Friday, March 15, 2013

FFB: 7 Quick Reviews: Harlan Ellison, Gary Jennings, R. A. Lafferty, John D. MacDonald, Evan Hunter, Avram Davidson, Kirsten Sundberg Lunstrum, et al.

With still a whole lot of work to do, and recovering from the chest cold that won't go entirely away any too quickly, I haven't quite finished any of the books I'd want to review this week...but decided to bundle quick reviews of seven items, originally offered in years past for FFB...perhaps an unlucky seven, even given some of the stellar talent involved, in that these have been some of my least-visited far--and not because the literature in question isn't worthy, as I suspect you'll agree...

cover by Diane and Leo Dillon (see review at bottom, below)

index put together from various, mostly Contento and Stephensen-Payne sources:

Dolls are Murder, "from the Mystery Writers of America," edited by Harold Q. Masur. Lion Books, 1957, "by arrangement with Revere Publishing Corp." 126 pp. 25c mm pb. Cover by Mort Kuntsler.

7  · Human Interest Stuff · Brett Halliday · ss Adventure Sep ’38; EQMM Sep ’46
20 · The Homesick Buick · John D. MacDonald · ss EQMM Sep ’50
34 · I’ll Be Waiting · Raymond Chandler · ss The Saturday Evening Post Oct 14 ’39
51 · Mind Over Matter · Ellery Queen· ss Blue Book October 1939
73 · The Doctor Makes It Murder [Dr. Paul Standish] · George Harmon Coxe · ss Cosmopolitan Sep ’42 (reprinted in The Saint Detective Magazine as "The Doctor Calls It Murder," Oct '57)
92 · The Dog Died First · Bruno Fischer · nv Mystery Book Magazine Fll ’49
115· Affaire Ziliouk [Monsieur Froget] · Georges Simenon; trans. by Anthony Boucher · ss Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, May 1944; translated from Les 13 Coupables (1932).
122· Cop’s Gift · Rex Stout · ss What’s New Dec ’53 [as “Tough Cop’s Gift”]; EQMM Jan ’56 [as "Santa Claus Beat"]

So here's a slim, inexpensive (even for the time) paperback with at best a misleading title (but, thoughtfully, the MWA was kind enough to leave all its women writers out of this antho), inasmuch as some of these stories, such as "Brett Halliday"'s deft excursion into "B. Traven" territory, have no women to speak of in them (oh, wait...a minor character at the beginning is killed by the father of a young woman the mc insulted...dat's a deadly dame, doncha know). Likewise, the woman character in the JDMc story is notable mostly for being the only female character, and far less deadly than several of the males; she in fact commits no murder. But it's a solid little book, filled with stories that have become at least borderline chestnuts in the succeeding years, such as the Bruno Fischer story I first read in the Hitchcock Presents: volume I FFB'd the other week, a series, I'll note (somewhat redundantly) that Masur would eventually edit after primary editor Robert Arthur died. And the book rounds out with its shortest story, published under three different titles (I'm guessing that the title here, "Cop's Gift," might've been "Rex Stout"'s preferred one), a neat if not exactly challenging little mystery set on Christmas Eve, with the typical Stout wit and eye for small details (and not a Wolfe/Goodwin story). Much as this book itself was part of a seasonal gift from Kate Laity.

The '40s month on Rara-Avis gave me an incentive (however weak, given that most of its contents are from the legendary Manhunt magazine's heyday a decade later) to read Leo Margulies's 1960 Pyramid Books antho Dames, Danger, Death. The major 1940s entry, the only one copyrighted and probably the only one written in the '40s, is a "real" Brett Halliday (Davis Dresser) Mike Shayne story, "Death Goes to the Post," from the underappreciated Street & Smith's Detective Story Magazine in 1942 (not as literate as EQMM, nor as impressive as Black Mask or Dime Detective in their best years--but as a magazine a wide-ranging assortment of nearly all the kinds of pulp, and wartime digest, crime fiction in the issues I have read, most of those actually from a British reprint run). Unsurprisingly, this early Shayne is a hell of a lot fresher than many of the ghostwritten items offered by Margulies's Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, and one can here see the seeds of Hammer and all the less-romantic children of Marlowe, the less emotionally-distant offspring of the Continental Op.

