Saturday, December 31, 2016

A small revelation as this bad year draws to a close...

My previous Friday Books post is a bit of an expansion of an older one, dealing as it does with a vitally important book my mother bought for me, as the most desired part of my membership quartet in the Doubleday Book Club in reacting just now to Matt Paust's review of a book-length interview with the writer and editor Robert Silverberg, the degree to which Silverberg's books, most but not all as part of my father's household collection (and one from his step-father as a gift to me) were key in my early science-fiction wit: 

I haven't ever read his YA novel work, but...his YA-oriented anthology Voyagers in Time was among the first if not the first of my father's paperback anthologies of sf I read (along with introducing me, of course, to the work of Wilma Shore); his YA sf anthology Beyond Control the first I borrowed from a public library; his edited 
volume The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, V. 1 was the most impressive of my father's SF Book Club volumes in Doubleday's book-club hardcover format I went through, Silverberg's anthology of humorous sf Infinite Jests a fascinating slightly later remaindered hardcover pickup by my father, and a paperback of the novel Hawksbill Station the first adult sf novel I read (or, at least, the first not a previous-century classic by Wells, Twain or Bellamy), a gift from my (coincidentally functionally illiterate) step-grandfather. I'm just realizing how much Silverberg was a silver thread through my early sf reading...his was also one of the first, if not the first, sf author interviews I read, in an issue of Vertex Science Fiction magazine my father had also brought home (my brother took scissors to its front cover) already a crime-fiction reader at the time (see the Hitchcock Presents: review), his somewhat dismissive attitude toward why young readers weren't drawn to crime fiction as much as speculative fiction didn't sit too well with me. Odd to finally put this all together this at this late hour.

And thanks to all the readers of this blog, as this has been most widely-read year of the enterprise by some distance, received its millionth hit this year, and its busiest month so far in this December now ending, after several other record months. I hope someone's enjoying what they see.

And here's a photograph of my brother and our parents, taken by me quite probably in 1977, not too long after most of the "Hitchcock" and Silverberg firsts noted above and previously, thanks to my mother, whom we lost altogether this year, and my father, like her only in a slightly different way stricken with dementia and doing his best, as she did hers, to cope with it.  My brother, particularly, and sister-in-law have been doing very good work in trying to help them, as they live nearby my father's place, now. Thanks to them, and to such great friends of mine as Keiko Hassler (and her lovely family), Laura Nakatsuka, and of course, Alice Chang, There are others, also undeserved.

Friday, December 30, 2016

FFB: ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS: STORIES TO BE READ WITH THE DOOR LOCKED edited by Harold Q. Masur (Random House 1975), a further consideration

This was the first "Hitchcock" anthology I owned a copy of, and I've mentioned it on the blog on occasion. It was the fourth edited by Harold Q. Masur, who began editing the Alfred Hitchcock Presents: volumes for Random House after Robert Arthur's rather early death in 1969. Masur would continue to edit such volumes for the Random House series till Hitchcock's death in 1980, and then went on to edit one more for instant remainder publication, associated I think with a package deal the Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine folks had. This volume contains, I think, more stories from AHMM than any other "Presents:" volume, as opposed to the series of best--ofs from the magazine...some of which would eventually be published as "Presents:" volumes, but not until after Random House ceased publishing the original line of multi-source anthologies. Previous to that, all the AHMM best-ofs had been Dell paperbacks with titles such as Alfred Hitchcock's Noose Report or Alfred Hitchcock's Dates with Death...note the possessive form the titles took.

Volume 1 of Dell's reprint
That Dell also published reprints of the AH Presents: volumes, in two volume breakdowns of the hardcovers' contents (and sometimes with substitute contents--since the hardcovers would include full novels on occasion which already had paperback editions in print, or other issues of that sort), only added confusion for bibliographers and at least some casual or even avid readers...Frank Babics, George Kelley and I have all been caught out trying to untangle some of the variants.

It's remarkable to me how many of the stories will come back to me with just a glance at their titles, as well as how many introductions to writers immediately or eventually important to me were made by this one volume...and then there were all the others I would gather or borrow and read in the years since. 

V. 2 from Dell, with retitle.
The hardcover edition was the first book attributed to Hitchcock that my mother bought for me, through a membership in the Doubleday Book Club, and a key event in my literary life. Thanks, Mom.

As I wrote earlier about this volume:
The eclecticism which Robert Arthur particularly had brought to his volumes of the "Hitchcock" anthologies he edited, both in the young readers' line [with such titles as Alfred Hitchcock's Monster Museum and Alfred Hitchcock's Sinister Spies] and the adult-oriented series for Random House (which were paperbacked by Dell, who split the RH compliations into two volumes for their purposes, while Dell also published the "best-of" volumes from Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine in the same years, inspiring much confusion which others and I have addressed repeatedly on this blog and many other places) was ably continued by Masur, after Arthur's death...and Masur even added a few recurring contributors, such as gallows humorist John Keefauver and "Adobe James" with his slightly perfervid men's-magazine tales, to the band of Arthur's recurring favorites (Gerald Kersh, Rex Stout, and other worthies). This volume, I see in retrospect, is slimmer on women's contributions than at least some of Arthur's, but it does include at least three stories which genuinely stuck with me and really shook me up at the time, in the Sturgeon (not the first time I'd read his brilliant early work, but the first time I'd encountered "Shottle Bop," which goes from cocksure whimsy to jarring, touching sobriety masterfully), Joe Gores's "Watch for It" and Richard Matheson's "The Distributor" (I'm not sure I've read a better Matheson), and a number of the others came close to making such a strong impression...the closest to a bad story was Alan Dean Foster's pleasantly slick contribution, or the similar "James"--and the Jacobson, published in the last issue of the first Weird Talesrevival, is a little too recursively about the predicament that magazine itself faced ...and this volume introduced me to a number of its contributors, since it was at latest the second of the AHP:  adult volumes I read, at time of purchase; I'd picked up the likes of Alfred Hitchcock's Haunted Houseful (one of Arthur's double-handful of YA anthologies) and at least one other Presents: volume previously at the Enfield Central Library, that trove of my youth.

Along with Henry Mazzeo's Hauntings, and the extent to which Les Daniels's Living in Fearwas an anthology (the fiction there being almost illustrative examples to the critical/historical survey of horror in art), these were probably the most influential anthologies aimed at adults that I encountered in my early reading.

