Friday, October 11, 2013

FFB: Horrors: Old and Almost New: HAUNTINGS edited by Henry Mazzeo; THE NEW MYSTERY edited by Jerome Charyn; THE NEW GOTHIC edited by Bradford Morrow and Patrick McGrath; THE NEW WEIRD edited by Ann & Jeff VanderMeer; GREAT TALES OF TERROR AND THE SUPERNATURAL edited by Herbert Wise and Phyllis Fraser; ADVENTURES IN TIME AND SPACE edited by Raymond Healey and J. Francis McComas; Ray Russell fiction anthologies for Playboy Press, THE PLAYBOY BOOK OF HORROR AND THE SUPERNATURAL et al.;THE OVERLOOK FILM ENCYCLOPEDIA: HORROR edited by Phil Hardy; ROMANCING THE VAMPIRE by David J. Skal

Friday's "Forgotten" Books: HAUNTINGS: STORIES OF THE SUPERNATURAL, edited by Henry Mazzeo (Doubleday 1968)

Contents, all illustrated by Edward Gorey:

Introduction: The Castle of Terror by Henry Mazzeo
The Lonesome Place by August Derleth
In the Vault by H. P. Lovecraft
The Man Who Collected Poe by Robert Bloch
Where Angels Fear by Manly Wade Wellman
Lot No. 249 by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Haunted Dolls’ House by M. R. James
The Open Door by Mrs. Oliphant
Thus I Refute Beelzy by John Collier
Levitation by Joseph Payne Brennan
The Ghostly Rental by Henry James
The Face by E. F. Benson
The Whistling Room by William Hope Hodgson
The Grey Ones by J. B. Priestley
The Stolen Body by H. G. Wells
The Red Lodge by H. Russell Wakefield
The Visiting Star by Robert Aickman
Midnight Express by Alfred Noyes

This might be the most important book to me among all those I've read. It's certainly, among the four or five horror anthologies I read by the time I was eight, one of only two aimed at adults (the other was the Berkley paperback edited by Hal Cantor, Ghosts and Things), and the one which I remember best (odd how few women's stories were collected in either this or the Cantor, which featured only Shirley Jackson's "The Lovely House" in that wise, though Betty M. Owen's Scholastic Book Services anthologies and the Robert Arthur and Harold Q. Masur Hitchcock anthologies helped redress that balance). Happily for me, perhaps (foolishly) because of the Gorey illustrations, this one was classed in the children's section of the Enfield Central Public Library, where I found it easily enough (not that having to go over to the adult section to find, say, Joan Aiken's collection The Green Flash was any great trial).

This book introduced me to all these geniuses, though of course I'd heard of Sherlock Holmes before reading Doyle's detective-free mummy story here, and had probably seen adaptations of at least some of these folks' works on Night Gallery, or in Bloch's case, his Star Trek scripts, and the George Pal productions of adaptations from that other familiar name, H. G. Wells.

Despite the attempts by some reviewers to claim this book for the ghost story tradition, Mazzeo cast his net considerably wider than that, including revenants other than Doyle's mummy, devils (or at least one Assumes they're devils) in at least one of the wittiest stories here (John Collier lets you know, after all, with his title, and Manly Wade Wellman is only a bit more coy in labeling his tale of a place you don't want to be). M. R. James traps children with a toy, Alfred Noyes with a book; Joseph Payne Brennan, with his best story and one of his shortest, traps the childish, and even H. P. Lovecraft is represented by one of his least self-indulgent stories. Derleth shows what he could do, when not attempting to corrupt Lovecraft's legacy into a Christian metaphor, and Wells's stolen body story is an improvement over the "Elvesham" variation collected by Damon Knight in his The Dark Side. J. B. Priestly, a diverse man of letters, I would next encounter primarily as the author (and reader, for a Spoken Arts recording) of his essay collection DELIGHT, which was indeed delightful; Robert Aickman, while also expert on the waterways of Britain, remained for me and many others the greatest of ghost-story writers of the latter half of the 20th Century, even with Russell Kirk and Joanna Russ and Charles Grant and so many others providing excellent contributions to that literature. That obscure fellow James and E. F. Benson (not yet rediscovered for his comedies of manners, and only one of three prolific Benson brothers in the horror field) were the only writers shared by both this book and the Cantor; the Hodgson is a Carnacki story, a fine introduction to psychic investigators.

And the Gorey illustrations will stay with anyone (Fritz Leiber, in his review of the book in his column in the magazine Fantastic, notes the sequence of the Gorey illustrations on the front and back covers tell their own story). This book essentially introduced me to lifelong favorites Bloch, Collier, Benson and Wellman, and even the weakest stories here were rewarding; the Noyes, like the Brennan, is almost certainly the best thing he wrote (at least in prose or the uncanny) and a landmark in the field. I see where Gahan Wilson reviewed this for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1969, Fritz Leiber somewhat belatedly for Fantastic in 1973 [see above]...I shall have to seek out those reviews...for that matter, I will need to read this book again, eventually, and see how completely all of these have stuck with me. And, as far as I know, Mazzeo never published another book.

FFB: "New" Movements This Morning: THE NEW MYSTERY (Charyn), THE NEW GOTHIC (Morrow and McGrath), THE NEW WEIRD (the VanderMeers), et al....

