Friday, September 13, 2013

FFB: F&SF: A 30 YEAR RETROSPECTIVE, edited by Edward Ferman; BOUCHER'S CHOICEST, edited by Jeanne Bernkopf; TOO MANY BOTTLES aka THE PARTY WAS THE PAYOFF by Elizabeth Sanxay Holding

The return of two older reviews...because I'm tied up with some tough personal business, but since I was at the computer anyway...repackages are quick:

From ISFDb (and I'm cheating here, listing the slightly fuller contents of the October, 1979 issue, rather than the subsequent Doubleday hardcover, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction: A 30 Year Retrospective, that failed to reprint the columns by Budrys, Searles and Asimov, nor Heinlein's short story, nor all of the Wilson cartoons), though it adds a brief Asimov introduction to go with Ferman's:

* 8 • In This Issue (F&SF, October 1979) • essay by Edward L. Ferman
* 12 • Fondly Fahrenheit • (1954) • novelette by Alfred Bester
* 30 • Books (F&SF, October 1979) • [Books (F&SF)] • essay by Algis Budrys
* 32 •   Review: The Pleasure Tube by Robert Onopa • review by Algis Budrys
* 34 •   Review: Stardance by Jeanne Robinson and Spider Robinson • review by Algis Budrys
* 40 • And Now the News . . . • (1956) • novelette by Theodore Sturgeon
* 60 • Not With a Bang • (1950) • shortstory by Damon Knight
* 65 • Flowers for Algernon • (1959) • novelette by Daniel Keyes
* 89 • Cartoon: no caption • (1974) • interior artwork by Gahan Wilson
* 89 • Cartoon Portfolio (F&SF, October 1979) • essay by Gahan Wilson
* 90 • Cartoon: "This is Willy, and this is Willy's imaginary playmate." • (1965) • interior artwork by Gahan Wilson
* 91 • Cartoon: "You can tell she's thinking it over!" • (1967) • interior artwork by Gahan Wilson
* 92 • Cartoon: "Well, I guess that pretty well takes care of my anemia diagnosis." • (1968) • interior artwork by Gahan Wilson
* 93 • Cartoon: "Best damn special effects man in the business!" • (1970) • interior artwork by Gahan Wilson
* 94 • Cartoon: "I don't like the looks of that, at all!" • (1970) • interior artwork by Gahan Wilson
* 95 • Cartoon: "I suppose the least we can do is name the damned thing after poor Dembar." • (1971) • interior artwork by Gahan Wilson
* 96 • Cartoon: no caption • (1970) • interior artwork by Gahan Wilson
* 98 • A Canticle for Leibowitz • [Saint Leibowitz] • (1955) • novelette by Walter M. Miller, Jr.
* 116 • Through Time and Space with Ferdinand Feghoot • [Through Time and Space with Ferdinand Feghoot • 1] • (1956) • shortstory by Reginald Bretnor [as by Grendel Briarton ]
* 117 • One Ordinary Day, with Peanuts • (1955) • shortstory by Shirley Jackson
* 125 • Imaginary Numbers in a Real Garden • (1965) • poem by Gerald Jonas
* 126 • The Women Men Don't See • (1973) • novelette by James Tiptree, Jr.
* 149 • Dance Music for a Gone Planet • (1968) • poem by Sonya Dorman
* 150 • Born of Man and Woman • (1950) • shortstory by Richard Matheson
* 153 • "All You Zombies . . ." • (1959) • shortstory by Robert A. Heinlein
* 163 • Love Letter from Mars • (1965) • poem by John Ciardi
* 164 • Jeffty Is Five • (1977) • shortstory by Harlan Ellison
* 181 • Ararat • [The People] • (1952) • novelette by Zenna Henderson
* 201 • Sundance • (1969) • shortstory by Robert Silverberg
* 214 • The Gnurrs Come from the Voodvork Out • [Schimmelhorn] • (1950) • shortstory by Reginald Bretnor [as by R. Bretnor ]
* 226 • Films: Egg Foo Alien • [Films (F&SF)] • essay by Baird Searles
* 229 • Dreaming Is a Private Thing • (1955) • shortstory by Isaac Asimov
* 242 • Poor Little Warrior! • (1958) • shortstory by Brian W. Aldiss
* 248 • We Can Remember It for You Wholesale • (1966) • novelette by Philip K. Dick
* 266 • Selectra Six-Ten • (1970) • shortstory by Avram Davidson
* 273 • Just Thirty Years • [Asimov's Essays: F&SF] • essay by Isaac Asimov
* 284 • Problems of Creativeness • (1967) • shortstory by Thomas M. Disch
* 302 • Me • (1959) • poem by Hilbert Schenck
* 303 • The Quest for Saint Aquin • (1951) • novelette by Anthony Boucher

