Friday, May 19, 2017

FFB: THE BEST OF MYSTERY edited by Harold Q. Masur (attributed to Alfred Hitchcock) (Galahad Books 1980) along with other poorly-published books

The Best of Mystery: 63 Short Stories Chosen by the Master of Suspense is probably two (or so) otherwise unpublished books smashed together, though I'm not sure how to determine conclusively whether that's a correct supposition or not. And...late copy is still buried in a box, so I'd managed to forget that this book is made up of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine reprints to a much greater extent than the contents list I borrowed below indicates! Perhaps it might well've been published through a contract Davis Publications, in 1980 the AHMM publisher, had with Galahad.... Harold Q. Masur was the primary ghost-editor of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents:" (henceforward AHP:) anthologies for Random House in the 1970s, from the 1971 AHP: Stories to Stay Awake By through the 1979 AHP: The Master's Choice; Robert Arthur had been the editor of the Random House series (and their YA anthology series, and the creator and overseer of AH and the Three Investigators children's mysteries) till his early death in 1969 (and even Frank Babics's fine accounting of the ridiculously complex mass of "Hitchcock" books slips here and attributes Awake By to Arthur, an error replicated as a result by The Hitchcock Zone). Hitchcock's death in 1980 probably meant that Random House was uninterested in putting out any further books attributed to him (or took it as a good excuse to end their series), no matter how blatantly ghost-edited they always had been, and yet, I suspect, the (alas, now late) Masur had at least two anthologies mapped out for publication, or a list of stories he hoped to place in further volumes...and those were combined/gathered for salvage-market publication by the "instant remainder" publisher Galahad Books...a suspicion which is furthered by the appearance of two or three stories each by such AHP: volume regulars as Lawrence Block, Bill Pronzini, Donald Westlake (with another yet by "Richard Stark"), C.B. Gilford and others...including "Pauline C. Smith," who is further problematic by being a pseudonym for Robert Arthur as well as the real name of two other writers active in the same years as Arthur...though one of them signed herself Pauline Smith and perhaps had a different middle initial if any...and the other Pauline C. Smith was younger, started publishing later than and outlived Arthur (and continued seeing her work published after his death). In any case, this last Harold Masur "Hitchcock" anthology is a fine, huge collection, hewing more closely to fairly recent (at the time) stories published in the crime-fiction magazines or by regular, active crime-fiction writers than most of the AHP: books did, as they strove to include more chestnuts, particularly from the horror-fiction canon, and more writers who might be seen as at the fringes of crime fiction (such as satirist John Kefauver, in most of Masur's volumes), as well as a science fiction story (such as C. B. Gilford's older story here) or fantasy or two or a grim naturalistic character study among the more straightforward suspense and mystery stories. The "instant remainder" books attributed to Hitchcock published since have been products of the editors of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, whose "best-of" volumes were most of the books attributed to Hitchcock published by Dell in paperback in the latest 1950s onward, along with Dell's reprints of earlier ghosted anthologies attributed to Hitchcock, such as Bar the Doors, and Dell's reprints of the Random House AHP: hardcovers, usually split into two paperback volumes and sometimes replacing some of the content of the AHP: hardcovers with other stories (frequently taken from Robert Arthur's YA anthologies). Usually this last happened because an AHP: hardcover, particularly the Arthur volumes, might reprint a novel that had had no hardcover publication, but did have an in-print paperback edition...and, to further the confusion, Dell in the 1970s started reissuing their AHP: reprint volumes under some variant titles, rather than the previous format of calling the second paperback volumes "[X number, for example:] 13 More Stories from AHP: [Whichever]"...Frank's site valuably also takes into account Peter Haining's UK "Hitchcock" anthologies, which, unlike most Haining anthologies, weren't reprinted in the US. Ridiculously complex mass might be an understatement.


