Friday, April 11, 2014

FFB redux: Breaking Barriers: Theodore Sturgeon: STURGEON'S WEST and more; Thomas Disch: ON WINGS OF SONG and more; horror and suspense anthologies edited by Damon Knight, Betty M. Owen, Mary MacEwan

2/79; painting by Ed Emshwiller
So, taking all things together, on July 4th 2008, Thomas Disch decided he might as well shoot himself, and did so successfully. Things had not been going well for him...he was 68 and diabetic and having some motility troubles, his life partner Charles Naylor had died a couple years back, he was worried about being evicted from his rent-controlled apartment, his summer home had been flooded and damaged beyond habitability, his fiction was largely out of print despite being usually good to brilliant and occasionally, however briefly, on bestseller lists. He wrote a novelet that spun out a Disney franchise, "The Brave Little Toaster," but apparently his agent was eaten by Hollywood sharks, got him a bad deal. He was at least a semi-major poet, widely published, as Tom Disch, in the likes of Poetry and The Hudson Review; his criticism appeared in Harper's and The Nation and Chronicles and Entertainment Weekly as well as F&SF, and that's a range. He was one of Cele Goldsmith/Lalli's "discoveries" at Fantastic and Amazing, along with Kate Wilhelm and Ursula K. Le Guin and Roger Zelazny and Keith Laumer and Ben Bova and fellow poet Sonya Dorman as a writer of prose. His friend John Clute, in a much-quoted phrase, called him the Least Read of major sf writers; Teresa Nielsen Hayden in her blog Making Light repeated the rumor that the Bantam paperback edition of his novel On Wings of Song had a 90% stripped cover return rate...perhaps not too surprising, although the cover isn't nearly as ugly as the one Bantam slapped on Samuel Delany's selection of Disch's shorter works, Fundamental Disch. Even given that Wings was nominated in 1980 for the American Book Award, in that brief period when the National Book Award didn't exist, which I think was the first and maybe only time so far a book serialized in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Ficiton was nominated for a major eclectic award. When I asked the manager of Philadelphia's lesbian and gay, bi and cetera, bookstore Giovanni's Room why they didn't stock more, say, Disch and Joanna Russ, he noted that they had had a copy or two of Wings on their shelves for years, without a purchase.

I don't believe it was Disch's first fiction with a gay theme nor surely his first about repression and cruelty and how the arts could help set you free, to some small could hardly even call it particularly Coded, since at the center of the story is a means to achieve a sort of astral projection, or "flying," that is achieved most easily through song and which results in one's out of body self being referred to as a fairy. Such flying is particularly frowned upon in the repressive, Moral Majority-administered Midwest, which region Disch fled as a young man, but is at least tolerated in the "decadent" or at times simply decadent coastal cities, which have an uneasy relation with the almost seceded "heartland." One of the young protagonist's closest acquaintances, for example, is an aging member of a new class of castrati, as this practice has apparently come back into vogue in the opera world of the near future.

Clearly, a more personal novel, even or particularly with the baroque touches, than what Disch had been writing previously, including such notable work as Black Alice, a crime novel in collaboration with John Sladek, and his masterpiece 334.

He also wrote a Miami Vice episode. And did some minor acting, in opera and in a no-budget indy film.

And more people really should read his work.

I come to this late, but in August (2010), University of Minnesota Press reprinted four of the late Thomas Disch's straightforward horror novels, and you can do worse than any of them...or any of the other books Disch wrote.

And a reminder of why I want a complete file of Cele Goldsmith/Lalli's Fantastic:

CONTENTS for Fantastic Jan 1964 Vol 13 No 1

5 • Editorial (Fantastic, January 1964) • essay by uncredited (Noman Lobsenz, usually, the editorial director)

6 • The Lords of Quarmall (Part 1 of 2) • [Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser] • serial by Fritz Leiber and Harry Fischer

52 • Minnesota Gothic • short story by Thomas M. Disch [as by Dobbin Thorpe]

66 • The Word of Unbinding • [Earthsea Cycle] • short story by Ursula K. Le Guin

74 • Last Order • novelette by George Locke [as by Gordon Walters]

114 • A Thesis on Social Forms and Social Controls in the U.S.A. • short story by Thomas M. Disch

27 • Fantasy Books (Fantastic, January 1964)  • essay by S. E. Cotts:
127 •   Review: The Sundial by Shirley Jackson • book review by S. E. Cotts
128 •   Review: Stranger Than Life by R. DeWitt Miller • book review by S. E. Cotts