Please see Patti Abbott's blog for this week's other "forgotten" books. (Thanks to Ed Gorman for reminding me of the "alternate" title of Charyn's book, below, for some reason, pasted onto later US editions of this anthology--perhaps to lessen confusion with the magazine New Mystery...)

(The Italian edition, as no pictures of the English-language edition were at first posting poachable!)

The James Blish anthology New Dreams This Morning, an excellent candidate for a forgotten book piece, instead supplies the less than (or post-)gustatory title pun for this quick rumination...things are happening here, what it is ain't exactly clear (well, it's clear enough, actually, just not enough free time at the moment to get them down properly).

What shouldn't be taken away from that weak joke is that I'm mocking the quality of the fiction being gathered under these banners (and such others as steampunk and slipstream and neo-noir, splatterpunk and quiet horror, cyberpunk and humanist sf, surfiction and The New Fiction)...not by a long shot, even if the mediocre and sometimes utter trash is often nestling with the good and great. What's more likely to be noxious is the wind broken over why these are New And Distinct Movements And Much Different From What You've Already Been Reading, Or Not And You've Just Been Too Dense To Note The Shape of The Movement, Haven't You, Mis-Ter Jones?...given how many Mister Joneses of the literary world we have, of all ages and genders, this isn't altogether an incomprehensible approach, and it's certainly helped with marketing and convention and classroom arguments, if not too much else. Each of these would-be movements, and the books and magazines that have fomented them or attempted to capture their essence, or both, are amusingly examples, loudly and accurately proclaiming, of why the Old Boxes and Labels are outdated and inutile, but mistakening insisting instead that the new boxes being built from their smashed walls are less restraining or more accurate, whether or not one carries over smug notions of why something is Generic vs. Literary, or other distortions that should've been seen as useless, at best, decades back. The eclecticism that people such as Judith Merrill and Nelson Algren brought to their anthologies, that I've dealt with in previous entries in this series, is simply furthered by these folks here, and such others ranging from Joe David Bellamy to Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio to George Plimpton to Michael Chabon to Peter Straub to Ellen Datlow, among so many others, who have said, Hey, Look...this is art, this is art in fields and with approaches you may not've considered, c'mon, catch up, catch on. Take a look and think about it. No, it's not Just Good For That Sort of Thing, nor is it An Amusing Fusion of High And Low Art. It's living work among other living work. You should realize that.

Which, again, doesn't begin to excuse the work of William Vollmann. But he's but one among his betters, in the stories and approaches collected in these books, one expanded out of a magazine issue, two of them out of print despite their connected and respectable editors, and one from an industrious but still small press. New Mystery Magazine tried to steal some luster from the Charyn, and had it been published competently, might've sustained itself, as that wasn't the worst idea. Ann VanderMeer is New Weirding Weird Tales these days. Conjunctions still publishes.

The New Gothic:
FALL 1989
Edited by Bradford Morrow; Guest Edited by Patrick McGrath

Salman Rushdie, An Interview by Catherine
Walter Abish, Reading Kafka in German
Charles Bernstein, Common Stock
Marjorie Welish, Two Poems
Martine Bellen, Deception
Barbara Guest, Three Poems
Jacques Roubaud, From Some Thing Black
(translated from the French by Rosmarie

THE NEW GOTHIC, guest edited by
Patrick McGrath
Hillary Johnson, From Physical Culture
William T. Vollmann, The Grave of Lost
John Hawkes, Regulus and Maximus
Jamaica Kincaid, Ovando
Peter Straub, From Mrs. God
Bradford Morrow, From The Almanac
Robert Coover, Night of the Assassins
John Edgar Wideman, Fever
Clegg & Guttmann, Nine Portraits
Kathy Acker, The Beginnings of the Life of
Gary Indiana, Dreams Involving Water
Robert Kelly, Carville
Lynne Tillmann, The Trouble With Beauty
Mary Caponegro, The Sound
Sylvia Kelly, Colors
Paul West, A Whore's Agincourt
Afterword by Patrick McGrath

D.E. Steward, March
Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Irises
Robert Creeley, Four Poems from Helsinki
John Taggart, Vaguely Harmless
Diane Williams, Five Stories

READINGS: Reviews and Criticism
Paul West on Juan Goytisolo
Paul Metcalf on Lucia Berlin
Peter Cole on Edmond Jabès
Ann Lauterbach on Leslie Scalapino
Robert Kelly on Pierre Klossowski
Tom Clark on David Markson