  1. Winter Run by Edward D. Hoch
  2. You Can't Blame Me by Henry Slesar
  3. A Flower in Her Hair by Pauline C. Smith — from Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine volume 13 (number 7)
  4. The Cost Of Kent Castwell by Avram Davidson
  5. Pseudo Identity by Lawrence Block
  6. That Russian! by Jack Ritchie
  7. Galton and the Yelling Boys by Hillary Waugh — from AHMM 15(3)
  8. Blind Date by Charles Boeckman
  9. Pressure by Roderick Wilkinson — from AHMM 13(1)
  10. The Running Man by Bill Pronzini — from AHMM 13(1)
  11. The Vietnam Circle by F.J. Kelly
  12. Sadie When She Died by Ed McBain
  13. A Very Cautious Boy by Gilbert Ralston
  14. A Try for the Big Prize by Borden Deal
  15. Voice in the Night by Robert Colby — from AHMM 14(4)
  16. Undertaker, Please Drive Slow by Ron Goulart
  17. Never Shake a Family Tree by Donald E. Westlake
  18. Here Lies Another Blackmailer by Bill Pronzini
  19. Dead Duck by Lawrence Treat
  20. Games for Adults by John Lutz
  21. Night of the Twisters by James Michael Ullman
  22. Variations on a Game by Patricia Highsmith
  23. Child's Play by William Link and Richard Levinson
  24. Just a Little Impractical Joke by Richard Stark
  25. Murderer #2 by Jean Potts — from AHMM 6(1)
  26. The Third Call by Jack Ritchie
  27. Damon and Pythias and Delilah Brown by Rufus King
  28. Glory Hunter by Richard M. Ellis — from AHMM 15(8)
  29. Linda is Gone by Pauline C. Smith
  30. Frightened Lady by C.B. Gilford
  31. Come Back, Come Back ... by Donald E. Westlake — from AHMM 5(10)
  32. Once Upon a Bank Floor by James Holding
  33. Warrior's Farewell by Edward D. Hoch — from AHMM 12(8)
  34. Death By Misadventure by Wenzell Brown
  35. With a Smile for the Ending by Lawrence Block
  36. Television Country by Charlotte Edwards — from AHMM 7(12)
  37. Art for Money's Sake by Dan J. Marlowe
  38. Nothing But Human Nature by Hillary Waugh
  39. Murder, 1990 by C.B. Gilford — from AHMM 5(10)
  40. Panther, Panther in the Night by Paul W. Fairman
  41. Perfectly Timed Plot by E.X. Ferrars
  42. #8 by Jack Ritchie
  43. All the Needless Killing by Bryce Walton
  44. A Melee of Diamonds by Edward D. Hoch
  45. One for the Crow by Mary Barrett
  46. Happiness Before Death by Henry Slesar
  47. I Don't Understand It by Bill Pronzini — from AHMM 17(12)
  48. News from Nowhere by Ron Goulart
  49. A Case of Desperation by Kate Wilhelm
  50. An Interlude for Murder by Paul Tabori
  51. Death Overdue by Eleanor Daly Boylan
  52. The Best-Friend Murder by Donald E. Westlake
  53. Pattern Of Guilt by Helen Nielsen
  54. A Real, Live Murderer by Donald Honig
  55. Doctor Apollo by Bryce Walton
  56. The Pursuer by Holly Roth
  57. Final Arrangements by Lawrence Page
  58. Countdown by David Ely — from AHMM 7(2)
  59. Murder Between Friends by Nedra Tyre
  60. The Case of the Kind Waitress by Henry Slesar
  61. Ghost of a Chance by Carroll Mayers
  62. The Montevideo Squeeze by James Holding
  63. The White Moth by Margaret Chenoweth
The uglier, probably original edition cover
Previously on the blog I'd reviewed two other anthologies, among so many others, drawn from favorite fiction magazines of mine, and in looking again at the two books, one drawn from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and the other from Fantastic, it still impresses me how they demonstrated all the ways fine books can be mispublished. For example, I was at best barely aware of either book when they were published in 1985 and 1987 respectively, despite being their ideal audience. Of course, the F&SF volume, which was presumably offered to mainline publishers such as Doubleday, the regular publishers of a once-annual series best-of anthologies from the magazine, being instead published by an instant remainder publisher, which had no ad budget and presumably saw no review copies sent anywhere (even given that Octopus was a more ambitious remainder line than most), and ISFDB indeed records no reviews for the book in the usual media of the time. And yet it's at least a near-brilliant and hefty selection, as the table of contents below will demonstrate. Meanwhile, the somewhat more slapdash volume taken from Fantastic...with one story curiously reprinted from the utterly different 1950s magazine Fantastic Universe, presumably out of some sort of filing error on the part of co-editor Martin Harry Greenberg, who'd systematized his editing process by creating a vast database of stories including his rating of their quality, showed other signs of being assembled with less than full attention, but was similarly offered on the market by its wealthy game publisher, TSR, with little sense of how to connect with the fantasy- and sf-reading public. And it, too, got no reviews in the fantastic-fiction media as notated by ISFDB. TSR spent enough on the book to include a rather haphazard selection of covers from issues of the magazine, on heavy stock and in full color, when that was still rather more expensive to do than it is now, but couldn't be bothered to list the contributors' names legibly anywhere on the covers. And while the selection of stories from the pages of the magazine is more very good than as great as it should be (no Fritz Leiber story?--not that the Leiber choice in the F&SF volume is ideal, either), there is no lack of commercially potent as well as distinguished artists among those contributors. So, at least one of the best books drawn from F&SF's inventory, comparing even with a long list of very good books indeed, and only the third book (and last, so far) to cover nearly three decades of Fantastic, and the first not to be published by an impoverished publisher, were both barely made available to their natural audience and are mostly forgotten still. 