If anything, Masur's volumes were at least as likely to feature humorous stories as Arthur's, usually very black humor indeed (as with the Robert Fish story, or all of Keefauver's, or the Matheson and the Roald Dahl).  I'm amused to the degree to which the John D. MacDonald and William McGivern stories didn't stick with me, given how much I've enjoyed their work in the years since. While Masur didn't publish much in the fantasy and horror press, as Arthur had before him, he wasn't any more afraid to reach for contributors much better-known in those fields, along with sf, including Foster, Sturgeon, Isaac Asimov, and Harlan Ellison...even given that Asimov and Ellison had certainly established themselves as also crime-fiction writers by this time. This would've been the first time I'd read Bill Pronzini's work, in this 1975 volume purchased in that year, as well as my introduction to Nero Wolfe and his staff, and the useful acknowledgements pages helped me understand, along with the evidence of the few sf magazines around the house, that such things a fiction magazines might exist and be obtainable. 

Again, one of my mother's most important smaller gifts to me. One you could give to yourself, as well, as there are fine stories here by writers that aren't too often discussed these years...some, like "Adobe James," never discussed too often anywhere, ever, except when snatched up by Masur for his volumes of this series. 
    Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Stories to Be Read with the Door Locked edited as by Alfred Hitchcock (actually, Harold Q. Masur(Random House, 1975, 368pp, hc)
    Derivative anthologies: Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Stories to Be Read with the Door Locked (Volume I) and Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Stories to Be Read with the Door Locked (Volume II)/Alfred Hitchcock Presents: I Want My Mummy.
    • xi · Introduction · Alfred Hitchcock (ghosted by Masur) · in
    • 1 · Hijack · Robert L. Fish · ss Playboy Aug 1972
    • 11 · Tomorrow and Tomorrow · Adobe James · ss Adam Bedside Reader 1967
    • 15 · Funeral in Another Town · Jerry Jacobson · ss Weird Tales Fll 1973
    • 33 · A Case for Quiet · William Jeffrey (Bill Pronzini and Jeffrey Wallmann) · ss Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine Aug 1971
    • 41 · A Good Head for Murder · Charles W. Runyon · ss Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine Nov 1974
    • 55 · The Invisible Cat · Betty Ren Wright · ss Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine Jan 1958
    • 61 · Royal Jelly · Roald Dahl · nv Kiss Kiss, Knopf 1959
    • 87 · Light Verse · Isaac Asimov · ss The Saturday Evening Post Sep 1973
    • 93 · The Distributor · Richard Matheson · ss Playboy Mar 1958
    • 109 · How Henry J. Littlefinger Licked the Hippies’ Scheme to Take Over the Country by Tossing Pot in Postage Stamp Glue · John Keefauver · ss National Review Oct 22 1971
    • 115 · The Leak [Prof. Augustus S.F.X. Van Dusen (The Thinking Machine)] · Jacques Futrelle · ss The Sunday Magazine Jun 9 1907, as “The Silver Box”; Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Feb 1949
    • 129 · All the Sounds of Fear · Harlan Ellison · ss The Saint Mystery Magazine (UK) Jul 1962
    • 139 · Little Foxes Sleep Warm · Waldo Carlton Wright · ss Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine Jan 1971
    • 147 · The Graft Is Green · Harold Q. Masur · nv Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine May 1973
    • 171 · View by Moonlight · Patricia McGerr · ss This Week Apr 19 1964
    • 177 · There Hangs Death! · John D. MacDonald · ss This Week Feb 20 1955
    • 185 · Lincoln’s Doctor’s Son’s Dog · Warner Law · ss Playboy Mar 1970
    • 193 · Coyote Street · Gary Brandner · ss Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Sep 1973
    • 203 · Zombique · Joseph Payne Brennan · ss Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine Oct 1972
    • 213 · The Pattern · Bill Pronzini · ss Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine Sep 1971
    • 221 · Pipe Dream · Alan Dean Foster · ss Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine Sep 1973
    • 233 · Shottle Bop · Theodore Sturgeon · nv Unknown Feb 1941
    • 259 · The Magnum · Jack Ritchie · ss Debonair May 1973
    • 267 · Voices in the Dust · Gerald Kersh · ss The Saturday Evening Post Sep 13 1947
    • 281 · The Odor of Melting · Edward D. Hoch · ss Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Feb 1966
    • 287 · The Sound of Murder · William P. McGivern · ss Bluebook Oct 1952; ; as “The Last Word”, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Feb 1963
    • 299 · The Income Tax Mystery · Michael Gilbert · ss Lilliput Oct 1957, as “Mr. Portway’s Practice”; Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine May 1958
    • 311 · Watch for It · Joseph N. Gores · ss Mirror, Mirror, Fatal Mirror, ed. Hans Stefan Santesson 1973
    • 321 · The Affair of the Twisted Scarf [Nero WolfeArchie Goodwin] · Rex Stout · nv The American Magazine Sep 1950, as “The Twisted Scarf”; Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Apr 1951
the UK edition (I've yet to see one)

Friday, December 23, 2016

FFB 2: 1989 horror/fantasy anthologies: TALES BY MOONLIGHT II edited by Jessica Amanda Salmonson (Tor Books); BOOK OF THE DEAD edited by John Skipp and Craig Spector (Bantam); THE YEAR'S BEST HORROR STORIES XVI edited by Karl Edward Wagner (DAW), THE YEAR'S BEST FANTASY (AND HORROR), 2nd Annual, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling (St. Martin's): Friday's Forgotten Reviews from (IN*SIT), January 1990

The following reviews reprinted, with minimal editing, from a longer column of mine in the third, January 1990, issue of the magazine (in*sit), edited and published by Mark Hand, Nancy Ryan, Donna Wilson, Jeri Mason and myself 

Jessica Amanda Salmonson's Tales by Moonlight II is not quite a direct sequel to the original anthology of a few years back; with this volume, she has done the valuable service of surveying and collecting some of the semi-professional or little horror and fantasy press. She offers 37 short stories and poems going back to Daniel Defoe's "The Devil Frolics with a Butler", published originally in pamphlet form by Defoe himself and seen therefore by Salmonson as part of a tradition that is currently represented by dozens of small-circulation magazines and book publishers, among hundreds with wider or different emphases (in her appendix, she lists 37 little-magazine contact addresses; a 38th is that of Janet Fox's small-press market-report guide Scavenger's Newsletter). A new translation of Theophile Gautier is included, and stories from such diverse a set of writers as Ramsey Campbell, John Varley, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, John Domini, Fox and Salmonson herself, along with H. P. Lovecraft (a very enthusiastic small-press person) and "The Eldritch Horror of Oz" by "L. Frank Craftlove" (Phyllis Ann Karr)--truly fierce. Salmonson also offers an historical survey as introduction  and Grue magazine editor Peggy Nadramia offers offers tips on starting a magazine of her own in another appendix). 