...and the expanded anthology:
The New Gothic ed. Bradford Morrow & Patrick McGrath (Random House 0-394-58767-7, Oct ’91, $22.00, 336pp, hc, cover by Albert Pinkham Ryder) Anthology of 16 contemporary literary gothic stories and five novel excerpts. 12 of the stories seem to be originals, and three of the excerpts are from works in progress. There is an introduction by the editors.
xi · Introduction · Bradford Morrow & Patrick McGrath · in
1 · Ovando · Jamaica Kincaid · ss Conjunctions #14 ’89
15 · Horrorday [from London Fields] · Martin Amis · ex London: Cape, 1989
37 · Newton · Jeanette Winterson · ss *
51 · Banquo and the Black Banana: The Fierceness of the Delight of the Horror · Paul West · ss *
71 · Freniere [from Interview with the Vampire] · Anne Rice · ex New York: Knopf, 1976
85 · Blood · Janice Galloway · ex Blood, Secker & Warburg, 1991
95 · Didn’t She Know · Scott Bradfield · ss *
113 · Regulus and Maximus [from Monks in Shadow] · John Hawkes · ex Conjunctions #14 ’89
129 · The Fish Keeper · Yannick Murphy · ss *
135 · A Dead Summer · Lynne Tillman · ss *
147 · Why Don’t You Come Live with Me It’s Time · Joyce Carol Oates · ss Tikkun Jul/Aug ’90
165 · The Dead Queen · Robert Coover · ss Quarterly Review of Literature #18 ’73
179 · The Merchant of Shadows · Angela Carter · nv The London Review of Books Oct 26 ’89
201 · The Road to Nadeja · Bradford Morrow · ss *
217 · For Dear Life [from King Solomon’s Carpet] · Ruth Rendell · ex *
231 · Rigor Beach · Emma Tennant · ss Bananas #1 ’75
239 · The Smell · Patrick McGrath · ss *
249 · The Kingdom of Heaven [from Throat] · Peter Straub · ex *
267 · Fever · John Edgar Wideman · nv Conjunctions #14 ’89
301 · J · Kathy Acker · ss *
311 · The Grave of Lost Stories · William T. Vollmann · nv Conjunctions #14 ’89

The New Mystery, edited by Jerome Charyn
Dutton, New York, 1993.
Babel, Isaac,
--The King, 1955.
Barthelme, Donald, (1931-1989)
--Captain Blood, 1987.
Bayer, William,
--Mirror Girl, 1993.
Biermann, Pieke,
--The Law of the Eye, 1990.
Block, Lawrence, (1938- )
--The Merciful Angel of Death, 1993. Shamus
Borges, Jorge Luis, (1899-1986)
--Death and the Compass, 1964. (reprint)
Calvino, Italo, (1923-1985)
--Cities & the Dead, 1974.
Carter, Angela,
--The Werewolf, 1979.
Carver, Raymond, (1939-1988)
--Cathedral, 1983.
Chesbro, George C.,
--Imagine This, 1993.
Daeninckx, Didier,
--Goldfish, 1993.
DeLillo, Don,
--In the Bronx, 1988.
Ellison, Harlan, (1934- )
--Soft Monkey, 1987. Mystery Scene Reader #1, 1987.) Edgar
Ellroy, James,
--Gravy Train, 1990.
Friedman, Mickey,
--No Radio, 1993.
García Márquez, Gabriel, (1928- )
--The Last Voyage of the Ghost Ship, 1972.
Gold, Herbert,
--Nicholas in Exile, 1993.
Gordimer, Nadine, (1923- )
--The Moment Before the Gun Went Off, 1991.
Gores, Joe,
--Ishamel, 1993.
Grafton, Sue, (1940- )
--The Parker Shotgun, 1986. (reprint)
Greene, Graham,
--I Spy, 1947. (reprint)
Grimaldi, Laura,
--Fathers and Daughters, 1993.
Highsmith, Patricia, (1921-1995)
--The Snail Watcher, 1964. (reprint)
Hillerman, Tony, (1925- )
--Chee's Witch, 1986. (reprint)
James, P. D., (1920- )
--Devices and Desires, 1990
Kaminsky, Stuart M., (1934- )
--The Man Who Hated Books, 1993.
Lispector, Clarice,
--Pig Latin, 1974.
Mishima, Yukio,
--Martyrdom, 1900
Montalbán, Manuel Vásquez,
--A Boy and His Dog, 1988.
Mosley, Walter, (1952- )
--The Watts Lions, 1993.
Oates, Joyce Carol, (1938- )
--How I Contemplated the World from the Detroit House of Correction and Began My Life Over Again, 1970.
O'Connor, Flannery,
--A Good Man Is Hard to Find, 1953.
Paretsky, Sara, (1947- )
--Dealer's Choice, 1988.
Sciascia, Leonardo,
--Mafia Western, 1983.
Semionov, Julian,
--The Summer of '37, 1993.
Simon, Rober L.,
--Just Say No, 1993.
Taibo, Paco Ignacio, II,
--Manufacture of a Legend, 1993.
Thomas, Ross,
--Missionary Stew, 1983.
Vachss, Andrew, (1942- )
--Cain, 1992.
Westlake, Donald E., (1933- )
--The Ultimate Caper, 1975.
Wright, Eric,
--The Casebook of Dr. Billingsgate, 1993.

The New Weird edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer (Tachyon, 2008)
New Weird : The Luck in the Head - M. John Harrison
New Weird : Crossing into Cambodia - Michael Moorcock
New Weird : In the Cities the Hills - Clive Barker
New Weird : The Braining of Mother Lamprey - Simon D. Ings
New Weird : The Neglected Garden - Kathe Koja
New Weird : A Soft Voice Whispers Nothing - Thomas Ligotti
New Weird : Jack - China Miéville
New Weird : Immolation - Jeffrey Thomas
New Weird : The Lizard of Ooze - Jay Lake
New Weird : Watson's Boy - Brian Evenson
New Weird : The Art of Dying - K. J. Bishop
New Weird : At Reparata - Jeffrey Ford
New Weird : Letters from Tainaron - Leena Krohn
New Weird : The Ride of the Gabbleratchet - Steph Swainston
New Weird : The Gutter Sees the Light That Never Shines - Alistair Rennie
New Weird : Death in a Dirty Dhoti - Paul Di Filippo
New Weird : Cornflowers Beside the Unuttered - Cat Rambo
New Weird : All God's Chillun Got Wings - Sarah Monette
New Weird : Locust-Mind - Daniel Abraham
New Weird : Constable Chalch and the Ten Thousand Heroes - Felix Gilman
New Weird : Golden Lads All Must - Hal Duncan
New Weird : Forfend the Heavens' Rending - Conrad Williams

For more forgotten books, please see Patti Abbott's blog.