The Best Fantasy Stories from the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction ed. Edward L. Ferman (Octopus 0-7064-2568-5, 1985 [Jan ’86], $9.98, 792pp, hc) Anthology of 40 stories from F&SF. An instant remainder book.
  • 9 · Far from Home · Walter S. Tevis · ss F&SF Dec ’58
  • 13 · My Dear Emily · Joanna Russ · nv F&SF Jul ’62
  • 33 · The Man Who Painted the Dragon Griaule [Griaule] · Lucius Shepard · nv F&SF Dec ’84
  • 59 · The Vanishing American · Charles Beaumont · ss F&SF Aug ’55
  • 69 · The Cloud-Sculptors of Coral D [Vermillion Sands] · J. G. Ballard · ss F&SF Dec ’67
  • 85 · The Invasion of the Church of the Holy Ghost · Russell Kirk · nv F&SF Dec ’83
  • 125 · The Accountant · Robert Sheckley · ss F&SF Jul ’54
  • 134 · The Fire When It Comes · Parke Godwin · nv F&SF May ’81
  • 176 · My Boy Friend’s Name Is Jello · Avram Davidson · ss F&SF Jul ’54
  • 181 · San Diego Lightfoot Sue · Tom Reamy · nv F&SF Aug ’75
  • 222 · Sooner or Later or Never Never [Crispin Mobey] · Gary Jennings · nv F&SF May ’72
  • 250 · Jeffty Is Five · Harlan Ellison · ss F&SF Jul ’77
  • 269 · The Third Level · Jack Finney · ss Colliers Oct 7 ’50; F&SF Oct ’52
  • 274 · The Silken-Swift · Theodore Sturgeon · nv F&SF Nov ’53
  • 292 · Another Orphan · John Kessel · na F&SF Sep ’82
  • 334 · The Manor of Roses [John & Stephen] · Thomas Burnett Swann · na F&SF Nov ’66
  • 389 · Please Stand By [Max Kearny] · Ron Goulart · nv F&SF Jan ’62
  • 409 · Downtown · Thomas M. Disch · ss F&SF Oct ’83
  • 419 · Man Overboard · John Collier · nv Argosy (UK) Jan ’60; F&SF Mar '60
  • 441 · One Ordinary Day, with Peanuts · Shirley Jackson · ss F&SF Jan ’55
  • 451 · Yes, We Have No Ritchard · Bruce Jay Friedman · ss F&SF Nov ’60
  • 459 · The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet · Stephen King · na F&SF Jun ’84
  • 504 · That Hell-Bound Train · Robert Bloch · ss F&SF Sep ’58
  • 517 · Will You Wait? · Alfred Bester · ss F&SF Mar ’59
  • 524 · Sule Skerry · Jane Yolen · ss F&SF Jul ’82
  • 533 · La Ronde · Damon Knight · ss F&SF Oct ’83
  • 546 · Narrow Valley · R. A. Lafferty · ss F&SF Sep ’66
  • 559 · Not Long Before the End [Mana] · Larry Niven · ss F&SF Apr ’69
  • 570 · $1.98 · Arthur Porges · ss F&SF May ’54
  • 574 · The Tehama · Bob Leman · nv F&SF Dec ’81
  • 594 · Ghost of a Crown [Brigadier Ffellowes] · Sterling E. Lanier · nv F&SF Dec ’76
  • 634 · Pages from a Young Girl’s Journal · Robert Aickman · nv F&SF Feb ’73
  • 666 · Narapoia [“The Origin of Narapoia”; Manly J. Departure] · Alan Nelson · ss What’s Doing Apr ’48; F&SF Apr ’51
  • 672 · Born of Man and Woman · Richard Matheson · vi F&SF Sum ’50
  • 675 · Mythago Wood [Mythago] · Robert Holdstock · nv F&SF Sep ’81
  • 711 · Harrison Bergeron · Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. · ss F&SF Oct ’61
  • 717 · Four Ghosts in Hamlet · Fritz Leiber · nv F&SF Jan ’65
  • 748 · Gorilla Suit · John Shepley · ss F&SF May ’58
  • 756 · Green Magic · Jack Vance · ss F&SF Jun ’63
  • 768 · Black Air · Kim Stanley Robinson · nv F&SF Mar ’83

Fantastic Stories: Tales of the Weird and Wondrous
 ed. Martin H. Greenberg & Patrick L. Price (TSR 0-88038-521-9, May ’87, $7.95, 253pp, tp) Anthology of 16 stories from the magazine, with an introduction by James E. Gunn plus a selection of color cover reproductions.

  • 7 · Introduction · James E. Gunn · in
  • 11 · Double Whammy · Robert Bloch · ss Fantastic Feb ’70
  • 21 · A Drink of Darkness · Robert F. Young · ss Fantastic Jul ’62
  • 33 · A Question of Re-Entry · J. G. Ballard · nv Fantastic Mar ’63
  • 59 · The Exit to San Breta · George R. R. Martin · ss Fantastic Feb ’72
  • 70 · The Shrine of Temptation · Judith Merril · ss Fantastic Apr ’62
  • 85 · Dr. Birdmouse · Reginald Bretnor · ss Fantastic Apr ’62
  • 97 · Eve Times Four · Poul Anderson · nv Fantastic Apr ’60
  • 126 · The Rule of Names [Earthsea] · Ursula K. Le Guin · ss Fantastic Apr ’64
  • ins. · Artists’ Visions of the Weird & Wondrous · Various Hands · il
  • 135 · The Still Waters [“In the Still Waters”] · Lester del Rey · nv Fantastic Universe Jun ’55
  • 144 · A Small Miracle of Fishhooks and Straight Pins · David R. Bunch · vi Fantastic Jun ’61
  • 148 · Novelty Act · Philip K. Dick · nv Fantastic Feb ’64
  • 174 · What If... · Isaac Asimov · ss Fantastic Sum ’52
  • 186 · Elixir for the Emperor · John Brunner · ss Fantastic Nov ’64
  • 202 · King Solomon’s Ring · Roger Zelazny · nv Fantastic Oct ’63
  • 220 · Junior Partner · Ron Goulart · ss Fantastic Sep ’62
  • 229 · Donor ·  James E. Gunn · nv Fantastic Nov ’60
  • An abridged second edition, from another publisher, of the F&SF volume that gives a less useful title and leaves off Edward Ferman's credit...a nice if misleading illustration for the Walter Tevis story, though.

