Friday, November 24, 2017

FFB: Terry Carr, ed: SCIENCE FICTION FOR PEOPLE WHO HATE SCIENCE FICTION (Doubleday 1966); Harry Harrison, ed: THE LIGHT FANTASTIC (Scribner's 1971)

--Redux post from 2012:
Missionary Work

Science Fiction for People Who Hate Science Fiction was Terry Carr's first solo anthology to be published, after a volume or two of his work with Donald Wollheim on their Best of the Year sf volume for Ace Books; The Light Fantastic: Science Fiction Classics from the Mainstream (sic: there is not now, nor has there ever been, a true mainstream of literature) was not Harry Harrison's first antho, but his first, as well, was an sf BOTY, in his case for Putnam/Berkley, with Brian Aldiss as increasingly co-editing junior partner in the first volume or so. Perhaps the same impulse that drives one to work on annual showcases makes putting together this kind of "instructional" anthology particularly attractive, even beyond the usual "this is important, or at very least interesting" thrust of nearly any anthology assembled with care, the cases of these two fine anthologies, the instructional thrust can be executively summarized as "Open your eyes." (The appended "fool!" is only occasionally barely audible, though almost impossible to completely suppress, as well.)

The Carr anthology brings together accessible, intelligent, (at the time) not terribly overexposed mostly sf stories (H.L. Gold's synesthesia tale "The Man with English" certainly is arguably fantasy, and Arthur Clarke's "The Star" introduces supernatural elements of the most widely accepted sort in Christendom)...Ray Bradbury's "The Sound of Thunder" hadn't quite become common coin by the mid '60s, and the Damon Knight story, despite "To Serve Man" having become a much-loved Twilight Zone episode, was nearly as famous as Knight's other early joke story, and even more sapiently pointed). While "What's It Like Out There?" remains The cited example of What Else Edmond Hamilton could do aside from planet explosion, and the Wilmar Shiras a slightly odd choice in this set of encouraging the outlanders to try some of the pure quill. Algis Budrys, in reviewing this one at the time, noted that people who hate sf hate reading, and the only way to get them to take up this book would be for it to be socially necessary to have on their coffee-table or equivalent (as Cat's Cradle and Slaughterhouse-Five and Stranger in a Strange Land and to a lesser extent at that time Dune and No Blade of Grass and The Child Buyer would be)...but the thoughtful reader who thought they hated sf somehow (probably more common in '66 than today, if not much moreso) could find some diversion here, at very least. Or, by the end of the decade, could enjoy making a joke about reading up on the topic in their Funk & Wagnalls paperback edition.

Harry Harrison attempts a slightly more double-edged trick, in getting the (presumably well-meaning ignorant) snobs against sf to consider reading the form, and to get similar snobs within the sf-reading community to look beyond the commercial labels for the pure quill wherever it's actually found. Harrison, too, gets in some work in this "sf" context that is arguably (the Cheever, the Greene) or almost inarguably (the Lewis, the Twain) fantasy rather than sf, though the sort of fantasy that sf people usually find agreeable, even leaving aside the time-travel paradox introduced in Anthony Burgess's "The Muse" (Burgess, of course, couldn't leave sf alone any more than C. S. Lewis could, and saw no more reason to do so than Lewis, I'm sure). And, of course, Gerald Kersh and Jorge Luis Borges had no qualms about being considered writers of fantasticated fiction, as long as no one insisted that was all they did or could do, and, happily, no one has...if anything, Kingsley Amis, that passionate advocate for sf so labeled, has seen his advocacy and contributions to the literature all but forgotten in favor of his Angry Young Man (and Older Man) satire, even when careful to have Lucky Jim a reader of Astounding Science Fiction magazine back when Analog was still called that.

It's a funny old world, and there's no shortage of ignorance of all sorts, but that's what this FFB exercise is here to combat, in its small and often nostalgic way. I liked both these anthologies a lot as a kid, and would still like them if I was first to open them today. What more could we ask?

Science Fiction for People Who Hate Science Fiction ed. Terry Carr (Doubleday LCC# 66-24334, 1966, $3.95, 190pp, hc); Also in pb (Funk & Wagnalls 1968).

