Friday, January 8, 2016

Friday's "Forgotten" Books: new links to reviews, citations and more

Below we have this week's crop of books and other literary expression deserving (and, infrequently, not so much deserving) more attention than they are currently getting. If I've missed your or someone else's FFB review, please let me know in comments...thanks to all the contributors and all you readers. Least-forgotten book this week is probably either the Steinbeck or the Grisham...two each from Stout and Hunter...

Next week, the list will be hosted again by Patti Abbott at her blog, and will have a special emphasis on the humorous crime fiction of Richard S. Prather. Be there (if you choose! And you should.). Aloha. 

Walter Albert: Murder Between the Covers by Elaine Viets

Mark Baker: C is for Corpse by Sue Grafton

Elgin Bleecker: Dick Francis's Gamble by Felix Francis

Ben Boulden: Breakfast at Wimbledon by Jack M. Bickham

Lucy Brown: favorite books read in 2015

Brian Busby: The British Barbarians by Grant Allen

David Cramner: three short stories by Haruki Murakami

Bill Crider: The Jungle Kids by Evan Hunter

Scott A. Cupp: The Will to Kill by Robert Bloch

William Deeck: The Broken Vase by Rex Stout

Martin Edwards: Death in the Dusk by Virgil Markham; Case for Three Detectives by "Leo Bruce" (Rupert Croft-Cooke)

Barry Ergang: Cannery Row by John Steinbeck (hosted by Kevin Tipple)

Curt Evans: Christmas Mourning by Margaret Maron

Barry Gardner: Scent of Evil by Archer Mayor

Jay Gertzman: Down There by David Goodis

Ed Gorman: Cut Me In by "Hunt Collins" (Evan Hunter, reissued as by Ed McBain)

"John Grant": While I Was Gone by Sue Miller

Rich Horton: Falcons of Narabedla & The Dark Intruder and Other Stories by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Jerry House: Mutiny (issue #2, October 1954) published by Aragon Magazines; Batman: Second Chances by Max Allan Collins, Jim Starlin and Jo Duffy
2016 Caldecott winner
Sam Juliano: Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick and Sophie Blackall

Tracy K: Too Many Cooks by Rex Stout

George Kelley: Worst Contact edited by Hank Davis

Margot Kinberg: A Time to Kill by John Grisham

Rob Kitchin: To Steal Her Love by Matti Joensuu; The Informers by Juan Gabriel Vásquez

Kate Laity: The Devil's Mistress by J. W. Brodie-Innes

B. V. Lawson: The Killings at Badger's Drift by Caroline Graham

Steve Lewis: The Law of Second Chances by James SheehanSay Goodbye to April by Ken Pettus

Todd Mason: Fantastic and Amazing Stories as edited by Harry Harrison, and Great Science Fiction and Thrilling Science Fiction as Not edited by HH...(please see below)

Carol Matic: Spider Sparrow by Dick King-Smith

John F. Norris: The Case of the Phantom Fingerprints by Ken Crossen

Mathew Paust: Prime Green: Remembering the Sixties (and others) by Robert Stone

Mildred Perkins: They All Love Jack by Bruce Robinson

J. Kingston Pierce: Xmas vixens

James Reasoner: Honkytonk Brand by Walker A. Tompkins

Richard Robinson: gift books

Gerard Saylor: X-Files: Trust No One edited by Jonathan Maberry

Steve Scott: The Girl in the Plain Brown Wrapper by John D. MacDonald
Wicked Women; courtesy Rex Parker

Jack Seabrook: A Butcher's Dozen of Wicked Women edited by Lee Wright, and the mystery of Emily Neff...