    Please see Patti Abbott's blog for more of today's books. I'll be the likely host next week.

    from: Friday, June 10, 2016

    FFB: Instant Remainders: THE BEST FANTASY STORIES FROM THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION edited by Edward Ferman (Octopus, 1985); TALES OF TERROR edited by Eleanor Sullivan (attributed to Alfred Hitchcock)(Galahad, 1986)

    "Instant remainders" are books, usually but not always hardcovers with the text on low-grade paper, published by such discount (and often short-lived) imprints as these volumes' "Octopus Books" and "Galahad Books" (in their first editions at least), meant to be sold inexpensively in the remainder shelves of (usually) chain bookstores; it's a pretty raffish and catch-as-catch-can corner of the publishing business, which is a pity when they offer (often in multiple editions, sometimes with slight variations in content, with the titles often changing along with the imprint names) two volumes such as these, the Ferman brilliant, the Sullivan at very least interesting and useful.

    The Edward Ferman volume was the first sweeping anthology he or his predecessors had selected from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, that wasn't sparked by an anniversary of the magazine per se, though perhaps it had been meant to be published a bit earlier, in the 1984 35th anniversary year of the magazine, which is still publishing today. It's an excellent slice through the fantasy and some of the more "off-trail" fiction (sometimes surreal, sometimes merely odd) F&SF had been willing to publish over those first half of its run so far, without these latter stories having any explicit fantasticated content. Examples of this tendency are Shirley Jackson's whimsical "One Ordinary Day, With Peanuts" or the bit of psychodrama that is "The Vanishing American" by Charles Beaumont, and arguably, at least, the most famous "first story" the magazine has published, "Born of Man and Woman" by Richard Matheson, or the antic "outback" missionary story by Gary Jennings, the first of his Crispin Mobey series. A few others are more arguably science fiction, even when more satirical than not, such as Kurt Vonnegut's widely reprinted "Harrison Bergeron,". The balance, however, are all but inarguably fantasy fiction as we usually think of the term, and include such good to brilliant work as Robert Bloch's fable, the first inarguable fantasy story to win the Hugo Award, Arthur Porges's clever joke vignette, Avram Davidson's first story published outside the Jewish press, a deftly allusive borderline horror story that displays its wit so offhandedly as to nearly slip the nature of the magic at work past the reader, and R. A. Lafferty's typically audacious tall tale. More explicitly horror fiction ranges from Fritz Leiber's rather gentle "Four Ghosts in Hamlet" through the nostalgia and angst of Harlan Ellison's award-winner "Jeffty is Five," from the witty psychic investigation by Ron Goulart's Max Kearney (still my favorite series of stories I've read from Goulart) to haunting vampire stories by the young Joanna Russ (her first story she seemed very happy with) and the past-master, by time of writing and publishing "Pages from a Young Girl's Journal," Robert Aickman. Such stalwarts of F&SF as Bob Leman, Russell Kirk, Jane Yolen, Alfred Bester, Theodore Sturgeon, Kim Stanley Robinson, Robert Sheckley, Damon Knight, Thomas Disch and Jack Vance have stories joined by work from such more occasional visitors as Jack Finney, John Collier, J. G. Ballard, Bruce Jay Friedman, Parke Godwin, Tom Reamy and Thomas Burnett Swann, the latter two having their careers and lives cut far too short. About the only, not quite minor but not crippling complaint I have about this selection is the relative lack of women contributors, given how many have done impressive work for F&SF over the the fantasy volume, at very least Phyllis Eisenstein should have a story, and Lisa Tuttle; Carol Emshwiller had had at least borderline fantasy enough published there, as had Kate Wilhelm, while Kit Reed had gone well beyond borderlines thus. I've never thoroughly enjoyed Sterling Lanier's club stories, so might well've dispensed with that one if I had been the editor...though they apparently were a popular recurring feature in the magazine. Stephen King's F&SF work has also often been dispensable, if certainly providing an appeal to the casual reader. Really just a fine collection that shouldn't've slipped away from less casual publishers, as no F&SFanthology had done before nor has since. It deserves better than two (only) rather middling-packaged discount editions (the latter somewhat more succinctly if slightly less defensibly called simply Great Tales of Fantasy and Science Fiction)...though at least copies of both editions are reasonably priced in the usual secondhand markets.