7 · Introduction · Terry Carr · in
11 · The Star [Star of Bethlehem] · Arthur C. Clarke · ss Infinity Science Fiction Nov ’55
21 · A Sound of Thunder · Ray Bradbury · ss Colliers Jun 28 ’52
37 · The Year of the Jackpot · Robert A. Heinlein · nv Galaxy Mar ’52
79 · The Man with English · H. L. Gold · ss Star Science Fiction Stories #1, ed. Frederik Pohl, Ballantine, 1953
91 · In Hiding [Timothy Paul] · Wilmar H. Shiras · nv Astounding Nov ’48
135 · Not with a Bang · Damon Knight · ss F&SF Win/Spr ’50
143 · Love Called This Thing · Avram Davidson & Laura Goforth · ss Galaxy Apr ’59
157 · The Weapon · Fredric Brown · ss Astounding Apr ’51
163 · What’s It Like Out There? · Edmond Hamilton · nv Thrilling Wonder Stories Dec ’52

The Light Fantastic ed. Harry Harrison (Scribner’s, 1971, hc)
· Introduction—The Function of Science Fiction · James Blish · in
· The Muse · Anthony Burgess · ss The Hudson Review Spr ’68
· The Unsafe Deposit Box · Gerald Kersh · ss The Saturday Evening Post Apr 14 ’62
· Something Strange · Kingsley Amis · ss The Spectator, 1960; F&SF Jul ’61
· Sold to Satan [written Jan 1904] · Mark Twain · ss Europe and Elsewhere, Harper Bros., 1923
· The End of the Party · Graham Greene · ss The London Mercury Jan ’32
· The Circular Ruins [1941] · Jorge Luís Borges; trans. by James E. Irby · ss Labyrinths, New Directions, 1962
· The Shout · Robert Graves · ss The Woburn Books #16 ’29; F&SF Apr ’52
· The Door · E. B. White · ss The New Yorker, 1939
· The Machine Stops · E. M. Forster · nv Oxford and Cambridge Review Nov ’09
· The Mark Gable Foundation · Leo Szilard · ss The Voice of the Dolphins, and Other Stories, Simon & Schuster, 1961
· The Enormous Radio · John Cheever · ss The New Yorker May 17 ’47
· The Finest Story in the World · Rudyard Kipling · nv Contemporary Review Jul, 1891
· The Shoddy Lands · C. S. Lewis · ss F&SF Feb ’56
· Afterword · Harry Harrison · aw

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

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Books Received: THE CLINGERMAN FILES by Mildred Clingerman; WIDOW'S MITE and WHO'S AFRAID? by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding

Greg Shepard's Stark House has added another two-novel volume to their valuable selection of reprints (full stop, but in this case specifically) of Elisabeth Sanxay Holding's suspense novels, this one replicating in primary content its Ace Double previous paperback edition. I hadn't realized till now, or had forgotten, that she died relatively young, even for her time, in 1955 at 65 or 66 years of age, and while the paperback boom was certainly well under way, she was a bit early to benefit from, at least, Fawcett Gold Medal at its height. Even her more modest novels (the only one I've reviewed so far on the blog, for example, Too Many Bottles or The Party Was the Payoff , depending on which edition one read) are worth the effort. her better ones drew the extended admiration of such contemporaries as Raymond Chandler and such successors as Ed Gorman and Sarah Weinman. Her author portrait on the back is rather reminiscent of Ayn Rand, a writer she in no other way resembles...Sanxay Holding having wit, grace and character (and characters rather than mouthpieces lecturing each other) in her writing...


Through the kindness of Scott Cupp, present as I was not at the World Fantasy Convention in San Antonio this year, I now have a copy of The Clingerman Files, edited by Mark Bradley and including apparently all Mildred Clingerman's completed short fiction, previously published or not, in the initial and perhaps only volume to come from Size 5 1/2 B Publishing (we gather from the logo it was probably Clingerman's shoe size), an outfit made up largely of her family. Clingerman was a productive (but not Hugely productive) and highly-regarded fantasy and sf writer of the 1950s and '60s; never wrote a novel, when that was (at least as much as now) the way to a sustained career in the field, and even with sales of two stories collected here, two stories to Collier's  and one to The Ladies Home Companion, didn't get much more than a supplementary income from her writing...her one previous collection, A Cupful of Space, was published by Ballantine in 1961, in the midst of a severe cash-crunch for that company, and as a result her daughter remembers an advance of merely $600...enough to buy a used car then, to be sure, but a far cry from what Ballantine had been able to offer its writers a half-dozen years before (or than either slick magazine would've paid for her short stories individually). Her first story to be published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, "Minister Without Portfolio", was agented, and the editors were amused to have her described as "a beautiful but unpublished writer", leading Anthony Boucher to jokingly wonder what her agent was trying to offer (Boucher and McComas note the phrase, if not their response, in the headnote of the story as published in F&SF for February 1952; the response can be read in The Eureka Years: Boucher and McComas's Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction 1949-1954, edited by Annette Peltz McComas).  I shall be digging into both of these, and other kindly provided items by Scott, in the coming weeks.