"TomCat": The Pleasure Cruise Mystery by Robin Forsythe

Prashant Trikannad: 2015 reading

A. J. Wright: Stephen Gresham's novels

Todd Mason on 
Harry Harrison's editorial work at Ultimate Publications, 1967-1968

Harry Harrison is one of the more protean figures in the history of sf; much as with his friend Mack Reynolds (I believe...I still need to pick up his memoirs volume , Harry Harrison! Harry Harrison!), he was a world traveler who often would write lighthearted (or very grim) but always intelligent adventure fiction, such as the Stainless Steel Rat series (or the Deathworld series), and was closely allied with John W. Campbell, Jr. artistically and sentimentally (editing Campbell's collected editorials from the latter's time at Astounding Science Fiction and Analog) while also willing to foster the most surreal and/or nonlinear narrative in speculative fiction as an editor, in such venues as the British  SF Impulse magazine and perhaps even more in selecting for (with increasing input from Brian Aldiss, who soon became co-editor) the Best SF annual for Berkley and Putnam from 1968-1975. Harrison first became an editor of fiction magazines in the 1950s, not too long after the 1950 sale of his first short story, "Rock Diver," to Damon Knight at Worlds Beyond Science-Fantasy magazine, briefly taking over the surviving titles that Lester Del Rey had been editing (the first magazine to be titled Science Fiction Adventures and the soon-folded Rocket Stories) in 1953...while still a relatively new fiction-writer, he was already a veteran packager and artist in the comics field.  While both were living in Europe (Harrison in Denmark) in the mid '60s, Harrison and Aldiss had put together two
Fantastic featured more reprints still during
Harrison's year than
Amazing would, and was
at least as afflicted by the cheap European cover
images Cohen had bought rights to for both.
impressive issues of a critical magazine, SF Horizons; when Harrison and his family returned to the US after some years abroad, among the first work Harrison took up part-time was as editor of Fantastic and Amazing Stories, as they were published by Sol Cohen, who did much of the putting together of the magazines from his house (and his wife would mail out the subscription copies from a desk in their basement, one reason Cohen never pushed too hard for subscriptions with the magazines while he owned them). The remarkably small stipend Cohen was paying his first editor, schoolteacher Joseph Wrzos, who went by Joseph Ross for convenience's sake in his editorial work, was perhaps not enough to keep Ross in the job by the end of 1967, after about two years of putting the magazine together on a micro-budget. Nonetheless, Ross's

magazines had presented some remarkable new fiction, such as a short version Avram Davidson's The Phoenix and the Mirror and Roger Zelazny's "For a Breath I Tarry", as "salvage markets" that mixed the few new stories in with reprints selected initially by Ross, long-term fan and assistant Arnie Katz, and Cohen. Cohen had bought the magazines from Ziff-Davis because ZD had for decades been buying all serial rights to the stories they published, and Cohen was thus legally able to reprint, without any further payment, any story from the back issues of the magazines whose inventory he'd also purchased..a practice which made him rather unpopular with the new Science Fiction Writers of America and with other writers, jointly and severally. When Harrison, who already had been writing a book-review column for several issues of Amazing, accepted the post of editor for Amazing and Fantastic, Cohen not only continued to publish a fair amount of reprinted fiction in the magazines, but had also started several more, often irregularly-issued and frequently-retitled magazines completely devoted to reprints, such as Great Science Fiction and The Most Thrilling Science Fiction Ever Told
(which would rather quickly become simply Thrilling Science Fiction). With Harrison, already a "name" writer in the field, taking on the two older titles, Cohen (according to Harrison in correspondence with historian Mike Ashley) offered to phase out the reprints in those magazines if Harrison would allow his name to be put on the covers of the reprint-only magazines as editor, and write a brief editorial or so. Harrison took the deal, and the issues with Harrison cover-bannered as editor are Not Bad, certainly not the haphazard collections of yard goods Cohen would often throw together in later years of the reprint magazines, but were in no way actually edited by Harrison. And Cohen didn't keep his end of the bargain...the reprints continued in Fantastic and Amazing, and soon Harrison left Ultimate Publications, with the advent of his annual Best-of, and, beginning 1970, an anthology series devoted to new fiction, Nova. (Meanwhile, Barry Malzberg had an even shorter term as editor of F & A, and Ted White came in 1969, to stick with the magazines for a decade and to eventually see, in 1972 issues, the end of the reprints...Cohen by that time finally relented and had started making token payments to writers for reprints in the surviving reprint-magazines.)(Harrison notes in his memoir that he'd suggested Malzberg as a temporary substitute for him, and Cohen decided to fire Harrison rather than accept a leave of absence.)

