISTORY OF INFAMY and, with Adolfo Bioy-Casares, SIX CASES FOR DON ISIDRO PARODI (the latter parodic, slightly fantasticated crime fiction). But the stories in such collections as LABYRINTHS and THE ALEPH AND OTHER STORIES: 1933-69 are often mindblowing.
I should at least add Leigh Brackett and Gene Wolfe...(Ms.) C. L. Moore and Peter Beagle...Sylvia Townsend Warner and Italo know how it goes.

For more conventional book-recommendation essays, please see the links and examples at Patti Abbott's blog.