The "Emsh" cover illustrating Fritz Leiber and Harry Fischer's
The Lords of Quarmall part 1 of 2 (not, on balance, one of Emshwiller's best)

From the Contento index:

Sturgeon’s West Theodore Sturgeon & Don Ward (Doubleday, 1973, hc)
· Ted Sturgeon’s Western Adventure · Don Ward · in
· Well Spiced · Theodore Sturgeon · ss Zane Grey’s Western Magazine Feb ’48
· Scars · Theodore Sturgeon · ss Zane Grey’s Western Magazine May ’49
· Cactus Dance · Theodore Sturgeon · nv Luke Short’s Western Magazine Oct/Dec ’54
· The Waiting Thing Inside · ss EQMM Sep ’56
· The Man Who Figured Everything · nv EQMM Jan ’60
· Ride In, Ride Out · nv *
· The Sheriff of Chayute · ss *

Theodore Sturgeon, often in collaboration with Zane Grey's Western Magazine editor Don Ward (in the open in contributions to other magazines, and perhaps in the usual editorial interplay at ZGWM), wrote a series of western stories initially for that fine digest (Zane Grey seems to have been the National Geographic of western fiction judge by the eBay population, no one seems ever to have thrown them away...though the issues that Didn't run a usually truncated Grey reprint were the better ones--I have a late one with a much superior Cliff Farrell novella where the Grey mass would otherwise martyr trees). The shortlived Luke Short magazine took one, and as one sees above, they apparently couldn't place two of them before this book was released (though I should go back to check the Sturgeon Project volumes about that). "Cactus Dance" deals with, shall we say, altered perception; "Scars," among other things, deals with the vagaries of love and affection in a typically Sturgeonish way (and these two were the only stories here included previously in Sturgeon's fantastic-fiction collections, despite having no blatantly fantasticated elements to them).

As with the other sorts of fiction that Sturgeon tackled, the empathy and clear-eyed analysis of the many ways we can betray and unexepectedly support each other are all over these pages...I'm not sure how much Ward, who might not've produced any solo fiction, contributed, but the collaborations certainly read like Sturgeon.

(And it should be noted that the digest-sized Zane Grey Western was published by Dell in the '40s and '50s, and the title was revived by Leo Margulies's Renown Publications at the end of the '60s for a few years as a US standard-sized "bedsheet" magazine, with lead novelets attributed to ZG's son but ghosted, as with other Renown magazines, by a roster of folks including in this case Bill Pronzini...none of which is likely to be confused with the later Dell Magazines project, after they bought the Davis fiction group including EQMM, Louis L'Amour Western Magazine, which also was a notable market for Pronzini among others....)

from Eric Weeks's fine pages on Sturgeon, perhaps using Contento Index data or just in the same format.

Argyll: A Memoir (The Sturgeon Project 0-934558-16-7, July 1993, $10.00, 79pp, ph) Collection of Sturgeon material, including an autobiographical essay about his relationship with his stepfather, a letter to his mother and stepfather, an introduction by Paul Williams, and an afterword by Samuel R. Delany. All proceeds after cost go toward the projected publication costs for Sturgeon’s collected stories.
5 • Introduction• Paul Williams • fw *
7 • Argyll: A Memoir • • bi *
60 • A Letter to his Mother and Stepfather • • lt *
77 • Afterward • Samuel R. Delany • aw *

This was the kickoff (and a sort of fundraiser) for the Sturgeon Project, an attempt by Paul Williams, the founder of Crawdaddy magazine and the person most responsible, after Dick himself, for Philip Dick's current literary reputation...Blade Runner might've gotten made without Williams's earlier advocacy for Dick, most visibly in the pages of Rolling Stone (I believe after Williams sold Crawdaddy to another publisher), but I doubt nearly as much would've been made of it being loosely based on a Dick novel...nor would Dick have published one of his last stories in a 1979 Rolling Stone special issue, bringing his work directly to a much larger audience than it usually saw. Having put together a complete collection of Dick's short fiction (and having helped see most of Dick's unpublished novels finally into print), Williams took on, with North Atlantic Press, a new get all the short fiction of Theodore Sturgeon into a uniform multivolume set. This chapbook was also an announcement of that project, a previously unpublished novella-length memoir by Sturgeon of his early life, and the stepfather who was instrumental in his transformation from E. Hamilton Waldo to Theodore Sturgeon...and not by any means all benevolently instrumental.