The book opens and closes with two pseudonymous stories by Salvatore Lombino, at time of writing not yet, I think, legally Evan Hunter, and only jokingly "Curt Cannon," who with "Now Die in It" offers about as deft a parody/pastiche-straddler of Hammer (from a 1953 Manhunt) as was Howard Browne's "The Veiled Woman" from a slightly earlier issue of Fantastic. "Curt Cannon" is both author and protag, doncha know, much like Ellery Queen, and he gets tied up with teenagers who run "nightclubs" of sorts out of their families' rec-rooms, and the nymphomaniac who patronizes one in particular. She, like some of Hammer's companions, can't get enough abuse-as-foreplay. It's a nice touch that this percussive fellow starts out as a down-and-out flophouse resident, reminiscent of what I've read about Barry "Mike Barry" Malzberg's later Executioner-style series, The Lone Wolf books, wherein apparently no bones are made about the protagonist being a deteriorating sociopath.

"Classification: Dead," as by Richard Marsten, is mostly notable for the depth of hatred Lombino/Hunter evinces for both abortionists and abortion as a concept. Henry Kane has a decent Peter Chambers story here, "Sweet Charlie"; Frank Kane, a more ridiculously terse attempt at an ultra-hardboiled Johnny Liddell story, "Sleep Without Dreams" (somehow, it doesn't surprise me that Liddell stories would eventually pop up in the bottom-of-the-market Web Detective by the turn of the '60s). Richard Prather's Shell Scott story "Squeeze Play" bounces along as nicely as you'd expect; Richard Deming's "Optical Illusion" is disappointing when compared to his later work, which I usually enjoy, but is a solid if unexciting example of the criminal-with-scruples-and-injured-vanity taking on his rivals. Best in the book is Jonathan Craig's "A Lady of Talent," a police procedural of sorts in this book supposedly of PI stories, and the story which really gets at the urban High Lonesome of hardboiled, with a fully human touch that the others tend to lack. Perhaps because this is a Margulies antho, or so I gather from the others attributed to him and published by Pyramid at about the same time, he  (and his ghost-editors) seemed more interested in overlooked and interesting-enough than actually good work. Nonetheless, this is a valuable core-sampling of the Manhunt/MSMM-style story, one of the dominant modes of short crime-fiction in the 1950s and '60s, and still influential through the various hardboiled short-fiction venues since.

This Life She's Chosen: Stories by Kristen Sundberg Lunstrum (Chronicle Books, 2005); The Man Who Made Models and Other Stories by R. A. Lafferty (Chris Drumm, 1984)