    The Best Fantasy Stories from The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction

    The "Hitchcock" volume, attributed shamelessly in various editions' packaging to the several years deceased Hitchcock (by time of first publication), was instead the work of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, and stablemate Ellery Queen's MM, (now also late) editor Eleanor Sullivan; their magazines continue to publish, as well; several publishers and decades ago, EQMM and F&SF had both been founded as revenue-generating support for the less-reliably popular mostly-political and critical magazine American Mercury (AM's predecessor magazine, The Smart Set, had been similarly helped along when editors H.L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan had also founded the major crime-fiction pulp Black Mask...they sold BM to another publisher rather quickly, though not before two new writers, Dashiell Hammett and Cornell Woolrich, had tried contributing to both, joining the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Eugene O'Neill in the one and Paul Cain and Horace McCoy at the other. James M. Cain would write for the Mercury after it started, while also growing increasingly annoyed with his editorial job on the staff of The New Yorker)Tales of Terror is apparently also the second volume from the AHMM staff to be an instant remainder offer (Galahad Books, I belatedly discover, had issued the similar The Best of Mystery first in 1980, albeit that one was edited by Harold Q. Masur, of whom more below), and has seen several editions sporadically up to the adds to the confusion around anthologies attributed to Alfred Hitchcock in at least two manners, as one of the series of hardcover anthologies taken (in this case mostly) from the magazine (when previously to 1977, the anthologies from the magazine had only appeared in Dell paperbacks, while Dell also did the paperback editions of Alfred Hitchcock Presents: anthologies originally published by Random House in hardcover, and originally edited by Robert Arthur from their beginning in 1956 up through Arthur's early death in 1969; Harold Q. Masur would edit AHP: books from then till 1980 and Hitchcock's death. In 1977, AHMM's new publisher, Davis Publications, began offering Alfred Hitchcock Anthology, a fat semi-annual  reprint magazine similar to the longstanding Davis Ellery Queen's Anthology...Dell's hardcover arm, the Dial Press, did hardcover editions of the anthologies simultaneously with the magazine issues, mostly for the library market one assumes. (Then there are the YA anthologies and the Three Investigators series of YA novels, initially also Arthur's work.) A slightly less complex confusion also can arise from one of the contributions to Tales of Terror, a 1953 story attributed to Pauline C. Smith, which was presumably one of the relatively few reprints published over the years in AHMM...this Smith being one of Robert Arthur's pseudonyms, the one under which he'd ghost-edited the first AHP: volume in '56...but another writer, actually named Pauline C. Smith, began contributing to AHMM and other crime-fiction magazines in the late '60s and continued into the 1980s, so confusion between those two can arise easily as well. Meanwhile, the casualness with which instant remainders are often treated with by library catalogers and indexers is much in evidence here, as many different online sources carefully replicate the error that Robert Bloch's fine suspense story "A Home Away from Home" is by Barry N. Malzberg...while not mentioning Barry's actual contribution to the book, the somewhat relevantly titled "After the Unfortunate Accident".  Tales of Terror is something of a misnomer, as many of the same online reviewers will tell you, as most of the stories are suspense or even relatively straightforward mystery stories, some isn't as brilliant a representation of AHMM as the other book is of its magazine, but it's another good cross-section and core sampling, and offers work by a number of the same writers, such as Bloch, Arthur Porges and Ron Goulart.

    courtesy The Hitchcock Zone:

    Tales of Terror: 58 Short Stories Chosen by the Master of Suspense [sic]


    1. Killed by Kindness by Nedra Tyre
    2. Just a Minor Offense by John F. Suter
    3. A Home Away from Home by Robert Bloch
    4. Death of a Derelict by Joseph Payne Brennan
    5. The Arrowmont Prison Riddle by Bill Pronzini
    6. The Dettweiler Solution by Lawrence Block
    7. The Whitechapel Wantons by Vincent McConnor
    8. Cora's Raid by Isak Romun
    9. Life or Breath by Nelson DeMille
    10. A Private Little War by William Brittain
    11. Have You Ever Seen this Woman? by John Lutz
    12. Joe Cutter's Game by Brian Garfield
    13. A Cabin in the Woods by John Coyne
    14. The Long Arm of El Jefe by Edward Wellen
    15. Kid Cardula by Jack Ritchie
    16. Career Man by James Holding
    17. The Perfidy of Professor Blake by Libby MacCall
    18. Sea Change by Henry Slesar
    19. The Blue Tambourine by Donald Olson
    20. Graveyard Shift by William P. McGivern
    21. A Bottle of Wine by Borden Deal
    22. Man Bites Dog by Donald Honig
    23. Never Trust an Ancestor by Michael Zuroy
    24. Another War by Edward D. Hoch
    25. Sparrow on a String by Alice Scanlan Reach
    26. The Missing Tattoo by Clayton Matthews
    27. The Fall of Dr. Scourby by Patricia Matthews
    28. The Loose End by Stephen Wasylyk
    29. That So-Called Laugh by Frank Sisk
    30. A Very Special Talent by Margaret B. Maron
    31. The Joker by Betty Ren Wright
    32. The Very Hard Sell by Helen Nielsen
    33. The Tin Ear by Ron Goulart
    34. The Time Before the Crime by Charlotte Edwards
    35. After the Unfortunate Accident by Barry N. Malzberg
    36. The Grateful Thief by Patrick O'Keeffe
    37. The Inspiration by Talmage Powell
    38. Death is a Lonely Lover by Robert Colby
    39. The Witness was a Lady by Fletcher Flora
    40. Scheme for Destruction by Pauline C. Smith
    41. To the Manner Born by Mary Braund
    42. Black Disaster by Richard O. Lewis
    43. The Marrow of Justice by Hal Ellson
    44. Innocent Witness by Irving Schiffer
    45. We're Really Not that Kind of People by Samuel W. Taylor
    46. Pocket Evidence by Harold Q. Masur
    47. The Death Desk by S.S. Rafferty
    48. A Left-Handed Profession by Al Nussbaum
    49. Second Spring by Theodore Mathieson
    50. Bank Night by Arthur Porges
    51. The Contagious Killer by Bryce Walton
    52. Bad Actor by Gary Brandner
    53. Free Advice, Incorporated by Michael Brett
    54. The Real Criminal by James M. Gilmore
    55. The Hard Sell by William Dolan
    56. The Prosperous Judds by Bob Bristow
    57. The Dead Indian by Robert W. Alexander
    58. The China Cottage by August Derleth
    Both books will reward your attention, and deserve at least some more serious attention from critical historians and bibliographers. 