(Finally, the qp, and inferior, cover for the US edition.)

contents, courtesy of British Horror Anthology Hell...I don't believe the UK edition was different in content from the US original. See also this CyberSpace Spinner page for a partial accounting of original publication sources.

Great Tales of Terror & the Supernatural ed Herbert A. Wise & Phyllis Fraser
Tales of Terror
Honore de Balzac - La Grande Breteche
Edgar Allan Poe - The Black Cat
Edgar Allan Poe - The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
Wilkie Collins - A Terribly Strange Bed
Ambrose Bierce - The Boarded Window
Thomas Hardy - The Three Strangers
W. W. Jacobs - The Interruption
H. G. Wells - Pollock and the Porroh Man
H.G. Wells - The Sea Raiders
Saki - Sredni Vashtar
Alexander Woollcott - Moonlight Sonata
Conrad Aiken - Silent Snow, Secret Snow
Dorothy L. Sayers - Suspicion
Richard Connell - The Most Dangerous Game
Carl Stephenson - Leiningen versus the Ants
Michael Arlen - The Gentleman from America
William Faulkner - A Rose for Emily
Ernest Hemingway - The Killers
John Collier - Back for Christmas
Geoffrey Household - Taboo
Tales of the Supernatural
Edward Bulwer-Lytton - The Haunted and the Haunters
Nathaniel Hawthorne - Rappaccini's Daughter
Charles Collins & Charles Dickens - The Trial for Murder
Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu - Green Tea
Fitz-James O'Brien - What Was It?
Henry James - Sir Edmund Orme
Guy de Maupassant - The Horla
Guy de Maupassant - Was It a Dream?
F. Marion Crawford - The Screaming Skull
O. Henry - The Furnished Room
M. R. James - Casting the Runes
M.R. James - Oh, Whistle and I'll Come to You, My Lad
Edith Wharton - Afterward
W. W. Jacobs - The Monkey's Paw
Arthur Machen - The Great God Pan
Robert Hichens - How Love Came to Professor Guildea
Rudyard Kipling - The Return of Imray
Rudyard Kipling - "They"
Edward Lucas White - Lukundoo
E. F. Benson - Caterpillars
E. F. Benson - Mrs. Amworth
Algernon Blackwood - Ancient Sorceries
Algernon Blackwood - Confession
Saki - The Open Window
Oliver Onions - The Beckoning Fair One
Walter de la Mare - Out of the Deep
A. E. Coppard - Adam and Eve and Pinch Me
E. M. Forster - The Celestial Omnibus
Richard Middleton - The Ghost Ship
Karen Blixen - The Sailor-Boy's Tale
H. P. Lovecraft - The Rats in the Walls
H. P. Lovecraft - The Dunwich Horror

The Contento/Locus index:

Adventures in Time and Space ed. Raymond J. Healy & J. Francis McComas (Random House, Aug ’46, $3.00, 997pp, hc); Second Edition, 1953, omits last five stories, also as Famous Science-Fiction Stories. Derivative Anthology More Adventures in Time and Space.
xi · Introduction · Raymond J. Healy & J. Francis McComas · in
3 · Requiem [D.D. Harriman] · Robert A. Heinlein · ss Astounding Jan ’40
20 · Forgetfulness · Don A. Stuart · nv Astounding Jun ’37
46 · Nerves · Lester del Rey · na Astounding Sep ’42
115 · The Sands of Time · P. Schuyler Miller · na Astounding Apr ’37
144 · The Proud Robot [Gallegher] · Lewis Padgett · nv Astounding Oct ’43
177 · Black Destroyer [Beagle] · A. E. van Vogt · nv Astounding Jul ’39
207 · Symbiotica [Jay Score] · Eric Frank Russell · nv Astounding Oct ’43
249 · Seeds of the Dusk · Raymond Z. Gallun · nv Astounding Jun ’38
276 · Heavy Planet [with Frederik Pohl] · Lee Gregor · ss Astounding Aug ’39
286 · Time Locker [Gallegher] · Lewis Padgett · nv Astounding Jan ’43
308 · The Link · Cleve Cartmill · ss Astounding Aug ’42
320 · Mechanical Mice [ghost written by Eric Frank Russell] · Maurice G. Hugi · nv Astounding Jan ’41; given as by Maurice A. Hugi.
344 · V-2: Rocket Cargo Ship · Willy Ley · ar Astounding May ’45
365 · Adam and No Eve · Alfred Bester · ss Astounding Sep ’41
378 · Nightfall · Isaac Asimov · nv Astounding Sep ’41
412 · A Matter of Size · Harry Bates · na Astounding Apr ’34
460 · As Never Was · P. Schuyler Miller · ss Astounding Jan ’44
476 · Q.U.R. [as by H. H. Holmes] · Anthony Boucher · ss Astounding Mar ’43
497 · Who Goes There? · Don A. Stuart · na Astounding Aug ’38
551 · The Roads Must Roll · Robert A. Heinlein · nv Astounding Jun ’40
588 · Asylum [William Leigh] · A. E. van Vogt · nv Astounding May ’42
641 · Quietus · Ross Rocklynne · ss Astounding Sep ’40
655 · The Twonky · Lewis Padgett · nv Astounding Sep ’42
676 · Time-Travel Happens! · A. M. Phillips · ar Unknown Dec ’39
687 · Robots Return · Robert Moore Williams · ss Astounding Sep ’38
698 · The Blue Giraffe · L. Sprague de Camp · nv Astounding Aug ’39
721 · Flight Into Darkness · Webb Marlowe · nv Astounding Feb ’43
741 · The Weapon Shop [Isher] · A. E. van Vogt · nv Astounding Dec ’42
779 · Farewell to the Master · Harry Bates · nv Astounding Oct ’40
816 · Within the Pyramid · R. DeWitt Miller · ss Astounding Mar ’37
825 · He Who Shrank · Henry Hasse · na Amazing Aug ’36
882 · By His Bootstraps · Anson MacDonald · na Astounding Oct ’41
933 · The Star Mouse [Mitkey] · Fredric Brown · ss Planet Stories Spr ’42
953 · Correspondence Course · Raymond F. Jones · ss Astounding Apr ’45
972 · Brain · S. Fowler Wright · ss The New Gods Lead, Jarrolds, 1932