Harrison's first Amazing was the December 1967 issue. his first Fantastic the January 1968. He would edit five issues of each. The Spring and Summer 1968 issues of Great SF and the Summer '68 Most Thrilling were attributed to Harrison. His first Amazing featured the second installment of Frank Herbert's The Santaronga Barrier, begun in Ross's last issue, and also new stories by notable veterans Kris Neville and Charles Harness, and Soviet writer Gennady Gor in translation...and Harrison's editorial noting the death of Amazing founder Hugo Gernsback, and a new essay by Gernsback that Cohen apparently hadn't gotten around to publishing previously. The issue was topped off with reprints from Mack Reynolds, Lester Del Rey and Ray impressive lineup. Less impressive, perhaps, was a reprint from the Gernsback Amazing, vintage 1928, by Charles Cloukey. The first issue of Great SF attributed to Harrison has a good set of contributors, as well, with the mild exception of Albert Teichner. These are the two issues I have before me at the moment, purchased some months ago at a community booksale to benefit the Pennsylvania SF Society. 

indices courtesy ISFDB:
Amazing Stories, December 1967

Great Science Fiction, Spring 1968
Harrison apparently notes in his memoirs that John W. Campbell, Jr., after their long working relation in the 1960s and Harrison editing his editorials collection, wanted Harrison to succeed him as editor (Algis Budrys mentioned in writing that Campbell had made the same desire known about and to young Budrys in the latter 1950s, when they were working closely); Harrison edited the memorial anthology for Campbell, Astounding, but one suspects that Conde Nast, in looking for a new editor upon Campbell's sudden death, preferred as smooth a transition and as little change in the magazine as possible, as Frederik Pohl, also a candidate to succeed Campbell, noted in his memoir The Way the Future Was. Pohl's work at the Galaxy group of magazines, if less decidedly than Harrison's with the Best SF series, was rather more diverse and less engineer-stroking than JWC's magazine had  remained, and Ben Bova, the eventual editorial replacement, managed to both broaden and improve Analog, but less abruptly than the veteran editors would've (perhaps less thoroughly, as well, but that would not necessarily be the opinion of long-term Analog readers). Harrison's career as a (to paraphrase) slow, therefore necessarily commercial, writer, continued fruitfully until his death in 2012.


J F Norris said...

Todd, even though the usual FFB signifier is not part of my post title I'd like my essay posted yesterday afternoon included for Friday's Forgotten Books:

The Case of the Phantom Fingerprints - Ken Crossen


Todd Mason said...

Thank you, John...sorry I forgot to check your blog. Ken Crossen, one of the handful of writers who did much better in crime fiction than in the fantastic fiction they also dabbled in...

Jack Seabrook said...

That cover for Wicked Women is nice, isn't it? I'm reading the book and it's a good collection that includes the first Lew Archer story.

Todd Mason said...

Not too shabby. Neff keeping good company. Interesting, as they note on Pop Sensation blog, that Macdondald didn't get a mention on the cover.

Jerry House said...

I have one up now, Todd, BATMAN: SECOND CHANCES by Max Allan Collins, et al.

Thanks for collecting the links this week. Looks like a good week for Forgotten Books.

Todd Mason said...

Thanks, Jerry. I'd say so.

Jerry House said...

BTW, the author THE BRITISH BARBARIANS was Grant Allen, one of the most popular British authors in the late Nineteenth century and one of Conan Doyle's best friends.

Todd Mason said...


Todd Mason said...

(Surely you've heard of the writer who went up as Hill and it came down he was Allen...)

George said...

Thanks again for hosting FFB while Patti and Phil work on their back-strokes in flooded California. We appreciate all the work that you do!

Todd Mason said...

It remains fun, if time-consuming fun. You're welcome, and thank you.

Mark Baker said...

I realize it is night now, but I had an entry for FFB this week as well. C is for Corpse by Sue Grafton


Todd Mason said...


Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Todd, thanks for the link. And you have featured some very interesting sf magazines.

Todd Mason said...

Well, the two primary magazines were better at other times than when Ross, Harrison, Malzberg and Elinor Mavor were editing them, but even with the ridiculous lack of resources they faced, those editors managed to do dome good things in AMAZING and FANTASTIC.