Friday, November 17, 2017

Fridays's "Forgotten" Books: The Links to the Reviews and More

This week's links to the reviews and more by the following contributors...Matt wins with least-forgotten book this week, though Sergio, Alice and Marcia Muller have classics or aspiring classics that have managed to hang on in print, and a few new books (and magazines) are in the mix, while Richard Krause gives the most consideration to a typical John Spencer & Co. magazine story any has perhaps ever received so far...if I've missed yours or someone else's, please let me know in comments...Patti is likely to be hosting again next week, perhaps on her new or at least on her old and repaired computer. And please spare a thought for Sandi Tipple, Kevin Tipple's wife, and Kevin and their family. 

Sergio Angelini: Green for Danger by Christianna Brand

Yvette Banek: Mystery of the Dead Police by Philip MacDonald

Mark Baker: The Last Detective by Robert Crais

Les Baxter: The Dream Detective by Sax Rohmer

Bernadette: Flipped for Murder by Maddie Day

Elgin Bleecker: Down There by David Goodis

John Boston: Amazing: Fact and Science Fiction Stories, November 1962; December 1962, edited by Cele Goldsmith

Brian Busby: Grandma's Little Darling by Stephen R. George

Alice Chang: Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards

Bill Crider: A Winter Spy by McDonald Lloyd; A Room to Die In by "Ellery Queen" (Jack/John Holbrook Vance, in this case); Baseball Stars of 1957 by Bruce Jacobs; Touchfeather by Jimmy Sangster

Martin Edwards: Turn the Light Out as You Go by Edgar Lustgarten; The Announcer aka A Voice Like Velvet by Donald Henderson

Peter Enfantino, Jack Seabrook and Jose Cruz: EC Comics, April 1954; DC war comics, April/May 1971

Will Errickson: Unholy Mourning by David Lippincott; The Possession of Joel Delaney by Ramona Stuart

Curtis Evans: Ruth Sawtell Wallis, No Bones About It and more...

Paul Fraser: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, March 1978, edited by Edward L. Ferman

Barry Gardner: Mallory's Oracle by Carol O'Connell

John Grant: Night Film by Marisha Pessl

Rich Horton: That Girl from New York by Allene Corliss
Jerry House: The Magic Mirror: Lost Supernatural and Mystery Stories by Algernon Blackwood (edited by Mike Ashley)

Jeanne (hosted by Kevin Tipple): Sofie Kelly: Magical Cat mysteries

Nick Jones: 1950s/60s British SF book jackets by divers hands

Tracy K: Murder on the Blackboard by Stuart Palmer

George Kelley: The Big Book of Rogues and Villains edited by Otto Penzler

Joe Kenney: The Coming of the Terrans by Leigh Brackett

Margot Kinberg: Blacklands by Belinda Bauer

Rob Kitchin: Birds in a Cage by Derek Niemann

Richard Krauss: "Perilous Expedition" by "James Elton" (John F. Watt?)