So, here are two anthologies Random House offered during the '40s, which helped establish canons in their respective fields, in part because both anthologies were kept in print consistently as part of the Modern Library.

As I've been checking through a number of the major anthologies of suspense fiction over the decades, I didn’t till being reminded of it the other day recall how much of the Fraser & Wise volume is devoted to non-supernatural tales of menace, mostly though not entirely in the “Tales of Terror” grouping. It’s remarkable how many of these have become chestnuts…essentially all of them…and I have to wonder how many were already common coin in anthologies by the time this one was first issued in 1943. However, along with August Derleth and Donald Wandrei’s efforts at Arkham House, this book was probably the first great exposure H. P. Lovecraft received, as far as the larger reading public is concerned, and was almost certainly the first time Lovecraft and Hemingway were anthologized together (though Dashiell Hammett came close with his horror anthology Creeps by Night [1931]). Also notable, at least in the latter-day British TOC offered here, is the “outing” of Karen Blixen rather than credit of her story to her pseudonym, Isak Dinesen. Even by the time I read this anthology, in a library-sale copy of a 1970s Modern Library edition (with the tamest cover it would get, I suspect), most of the stories were familiar from other anthologies, but not all…to carry another W. W. Jacobs story, aside from “The Monkey’s Paw,” is a small gift in and of itself. Happily, the Modern Library still has this one in print, in the US.

The Healy & McComas wasn’t the first sf anthology from a major publisher in the US, what with Donald Wollheim’s and, just barely, Groff Conklin’s efforts preceding it, along with such mixed selections as Philip Strong’s, but Adventures was one of the most prominent and widely influential, again not least because Random House and eventually the Modern Library imprint were behind it, and Ballantine when purchased by the RH folks did paperback editions with overblown blurbs. As the annotated TOC suggests, John W. Campbell’s Astounding Science Fiction was almost ridiculously overrepresented, even given how much good material it had published and how important that magazine under that editor had been in the development of magazine sf in the late 1930s and ‘40s…however, one (1) story each from Planet Stories and Amazing and none from any other magazine (the Unknown essay reprint was the kind of borderline crackpottery that Campbell would pollute Astounding with in the 1950s onward, rather than a story, and very out of place here), and only one entry not from the magazines, don’t make this a particularly representative anthology of the time…and the absence of Theodore Sturgeon, Leigh Brackett, Hal Clement, Clifford Simak, and C. L. Moore (except to the extent that she had input on “The Twonky”) are all telling (and most might wonder where’s the Bradbury?), in a book that makes room for the Phillips article. But, nevertheless, as with Lovecraft in the other volume, this was among the first exposure many of these writers and much of this fiction had for the larger reading public, and much of it holds up well. Unfortunately, this volume hasn’t been reprinted in its Modern Library edition since the ‘80s.

For more of today's selections, please see Patti Abbott's blog. Bill Crider's FFB item this week, in honor of Bouchercon in part, is a memorial volume edited by J. Francis McComas's widow Annette Peltz McComas, collecting from and documenting the birth of McComas's most lasting legacy, co-founding The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction with Anthony Boucher...a very good book all but orphaned by its publisher at birth.