The most recent and apparently penultimate volume in the Sturgeon Project, Slow Sculpture, has just been published, and this the first with most of the nonfictional content (story notes, etc.) not the work of Paul Williams, who has been suffering with rather early Alzheimer's brought on in the wake of a horrible accident...he fell and struck his head severely while bicycling. His wife, musician Cindy Lee Berryhill, has been blogging about their experiences in these declining days for Williams, and Noel Sturgeon has stepped in to provide the supplementary material for this volume and the next. While anyone with a copy of the 1971 volume Sturgeon Is Alive and Well... has most of the fiction content of Slow Sculpture, that book has been out of print for a lot of years and this one included a previously-unpublished story, and the novella "The [Widget], the [Wadget], and Boff" (which was half of a Tor Double volume some years back, in that shortlived series), and also a story from the National Lampoon, also reprinted previously on its own.

The story around the publication of this chapbook and the collections it heralded is thus almost as compelling as much of the fiction in those collections, much of it among the best work published in the field of fantastic fiction, and at least good work in several other fields, as Sturgeon was a fine western writer, and wrote some decent crime fiction (including ghosting for "Ellery Queen"). Several contemporary mimetic stories, sometimes with some fantastic dressing to get them into a fantasy magazine "legitimately," are collected in the series as well...including such famous items as "A Saucer of Loneliness" and the mid-'50s Best American Short Stories inclusion "The Man Who Lost the Sea."

Sturgeon, as Kurt Vonnegut would agree (his "Kilgore Trout" is at least as much a satirical portrait of Sturgeon as of himself), even as Samuel Delany does in the afterword here, is precisely the kind of writer whom I was thinking of in my recent explication, on Patti Abbott's blog, of why the blithe construction "literary and genre fiction" (meaning two very different, even oppositional, things) is not only ignorant but pernicious, helping keep some of the best art we have from its natural audience.

How to label a horror anthology as sf:

Not too long ago, I encouraged Patti Abbott nee Nase (of pattinase --the instigation point for these Forgotten Books entries) to pick up one of the many cheap copies of Terry Carr and Martin Harry Greenberg's A Treasury of Mondern Fantasy, a 1981 anthology of stories from the fantasy-fiction magazines. (I'll note that I had given away my copy a quarter-century ago to a very nice woman named Deanna Chang, whom whenever I ran into her on random occasions after our high school graduation I had a book in hand and felt generous...she also got a copy of Judith Merril's annual SF 12 that way, and I hope she enjoyed them). I have since picked up a cheap copy likewise, and recently reread the introduction of that fine if not superb anthology, wherein the editors, the late Mr. Carr and the [then] still very active [since, alas, late] Prof. Greenberg congratulate themselves for producing the first fantasy-fiction anthology to draw entirely from the fantasy fiction magazines...and attempt at being comprehensive while doing so. (It wasn't, exactly, the first, but it was a pretty impressive example.)

While there had been best-ofs of various magazines (quite a lot of nonddefinitive collections from Weird Tales, at least two from Unknown, one each surveying Fantastic, Beyond, and Fantastic Universe, and a long and up till then fairly regular series from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, there hadn't been (arguably) a volume which concentrated on fantasy, rather than horror or more eclectic assemblies, through the decades of the fantasy magazines.

But there had been predecessors for which one can make the case that they were meant to do something very similar, and this book, the first fantasy anthology Damon Knight edited (although his magazine Worlds Beyond in 1950 had stressed fantasy in its mix of fantastic fiction), is certainly one of them. Fortunately or unfortunately, it was published by Doubleday in 1965 in its Doubleday Science Fiction line, which meant it was plastered with indicators that it was Really an sf book, which it largely is not, and given a perfunctory cover and a claim on its jacket flap copy to contain "The October Game" by Ray Bradbury, rather than, as it does, RB's "The Black Ferris" (one of two stories it shares with the Carr/Greenberg antho from a decade and a half later).

Knight himself, perhaps unsure that the sf audience that the book's being sold to won't simply snort or reflexively reject any collection of fantasy stories (this being the marketing dilemma for fantasy as Tolkien was only beginning to sell in the millions), at various points in the headnotes to each story the reader is reassured that these stories aren't Just fantasy, or, more foolishly, that they are Just fantasy and can be enjoyed as such, as if any but the most blockheaded readers (of which there were, and are, more than a few in the sf audience) couldn't figure that out for themselves.

But, then, Knight seems to want to readers to know from the general introduction on in that his book is devoted to fantasy that follows the (uncredited) H.G. Wells rule for fantastic fiction, that there be only one miracle per story, and all must be rationally extrapolated from that anomaly. This was also the Party Line at Unknown (later Unknown Worlds), the fantasy magazine edited by the hugely influential science fiction editor John W. Campbell, Jr (whom it is widely suggested preferred editing Unknown during its four year run, and who ran some Unknownish fantasy in his Astounding SF, later Analog, after the companion folded).