Splatterpunks...the name is derived from Gardner Dozois's coinage of "cyberpunks" to describe a group of writers who had begun seeing themselves as somewhat apart from other sf people, more aware of global concerns and the interplay of cultures, particularly on the street level, among people living on one or another edge of ever-more technologically-dependent societies. One of the loudest voices, John Shirley's, among this group of writers insisted they were "culturally on-line," with implications that others were not. Cyberpunk writers, particularly Shirley and the most popular of them, William Gibson, also can be prone to flashy writing, and graphic descriptions of the tougher edges of those societies; hence the newly graphic approaches to horror fiction, often featuring marginalized characters, seemed to have more than a little in common with cyberpunk [and writers as interested in branding themselves to gain a little more attention for themselves and their work]. Hence, David Schow's suggestion, splatterpunk: the work of John Skipp, Craig Spector, Schow, Shirley (the notable mutual member), Joe R. Lansdale [at times, though he hated the label and had no interest in being lumped in with it], Robert McCammon and Clive Barker. And with Book of the Dead, splatter punk has its first (as far as I know) all-original anthology, with Skipp and Spector as editors and stories by Lansdale, Schow, McCammon and such fellow-travelers as Ramsey Campbell and Stephen King. The whole thing [in those pre-ubiquitous zombie days] is a tribute to George Romero's Living Dead films, and all the stories involve zombies. Campbell's story is good, if a bit typical of his more sardonic work; sadly, the King is also typical of the worst of his work: dull, unimaginative, sloppily-written. The King and the one by Glen Vasey were unworthy of my time beyond their first few pages (the Vasey because those first few pages were so utterly vapid). But Schow, Lansdale and pop-culture historian and occasional fiction-writer Les Daniels serve it up just the way Joe Bob likes it: imaginatively and wittily cheesy, and tough. McCammon's story manages to be humorously touching about zombie love, veteran Ed Bryant manages to out-ugly the younger splats, and Douglas Winter's "Less Than Zombie" is devastatingly satirical of a certain work by B. E. Ellis (and by extension of similar efforts by McInerney and Janowitz) and the affectless young moderns celebrated by that work [this was before the no-better American Psycho]. The rest are at least interesting, even if Stephen Boyett's story tries that interest eventually; some of the authors, even given the premise of the anthology, might be too slavishly hewing to Romero's concept of zombies, as well. One of those stories, however, Philip Nutman's "Wet Work" [later the basis of a novel of the same title]  is a great knee-jerk  response story for any anti-establishment readers, as it's all about cannibalistic zombies at a certain Pennsylvania Avenue address...

Another contributor to Book of the Dead, Nicholas Royle, came up with perhaps the most difficult (from the writer's perspective, not the reader's) story there, "Saxophone". He has another good piece, first published in the British anarchosyndicalist magazine Dig, reprinted in Karl Edward Wagner's The Year's Best Horror XVII: "One of Us" is one of two yuppie-horror stories in the Wagner volume, and it involves self-piercing enthusiasts (everyone's favorite marginalized group). The other YUP story, Ian Watson's "Lost Bodies", touches on animal rights; it's also one of four stories shared by the Wagner volume and Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling's Year's Best Fantasy (and Horror, as the subtitle reminds us). With the disappearance of Arthur Saha's Year's Best Fantasy annual series for DAW Books, the Datlow/Windling and the Wagner are the only widely-available annual American multi-source collections to emphasize fantasy and horror [something very much not the case any longer, even if Datlow flies on her own these days and Wagner is alas in what afterlife there might be]; at over 600 and 350 pages respectively, they are taking up the slack well. Wagner reminds us that this is his tenth volume of the series, which began as reprints of a British annual and came under Gerald W. Page's editorship for several years in the 1970s; for Omni fiction editor Datlow,
and Windling, co-editor of the Elsewhere series of anthologies and much else, their second volume compares favorably with their colleague's. The Wagner has stories by Harlan Ellison, Dennis Etchison, Nina Kiriki Hoffman and two each by Charles Grant and Ian Watson, and has more material taken from relatively obscure British sources; the Datlow/Windling features a different Etchison, one of the Watsons (as noted above) and one of the Grants, three stories by Gene Wolfe, and William Kotzwinkle, Daniel Pinkwater, Joan Aiken, Jane Yolen and Thomas Disch, among others, and features more stories from American sources that might be obscure to many fantasy readers.  Aside from "Lost Bodies", both books feature M. John Harrison's "The Great God Pan", Ramsey Campbell's "Playing the Game" and Grant's "Snowman", and all four probably deserve their placement in both volumes. Further, there's enough in both to make the dual purchase worthwhile, despite the Brian Lumley's  slightly stodgy "Fruiting Bodies" leading off the Wagner, and a weak Richard Matheson story and Edward Bryant's rather dispiriting "year in film" article in the other. The Lumley (from Weird Tales) [then newly revived for the fourth time, with that revival--theoretically, at least--still with us after a quarter-century] does feature some imaginative nastiness (Wagner, and Page before him, have shown much good taste in selecting from rather uneven or often bad writers; two of the best Stephen King stories I've read, for example, were among those selected for their annual). As for the Bryant (a brilliant fiction writer if somewhat dicy reviewer and media journalist): I suppose someone had to like the film Child's Play [still not me]. The only sad notes are struck by the obituaries in the Windling/Datlow and the notice in the Wagner that Charles Grant has grown tired of reading bad splatter imitations and so has decided to stop assembling his Shadows and Greystone Bay original-anthologies. In a column full [of also a number of other volumes and magazines than mentioned here], these two annuals might be your best bets--certainly for a broad sense of what horror (and associated fantastic fiction) offers today. 

For more of today's books, and prompter (and fresher!) reviews, please see Patti Abbott's blog; please also see Damien Broderick's guest review of  R. Scott Bakker's Neuropath also posted on this blog, today. 

And happy solstice/new year holidays!