FFB: Ray Russell's fiction anthologies from PLAYBOY

Playboy, of course, was always about its (mostly Hugh Hefner's) idea of being sophisticated (or at least being seen as such). As Hefner was a lover of fiction nearly as much as he was of pulchritude and high-end stereo equipment, he was eager to have editors on hand to help bring some of the best fiction of various sorts into the magazine, even as most other "slick" magazines were collapsing or abandoning fiction throughout the 1950s and 1960s, and into the 1970s...while it had been possible, if somewhat difficult, for a writer to live reasonably well on short-fiction sales in the '50s, with The Saturday Evening Post and (in the early years of the decade) Collier's paying very well indeed for a lot of fiction per issue and most of the general-interest and gendered magazines featuring at least a few short stories, by the end of the '60s, Playboy was one of the few surviving markets among magazines not otherwise devoted to fiction that was still likely to publish more than a single short story per issue, if that (The New Yorker, Harper's and The Atlantic Monthly, all paying somewhat less, were among the few others; Redbook was perhaps the last diehard among the magazines aimed at women, with the weak exception, in the last decade or so, of Woman's World and their offer of one romance and one mystery vignette per issue, or Bust with one erotic vignette). Ray Russell was one of the most energetic of Playboy's fiction editors, and a generator of any number of anthologies of fiction and related matter taken from the magazine starting in the latter '60s...there were the big books, The Playboy Book of.... volumes, released in hardcover and paperback, and the slimmer, paperback-only anthologies with titles such as From the S File (all the contributing writers' surnames began with S) or, as pictured above, Stories of the Sinister & Strange.  (One thing they didn't spend too much time on, sadly, were the covers for these volumes...very strange, given the available talent and care given to illustration in the magazine itself. )

While these books were not quite up to, say, Robert Arthur's (or Harold Masur's) Alfred Hitchcock Presents: anthologies (which had the option of drawing on Playboy as well as any number of other sources for their contents), and the tendency for the slickly facile could rule OK in a given several stories in each book, Russell had a fair amount to be proud of during his term as fiction editor (and was never shy, as you'll note below, about including his own stories in the books). I read them happily as I came across them, mostly in libraries though the mass market paperback editions were pretty well distributed and widely available secondhand as well as new in the 1970s and '80s.  When I picked up Charles Willeford's slim collection The Machine in Ward Eleven a decade or so back I knew I had read that title story before, but couldn't remember where...and certainly Charles Beaumont, who was as close to a Playboy "discovery" as any writer in the early issues, consistently offered searching and profound work to the magazine and others (he was the first film reviewer for as well as fiction contributor to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, for example). Beaumont certainly isn't the only contributor to repeatedly appear in the Russell tables of contents, either, of course. Another memory lapse for me: I knew I had mostly read Ken Purdy's work in anthologies devoted to auto racing, and perhaps other sports-fiction anthos...but had forgotten that, for Playboy at least, he also dabbled in criminous and fantasticated fiction...and Purdy's isn't the only byline I might not've expected to find in these contexts, to say nothing of those who offer decent or better work whom I've otherwise never encountered (John Reese, or H. C. Neal, among others). Ellen Datlow, the editor (first prominent as fiction editor of Omni magazine, from the Penthouse group) of any number of important media for short fiction over the last thirty-odd years, cited the Horror volume here for her entry in Horror: The 100 Best Books.

Alice Turner succeeded Russell, not immediately (after Robie MacCauley's just under a decade in place) and for a slightly longer stretch, as fiction editor, and I will perhaps, less nostalgically (as her anthologies weren't a small staple of my youthful reading as the Russells were), take a look at her impressive anthologies out of the magazine in the future. Sadly, since Turner's dismissal, the magazine, probably on its way to collapse (one correspondent suggested to me that its publication will probably cease as soon as Hefner passes, kept as it is mostly as a shadowy remnant of what it was out of respect for the Old Man/Founder), has not had much more of a commitment to fiction than its original model, Esquire, albeit the simple majority of issues till recently still had an excerpt or story in them, to supplement the Gahan Wilson and less interesting cartoons.

courtesy ABE and WorldCat:
The Playboy Book of Crime and Suspense [edited by Ray Russell] ed. Anon. (Chicago: Playboy, 1966, 405pp, hc)

A Lucky Day for the Boar by Gerald Kersh
The Peeping Tom Patrol by Michael Shaara
The Room of Dark by Gilbert Wright
The Distributor by Richard Matheson
Last Will and Testament by Ray Russell
The Hildebrand Rarity by Ian Fleming
Everybody Hates David Starbuck by Steve Allen
The Hustler by Walter S. Tevis
Walk to the Station by Stanley Cooperman
Naked in Xanadu by Ray Russell
The Bottom of the Ocean by Ken W. Purdy
A Cry from the Penthouse by Henry Slesar
The Sign of Scorpio by Charles Mergendah
The Man in the Well by Berkely Mather
The New Deal by Charles Einstein
The Hunger by Charles Beaumont
The Supermen by William M. Clark
Speak to Me of Immortality by Ken W. Purdy
The Morning After by Wade Miller
With All Due Respect by Fred McMorrow
The Devil to Pay by Stephen Barr 
Harpy by T. K. Brown III
The Hobbyist by Fredric Brown
The Sender of Letters by Herbert Gold
Balance Sheet by Morton Fineman
No Fire Burns by Avram Davidson 
A Fist Full of Money by Henry Slesar & Jay Folb
Incident off Land's End by Jacob Hay

Courtesy the Contento Indices:
The Playboy Book of Horror and the Supernatural [edited by Ray Russell] ed. Anon. (Chicago: Playboy, 1967, $5.95, 390pp, hc)