Having established that, Knight leads off with the Bradbury story, which he slights the rest of Weird Tales's entire inventory in favor of. While "The Black Ferris" is the seed of Something Wicked This Way Comes, it probably isn't even the best story Bradbury published in Weird Tales, and Knight's review of Dark Carnival, the first Bradbury collection, suggests as much (that review can be read in Knight's collection of reviews, In Search of Wonder, a touchstone of SF criticism and a book I reread several times as a youth). It's written in Bradbury's usual slightly too lush style of his early mature work, but in doing so shows the influence of two of his great models, more blatantly so in this story than in many, the more precise Theodore Sturgeon and the progenitor Nathaniel Hawthorne (I can see this being written in part as a response to "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment").

Courtesy of the William Contento online indices, here is the contents of the volume:
The Dark Side ed. Damon Knight (Doubleday, 1965, $4.50, 241pp, hc)
ix · Introduction · Damon Knight · in
1 · The Black Ferris · Ray Bradbury · ss Weird Tales May ’48
13 · They · Robert A. Heinlein · ss Unknown Apr ’41
36 · Mistake Inside · James Blish · nv Startling Stories Mar ’48
65 · Trouble with Water · Horace L. Gold · ss Unknown Mar ’39
96 · c/o Mr. Makepeace · Peter Phillips · ss F&SF Feb ’54
112 · The Golem · Avram Davidson · ss F&SF Mar ’55
121 · The Story of the Late Mr. Elvesham · H. G. Wells · ss The Idler May, 1896
144 · It · Theodore Sturgeon · nv Unknown Aug ’40
179 · Nellthu · Anthony Boucher · vi F&SF Aug ’55
182 · Casey Agonistes · Richard M. McKenna · ss F&SF Sep ’58
198 · Eye for Iniquity · T. L. Sherred · nv Beyond Fantasy Fiction Jul ’53
232 · The Man Who Never Grew Young · Fritz Leiber · ss Night’s Black Agents, Arkham, 1947

So, one can see that there's one story from Weird Tales, three from Unknown, one from the primarily sf magazine Startling Stories, four from Fantasy and Science Fiction, and one each from Beyond Fantasy Fiction and the general-interest magazine The Idler (a solid Wells market), and a story Leiber wrote for his first collection, Night's Black Agents, which was otherwise drawn from magazines...pretty darn close to a survey of the fantasy magazines, even if limited to a slice largely through the same sort of thing that is often called "urban fantasy" or contemporary fantasy today.

Knight was a not-uncritical but generous fan of Robert Heinlein, and overstates the effect of RAH's "They" on the reader (at least this reader, and I suspect most who were not introduced to the notion of solipsism by this story, as perhaps the young Knight was...a comic-book ripoff of Theodore Sturgeon's earlier "The Ultimate Egoist" was my first experience of same), but it remains an enjoyable story. Which is arguably science fiction, in this ostensibly non-sf anthology.

James Blish's "Mistake Inside" is an improvement, an early display of Blish's lifelong Anglophilia, fascination with history and with the basic questions of religious faith and the necesary grappling with morality and ethics that springs from that questioning...a mostly giddy alternate reality adventure with a deft ending. Not a major story, but certainly working up to one.

H. L. Gold's "Trouble with Water" is the other story shared by the Carr/Greenberg, and is certainly the best story I've read by Gold, though several others come close. Gold, like Alfed Bester, was a man with his finger on the pulse of popular culture of his time to a degree that no current person in the SF world can match, as far as I can tell...and in Gold's case, as Algis Budrys suggested at least once, that degree of understanding inhibited his best work (and Knight himself, in a review of a Gold collection that included How I Wrote This notes from Gold, quotes bits of his thought process that would've improved the story if more fully incorporated)...even here, the stereotypical shrewish wife, as cleverly as she's drawn, is not redeemed from cardboard by her eventual change of heart, in large part due to how well Greenberg the protagonist is presented as a full human being, and how the other characters are gracefully sketched in as much as needed. It's a story of a man who incautiously offends a "water gnome," and is in turn cursed by the supernatural creature with being unable to touch water. It's a classic, if not a perfect one, but eminently worth reading.