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

    Friday, December 19, 2014

    FFB: FANTASTIC STORIES: TALES OF THE WEIRD AND WONDROUS ed. Martin H. Greenberg and Patrick Price (TSR, 1987)...among some "hidden" fiction magazine best-ofs...

    cover illo by Janet Aulisio, for Robert
    Bloch's "The Double Whammy"
    Fantastic, as a magazine, for most of its 28 years and some months of existence (from launch in 1952, early absorption of its predecessor Fantastic Adventures in 1954, and folding into companion title Amazing Science Fiction Stories in early 1981), was usually an example of at least someone involved doing the best they could with the magazine, in the face of serious obstacles. Sometimes the chiefest obstacle was the apathy of the editor, particularly true during the latter years of founding editor Howard Browne's tenure, and those of his former assistant and heir Paul Fairman...the magazine, starting out with a large budget and some fanfare by a serious, though not quite top-of-the-industry, publisher (Ziff-Davis), achieved initial sales beyond reasonable expectation (the third issue featured a story attributed to Mickey Spillane, at the early height of his popularity, which had been highlighted--and "spoiled" with extensive description--by a Life magazine profile of the Mike Hammer creator, on newsstands before the Fantastic issue was Browne quickly ghosted a new story, "The Veiled Woman," and published it as by Spillane)(in later accounts of the incident, Browne also notes that he thought the genuine Spillane story terrible; the Browne counterfeit is a reasonably good, and probably intentionally slightly parodic, pastiche). 
    The first issue, a cover much referred to in
    James Gunn's introduction and that of

    the source of Asimov's story in the book...and 
    not included in the selected cover images...
    illo by Barrye Phillips and Leo Morey

    However, those high circulation figures were not sustained into the second year of publication, and with the folding in of FAFantastic's budget was cut and Browne went back to the usually relatively indifferent efforts he'd been making at Fantastic Adventures, accepting and publishing good work when it was offered by writers but just as happy to run that good work alongside no-more-than-readable hackwork by regular Ziff-Davis writers, much of the latter published under "house names" such as "Lawrence Chandler" and "Ivar Jorgensen"--the actual authors could be any number of contributors including Browne and Fairman themselves (many of the stable of contributors in those years haven't remembered clearly [or didn't choose to] who wrote what among the less memorable items, and the office records of the era have apparently not all been retained; among the best writers who didn't always do their best efforts for Ziff-Davis fiction magazines in their Chicago-based days were Robert Bloch and William McGivern). When Browne officially resigned in 1956 (having checked out to the degree of spending much of his office time writing his crime fiction, and deciding that the relocation of the editorial offices from Chicago to New York City were his cue to try his luck as a screenwriter in Hollywood), newly official editor Fairman went even further along into systematization of Fantastic and Amazing, depending not entirely but largely on four relatively young writers to produce wordage that would be accepted and published unread (under a variety of bylines), as long as the manuscript delivery was punctual and the stories didn't cause any problems that might interfere with Fairman's own in-office writing for other markets...and even this arrangement managed to bring in some good or promising work among the acceptably mediocre, since the quartet was comprised of Milton Lesser (who would publish most of his better work as Stephen Marlowe), Harlan Ellison, Robert Silverberg and Randall Garrett. And Fairman had as his assistant a young and
    illo by Richard Powers
    inexperienced but diligent and talented recent Vassar graduate, Cele Goldsmith, who would dig through the "slushpile" of submitted manuscripts and would occasionally find very interesting work indeed, including what would be the first published story by Kate Wilhelm. When Fairman left, in 1958 (primarily to be a full-time freelance writer, but briefly taking on managing editorship of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, by then published by Ziff-Davis co-founder B. G. Davis, who'd quit ZD in 1958, as well), Goldsmith was elevated to editorship (at 25 years of age), and with far less cynicism if also less of a sense of the history of fantastic fiction, she would go on at the magazines to put together issues that would mix brilliantly innovative, interesting if more traditional, and sometimes merely notional work, till the magazines were sold by Ziff-Davis in 1965.  Under Goldsmith (who took through marriage the name Cele Lalli during her tenure), the fiction magazines had lost their champion at ZD with Davis's departure, as William Ziff, Jr. began his successful focus of ZD on hobbyist and highly specialized magazines, which meant that for most of her career with them, Fantastic and Amazing were secondary projects, with art direction and packaging that was somewhat less consistently good than her editorial product deserved. A fellow named Norman Lobsenz was given the task of overseeing her work, though apparently he mostly wrote the consistently trivial editorials and responses in the reader letters columns in the magazines. Among the writers she "discovered" through first professional publication as editor, were Ursula K. Le Guin, Thomas M. Disch, Sonya Dorman (her prose, at least, aside from a student story in Mademoiselle--as with Disch only even moreso, Dorman's career as a poet was at least as prominent as that as a fiction-writer),  Roger Zelazny, Ben Bova, Ted White, Keith Laumer, and Piers Anthony (when still a promising young writer, well before he made jejune fantasy novel-series his primary occupation). Her magazines were one of the primary markets for the mostly young writers who were shaking up fantasy and particularly sf in the early 1960s, along with Avram Davidson's editorship of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and, increasingly, Frederik Pohl's work at Galaxy magazine and its siblings. Among those she worked with closely was 
    One of the better covers from the Goldsmith/
    Lalli years...Jakes, who wrote many sorts of