From the Contento/Locus/Galactic Central indices:

Tales by Moonlight II ed. Jessica Amanda Salmonson (Tor 0-812-55371-3, Jul ’89 [Jun ’89], $3.95, 306pp, pb) Anthology of 37 horror stories from small press publications, plus an introduction by Salmonson, a piece on starting small press horror magazines by Peggy Nadramia, and a listing of those currently available.
  • 1 · A Glimpse of Supernatural Literature and the Small Presses · Jessica Amanda Salmonson · in
  • 11 · Proem: The Haunted Street · Marion Zimmer Bradley · pm The Nekromantikon #2 ’50
  • 12 · Dream of a Mannikin, or the Third Person · Thomas Ligotti · ss Eldritch Tales #9 ’83
  • 28 · Marilyn and the King · Ruth Berman · ss Grimoire #4 ’83
  • 33 · The Area · Stefan Grabinski; trans. by Miroslaw Lipinski · ss The Grabinski Reader Sum ’86
  • 45 · The Return of Noire [“They Happened”] · Michael Bullock · ss Sixteen Stories as They Happened, Sono Nis Press, 1987
  • 55 · A Light from Out of Our Heart · Jules Faye · ss Fantasy Macabre #9 ’87
  • 61 · Mr. Templeton’s Toyshop [“Selections from ‘Mr. Templeton’s Toyshop’”] · Thomas Wiloch · ss All the Devils Are Here, ed. David D. Deyo, Jr., Unnameable Press, 1986
  • 69 · The Devil Frolics with a Butler · Daniel Defoe · ss, 1726
  • 73 · The Cats of Ulthar · H. P. Lovecraft · vi The Tryout Nov ’20; Weird Tales Feb ’26
  • 77 · Dead Dogs · Denis Tiani · vi Fantasy and Terror #5 ’85
  • 80 · “W.D.” · David Starkey · ss Grue #2 ’86
  • 85 · The Drabbletails · Stephen Gresham · ss Eldritch Tales #7 ’80
  • 95 · The Gravedigger and Death [Jane Bradshawe] · Mary Ann Allen · ss Ghosts & Scholars #5 ’83
  • 103 · Taking Care of Bertie · Janet Fox · ss Eldritch Tales #11 ’85
  • 110 · Cardinal Napellus · Gustav Meyrink; trans. by Michael Bullock · ss Fantasy Macabre #8 ’86
  • 122 · The Coffeepot [1831] · Théophile Gautier; trans. by Phyllis Ann Karr · ss Fantasy Macabre #5 ’85
  • 130 · Seven · Stephen-Paul Martin · vi Asylum Jun ’87
  • 134 · Chocolate · Wendy Wees · vi Fantasy and Terror #3 ’84
  • 136 · Mousewoman · Wendy Wees · vi Fantasy and Terror #10 ’87
  • 138 · Mother Hag · Steve Rasnic Tem · ss Grue #5 ’87
  • 148 · Good Thoughts · W. Paul Ganley · vi Moonbroth #10 ’73
  • 152 · Shirley Is No Longer with Us · Jody Scott · ss Windhaven #3 ’78
  • 158 · The Ghost of Don Carlos · Michel Tremblay; trans. by Michael Bullock · ss, 1977
  • 167 · Live on Tape · Spider Robinson · ss Stardock Sum ’77
  • 175 · The Head of the Hydra Flower · Carol Reid · ss *
  • 183 · The Manhattan Phone Book (Abridged) · John Varley · ss Westercon Program Book #37 ’84
  • 189 · An Image in Twisted Silver · Charles L. Grant · ss World Fantasy Convention Program Book, 1986; story based on a J.K. Potter illustration.
  • 195 · What Used to Be Audrey · Nina Kiriki Hoffman · ss Arcane #1 ’84
  • 200 · The Day · David Madison · ss, 1969
  • 206 · A Thief in the Night · Jayge Carr · ss Room of One’s Own v6 #1&2 ’81
  • 211 · Silhouette · D. Beckett · ss Paradise Plus: Tales of Another Life, 1985
  • 222 · Laugh Kookaberry, Laugh Kookaberry, Gay Your Life Must Be · John Domini · ss, 1985
  • 242 · Azrael’s Atonement · Archie N. Roy · ss Fantasy Macabre #9 ’87
  • 250 · The Eldritch Horror of Oz [Oz] · L. Frank Craftlove · ss Ozania, 1981
  • 264 · O, Christmas Tree · Jessica Amanda Salmonson & W. H. Pugmire · ss Space & Time Jan ’79
  • 279 · The Pacific High · Grant Fjermedal · ss Fantasy Macabre #10 ’88
  • 293 · Jack in the Box · Ramsey Campbell · ss Dark Horizons #26 ’83
  • 299 · Envoy: The Scythe of Dreams · Joseph Payne Brennan · pm Sixty Selected Poems, The New Establishment Press, 1985
  • 300 · Appendix I: How to Publish Your Own Shoestring Horror Magazine · Peggy Nadramia · ar
  • 303 · Appendix II: Current Small Press Horror Magazines · Misc. · bi

Book of the Dead ed. John M. Skipp & Craig Spector (Bantam 0-553-27998-X, Jul ’89 [Jun ’89], $4.50, 390pp, pb) [Living Dead] Original anthology of 16 zombie stories set in the same universe as George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead.

The Year’s Best Horror Stories: XVII ed. Karl Edward Wagner (DAW 0-88677-381-4, Oct ’89 [Sep ’89], $3.95, 351pp, pb) Anthology of 20 horror stories from 1988, with an introduction by the editor.