The Playboy Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy [edited by Ray Russell] ed. Anon. (Chicago: Playboy LCC# 66-12861, 1966, $5.95, 403pp, hc)
  • vii · Preface · Editors of Playboy · pr
  • 1 · The Fly · George Langelaan · nv Playboy Jun ’57
  • 40 · Blood Brother · Charles Beaumont · ss Playboy Apr ’61
  • 46 · Love, Incorporated · Robert Sheckley · ss Playboy Sep ’56
  • 61 · A Foot in the Door · Bruce Jay Friedman · ss Playboy Oct ’60
  • 75 · The Vacation · Ray Bradbury · ss Playboy Dec ’63
  • 84 · The Never-Ending Penny · Bernard Wolfe · nv Playboy Sep ’60
  • 101 · Bernie the Faust · William Tenn · nv Playboy Nov ’63
  • 130 · A Man for the Moon · Leland Webb · ss Playboy Aug ’60
  • 140 · The Noise · Ken W. Purdy · ss Playboy Mar ’59
  • 155 · The Killer in the TV Set · Bruce Jay Friedman · ss Playboy Aug ’61
  • 166 · I Remember Babylon · Arthur C. Clarke · ss Playboy May ’60
  • 179 · Word of Honor · Robert Bloch · ss Playboy Aug ’58
  • 187 · John Grant’s Little Angel · Walt Grove · ss Playboy Jul ’64
  • 206 · The Fiend · Frederik Pohl · ss Playboy Apr ’64
  • 215 · Hard Bargain · Alan E. Nourse · ss Playboy May ’58
  • 221 · The Nail and the Oracle · Theodore Sturgeon · nv Playboy Oct ’65
  • 244 · After · Henry Slesar · ss Playboy Jun ’60
  • 250 · December 28th · Theodore L. Thomas · ss Playboy Dec ’59
  • 254 · Spy Story · Robert Sheckley · ss Playboy Sep ’55
  • 268 · Punch · Frederik Pohl · ss Playboy Jun ’61
  • 274 · The Crooked Man · Charles Beaumont · ss Playboy Aug ’55
  • 286 · Who Shall Dwell... · H. C. Neal · ss Playboy Jul ’62
  • 293 · Double Take · Jack Finney · ss Playboy Apr ’65
  • 314 · Examination Day · Henry Slesar · ss Playboy Feb ’58
  • 320 · The Mission · Hugh Nissenson · ss Playboy Dec ’64
  • 338 · Waste Not, Want Not · John Atherton · ss Playboy Jun ’59
  • 343 · The Dot and Dash Bird · Bernard Wolfe · ss Playboy Dec ’64
  • 359 · The Sensible Man · Avram Davidson · ss Playboy Feb ’59
  • 365 · Souvenir [“The Drowned Giant”] · J. G. Ballard · ss The Terminal Beach, London: Gollancz, 1964; Playboy May ’65
  • 378 · Puppet Show · Fredric Brown · ss Playboy Nov ’62
  • 390 · The Room · Ray Russell · ss Playboy Feb ’61
  • 394 · Dial “F” for Frankenstein · Arthur C. Clarke · ss Playboy Jan ’65
  • 403 · Index of Authors · Misc. · ix

Playboy’s Stories of the Sinister & Strange [edited by Ray Russell] ed. Anon. (Playboy BA0124, 1969, 95¢, 217pp, pb)
  • iv · Preface · Anon. · pr
  • 1 · The Mannichon Solution · Irwin Shaw · nv Playboy Dec ’67
  • 41 · The Dark Music · Charles Beaumont · ss Playboy Dec ’56
  • 57 · Somewhere Not Far from Here · Gerald Kersh · ss Playboy Mar ’65
  • 78 · The Investor · Bruce Jay Friedman · ss Playboy Feb ’62
  • 90 · Ripples · Ray Russell · ss Playboy Oct ’67
  • 93 · The Dispatcher · Gerald Green · nv Playboy Aug ’67
  • 120 · Wise Child [“It’s a Wise Child”] · John Wyndham · ss Argosy (UK) Nov ’62; Playboy May ’67
  • 137 · Welcome to the Monkey House · Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. · ss Playboy Jan ’68
  • 160 · Room 312 · G. L. Tassone · ss Playboy Aug ’67
  • 177 · The Golden Frog · Ken W. Purdy · nv Playboy Jan ’63
  • 200 · The Annex · John D. MacDonald · ss Playboy May ’68

The Playboy Book of Humor and Satire [edited by Ray Russell] ed. Anon. (Chicago: Playboy, 1967, vii+ 407pp, hc)