    fiction, made his biggest splash in historical
    fiction in the mid-1970s. Illo by 
    Vernon Kramer.

    Fritz Leiber, though the reports of her courtesy and quick and enthusiastic response, trumping even the withered budget she had for her version of the magazines, is the common narrative (much noted by Le Guin and others) of her career at the magazines (and her later work on Ziff-Davis bridal magazines, which comprised most of her career), and is one of the more important points made by James Gunn in his introduction to the volume theoretically under review here. Gunn's introduction, for what it's worth, is rather short, Very oddly copy-edited and is the Only editorial matter in the book to give any sense of the context the collected stories were published in, aside from the copyright acknowledgements page bearing the years of publication; there aren't even headnotes to any of the stories nor contributor notes. That is most assuredly Strike One against this anthology, despite it being only the third book (I believe; please see below) to collect a sampling specifically from Fantastic, the heftiest of the three volumes, and the last so far (this latter fact is Strike One against the publishing industry).  There is also a rather offhandedly selected set of plates in the center of the book, on heavy slick paper displaying in color some of the front covers from some of Goldsmith's and later editor Ted White's issues, with minimal comment there, and a set of new illustrations for the stories, by such talented artists as Janet Aulisio and Stephen Fabian, which nonetheless mostly seem rather uninspired and oddly out of place in the anthology, rather than magazine, format...indicative of TSR's stewardship of Amazing (combined with Fantastic Stories) and their publishing efforts generally...haphazard tossing around of money, with rather half-assed follow-through (aside from all the Dungeons & Dragons product money TSR had at hand, they'd also gotten a windfall from Steven Spielberg's renting of the Amazing Stories title, and a/v rights to as many of the stories in the back issues as possible, for his misbegotten and shortlived tv anthology series). Also included in the volume, for no obvious reason and probably in part because Martin Greenberg had made an error in his famous filing system and indexed a short story by Lester Del Rey, published in 1955 in the unrelated magazine Fantastic Universe, as a contribution to Fantastic...or perhaps Greenberg just wanted an excuse to run the story, and hoped no one would notice. Together, let's call those Strikes Two and Three against this book being taken too seriously by the casual browser of bookstands, particularly if she knows anything about the magazine whose provenance was one of the primary selling points here. And I haven't even gotten to the contributions of the editors who worked with publishers Sol Cohen and Arthur Bernhard, who ran the magazines on the thinnest of shoestrings, from 1965 through the sale of Amazing to TSR in the early '80s, and all the roadblocks they threw up against good work by subsequent editors Joseph "Ross"/Wrocz, Harry Harrison, Barry Malzberg, longest-serving Ted White, and Elinor Mavor (who for no good reason called herself "Omar Gohagan" in her first issues). Of course, the anthology editors and Gunn don't mention these folks' efforts, either, even if they include some of the fiction White published. (I've personally had the good fortune to speak and correspond with 
    A typically handsome (and comics-
    influenced) cover from Ted White's term
    as editor and art director; illo by Douglas
    Harrison, Malzberg and White, if very briefly in the first case, about their experiences as editors for Cohen's Ultimate Publications; Harrison was breezily philosophical, looking upon his short tenure as just another part-time job that helped keep body and soul together during a brief period of living back in the US again; Malzberg I think found the experience as fascinating as it was frustrating, for what it told him about the nature of the markets he was working in as writer, editor and agent; White, who stuck with it for a decade despite eventually qualifying for welfare payments, since his stipend as editor and designer was so slight, was nonetheless devoted to the task and willing to put up with the strictures he faced, however grumpily...his next job after leaving Fantasticand Amazing was a year as editor of the then-flourishing, and very well-budgeted, adult fantasy comic Heavy Metal.)

    The earmarks of nonchalance all over this anthology are a pity, because the selection of stories is pretty good, though not reasonably representative of the best of the magazine's career. It's also notable which of the contributors whose work is collected here have gone onto ever greater fame in the years since this 1987 book was published, much less their stories' original publication (pretty obvious examples: J. G. Ballard and particularly George R. R. Martin), those whose fame has been sustained (Le Guin and Philip K. Dick), those whose star has dimmed (almost inarguably unfairly, given their best work: Roger Zelazny, John Brunner and to a much lesser extent Isaac Asimov) and those who remain stubbornly underappreciated (Ron Goulart, David Bunch, and to too great an extent Robert Bloch...Judith Merril is perhaps as well-remembered today as a mover and shaker in the Toronto countercultural scene in the 1970s and '80s as she is for her extensive work in sf and related literatures).