B. V. Lawson: The Long Shadow by Celia Fremlin

Evan Lewis: Death Takes an Option by "Neil McNeil" (W. T. Ballard)

Steve Lewis: The Flaming Man by M. E. Chaber

Marcia Muller: Laura by Vera Caspary

Neeru: "Anthony Gilbert" (Lucy Beatrice Malleson): Murder Comes Home; Death Casts a Long Shadow aka Death Takes a Wife; A Nice Little Killing

John F. Norris: Murder Under Construction by "Sue MacVeigh" (Elizabeth Custer Nearing)
Juri Nummelin: Peepland by Christa Faust, Gary Phillips and Andrea Camerini; Triggerman by Walter Hill and "Matz"; The Fiery Cross by "Don Pendleton" (in this case, Mike Newton)

Matt Paust: Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie 
(Sergio Angelini on this book & film)

Mildred Perkins: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

James Reasoner: Lair of the Beast by John Peter Drummond

L. J. Roberts: The Seagull by Ann Cleeves

Gerard Saylor: The Out is Death by Peter Rabe; Castle Danger: Dead End Follies by Anthony Neil Smith

Victoria Silverwolf: Fantastic: Stories of Imagination, November 1982, edited by Cele Goldsmith

Kerrie Smith: Murder in Little Shendon by A, H. Richardson

"TomCat": Full Crash Dive by Allan R. Bosworth

Samuel Wilson: "Black Prince" by Francis Beverly Kelley

A. J. Wright: William C. Morrow

Mark Yon: New Worlds Science Fiction, November 1962, edited by E. J. Carnell

Friday, November 10, 2017

FFM: VENTURE: THE TRAVELER'S WORLD, February 1965, edited by Curtis Anderson & Cynthia Kellogg (Cowles Magazines): Muriel Spark, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, John D. MacDonald et al.

Venture, the initially hardcover bimonthly published by Cowles Magazines and Broadcasting (the Look magazine people) knew whom they wanted reading their travel magazine... apparently not sold on newsstands, founded with the February 1964 issue, by the 1965 issue I have in front of me they were charging almost $3 per issue via an annual subscription of $17.50 ...when most slick magazines ran one 50c-$1 an issue on newsstands. The advertisers were mostly airlines and cruise ship lines with some cars thrown in, including inducement to buy a VW Beetle in Europe and have it shipped home when the vacation was over. You needed disposable income to afford this magazine, and at least the aspiration of throwing that income around to visit the destinations they covered, in rather good photography and not the least expensive (and often English emigrant or frequent visitor) writers. Not challenging themselves too much, but nonetheless coasting on practiced charm. So, too, this issue, with essays by Evelyn Waugh, Muriel Spark, John D. MacDonald and Graham Greene (though only Waugh, with the then-recent reissued/filmed bestseller in part about the British exile community in Los Angeles The Loved One, getting cover billing). Alistair Reid, not yet a commodity, is a columnist (MacDonald is given no great attention, either, despite serving as both photographer and essayist about the Everglades). Cowles spared little expense (considering they were charging the equivalent of well over $20 an issue to subscribers in inflation-calculated terms, they might well); lenticular covers were soon offered on the magazine.

Muriel Spark writes about how she would Get Away to NYC to do her writing, living in a certain unnamed hotel for months on end to, among other ends, remove herself from the familial nature of the UK community of writers and editors, all apparently enmeshed and without boundaries; in New York, they will leave you be if you say you need to work. She also notes that in 1964, the most common British complaint she'd hear about the city was the poor quality of the restaurants, somewhat comically given the reputation of British cuisine even then (raised under straitened circumstances as a Scot, Spark notes she's usually willing to eat anything put before her without complaint). She also, as a faithful Roman Catholic, passes along a few observations about the churches around the world and particularly those in Gotham...they tend, among other factors, to have more Bleeding Hearts among the sacred art up on the walls. 

David Holden, by this time a "roving reporter" for the Manchester Guardian,  provides a sort of sub-Mailer essay on the three cities of Saigon, Singapore and Bangkok, characterizing each in gender terms...Saigon corruptly female, Singapore brusquely male, Bangkok a harem eunuch. He isn't quite as self-indulgent in prose or personal anecdote as Mailer, and he does drop some rather sensible observations in with his mild contempt for people trying to make their ways in the tough times each city faces (a tendency that is too common in most of the lesser writers for this elitist magazine). He does remind us that Burma and Indonesia are as wartorn at the time as the eventual reunited Vietnam.

John D. MacDonald gets no credit in the table of contents for his photo-feature (handsome) about, and back 0f the book essay on how best to tour, the Everglades; among other advice, he suggests not bothering with airboats (Sterling Archer would be disappointed). 