  • 11 · Introduction: Ten Years After · Karl Edward Wagner · in
  • 15 · Fruiting Bodies · Brian Lumley · nv Weird Tales Sum ’88
  • 44 · Works of Art · Nina Kiriki Hoffman · ss Pulphouse: The Hardback Magazine: Issue One, ed. Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Pulphouse, 1988
  • 53 · She’s a Young Thing and Cannot Leave Her Mother · Harlan Ellison · ss Pulphouse: The Hardback Magazine: Issue One, ed. Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Pulphouse, 1988
  • 71 · The Resurrection Man · Ian Watson · ss Other Edens II, ed. Christopher Evans & Robert Holdstock, London: Unwin, 1988
  • 88 · Now and Again in Summer · Charles L. Grant · ss Fantasy Tales, v.10 #1, ed. Stephen Jones & David A. Sutton, Robinson, 1988
  • 100 · Call 666 · Dennis Etchison · ss Twilight Zone Feb ’88
  • 113 · The Great God Pan · M. John Harrison · nv Prime Evil, ed. Douglas E. Winter, NAL, 1988
  • 140 · What Dreams May Come · Brad Strickland · ss F&SF Dec ’88
  • 151 · Regression · R. Chetwynd-Hayes · nv The Fourth Book of After Midnight Stories, ed. Amy Myers, London: Kimber, 1988
  • 168 · Souvenirs from a Damnation · Don Webb · ss Pulphouse: The Hardback Magazine: Issue One, ed. Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Pulphouse, 1988
  • 176 · Bleeding Between the Lines [Dennis Cassady] · Wayne Allen Sallee · ss 2AM Win ’88
  • 186 · Playing the Game · Ramsey Campbell · ss Lord John Ten, ed. Dennis Etchison, Northridge, CA: Lord John Press, 1988
  • 201 · Lost Bodies · Ian Watson · ss Interzone #25 ’88
  • 216 · Ours Now · Nicholas Royle · ss Dig Magazine #6 ’88
  • 224 · Prince of Flowers · Elizabeth Hand · ss Twilight Zone Feb ’88
  • 242 · The Daily Chernobyl · Robert Frazier · pm Synergy #2, ed. George Zebrowski, HBJ Harvest, 1988
  • 247 · Snowman · Charles L. Grant · ss Gaslight & Ghosts, ed. Stephen Jones & Jo Fletcher, 1988 World Fantasy Con/Robinson Pub., 1988
  • 258 · Nobody’s Perfect · Thomas F. Monteleone · ss Pulphouse: The Hardback Magazine: Issue One, ed. Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Pulphouse, 1988
  • 276 · Dead Air · Gregory Nicoll · nv Ripper!, ed. Gardner Dozois & Susan Casper, Tor, 1988
  • 301 · Recrudescence · Leonard P. Carpenter · nv Amazing Jan ’88

The Year’s Best Fantasy: Second Annual Collection ed. Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling (St. Martin’s 0-312-03007-X, Jun ’89, $12.95, 579pp, tp) Anthology of 46 horror and fantasy stories, with summaries of the past year in horror by Datlow, fantasy by Windling, and film by Edward Bryant. Also available in hardcover (-03006-1 $24.95).

  • xiii · Summation 1988: Fantasy · Terri Windling · ar
  • xxvi · Summation 1988: Horror · Ellen Datlow · ar
  • xlvii · 1988: Horror and Fantasy on the Screen · Edward Bryant · ar
  • liv · Obituaries · Jim Frenkel · ob
  • 2 · Death Is Different · Lisa Goldstein · ss IASFM Sep ’88
  • 17 · The Tale of the Rose and the Nightingale (And What Came of It) · Gene Wolfe · nv Arabesques, ed. Susan Shwartz, Avon, 1988
  • 39 · It Was the Heat · Pat Cadigan · ss Tropical Chills, ed. Tim Sullivan, Avon, 1988
  • 54 · The Cutter · Edward Bryant · ss Silver Scream, ed. David J. Schow, Arlington Heights, IL: Dark Harvest, 1988
  • 67 · The Freezer Jesus · John DuFresne · vi The Quarterly Fll ’88
  • 71 · Voices of the Kill · Thomas M. Disch · ss Full Spectrum, ed. Lou Aronica & Shawna McCarthy, Bantam, 1988
  • 87 · Secretly · Ruth Roston · pm Pandora #19 ’88
  • 90 · The Devil’s Rose · Tanith Lee · nv Women of Darkness, ed. Kathryn Ptacek, Tor, 1988
  • 111 · Wempires · Daniel M. Pinkwater · vi Omni Oct ’88
  • 115 · Scatter My Ashes · Greg Egan · ss Interzone #23 ’88
  • 126 · Unfinished Portrait of the King of Pain by Van Gogh · Ian McDonald · nv Empire Dreams, Bantam Spectra, 1988
  • 150 · Shoo Fly · Richard Matheson · ss Omni Nov ’88
  • 165 · The Thing Itself · Michael Blumlein · ss Full Spectrum, ed. Lou Aronica & Shawna McCarthy, Bantam, 1988
  • 179 · The Soft Whisper of Midnight Snow · Charles de Lint · ss Pulphouse: The Hardback Magazine: Issue One, ed. Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Pulphouse, 1988
  • 193 · Roman Games · Anne Gay · ss Other Edens II, ed. Christopher Evans & Robert Holdstock, London: Unwin, 1988
  • 201 · The Princess, the Cat, and the Unicorn · Patricia C. Wrede · ss The Unicorn Treasury, ed. Bruce Coville, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1988
  • 212 · The Book and Its Contents · Robert Kelly · ss Doctor of Silence, McPherson, 1988
  • 225 · The Great God Pan · M. John Harrison · nv Prime Evil, ed. Douglas E. Winter, NAL, 1988
  • 246 · Lost Bodies · Ian Watson · ss Interzone #25 ’88
  • 256 · Two Minutes Forty-Five Seconds · Dan Simmons · ss Omni Apr ’88
  • 265 · Preflash · John M. Ford · ss Silver Scream, ed. David J. Schow, Arlington Heights, IL: Dark Harvest, 1988
  • 284 · Life of Buddha · Lucius Shepard · ss Omni May ’88
  • 302 · Appointment with Eddie · Charles Beaumont · ss Selected Stories, Arlington Heights, IL: Dark Harvest, 1988
  • 316 · Fragments of Papyrus from the Temple of the Older Gods · William Kotzwinkle · ss Omni Apr ’88
  • 324 · Spillage · Nancy Kress · ss F&SF Apr ’88
  • 335 · Snowman · Charles L. Grant · ss Gaslight & Ghosts, ed. Stephen Jones & Jo Fletcher, 1988 World Fantasy Con/Robinson Pub., 1988
  • 344 · The Scar · Dennis Etchison · ss The Horror Show Win ’87
  • 352 · Laiken Langstrand · Gwyneth Jones · ss Other Edens II, ed. Christopher Evans & Robert Holdstock, London: Unwin, 1988
  • 365 · The Last Poem About the Snow Queen · Sandra M. Gilbert · pm Blood Pressure, W.W. Norton, 1988
  • 367 · Pinocchio · Sandra M. Gilbert · pm Blood Pressure, W.W. Norton, 1988
  • 370 · Game in the Pope’s Head · Gene Wolfe · ss Ripper!, ed. Gardner Dozois & Susan Casper, Tor, 1988
  • 377 · Playing the Game · Ramsey Campbell · ss Lord John Ten, ed. Dennis Etchison, Northridge, CA: Lord John Press, 1988
  • 389 · Faces · F. Paul Wilson · nv Night Visions 6, ed. Anon., Arlington Heights, IL: Dark Harvest, 1988
  • 413 · Snowfall · Jessie Thompson · ss F&SF Sep ’88
  • 418 · Seal-Self · Sara Maitland · ss The Book of Spells, Michael Joseph, 1987
  • 428 · No Hearts, No Flowers · Barry N. Malzberg · ss 14 Vicious Valentines, ed. Rosalind M. Greenberg, Martin H. Greenberg & Charles G. Waugh, Avon, 1988
  • 438 · The Boy Who Drew Unicorns · Jane Yolen · ss The Unicorn Treasury, ed. Bruce Coville, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1988
  • 446 · The Darling · Scott Bradfield · nv The Secret Life of Houses, Unwin Hyman, 1988
  • 463 · Night They Missed the Horror Show · Joe R. Lansdale · ss Silver Scream, ed. David J. Schow, Arlington Heights, IL: Dark Harvest, 1988
  • 478 · Your Story · Rick DeMarinis · ss The Coming Triumph of the Free World, Viking, 1988
  • 489 · Winter Solstice, Camelot Station · John M. Ford · pm Invitation to Camelot, ed. Parke Godwin, Ace, 1988
  • 495 · The Boy Who Hooked the Sun · Gene Wolfe · vi Cheap Street; New Castle, VA Dec ’85
  • 499 · Clem’s Dream · Joan Aiken · ss The Last Slice of Rainbow, London: Cape, 1985
  • 506 · Love in Vain · Lewis Shiner · nv Ripper!, ed. Gardner Dozois & Susan Casper, Tor, 1988
  • 525 · In the Darkened Hours · Bruce Boston · pm The Nightmare Collector, 2AM, 1988
  • 529 · A Golden Net for Silver Fishes · Ru Emerson · ss Argos Win ’88
  • 538 · Dancing Among Ghosts · Jim Aikin · nv F&SF Feb ’88
  • 575 · Honorable Mentions: 1988 · Misc. · bi