From WorldCat:

Boucher's Choicest; a collection of Anthony Boucher's favorites from Best Detective Stories of the Year, selected by Jeanne F. Bernkopf; Introduction by Allen J. Hubin (Dutton, 1969)

Table of Contents
H as in homicide, by Lawrence Treat.
Justice, inc., by Rog Phillips.
The adventure of the double-bogey man, by Robert L. Fish.
File 1: the Mayfield case, by Joe Gores.
A humanist, by Romain Gary.
A case for the U.N., by Miriam Allen deFord.
A soliloquy in tongues, by William Wiser.
I will please come to order, by William North Jayme.
His brother's keeper, by James McKimmey.
The opposite number, by Jacob Hay.
The right man for the right job, by J. C. Thompson.
The adventure of Abraham Lincoln's clue, by Ellery Queen.
The chosen one, by Rhys Davies.
The adventure of the red leech, by August Derleth.
The two kings and the two labyrinths, by Jorge Luis Borges.
Papa Tral's harvest, by Barry Perowne.
Good man, bad man, by Jerome Weidman.
The Stollmeyer sonnets, by James Powell.
The Dr. Sherrock commission, by Frank McAuliffe.
The oblong room, by Edward D. Hoch.
The peppermint-striped goodby, by Ron Goulart.
The gracious, pleasant life of Mrs. Afton, by Patricia Highsmith.
By child undone, by Jack Ritchie.
The possibility of evil, by Shirley Jackson.

Two anthologies that are both at least in part retrospective tributes to Anthony Boucher, cofounder of F&SF, and later editor of six volumes in the long-running crime-fiction annual, up till the time of his death...Allen Hubin took over at that point.

Edward Ferman, by 1979 both editor and publisher of F&SF for some years, polled his lifetime subscribers for input as to which of the stories from F&SF's past deserved most to be reprinted in the first all-reprint fiction and poetry issue of the magazine, and the subsequent book version...and while the voters couldn't settle on a single work by Fritz Leiber, Robert Bloch, Joanna Russ nor Manly Wade Wellman (thereby all but invalidating the process), they were able to provide the above list of favored work from the magazine's rich history...and Ferman only overruled them once, as far as I know, by substituting the very personal story "Selectra Six-Ten" for "The Golem," one of the most famous but perhaps somewhat less distinctive of the stories of Avram Davidson, the previous F&SF editor and with whom Ferman had worked as assistant editor. Boucher had been founding co-editor from 1949 (and earlier) to 1954, and continued to edit the magazine alone for several more years before turning it over to Robert P. Mills, aided by C.M. Kornbluth, for several more (though Kornbluth's premature death kept his tenure short).

Truly a brilliant assemblage, even with the missing-writer caveats. Richard Matheson's first story, and the first by Damon Knight to get much attention, are both eminently memorable, but slight in the company they keep here (or when compared to some of their other stories to appear later). Daniel Keyes's "Flowers for Algernon" is almost impossible not to include (even if one wanted to exclude it), and Boucher's own "The Quest for Saint Aquin" is the only story originally published elsewhere. Meanwhile, Algis Budrys reviews Robert Onopa's The Pleasure Tube , which I keep meaning to dig back out for FFB, but I definitely need to reread it...both men would have a major effect on my writing, Onopa as my first writing professor.