It's almost too easy to contrast these two collections, which I can recommend with a few reservations (and both are essentially out of print, though available, the Lafferty in this form only at collector's prices). Two writers with a clearly insufficient number of names, nor enough old-country ethinicity implied in those names, between them, Kirsten Sundberg Lunstrum, born 1979, has been a creature of the MFA programs and the AWP (the Association of Writers and Writer's Programs, which like the SFWA [now the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America] used to fit its acronym better); Raphael Aloysius Lafferty was an eventually retired engineer who began writing fiction as a form of therapy and distraction from alcoholism, and began publishing in 1959 and 1960 in New Mexico Quarterly Review and Science Fiction Stories magazines. This Life She's Chosen is Lunstrum's first collection; she's since published another, which was met with less praise (a particularly harsh review from Publisher's Weekly sits on the Amazon page); The Man Who Made Models was one of Lafferty's last, a chapbook in a series of booklets published by bookseller Chris Drumm in the 1980s and '90s, after the larger commercial publishers and Lafferty had parted ways.  Both are collections of stories that were, as far as I can tell, never previously published.
The Lunstrum is a collection of tales of mostly young and middle-aged women enmeshed unhappily in family relations, with mothers, sisters, husbands; there are deft descriptions of small slights and continuing minor cruelties which alienate the characters from each other, while also rarely being enough to allow for clean breaks, nor does it occur to most of the characters to try to tell their family members how they are being chivvied, until explosions of rage or sublimation into cold resentment occurs. They are well-written, but clearly the work of a talented but young writer--she paints delicately, but in all primary colors, and certain tropes are too much in evidence--people are always smelling strongly of the air and leaves and other outdoor scents as they are greeted or (often grudgingly) embraced; the horizon is forever merging into a gray or gray-like haze in the distance, from story to story (that latter not too surprising given that the stories take place almost exclusive in the Pacific Northwest, from Juneau to the SF Bay Area, locus of Lunstrum's primary residence up through the time of publication).  The single biggest factor in my picking up this remaindered paperback edition was Karen Joy Fowler's largely correct blurb, that these are "Deft [so apt I steal it above], rich, moving, and memorable"...and they are rich in detail, and can be moving, even given the limitations Lunstrum places on her characters, who lead sexless lives (perhaps not so oddly, but the consistency of the sexlessness of the protagonists' lives, and indeed the consistency with which sexuality is seen only in terms of threat, does encourage a certain vest-pocket humming, particularly in the work of a writer who seems to have married rather young).  While most of the characters are almost stereotypically Norwegianly closed off emotionally, they do tend to be industrious (her portrayals of work life and other busy-ness are also rather good for a writer who seems to have been in academe so thoroughly throughout her adult life), and there are nice touches of wit to alleviate the gloom.

While R. A. Lafferty was all wit and invention and the constant questioning of received wisdom and of the limits we accept in ourselves. He, more than any other writer I can think of, was a brilliant teller of tall tales, delivered in raucous and yet elegant prose.  Patti Abbott was lamenting recently the dearth of new fair-play detective fiction that she sees; Lafferty responds, in these stories originally written in the mid 1970s but slightly revised by Lafferty for their 1984 publication here, with "Two for Four Ninety Nine," which offers a detective agency featuring two ridiculously perceptive geniuses, putting Holmes to shame, one a Homo sapiens named Roy Mega, the other an Australopithecus named Austro (who is also a popular cartoonist)...who are joined in their efforts by the disembodied soul of a young woman, who serves as their in-house oracle. (This kind of thing, or its less eccentric aping, had not been done to death when Lafferty was writing it, and it still is fresh in his hands.) You'll have to read the story for how the grackle fits in.  In fact, all of the stories here are at least borderline criminous, as well as mostly fantasticated, instructive, and funny as hell.  It is genuinely difficult to find people to compare Lafferty to...Avram Davidson in his more antic moods is similar, Robert Benchley if he tackled matters with a serious subtexts might be somewhat comparable, Peter De Vries if he was willing to take more risks with form and structure and admitted more fantasticated content into his work...neither Kingsley Amis nor even Bruce Jay Friedman have quite matched the joyful liberties, the Tall-Taleness, of what Lafferty regularly does (Donald Barthelme in his more arch way also came close at times, and fellow-traveler Carol Emshwiller also comes close in certain moods), and one of the stories here, the utterly unfantasticated "Of Laughter and the Love of Friends," is even a tale of not so small cruelties between a husband and wife that is the manic flipside to Lunstrum's work.

There's more to say, but so little's the Locus Index for the Lafferty (I believe thes Drumm Booklet short stories have been since recollected, shall look around for that volume if so--and I've now discovered that this belief was incorrect...sadly):

The Man Who Made Models and Other Stories, R. A. Lafferty (Chris Drumm, Sep ’84, $2.50, 51pp, ph) Original collection of five stories. Drumm Booklet #18.
3 · The Man Who Made Models · ss *
14 · I’ll See It Done and Then I’ll Die · ss *
22 · The Effigy Histories · ss *
31 · Of Laughter and the Love of Friends · ss *
41 · Two for Four Ninety-Nine · ss *

The Contento Index:

Partners in Wonder edited and co-written by Harlan Ellison (Walker, 1971, hc)
· Sons of Janus · in
· I See a Man Sitting on a Chair, and the Chair Is Biting His Leg · Harlan Ellison & Robert Sheckley · nv F&SF Jan ’68
· Brillo · Harlan Ellison & Ben Bova · nv Analog Aug ’70
· A Toy for Juliette · Robert Bloch · ss Dangerous Visions, ed. Harlan Ellison, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1967
· The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World · nv Dangerous Visions, ed. Harlan Ellison, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1967
· Scherzo for Schizoids: Notes on a Collaboration · ms Knight Nov ’65
· Up Christopher to Madness · Harlan Ellison & Avram Davidson · ss Knight Nov ’65
· Runesmith · Harlan Ellison & Theodore Sturgeon · ss F&SF May ’70
· Rodney Parish for Hire · Harlan Ellison & Joe L. Hensley · ss Swank May ’62
· The Kong Papers · Harlan Ellison & William Rotsler · ct The Kong Papers, William Rotsler & Harlan Ellison, 1969
· The Human Operators · Harlan Ellison & A. E. van Vogt · ss F&SF Jan ’71
· Survivor No. 1 [“The Man with the Green Nose”] · Harlan Ellison & Henry Slesar · ss Knave Sep ’59
· The Power of the Nail · Harlan Ellison & Samuel R. Delany · ss Amazing Nov ’68
· Wonderbird · Harlan Ellison & Algis Budrys · ss Infinity Science Fiction Sep ’57
· The Song the Zombie Sang · Harlan Ellison & Robert Silverberg · ss Cosmopolitan Dec ’70
· Street Scene [“Dunderbird”] · Harlan Ellison & Keith Laumer · ss Galaxy Jan ’69; this story has two different endings. The version with the Ellison ending was in Galaxy, the version with the Laumer ending was in Adam Mar ’69 as “Street Scene”.
· Come to Me Not in Winter’s White · Harlan Ellison & Roger Zelazny · ss F&SF Oct ’69

There are certain books which will change your life, though usually only very slightly. This was one of those for me, an a young reader, which more than any other early reading experience brought home the sense of a writer's life and the community of writers.  It's available as an e-book, which is the source of the link to the introduction, but I read the Pyramid edition with the Leo and Diane Dillon cover design pictured here, part of the series they did of Ellison paperbacks for the publisher (some reissued by Jove after the purchase).  This is almost certainly the only version of an Ellison book to be blurbed with the employment of Jimmie Walker's mid-'70s catchphrase.

The stories here, in what was the first collection of collaborations between one writer and several others that Ellison was aware of (I think there was at least one previous example, but it eludes me at the moment), are a mixed lot (and include a series of cartoons with William Rotsler which struck me as Just OK even when I was ten, not Rotsler's best work in the form, certainly--though I'm still fond of Fay Wray in the clutches of the big ape as he scales the Empire State, and someone shouting up from below, "Trip him, Fay!").  Even the best of them are almost invariably not quite up to the best of either collaborator, but they do have a special flavor...even when, as with the the two stories by Robert Bloch and Harlan Ellison individually, the collaboration is more along the lines of nudging inspiration...resulting in a decent Bloch story, since his was merely commissioned for Dangerous Visions, and a rather better sequel to that story by Ellison, who was mildly obsessed with what he was asking Bloch to do (both stories being sequels to Bloch's early story "Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper," one of those stories which follow their creators around for their entire careers, and one of the most widely plagiarized stories written in the last century).  The antic comedies, such as the Laumer and Davidson collaborations, are often more successful than the attempts at more serious work, but the darker humor of the Sheckley and Silverberg stories are certainly effective.  And, of course, while I'd read a few Davidson stories before this book (in anthologies attributed to Hitchcock), this was the first opportunity I had to read Davidson's delightful nonfiction, in this case an acocunt of an incident that Ellison also recounts, and the comparison of the two versions is telling and extremely entertaining.

And the Bova story, "Brillo," was even ripped off for at least two tv series, though only actionably for one.

Still a valuable read, and the ancillary material might be Ellison at his best at this, at which he is one of the best.