FFB 1: Damien Broderick: a Guest's Friday's Forgotten Book: NEUROPATH by R. Scott Bakker (Orion, 2008; Penguin Canada, 2009; TOR, 2009)

Damien Broderick: 
I just stumbled on Canadian R. Scott Bakker's 2008 philosophical horror novel Neuropath, which I found rather good, a sort of blend of Greg Egan and Thomas Harris. It was published in the US by TOR, and is an sf novel to the extent that half of Moscow has been nuked (or something similar), the world is in deep shit generally, neuroimaging has advanced at the rate one might expect, and the US seems to have fallen into the grip of people who eerily foreshadow Trump and his chosen support team. The only review I've managed to find is this at Strange Horizons, but it doesn't give the remotest sense of how gripping and informed this novel is. But then to unwrap its motor would ruin it; Bakker's winding threads of neuroscience and Dennettesque philosophy is discursive but thoroughly enacted by his characters. 

Bakker seems to have started with complex fantasy narratives.  I sent the above paragraph to Scott, who replied inter alia: "the esteemed pop culture critic and speculative realist Steven Shaviro devotes a whole chapter to NP in his latest book, Discognitions, exploring the ability of narrative to take us where arguments cannot go...There's a few academic treatments out there, but his reading is smack." I've never heard of Steven Shaviro** nor heard "smack" used as a term of excited endorsement (an upgrade to the tedious "dope", I assume), I'll leave it there for the moment. 

**Wiki tells us: "Shaviro has written a book about film theory, The Cinematic Body, which examines the dominance of Lacanian tropes in contemporary academic film theory. According to Shaviro, the use of psychoanalysis has mirrored the actions of a cult, with its own religious texts (essays by Freud and Lacan)," an opinion only the cultists would disagree with, as I argued a couple of decades back in Theory and Its Discontents.

Recommended. I have a suspicion that it was probably too smart for the sf groundlings ("booorrring") and that maybe it sank swiftly into oblivion--although I see paperback and ebook editions, so I hope I'm wrong.

Copyright 2016 by Damien Broderick 

Friday, December 16, 2016

CRIMINAL INTENT 1: Novellas by Marcia Muller, Ed Gorman and Bill Pronzini (Dark Harvest 1993): FFB Muller/Pronzini Week

The first (and last) volume in an attempt to replicate in crime fiction what publisher Dark Harvest had done so successfully in horror (and borderline suspense) fiction: original anthologies divided into thirds, each featuring new work from three notable writers in the fields, as Night Visions (in nine anthologies so fondly remembered that Subterranean Press briefly revived it for three more volumes a decade later). The uninspired jacket (illustration by Nikita Tkachuk, design uncredited) on this one might not've helped sales, but otherwise it's hard to see why such a good start didn't lead to more volumes in the series. No editor credited, but Ed Gorman does thank Muller and Pronzini for copy-editing and suggestions on his novella. Unlike most of the Night Visions volumes, no paperback edition was offered. More's the pity.

Marcia Muller: "The Wall"
Ed Gorman: "Moonchasers"
Bill Pronzini:  "Kinsmen"

Executive summary: 
You will not be sorry to have spent the time reading any of these three novellas, and they all involve young people being messed over by utterly corrupt elders, occasionally with the help of other young people but mostly through the abuse of the authority the primary villains have managed to be granted. All three involve beleaguered mothers, single or in one case would be better off single. Peripheral culture/counter-culture figures into each story, as does tough economic times and how that afflicts particularly suburban and exurban/small-town California and Iowa (a certain married couple of writers are Californians, and a certain third writer called Iowa his home). The men are particularly keen to give credit to their influences in their stories, particularly Ed's (where he slyly names a character after busy actor Ray Danton); "Moonchasers" manages to make its protagonist even more autobiographical than "Nameless Detective" Bill, the protagonist of Pronzini's story and much of his work, and Rae Kelleher, the assistant to the also heavily autobiographically-flavored Sharon McCone of Marcia Muller's best-known and most voluminous series of stories. 

Publication since this volume: 
Muller's McCone and Friends (Crippen & Landru 1999)
Gorman's Moonchasers and Other Stories (Forge Books 2000)
Pronzini's 2013 Cemetery Dance Books volume Kinsmen, though how the 70-page novella is offered at 180pp I'm not sure, unless the 1996 novel reworked from the novella, Sentinels, is somehow also involved in the later volume. 
All three are available as eBooks, the Muller in the collection (which also has an audiobook). 