Peter Phillips is everyone's favorite near-forgotten writer of fantastic fiction in the 1950s, showing up also in such anthologies as Ramsey Campbell's Fine Frights, and "C/O Mr. Makepeace" is another fine if not superb, and elaborate, exercise in linking the notion of poltergeists to older forms of haunting. Knight helpfully (or not) keeps noting how many of the stories he's chosen loop back to either time-travel or solipsist/identity question themes.

Avram Davidson's funny and widely anthologized borderline sf piece "The Golem" follows, wherein the stereotypical elderly Jewish couple, who are faced with a new sort of Frankenstein's monster, are wonderfully fleshed out, as is the ineffectually menacing automaton. Not Davidson's best story in this mode, but good and probably his most famous.

H. G. Wells's "The Story of the Late Mr. Elvesham" is very well-written, rigorously worked out, and too long, given that even in 1896 this story of an older man possessing the body of a younger one would not be terribly fresh. But, like every other story in this book, it uses its excellent detail tellingly.

Theodore Sturgeon's "It" was probably his masterwork, in the sense of his first fully worked-out story that can't be notably improved in any particular. I've been surprised in recent years to learn that some folks aren't too impressed by this persuasive horror story, which could be called sf only by stretching that term to its breaking point, but which is utterly convincing as horror fiction to its devastating last lines.

Anthony Boucher's "Nellthu" is simply the most memorably funny deal with a devil vignette that I've read, one which has stuck with me through the decades.

Richard McKenna's "Casey Agonistes" was his big splash in fantastic fiction, and Knight wants to warn us that it's arguably not fantasy at all, and it is a borderline case...which makes more sense on the fantasy side of the fence, dealing as it does with the shared hallucination of a ward full of dying men. McKenna made a bigger splash with The Sand Pebbles and died too young shortly after.

T. L. Sherred's "Eye for Iniquity" is a brilliant contemporary fantasy about a man who learns he can duplicate money by simple concentration on the bills as they lie on his coffee table. Sherred was never prolific, but more than nearly anyone else in the magazine field could make one feel the lives of the working people in his stories.

And Fritz Leiber's "The Man Who Never Grew Young" is another (deservedly) much-reprinted story, dealing as the title suggests with an anomalous man who remains the same age as those around him are born from their graves, grow less wrinkled and eventually go from adult to adolescent to infant and are absorbed back into their mothers...a rather more imaginative reworking of the reverse aging concept shared by a widely advertised film based on a certain F. Scott Fitzgerald story. (I see "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" is widely posted online, I have to wonder with what copyright provisions being violated.)

So, basically, this is not a definitive anthology, but one which contains not a few brilliant or near-brilliant stories, and no actively bad ones. The second half is better than the first, but I have to wonder if I'm letting nostalgia overtake me in at least a case or two, as Knight does with "They." I doubt it.

A fine thing to seek out in the secondhand market or interlibrary loan, perhaps along with Knight's horror anthology A Shocking Thing, published a decade later...the two of them together might make an interesting comparison to the Carr/Greenberg, or Robert Silverberg (and Greenberg)'s poll-driven The Fatasy Hall of Fame.

More Contento:

A Shocking Thing ed. Damon Knight (Pocket 0-671-77775-0, Nov ’74, 95¢, 245pp, pb)
1 · Man from the South [“Collector’s Item”] · Roald Dahl · ss Colliers Sep 4 ’48
13 · The Snail-Watcher · Patricia Highsmith · ss Gamma #3 ’64
21 · Bianca’s Hands · Theodore Sturgeon · ss Argosy (UK) May ’47
31 · Poor Little Warrior! · Brian W. Aldiss · ss F&SF Apr ’58
39 · The Hounds · Kate Wilhelm · nv *
65 · The Clone · Theodore L. Thomas · ss Fantastic Dec ’59
79 · The Touch of Nutmeg Makes It · John Collier · ss New Yorker May 3 ’41
89 · Casey Agonistes · Richard M. McKenna · ss F&SF Sep ’58
101 · The Abyss · Leonid Andreyev · ss, 1943
117 · A Case History · John Anthony West · ss, 1973
121 · Fondly Fahrenheit · Alfred Bester · nv F&SF Aug ’54
143 · Lukundoo [1907] · Edward Lucas White · ss Weird Tales Nov ’25
159 · The Cabbage Patch · Theodore R. Cogswell · ss Perspective Fll ’52
165 · Oil of Dog · Ambrose Bierce · ss Oakland Daily Evening Tribune Oct 11, 1890
171 · The Time of the Big Sleep [France, Fiction 1971] · Jean-Pierre Andrevon · nv *
195 · The Right Man for the Right Job · J. C. Thompson · ss Playboy Jul ’62
207 · The Year of the Jackpot · Robert A. Heinlein · nv Galaxy Mar ’52