Meanwhile, Dutton editor Jeanne F. Bernkopf looks back through the BOTY volumes Boucher edited for her list, and recalls the stories he either did or at least seemed to enjoy most, and reprints Boucher's headnotes in their reprinting here...not only an excellent compilation and probably a pretty fair representation of what the already late Boucher would've culled for his own Best of the BESTs, but also notable for how many of these writers were still doing notable work a decade later, when I was catching their new stories in the magazines and elsewhere. Allen Hubin, who would inherit the editorial post for a handful of years, turning the series over to Edward Hoch for the longest reign the annual would see (through title-change and a new publisher), puts Boucher in context in his brief introduction, and the stories, heavily running to Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine stories with a few other sources (Hoch's own brilliant "The Oblong Room" comes from The Saint Magazine), speak very entertainingly for themselves.

At least two more tribute anthologies were produced just after Boucher's death, the crime-fictional Crimes and Misfortunes and the fantasticated Special Wonder, and even they, fine anthologies both, are not better than these selections from Boucher's
own considered acceptances (and those of his partner and heirs, in the first book/issue). If you don't have these volumes...I suspect you can see you might need them, and you will suffer no pain in reading them.

For more of Friday's Forgotten Books, please see Patti Abbott's blog...

Simon & Schuster, 1951

A short, and relatively late, novel by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding, and one which plays to her strengths without showcasing any of them in their best light, except perhaps her casual wit and the smoothly readable pacing she brought to most of her work I've read (a fraction of her work in the crime-fiction field). A 1951 "Inner Sanctum" mystery, it mixes elements of the psychological suspense story she and Cornell Woolrich and Robert Bloch and Daphne Du Maurier and others were developing in the 1940s with some of the conventions of the drawing room mystery and even a touch of the police procedural, while mostly being from the perspective of a freelance writer, James Brophy, who has let his life get beyond his control. At least, he's been drifting along enough so that his social-butterfly wife and her sister, an increasingly shrill and dependent presence in the household, go through gyrations that lead to several murders...while he attempts to get some work done on one or another short story or serialized novel or novella (particularly one in progress called "The Party Was the Payoff"), with hopes of placing This one in a slick magazine rather than a pulp. Another woman catches his resigned eye, and she plays a significant role as well, at one point trying to fix him up with a job with an early 1950s version of Open University, an offer he dodges with a shudder and several quietly offputting suggestions to the Ms. Vanderbilt (but not of Those Vanderbilts) who runs the multi-disciplinary arts "school" for adults.

At 123 pages in the Mercury edition, with a decent but unexceptional George Salter cover painting, it's just a bit rushed, particularly around Brophy's realization of his own role in events, and the prime mover of most of the chaos is rather easy to spot, but it's in turns a funny and grim, and very quick, read. If you pick up one of the out of print editions or the current Stark House two-fer, you probably won't wish you were reading something else (though I wouldn't judge Holding's work as a whole by this one). ESH's influence on writers following her, from Patricia Highsmith to (her recent champion) Ed Gorman and beyond, was great...

The Mercury Mystery edition (a Dannay title change? Or ESH's title restored?), Mercury Press 1952, and as a Mercury Mystery, in undated digest-sized magazine format (at the end of its run, after Mercury Press sold EQMM to the new Davis Publications, Mercury would become a full-fledged fiction magazine, with each issue featuring a novel and short essays and fiction).

for more of today's books, please see Patti Abbott's blog.

Stark House's currently in-print omnibus, somewhat misleadingly suggesting "Never before in paperback" (possibly true of the first novel of two):


Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Fabulous Todd, thanks very much. All the best, Sergio

George said...

Good luck handling your situation, Todd. If I can be of any assistance, just let me know.

Kelly Robinson said...

It's a new post to me! Hope your situation goes as well as it can.

Yvette said...

Hope you're managing to take it a bit easy even in the middle of hectic family time.

Todd Mason said...

Thanks, folks. Your kindnesses won't be soon forgotten by me.