Here's the Locus Index's accounting of this book, easily the most obscure title by bestselling writer Gary Jennings after he began publishing his string of huge successes, including Aztec and Spangle:

The Lively Lives of Crispin Mobey (as by) Gabriel Quyth (Macmillan Atheneum 0-689-12023-0, Oct ’88 [Feb ’89], $18.95, 243pp, hc) [Crispin Mobey]; Humorous fantasy fix-up novel of nine stories featuring missionary Crispin Mobey. Quyth is a pseudonym for Gary Jennings. Published in 1988 but not seen until 1989.

1 · Sooner or Later or Never Never [as by Gary Jennings] · nv F&SF May ’72
39 · Kingdom Come [as by Gary Jennings] · nv F&SF Jan ’78
66 · Lhude Sing Cuccu! [as by Gary Jennings] · nv F&SF Sep ’77
93 · Let Us Prey [as by Gary Jennings] · nv F&SF Jun ’78
117 · Be Jubilant My Feet! [as by Gary Jennings] · ss F&SF Dec ’78
142 · Ignis Fatuus [as by Gary Jennings] · ss F&SF Sep ’79
169 · P.U. · ss
193 · Homo Sap [as by Gary Jennings] · nv F&SF Mar ’79
217 · Not with a Bang But a Bleep [as by Gary Jennings] · nv F&SF Jun ’77

Now, I have to admit I've never held a copy of this book, so I believe I've never been able to read the story "P.U." (the comedy of humors rules OK in these memorable bit has the Reverend discover, much to his immediate chagrin, The Kindergarten Guide to Gonorrhea, the first page of which is inevitably "See Dick run."). You will not be surprised to learn that old P.U. is our bumptious missionary protagonist's alma mater, as I remember it...for I read all the Mobey stories I could find in back issues and as they were published in '78 and later in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.  Jennings, who like Richard McKenna, Allan Eckert and Michael Shaara before him was a no-two-ways-about-it fantasy and sf writer before Hitting Big with historical fiction, the next field over in one direction, also published such wonderful, terrifying fiction as "How We Pass the Time in Hell" in F&SF (November 1971, for that one) and elsewhere (well, "How..." certainly made an impression on young me, with its ultraviolet humor and bleak invention).

Mobey, of the SoPrim or Southern Primitive Baptist Church, can't help but stumble upon outre or utterly supernatural phenomena in his attempt to somewhat hamhandedly spread the good word, misunderstanding as much of what's going on around him as he possibly can most of the time. Jennings apparently didn't think his bestseller audience was quite ready for the caustic portrayal of religion and so much else in these stories, so he published the book under that odd pseudonym, and Atheneum apparently did little to draw much attention to the book, even with a coy Guess-Who campaign.

I certainly would've bought a copy back when.  And, if one can be had reasonably, might yet soon.

The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, March 1973, edited by Edward Ferman

From the F&SF index-not a perfect tool, as one of the mistakes in Ellison's citations refers to the misbegotten television series The Starlost, which abused Ellison's "bible" and groundwork, as The Starcrossed, also correctly noted as Ellison collaborator Ben Bova's parodic novel about the travesty:

  Dean McLaughlin,  The Trouble With Project Slickenside  nv
  Avram Davidson.  Books, reviewing:
     Donald A. Wollheim (ed): The 1972 Annual World's Best SF; Terry Carr (ed) The Best Science Fiction of the Year; Robin Scott Wilson (ed): Clarion II; Lester del Rey (ed): Best Science Fiction Stories of the Year
  Gahan Wilson,  Cartoon  ct  
  Thom Jones.  Brother Dodo's Revenge  ss
  Edward Wellen,  Chalk Talk  vi  
  Baird Searles,  Films: Return to Cobra Island
          reviews Cobra Woman (1944), starring Maria Montez; The Undead (1957)
  Chris G. Butler,  A Coffin in Egypt  ss
  Gahan Wilson,  The Zombie Butler  vi  6th story in Moral vignettes series;
  Waldo Carlton Wright,  Spirit of the White Deer  ss
  John Sladek,  Solar Shoe-Salesman by Ph*l*p K. D*ck  ss
  andrew j. offutt,  Sareva: In Memoriam  ss
  Isaac Asimov,  Science: Down From the Amoeba  pop-science essay
  Michael G. Coney,  The Manya  ss  1st story in Finistelle ser.
  Walter H. Kerr, poem
  Harlan Ellison,  The Deathbird  nv  (Winner-1974 HUGO, JUPITER, LOCUS Awards;
                          Nominee-1973 NEBULA award)