A Treasury of Modern Fantasy ed. Terry Carr & Martin H. Greenberg (Avon 0-380-77115-2, Mar ’81, $8.95, 588pp, tp)
xiii · Introduction · Terry Carr & Martin H. Greenberg · in
1 · The Rats in the Walls · H. P. Lovecraft · ss Weird Tales Mar ’24
19 · The Woman of the Wood [earlier version of “The Woman of the Wood”, Weird Tales Aug ’26] · A. Merritt · nv The Fox Woman & Other Stories, Avon, 1949
45 · Trouble with Water · Horace L. Gold · ss Unknown Mar ’39
63 · Thirteen O’Clock [as by Cecil Corwin; Peter Packer] · C. M. Kornbluth · nv Stirring Science Stories Feb ’41
85 · The Coming of the White Worm · Clark Ashton Smith · ss Stirring Science Stories Apr ’41
97 · Yesterday Was Monday · Theodore Sturgeon · ss Unknown Jun ’41
113 · They Bite · Anthony Boucher · ss Unknown Aug ’43
123 · Call Him Demon [as by Keith Hammond] · Henry Kuttner · ss Thrilling Wonder Stories Fll ’46
145 · Daemon · C. L. Moore · ss Famous Fantastic Mysteries Oct ’46
165 · The Black Ferris · Ray Bradbury · ss Weird Tales May ’48
173 · Displaced Person · Eric Frank Russell · vi Weird Tales Sep ’48
177 · Our Fair City · Robert A. Heinlein · ss Weird Tales Jan ’49
193 · Come and Go Mad · Fredric Brown · nv Weird Tales Jul ’49
227 · There Shall Be No Darkness · James Blish · nv Thrilling Wonder Stories Apr ’50
259 · The Loom of Darkness [“Liane the Wayfarer”; Dying Earth] · Jack Vance · ss The Dying Earth, Hillman, 1950; Worlds Beyond Dec ’50
269 · The Rag Thing [as by David Grinnell] · Donald A. Wollheim · ss F&SF Oct ’51
275 · Sail On! Sail On! · Philip José Farmer · ss Startling Stories Dec ’52
285 · One Ordinary Day, with Peanuts · Shirley Jackson · ss F&SF Jan ’55
295 · That Hell-Bound Train · Robert Bloch · ss F&SF Sep ’58
307 · Nine Yards of Other Cloth [John] · Manly Wade Wellman · ss F&SF Nov ’58
323 · The Montavarde Camera · Avram Davidson · ss F&SF May ’59
335 · Man Overboard · John Collier · nv Argosy (UK) Jan ’60
355 · My Dear Emily · Joanna Russ · nv F&SF Jul ’62
375 · Descending · Thomas M. Disch · ss Fantastic Jul ’64
387 · Four Ghosts in Hamlet · Fritz Leiber · nv F&SF Jan ’65
417 · Divine Madness · Roger Zelazny · ss Magazine of Horror Sum ’66
425 · Narrow Valley · R. A. Lafferty · ss F&SF Sep ’66
437 · Timothy [Anita] · Keith Roberts · ss sf Impulse Sep ’66
449 · Longtooth · Edgar Pangborn · nv F&SF Jan ’70
479 · Through a Glass—Darkly · Zenna Henderson · nv F&SF Oct ’70
501 · Piper at the Gates of Dawn · Richard Cowper · na F&SF Mar ’76
547 · Jeffty Is Five · Harlan Ellison · ss F&SF Jul ’77
565 · Within the Walls of Tyre · Michael Bishop · nv Weirdbook #13 ’78