    Courtesy the Locus Index: 

    Fantastic Stories: Tales of the Weird and Wondrous ed. Martin H. Greenberg & Patrick L. Price (TSR 0-88038-521-9, May ’87, $7.95, 253pp, tp) Anthology of 16 stories from the magazine, with an introduction by James E. Gunn plus a selection of color cover reproductions.
    • 7 · Introduction · James E. Gunn · in
    • 11 · Double Whammy · Robert Bloch · ss Fantastic Feb ’70
    • 21 · A Drink of Darkness · Robert F. Young · ss Fantastic Jul ’62
    • 33 · A Question of Re-Entry · J. G. Ballard · nv Fantastic Mar ’63
    • 59 · The Exit to San Breta · George R. R. Martin · ss Fantastic Feb ’72
    • 70 · The Shrine of Temptation · Judith Merril · ss Fantastic Apr ’62
    • 85 · Dr. Birdmouse · Reginald Bretnor · ss Fantastic Apr ’62
    • 97 · Eve Times Four · Poul Anderson · nv Fantastic Apr ’60
    • 126 · The Rule of Names [Earthsea] · Ursula K. Le Guin · ss Fantastic Apr ’64
    • ins. · Artists’ Visions of the Weird & Wondrous · Various Hands · il
    • 135 · The Still Waters [“In the Still Waters”] · Lester del Rey · ss Fantastic Universe Jun ’55
    • 144 · A Small Miracle of Fishhooks and Straight Pins · David R. Bunch · vi Fantastic Jun ’61
    • 148 · Novelty Act · Philip K. Dick · nv Fantastic Feb ’64
    • 174 · What If... · Isaac Asimov · ss Fantastic Sum ’52
    • 186 · Elixir for the Emperor · John Brunner · ss Fantastic Nov ’64
    • 202 · King Solomon’s Ring · Roger Zelazny · nv Fantastic Oct ’63
    • 220 · Junior Partner · Ron Goulart · ss Fantastic Sep ’62
    • 229 · Donor · James E. Gunn · nv Fantastic Nov ’60
    Two weeks ago, I gave a quick gloss of a review of Ted White's The Best from Fantastic, and the other anthology drawn largely from Fantastic, even earlier than White's and including stories from Fantastic Adventures and one from Amazing, is Ivan Howard's Time Untamed, mentioned here briefly some time back(with its original ugly cover, as cheerfully reproduced by an Award Books reprint); the slightly less ugly second edition and UK covers are below.  This volume is an example of the "hidden" anthology drawn from a given magazine, or in this case a magazine group (as is the Weird Tales magazine anthology The Unexpected,mentioned in that same post), as are Ivan Howard's several other anthologies for the publisher Belmont/Belmont Tower, which drew from Science FictionFuture FictionDynamic Science Fiction and the other sf magazines Robert Lowndes edited for Columbia Publications, owned by Louis Silberkleit, who also owned the later, and similarly low-budget Belmont books concern (Silberkleit was also a partner of Archie Comics guy Martin Goodman in several projects over the decades) mention, or essentially so, in the book's packaging that all the collected stories are from the one source, or related group of sources.  Fantastic Universe, mentioned above as the source of the Del Rey story that has no reason to be in a Fantastic anthology, had one obvious anthology drawn from its pages, The Fantastic Universe Omnibus, but FU (and The Saint Mystery Magazine) editor Hans Stefan Santesson later published several anthologies that draw all but exclusively from FU's pages, while not advertising that fact, beginning with Rulers of Men. I recently suggested to the editors of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction that not only Samuel Mines's The Best from Startling Stories should be noted in the entry for Thrilling Wonder StoriesStartling's older sibling which the anthology also draws from, but that Damon Knight's anthology The Shape of Things should also be cited in both magazines' entries, as it's also an anthology drawn intentionally and exclusively from both magazines (and quite a good one)...another "hidden" example (as the Mines Startlingvolume almost is for TWS...). Joseph Ferman's No Limits (quite possibly co- or ghost-edited by his son, Edward Ferman) is an anthology drawn from the 1950s version of Venture Science Fiction magazine; Once and Future Talesan all-but "hidden" anthology from Venture's sibling The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (and commissioned by a short-lived publishing project, and outside the then-regular set of Doubleday's Best from F&SF volumes). I hope to add other examples to an ongoing list here...I've also briefly reviewed a vintage pirated volume taken from Christine Campbell Thomson's legitimate UK anthology series Not at Night that drew regularly on the early Weird Tales for its contents...the pirated volume published here as one of the early products of The Vanguard Press, co-founded by Rex Stout, no less.

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


Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

My head is really spinning from all that AHP back and forth, but kind of in a good way! Thanks Todd.

Todd Mason said... was odd to belatedly remember this was an all-AHMM volume...Masur asked to do it for Old Time's Sake?