So, I'd picked this issue up off a stack and browsed the Table of Contents, and realized I couldn't remember reading the Avram Davidson book review column...Davidson, the brilliant fiction writer and former F&SF editor, would occasionally drop back in duting the 1970s to offer a book column, one which otherwise would be conducted in those years by a rotating goup including James Blish till his final illness, Algis Budrys with ever-greater frequency in the latter '70s, Joanna Russ, Barry Malzberg, and others from time to time (the best lineup any fantastic-fiction magazine has ever had in this wise, F&SF in the 1970s, even if Damon Knight didn't publish reviews again in F&SF after 1960, and Fritz Leiber in the 1970s published most of his in longterm "rival" magazine Fantastic, instead).  Sadly, this consideration of three of the Best of the Year annuals and a Clarion writing workshop anthology is unusually slight and terse for a Davidson review, if gracious and witty. Oddly enough, one of Harlan Ellison's few book-review essays for F&SF, a year before, was also a rundown of the available BOTYs, and a very good one.

But, quite aside from offering a gorgeous wraparound cover by Leo and Diane Dillon, one of the best the magazine has published (and it's a pity the Dillons and Ellison don't seem to work together any longer--a falling out, or is it simply that the Dillons are too expensive for most of Ellison's publishers these days?--this review written several years before the death of Leo Dillon), for the best Harlan Ellison story I've read so far (both in terms of its power and breadth and even its flaws being so much of the Ellison geist)...quite aside from that, this issue also contains the one Thom Jones contribution to F&SF, a story which The Pugilist at Rest writer might be ashamed of (or he might've feared that being associated with fantastic fiction or the magazine might tar him somehow, the Vonnegut Perplex or the Hortense Calisher flitter). As it is, it is a reasonably deftly-written if rather heavyhanded Orwellian animal fantasy; rather than Lenin and Trotsky with trotters, we have a convocation of Black Panthers and the American Indian Movement and the Young Lords as a Pogo-esque mixture of human-hating animals, including insects and an ill-fated "Tomming" martyr to the Revolution in the form of a cow, sacrificed not altogether accidentally to further the cause (which is greater than the fate of any one constituent, doncha know). Like myself, only fifteen years or so earlier, Thom Jones was a University of Hawaii dropout who took his degree elsewhere.

Ed Ferman's editorship was at least as notable as those around his for the occasional contributions from fiction writers better known for work in other modes...the first F&SF I ever perused, but decided against buying since I had only so many quarters on hand and the magazine was a buck, was the Janauary, 1976 issue...led off by and perhaps best remembered for Joanna Russ's "My Boat," but also featuring Stuart Dybek's disturbing "Horror Movie."  Ellen Gilchrist would place her "The Green Tent" with F&SF a decade later.

Some quick notes:  Edward Wellen's vignette is one of the few linguistics fantasies, Chomskyite deep structure and all, that I've come across.  Wellen, much like such others as Henry Slesar, Fredric Brown, and Miriam Allen de Ford, was a crime fiction/fantastic fiction amphibian, and like them a multiple-story contributor to F&SF and its shortlived sibling magazine Venture Science Fiction.  In fact, he was enough of a favorite with Edward Ferman, editor of both magazines from the mid '60s to the turn of the '90s (well, the Venture revival lasted only a year or so at the turn of the '70s), so that Ferman took Wellen's long novella/short novel "Goldbrick" and ran it, despite it having essentially no sf nor fantasy content, in the November, 1978 was more a crime fiction, but the only cf magazine running any long stories at this point was Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, and the only long-form fiction it wanted to run were the ghosted Shayne novellas.