Here's the second and so far final edition (1993, after 1985) of one of the more impressive, if deeply flawed, reference/critical works in horror film; among the flaws is that the entries are unsigned, so that one can have the fun of trying to suss out if it was Kim Newman, Tom Milne, Paul Willeman, Julian Petley, Tim Pulleine or editor Hardy, or some combination, who are responsible for one opinionated entry or another. Another rests squarely with Hardy and his publishers and their editors: to make room for new content, two relatively minor films were dropped from this edition (albeit everyone who loves horror in my generation of USians has at least heard of Don't Look in the Basement), while all kinds of questionable inclusions (Sorority House Massacre, Three O'Clock High as examples from either end of the suspense film quality range featuring psychopaths) continue...and similarly quasi-relevant work (say, El Topo) is missing, or, like Kongo, only mentioned in the entry for a film it's closely related to, as in this case as a non-silent remake of West of Zanzibar. Less of a judgement call, the index is all but useless unless you know the title or the common alternate titles of a film they offer a primary entry for; it a title is only mentioned in the text of a primary entry, good luck finding it, as with Kongo. (They have cogent things to say about the most obvious horror and horror-related films of Ingmar Bergman, but no entry in the index for The Devil's Eye, or Wild Strawberries, with its notable nightmare-sequence beginning...which would be more forgivable without full entries for the likes of Fatal Attraction.) And, as almost everyone complains about this book, it's no dry simple compendium of facts, but an often self-contradictory repository of strong opinions; someone on staff really hates Robert Bloch's scripts (without noting how much they were meddled with by the likes of producer/directors William Castle and Milton Subotsky, which one would think might be the purview of a book such as this), while someone else makes a point of praising (justly, I'd agree) the likes of the mistitled (not by Bloch!) Torture Garden (someone presumably had a copy of Octave Mirbeau's novel kicking around the office).

But in this enumeration of some of the faults of the book, I think you might be gathering some of the virtues: it's by no means a comprehensive account of all horror films made (it misses a whole lot of video-only items, including such cult gems as Trancers and Subspecies 2, while noting others as it occurs to them to do so; Japanese and some other east Asian horror filmographies are given a reasonably good representation, but hardly a thorough one, and Korean films--admittedly a booming business in the years since--hardly represented at all), it is in its nearly 500 oversized pages full of informed consideration of a wide range of horror film, including any number of obscurities that might be new to all but the most knowledgeable fan/scholar. It's the kind of book that lends itself to an online or at least hypertextual sequel, and is worth your attention if you come across it. I can see why it's fetching such large prices on the secondhand market. Thanks to Kate Laity for the gift.

Meanwhile, David J. Skal's book is a charming example of what might even hold together better online, but would lose precisely its tactile gimmicks. Skal, who could write the text of this survey of vampires in popular culture in his sleep, has that rather deft (and non-automatic!) text augmented by even more illustration, all in full color when the original is, and with the kind of tipped-in paper ephemera that did so well for Griffin and Sabine and its sequels a decade or so back; as such, this must be, if not the most expensive book Whitman Publishing has ever attempted, then certainly the most elaborate I've seen. (It comes, in its conceit of being a true scrapbook, with an unattached male vampire face mask, as well as with postcards, film-strip-like photo arrays and more in pouches or taped onto the pages.) At 144 augmented pages, all but necessarily slipcased, it sure isn't a Big Little Book while certainly also being a rather fat big book, and given the number of copies available at the picked-over Borders stores I've been visiting, it probably didn't do the Overlook/Horror originally priced at $50 (well, minus 5c and in 2008 rather than 1993 dollars), you can currently get one at a Borders so endowed for $3.75 (less if you have the discount card, which will no longer be honored after Sunday). Eminently worth the effort to take the look.


Kelly Robinson said...

I just had to order a copy of that Overlook guide for my film research, and the price HURT. It hurt even more because I had paid about $1.50 for it at the used book store, and then traded it back when I was done with an old project. Ouch!

I own a couple of the anthologies you covered, but I've never cracked them. I confess that I bought the top one for the Gorey cover alone.

Rick Robinson said...

...and then he goes apeshit and reviews, or at lest discusses, twenty books (no I didn't count) all at once...

I caught the steal from Buffalo Springfield. I have that 2nd ed. of Healy and McComas, one of the first such anthologies - maybe the very first - I ever read. It's responsible for a lot of much later musings that "I know I read that story somewhere.

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

I've only got the Hardy out of all these marvellous compendiums and you are spot-on about that one - loved reading about the others I can merely covet for now - thanks Todd!

J F Norris said...

Are you going on vacation for the rest of the month? This was a month's worth of FFB posts in a single day! I own several of these and have always made it a habit of buying any of the anthologies edited by Marvin Kaye with the colorful Gorey DJs. Kaye knows a lot about supernatural fiction and has led me to discover some overlooked writers. Do you own or have you read any of those?

Todd Mason said...

Kelly--HAUNTINGS was one of the two first adult horror anthologies I read, and it made a serious impression. If you haven't read most or all of the contents by now elsewhere, you'll probably have at least a good time with it (and the three Gorey illos per story didn't hurt my feelings then). There are certain disadvantages in not maintaining the endless clutter of the personal library! (And all kinds to maintaining such.)

Rick--well, repackaged reviews from past years in the blog...a few more than a dozen titles, and boy do these items need updating in spots. Yes, some of these books are similarly responsible for my Oh, I know I've read that one, too...Springfield and Dylan. I was in a overstated '60s lyric mood that day...

Sergio--may you soon encounter inexpensive and handsome copies of any of these that look interesting! Thanks...

Alas, no, John...been trying to keep up with work and working with my parents and brother and sister-in-law to resituate my parents as their health concerns have come to a haven't had too much time to read nor write for FFB or the other roundelays. Never enough time in the day. When I go for repeats, I often seek out the items that haven't been seen as much as others, and combine them. Though, as noted above, some dated references in these could use revision.

I do tend to like Kaye's anthos (have noted at least a few, or at very least his WEIRD TALES antho, on the blog over the years...)'re aware he's editing and publishing WEIRD TALES at the moment?

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Todd, thanks very much for highlighting all these anthologies. And I hope things are better on the homefront.