The Muller is apparently the first story told from the point of view of the young (latter 20s), newly-fledged field investigator/private eye Rae Kelleher, the mentee of Sharon McCone, the veteran of a long and impressive series of novels; as noted above, a collection gathering stories written from the perspectives of other members of the All Souls Legal Cooperative, where McCone is based in the earlier novels, includes this novella. Kelleher does her best to apply what's she's learned from McCone and her other colleagues at All Souls, as well as some of her experience in private security work before that, and she finds she needs to summon her inner resources more thoroughly than she expected, as McCone is busy or distracted a fair amount of the time during the several days over which the story occurs. Kelleher is engaged to find a missing teenaged girl, who has vanished leaving no real clue as to how or why, aside from the titular wall, which bears images and mementos of rather recondite's up in her bedroom as apparently a sort of therapy. Her shady boyfriend, her single mother and fraternal aunt, and at least two sorts of work-bosses play roles in what has happened to her and those around her...Kelleher sometimes says things in her internal monolog that I find less than convincing, but only rarely (I think I see where Muller is fleshing out her character as she goes along, as opposed to the more fully-realized McCone of the novels and stories I've read); Rae also learns some hard lessons in the nature of law vs. justice by the story's end. Muller has a way with the flatly declarative observation from her characters that can be slyly double-bottomed, and usually by the character's intent. It's also notable that both McCone and Kelleher, with some of the limitations societal brainwashing and physical facts impose, have a strong sense of agency that sometimes surprises the male characters they have to deal with, and that some (not all) the women they meet lack...or feel that they do. 

Ed Gorman's story involves two kids, Tom and Barney, who might (particularly Tom) remind various people of the young Ed Gorman, stuck in a small town in Iowa, not bad teen boys but capable of mischief in the past, not much appreciated outside their families for their intelligence or sensitivity, though also as insensitive as any adolescent (and too many adults) are likely to be at times. They love their fiction magazines, Gold Medal paperbacks, Robert Mitchum's films, and similar work that allows them to see beyond their small town and its limited ability to engage or reward them, even as they try and fail to get dates and otherwise move toward manhood. Their greatest antagonist is an erratic arrested-development case who is on the local police force; at story's beginning they and he are at an uncomfortable standoff, as the bully mocks them whenever he sees them but dares not do much more; things get more serious, taking a number of turns. Gorman dedicates the story to Mark Twain, Booth Tarkington, William Goldman, Earl Hamner, Jr. (he of The Homecoming and Spencer's Mountain and The Waltons, among much else including Twilight Zone episodes), the scripters of American Graffiti, Stephen King and Robert McCammon...which I think leaves out at least two important antecedents in Theodore Sturgeon and Ray Bradbury. As much as this story owes to Tom and Huck and Jim, Penrod and Sam, and Boys and Girls Together (a few years earlier in their lives)  it owes no little to the kids in such stories as "The Black Ferris" and even more to the family dynamics and characters of Sturgeon's "It"...and like the Sturgeon, has an immediacy and brilliance of detail that puts it ahead of Bradbury or King's similar work, or the film; for example, a vignette, later called back to, involving a dying hawk the boys try to help will get under your skin in a way King often reaches for without quite achieving, because Gorman was a better reporter of just how that would go. Perhaps the best of the three novellas, in a good might just dig the deepest.

Pronzini's Nameless has another missing daughter to find, this one a young adult college student, on a road trip with her new boyfriend, and they seem to have disappeared in or shortly after visiting a small town in the far northeastern part of California, near the corner bordering Oregon to the north and Nevada to the east...the kind of insular small town in the mountains which isn't too unlike similar enclaves in the Appalachians and the Ozarks, or around (if somewhat less makeshift than those near) the Salton Sea...the kind of people who inspired We Always Lie to Strangers and similar studies and compilations. The conversations tend to be a bit more clipped here than in the Muller or the Gorman, a bit more in the hardboiled tradition but not cartoonishly so by any means; the portrayals of the cast of too often cagy witnesses and other characters is also quite believable. This 1993 work does touch on the Christian Identity militias and similar expressions of racism and similar chauvinism already making themselves felt in the Far West as well as Mountain and Central Time Zones, and in their East Coast enclaves as well, though two years before the most destructive single example of their terrorism, bombing the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City--somehow still not The Day That Changed America that 9/11/01 was, thanks to the self-importance of some people. (After all, "only' one tenth as many people were slaughtered, if more young children than in NYC or Arlington or rural Penna...and They Weren't As Important!) Or, put another way, the soil of Trumpism has been accumulating for a very long time...

A deft trio, a procedural, a Bildungsroman, and a fair-play fact, a certain amount of all three in all three. It really is hard to believe that this book didn't do well enough to encourage further volumes...perhaps also a lack of enthusiasm in the marketplace for novellas was at play, or Dark Harvest's relative lack of connection with the crime-fiction audience. But you really can do much worse indeed than this fine collection of original stories. 

Please see other entries here for
Marcia Muller
Ed Gorman
Bill Pronzini

and for the reset of this week's books, please see Patti Abbott's blog.

Friday, December 9, 2016

FFB: DIRTY! DIRTY! DIRTY! by Mike Edison (Soft Skull Press 2011); THE CREATION OF TOMORROW by Paul A. Carter (Columbia University Press 1977)

Paul A. Carter died 28 November, aged 90. He was a very occasional contributor to science fiction literature, but his The Creation of Tomorrow was the first critical/historical volume I read about science fiction, particularly (as the subtitle notes) sf as published in the specialist fiction magazines. The book, published in 1977, was keyed to the golden anniversary of Amazing Science Fiction magazine in 1976, as the oldest inarguable magazine devoted expressly to sf (as opposed to eclectic-fiction/adventure pulps, dime-novel series, boys' papers and fantasy-fiction magazines in English and other languages...or special issues of such Hugo Gernsback magazines as Science and Invention that were market-testers for Amazing Stories' potential appeal). Carter's book is a collection of essays tackling various themes thorough the five decades of its remit, and touching on matters that often weren't discussed in most histories of the magazines at that time nor since. My favorite bit of random knowledge gleaned from Carter's work is an explanation for a thrown-away reference in the Firesign Theater's audio-drama satire LP  Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers to the Rev. Willy Pan, which calls back to an animated character used for mass hypnosis in an early, not widely read Murray Leinster story. I have a copy buried in storage somewhere, and might give a further review sometime soon...but it was certainly a model for a lot of my writing on this blog. 