The Fantasy Hall of Fame ed. Robert Silverberg (HarperPrism 0-06-105215-9, Mar ’98 [Feb ’98], $14.00, 562pp, tp); Anthology of 30 fantasy stories from 1939 to 1990, chosen by SFWA members. Introduction by Silverberg; individual story introductions by Martin H. Greenberg.
vii · Introduction · Robert Silverberg · in
1 · Trouble with Water · H. L. Gold · ss Unknown Mar ’39
21 · Nothing in the Rules · L. Sprague de Camp · nv Unknown Jul ’39
47 · Fruit of Knowledge · C. L. Moore · nv Unknown Oct ’40
77 · Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius [1941] · Jorge Luís Borges · ss Labyrinths, New Directions, 1962
91 · The Compleat Werewolf [Fergus O’Breen] · Anthony Boucher · na Unknown Apr ’42
137 · The Small Assassin · Ray Bradbury · ss Dime Mystery Magazine Nov ’46
153 · The Lottery · Shirley Jackson · ss New Yorker Jun 26 ’48
161 · Our Fair City · Robert A. Heinlein · ss Weird Tales Jan ’49
177 · There Shall Be No Darkness · James Blish · nv Thrilling Wonder Stories Apr ’50
211 · The Loom of Darkness [“Liane the Wayfarer”; Dying Earth] · Jack Vance · ss The Dying Earth, Hillman, 1950
221 · The Man Who Sold Rope to the Gnoles [as by Idris Seabright] · Margaret St. Clair · ss F&SF Oct ’51
225 · The Silken-Swift · Theodore Sturgeon · nv F&SF Nov ’53
243 · The Golem · Avram Davidson · ss F&SF Mar ’55
249 · Operation Afreet [Steven Matuchek; Ginny Greylock] · Poul Anderson · nv F&SF Sep ’56
277 · That Hell-Bound Train · Robert Bloch · ss F&SF Sep ’58
289 · Bazaar of the Bizarre [Fafhrd & Gray Mouser] · Fritz Leiber · nv Fantastic Aug ’63
311 · Come Lady Death · Peter S. Beagle · ss Atlantic Monthly Sep ’63
327 · The Drowned Giant · J. G. Ballard · ss The Terminal Beach, London: Gollancz, 1964
337 · Narrow Valley · R. A. Lafferty · ss F&SF Sep ’66
349 · Faith of Our Fathers · Philip K. Dick · nv Dangerous Visions, ed. Harlan Ellison, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1967
379 · The Ghost of a Model T · Clifford D. Simak · nv Epoch, ed. Roger Elwood & Robert Silverberg, Berkley, 1975
393 · The Demoness · Tanith Lee · ss The Year’s Best Fantasy Stories #2, ed. Lin Carter, DAW, 1976
405 · Jeffty Is Five · Harlan Ellison · ss F&SF Jul ’77
423 · The Detective of Dreams · Gene Wolfe · nv Dark Forces, ed. Kirby McCauley, Viking, 1980
439 · Unicorn Variations · Roger Zelazny · nv IASFM Apr 13 ’81
461 · Basileus · Robert Silverberg · ss The Best of Omni Science Fiction, No. 5, ed. Don Myrus, Omni, 1983
477 · The Jaguar Hunter · Lucius Shepard · nv F&SF May ’85
501 · Buffalo Gals, Won’t You Come Out Tonight · Ursula K. Le Guin · nv Buffalo Gals and Other Animal Presences, Capra Press, 1987
527 · Bears Discover Fire · Terry Bisson · ss IASFM Aug ’90
537 · Tower of Babylon · Ted Chiang · nv Omni Nov ’90

Friday "Forgotten" Books: NINE STRANGE STORIES edited by Betty M. Owen (Scholastic, 1974)

The rocking-horse winner, D. H. Lawrence;
Heartburn, Hortense Calisher;
The snail-watcher, Patricia Highsmith;
Manuscript found in a police state, Brian Aldiss;
The man who sold rope to the Gnoles, Idris Seabright (Margaret St. Clair);
The mark of the beast, Rudyard Kipling;
The summer people, Shirley Jackson;
The leopard man's story, Jack London;
The garden of forking paths, Jorge Luis Borges

Another in the series of books that sustained my love of horror, even though this, like most Owen and other Scholastic anthologies, was about as eclectic as an Alfred Hitchcock Presents: anthology. A timely citation, since unfortunately Calisher, whose "Heartburn" is included, just died (January 13, 2009) (somewhat less timely, but stil synchronicitous, is the citation by Andy Duncan on the IAFA-L list of an insane blurb on a 1963 book by the late St. Clair, not killed by apoplexy upon reading the blurb, but she might well've been:

From the back cover of Sign of the Labrys by Margaret St. Clair (see below), a 1963 original paperback novel from Bantam:

"Women are writing science-fiction! ... Women are closer to the primitive than men. They are conscious of the moon-pulls, the earth-tides. They possess a buried memory of humankind's obscure and ancient past which can emerge to uniquely color and flavor a novel. Such a woman is Margaret St. Clair, author of this novel. Such a novel is this, Sign of the Labrys, the story of a doomed world of the future, saved by recourse to ageless, immemorial rites ...")