John Sladek's Dick parody was one of a series of short lampoons that Sladek was publishing in those years...I don't have the issue at hand at this moment, but it's a rich and dense parody, and if there's an indispensible line in it, it would be (paraphrased from memory, to be corrected later): "This was the end of existence, they all agreed."

Gahan Wilson contributed a cartoon to every issue of F&SF for 17 years, from Edward Ferman's first issuue till Ferman and Wilson had a falling out...a loss all around, particularly since Wilson's occasional fine fiction for the magazine also ceased.

andrew j. offutt often made a point of using all miniscules in his signatures in those years, and his story is almost a parody of Fritz Leiber's Conjure Wife at the point where I've broken off (I will slog through soon).  offutt is probably best known these days for the rather bad relation he's had with his writer son Chris Offutt (who likes capitals).  (The whole story is about how much less your kids like you than your spouse does, as well as pulling in some heavy winks about Bewitched the television series, as well.)

Baird Searles was the film, television, and general A/V club reviewer for F&SF from 1969 till moving over to be the book reviewer in Asimov's after the recently late Charles Brown left, in the early '80s. He and his life partner Martin Last ran The Science Fiction Shop in NYC in the '70s, as well.  Searles had been preceded in the late 1950s by Charles Beaumont as film reviewer (with William Morrison also submitting at least one stage review), and was succeeded by Harlan Ellison, Kathi Maio, and Lucius Shepard.

Dean McLaughlin was one of the folks who did consistently good, and occasionally great, work for various magazines starting around the turn of the '60s...the last time Davidson, Ellison, and McLaughlin had been in the same issue was a decade before, when Davidson had been editing.

Walter Kerr the poet eventually started adding his middle initial to his F&SF contributions to stave off confusion with the NYC stage critic.  F&SF contributor Paul Darcy Bowles felt a similar responsibility.

Isaac Asimov eventually wrote 399 monthly popular-science essays (a few touched only peripherally on science) for F&SF, and credited that series, and its predecessor column in the shortlived first run of stablemate magazine Venture Science Fiction, with inspiring his most prominent public career during most of his writing life, that of a pop-science writer...even if, by his last decade, he was hitting the bestseller lists with his fiction (which had never supported him nearly as well financially until that last decade).

Cover illustration by David Palladini, for "Brother Hart" by Jane Yolen (1978)
Please eee Patti Abbott's blog for more "forgotten" books for this week, and previously.

And apologies for all the typos and syntactical infelicities I've been pulling out of these reprints this Saturday morning (3/16/15) goodness, I write these things too quickly sometimes (always?), and too often they need a second draft (at least)...


Randy Johnson said...

Well, I had to order DOLLS ARE MURDER. May order some of the others. The Partners In Wonder you picture is the copy I have.

Good post.

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

What a marvellous post Todd, not least because, for me PARTNERS IN WONDER was definitely a game-changing read in my teens. I remain passionately devoted to Ellison and to most of the authors he collaborated with here but this book is really special and you convey that really well - made my week this has - ta mate! Now off to read MEMOS FROM PURGATORY again!

George said...

What a bounty of riches! Like you, reading Harlan Ellison as a teenager flipped me out. And, like Randy, I had that edition with the great Dillon cover. Sergio's enthusiasm parallels mine.

Todd Mason said...

Thanks, gents, and glad to be of service. Also interesting to me that these mostly early reviews had been seen by a limited audience, but certainly got more comments than most do of late...the Pyramid Ellison set was certainly a handsome and useful project...Jove even managed to reprint a few without slapping some infra dig new covers on...

Michael E. Stamm said...

I'm not sure; was the last Dillon cover for an Ellison book THE ESSENTIAL ELLISON? That must be 20-some years ago now. I seem to remember another excellent wrap-around cover for F&SF for Ellison's story "Basilisk." As I did with some other artists, I have a number of books in which I was not necessarily interested but picked up because they had Dillon covers; I really admire their work. Leo Dillon died last May; I don't know if Diane will do any more work or not.

Todd Mason said...

Could be, Mike (on the Dillon/Ellison question)...I posted in memoriam for Leo Dillon, but didn't update the text above...yet...