Mike Edison's been an editor or publisher for such magazines as High Times and Screw, and a contributor to any number of others; in this volume, he traces the history of modern "men's sophisticate" magazines since the foundation of Playboy in 1953, mostly but not entirely focusing on the lives and careers of four editor/publishers: Hugh Hefner, Robert Guccione of Penthouse, Larry Flynt of Hustler and Screw's Al Goldstein. Some attention is given to such other notables as George van Rosen (at whose publishing firm Hefner and William Hamling would meet and apparently together devise their own upgrades on the machismic, unsophisticated magazines such as Modern Man they helped produce for van Rosen, sharing as they did an appreciation for Esquire and a desire to go it a bit more libertine, Modern Man more urbane--with Hamling, already a veteran of the Ziff-Davis pulps and editing and publishing his digest-sized Imagination with his wife out  of their basement, to launch Rogue magazine a year-and-some-months after Playboy began), Ralph Ginzburg (he of Eros and fact magazines), various staffers of the likes of Gallery (co-founded by lawyer F. Lee Bailey, and whose publisher, Montcalm, also would issue The Twilight Zone Magazine and its companions in the 1980s) and High Society, and (Ms.) Dian Hanson of Taschen Books, after co-founding Puritan and a successful editorial run at Leg Show and Juggs. The degree of involvement these magazines and their primary instigators have had in First Amendment court battles, the shift in the Zeitgeist in the US about sexual matters (if probably less profound than they would have you believe, Edison suggests), and general challenge to bluenoses and others make for a rather lively, and rather sobering, narrative...none could be said to have led consistently happy lives, even given the periods of commercial and to some degree or another artistic success they achieved, at least for a while. Also considered: the effects of the work of Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem (before and since founding Ms.) and Helen Gurley Brown and her Cosmopolitan, a sustained success in distinction to more skin-oriented magazines aimed at women such as Guccione's Viva, and Playgirl, despite both of those magazines having at least reasonable runs (and the last being revived at least once); Edison is firmly convinced of Playgirl's audience having been primarily suburban and rural gay men, otherwise starved for "glamor" magazines aimed at them on accessible newsstands. (Otherwise, the gay male skin magazines, admittedly aimed at comparatively small audiences, are barely mentioned, nor at all are such similar magazines as the lesbian On Our Backs or the bisexual Anything That Moves (or, at least, the more erotically-charged Frighten the Horses), nor, perhaps more surprisingly, Evergreen Review and the slew of not exclusively literary erotica magazines that have followed in its wake, from Yellow Silk to Blue Blood to Paramour to Nerve...none Quite as specialized as, say, Draculina, a short-lived newsstand magazine notable for its photo spreads featuring large-canine-bearing vaginas dentata). Greenleaf Books and Rogue's William Hamling and his frequent editor and general associate Earl Kemp are mentioned by name only for their roles in publishing an illustrated version of the Nixon Administration's report on pornography, which led to them both serving some hard prison time, solely in one of the many useful footnotes provided, and not cited in the index. 
Modern Man about the time of the first Playboy

All four of the central figures of the book were (or in Flynt's case, remain) obsessive, easily triggered task-masters at their corporate offices...which in Hefner and Guccione's cases became their mansions, and to some extent only a small part of those edifices (Hefner because he had a retinue of partiers usually floating about his, Guccione in part because he simply didn't wish to go into certain rooms of his comparatively uninhabited residence). All four had no lack of early trauma they never quite overcame, and, Edison suggests, had differing degrees of self-awareness regarding. Each had key women in their lives, though all had their relations end somewhat badly...particularly for Guccione, whose partner Kathy Keeton died of cancer almost a decade before a different sort took her widower, and Flynt, whose wife died of a combination of AIDS-related ravages and the drugs she couldn't resist. How they interacted, tweaked or simply stole ideas from each other and/or sold material to and or challenged each other in their respective magazines makes for some interesting further contrasts and parallels...Goldstein, with his largely New York City-based tabloid paper, was perhaps for most of the years of their mutual enterprises the one closest to each of the others, contributing most readily and frequently to the magazines of or advising the other three. 

Edison has done his research, in digging into backfiles of magazines and newspapers (for trial coverage and much else) and even such unlikely products as public-access television interview programming (beyond Goldstein's notorious Midnight Blue); it's a pity the book is not copy-edited...Edison is enough of an editor as well as writer to keep the interlocking narratives and background filling-in lively and mostly smoothly-written, but at times repetitive (there are somewhere between six and twenty references to effective defense lawyer Herald Price Fahringer as the "Joe DiMaggio of the First Amendment") and Edison's memory of the less topic-specific historical events can fail him, as when he has Reagan moving into the White House eleven months before John Lennon's murder in December of 1980, rather than the month after; several other similar bobbles pop up here and there.  I was hoping for perhaps a bit more on the involvement of Paul Krassner as publisher of Hustler, during the period Flynt stepped away from the magazine while briefly a convert to Ruth Carter Stapleton's sort of evangelical Christianity, but it's notable also how many other sorts of magazine and other publishing the quartet and their associates were involved with over the years, including the post-Mad Harvey Kurtzman humor magazines Trump and Humbug that Hefner directly or indirectly funded (and Kurtzman's last magazine, Help!, was one of the Warren magazines, which began with a minor, short-lived Playboy imitator After Hours, folded shortly after helping to launch the much more durable Famous Monsters of Filmland and spin-offs, and later the Warren horror-comics magazines such as Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella--before Kurtzman would turn after 1965 to the long-running comic strip "Little Annie Fanny" in Playboy as his most consistent paycheck).  Guccione and Keeton's other projects included Omni and Longevity magazines; he would fund his sisters' more modest project, the digest fiction magazine Espionage as well as his son's music magazine Spin, though Robert Guccione, Jr. didn't attempt his own skin/lad-mag--or younger-skewing Esquire--title Gear till after his father broke off relations and support after two years of Spin's publication, and younger Guccione sought and found independent investors. 

All in all, an impressive book, and interesting to me for some of the holes filled in about these men and women, and their mutual interaction and sometimes reluctant but necessary working in common cause, their rivalries and strengths and weaknesses. All of the primary quartet made, and spent, a whole lot of money in the interests of doing what they wanted to provide what they thought was valuable and challenging material, with some degree of denial in recognizing any damage they might've caused along the way...and cognizant of more than they cared to be, it seems, in each case. 

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