Meanwhile, I think you can see why these books might appeal to any literate youth; this was, I'm pretty sure, my introduction to Borges (I wouldn't catch up to his new work till The Book of Sand a few years later; also to Lawrence and probably to Aldiss, Highsmith, and "Seabright" (slightly ironic that what is almost certainly St. Clair's best know story was published by her under her Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction pseudonym).

The Aldiss is a slightly silly but ingenious account of a prison made up cells on a sort of wheel within a mountain, told in the great gray tones appropriate to such a narrative. The Highsmith is "The Snail Watcher," and I hope you've come across it somewhere in your reading life by now...easily the most famous short story published by the shortlived US fantasy and sf magazine Gamma, despite not being sf nor fantasy, but a potentially realistic animal suspense story involving the kind of obsessive Highsmith loved to describe (and one wonders why it ended up in Gamma rather than a higher-paying market...was it widely rejected? A favor to editor Charles Fritch, who later would edit the last years of Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine? The others are nearly as common chestnuts of such anthologies, and other sorts, except perhaps for the Calisher, which might well've been first anthologized, and spotted by Owen, in Ray Bradbury's Timeless Tales for Today and Tomorrow.

Stories of Suspense is one of a number of fine anthologies, albeit full of chestnuts in their fields, published for younger readers by the book-publishing arm of Scholastic Magazines, in the post-TAB Books, pre-Goosebumps/Harry Potter decades, when Clifford the Big Red Dog was probably their greatest single money-maker (Scholastic has claimed serious losses of late, but I find that difficult to believe). Mary MacEwen seems only to have published this one anthology with SBS, as opposed to the busy Betty M. Owen, who published at least three horror and suspense anthologies beginning a few years later, among a number of other sorts of anthology.

Unsurprisingly for this 1963 release, there's a cover blurb: "Nine Tales of the Weird, the Incredible--including Daphne DuMaurier's THE BIRDS." (Emphasis sic.) This instead of actually crediting the editor anywhere on the outside of the package (perhaps that's why she didn't do any more for Scholastic). (You might recall that 1963 was the release year for the Hitchcock-directed, Evan Hunter and Hitchcock-adapted film from "The Birds.")

I thought I might have one that had missed the eye of Contento, but no:

Stories of Suspense ed. Mary E. MacEwen (Scholastic T487, 1963, 220pp, pb)
1 · The Birds · Daphne du Maurier · nv Good Housekeeping Oct ’52
42 · Of Missing Persons · Jack Finney · ss Good Housekeeping Mar ’55
67 · Midnight Blue · John Collier · ss New Yorker Jan 22 ’38
76 · Flowers for Algernon · Daniel Keyes · nv F&SF Apr ’59
123 · Taste · Roald Dahl · ss New Yorker Dec 8 ’51; Playboy Apr ’56
145 · Two Bottles of Relish [Mr. Linley] · Lord Dunsany · ss Time & Tide Nov 12 ’32 (+1); EQMM Mar ’51
166 · Charles · Shirley Jackson · ss Mademoiselle Jul ’48
174 · Contents of the Dead Man’s Pockets · Jack Finney · nv Colliers Oct 26 ’56
201 · The Perfectionist · Margaret St. Clair · ss Mystery Book Magazine May ’46

(I can add that the cover illustration is by SBS veteran Irv Doktor.)

Since I'm pressed for time at the moment, I will simply note that this an excellent collection that includes some horror (such as "Of Missing Persons," and arguably the Du Maurier) and some near-future/present day sf ("Flowers for Algernon," the novel version not yet published and some years away from being a classroom staple), but mostly stays in the proper wheelhouse, much like the much more sustainedly supported Robert Arthur YA anthologies, including the juvie "Hitchcock" assemblies from several publishers, and the ubiquitous Great Tales of Action and Adventure, edited by George Bennett (Dell Laurel Leaf). Or, for that matter, Hal Cantor's once ineluctable Berkley compilation Ghosts and Things. Seems to me it was an easy time to get hooked on short fiction in the '60s and '70s, wonder why so relatively few did.

A later-edition cover. (1970s, I'd wager.)

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


Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Well of course I right feel really bad about not having read more by Thomas Disch - will do Todd, will do - and thanks chum,

Todd Mason said...

Well, when I wrote that, it wasn't too long after Disch's suicide...I hadn't realized the thread of recent death that runs through most of these reviews when I assembled them for this post this morning (probably a good thing I left out WAITING FOR NOTHING). I hope you're inspired to check out Sturgeon and Knight stuff, if not also the other anthologists' work, as're not the first to express guilt over not checking into Disch more...not quite what I hoped for, but I certainly had more anger than I realized when I wrote it.