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

Friday, November 3, 2017


From time to time on the blog I've dealt with anthologies taken from, and individual issues of, little magazines, those magazines devoted to literature (including criticism) and often politics and other matters of social import, but particularly those most devoted to fiction...and this week, a brief run through some of my favorites among the current and departed little magazines...not an exhaustive list by any means, either...and for the moment leaving aside such wonderful specialized little magazines as Whispers, Hardboiled, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, or Paradox (or Paramour).

Boulevard, edited by Richard Burgin

Beyond the usually lovely and surreal/fantastic covers of this magazine usually lies an engaging mix of good fiction, essays and poetry, albeit in the last issues I've read (and it's been a couple of years, as I was buying this one at Borders, and have been meaning to get a subscription, but I mean to do many things) there was an ongoing problem with proofreading that really needed addressing. Nonetheless, one of the liveliest of the little magazines on the surviving newsstands, and worth seeking out and sampling. (1985-date)

The Ontario Review, formerly edited by Raymond J. Smith, with Joyce Carol Oates

Produced by the husband and wife team of Smith and Oates, where Smith was allowed to engage in literature in a way (it sometimes seemed) where perhaps both would feel less uncomfortable than if Smith attempted to launch his own writing career (and the comparisons and complications that might ensue), the magazine, which ran from 1974 to 2008 and ended with Smith's death, was clearly a model for Boulevard and not a few others, usually including a portfolio of photography or other visual art in an issue along with the fiction, poetry and essays. It felt a bit more tucked-in than Boulevard usually does, a bit more polished, and the tone (even given Oates's input and presence in both magazines...Richard Burgin would also frequently contribute to OR) was perhaps a bit lighter, less sardonic on balance. And the issues were slimmer (without being the very quick read an issue of Poetry might be). 

Conjunctions, edited by Bradford Morrow

Another entry in the closely-related magazines sweepstakes, Conjunctions has been known to run both Oates and Burgin contributions, with an even wider range than the previous two, as Conjunctions is both a bug-crusher of a magazine, and has a commitment to theme issues, and not infrequently guest editors to go along with those themes (Peter Straub's issue #39, "The New Wave Fabulists" was a fantastic collection in at least two senses, as appears to be guest co-editor Elizabeth Hand's more recent "Other Aliens," which I've known about but haven't obtained yet). Despite the imposing size of each issue, a certain playfulness is often detectable, such as it probably being no coincidence that issue 69, pictured above, is themed for the consideration of our bodies.  (1981-date)

Black Clock formerly edited by Steve Erickson
If any of these magazines can lay claim to have been most indicative of what was New and Fresh in literary culture, Black Clock was probably that magazine, a certain sense of nervous energy was sparked by each issue as it came out, even given that many of the contributors might well appear in certainly the other magazines cited here, and other well-established littles and fellow-travelers such as Harper's or The New Yorker. Issue #10 was a Noir issue, but that kind of playing around in various territories that The Hudson Review preferred to ignore was perhaps part of what alienated Black Clock from its parent institution, Cal Arts (though one might well wonder why). Ran from 2004-2016.

Though if any magazine had been strangled in its bed, not really crib, by the university it was associated with, Northwestern's bad faith with TriQuarterly is a particularly galling example, after it had proven itself one of the most adventurous, innovative, influential and interesting of the little magazines in the latter 1960s and '70s ,after refocusing itself from being solely a student/faculty-contributions campus magazine. Featuring some adventure fiction in issue 47, above, western fiction in 48 and science fiction in 49 was too much for some stuffed-shirt subscribers and/or alums of Northwestern to bear, and so the editorial staff  that had worked with Charles Newman, the original architect of the 1964 transition to a magazine of wide appeal, was purged in 1980-81, including Robert Onopa and Elliott Anderson, and while the magazine continued for three more decades as a print magazine before being forced to go web-only, and has published some good fiction, it never again had the vigor nor luster of the first decade and a half of international publishing. (1958-64 a campus magazine; 1964-2010 as a general-interest magazine; 2010-date as a student-edited webzine).

And, almost of course, since it usually wasn't the best but was usually among the best, and most reliably engaging during founding co-editor George Plimpton's extended run with the magazine and for most of the time since, The Paris Review. I've been unwilling to pay $20 per issue for the magazine of late (a mental block, perhaps), but in its more reasonably-priced years, and as edited by Plimpton, Brigid Hughes (who ably, briefly succeeded Plimpton upon his death, but was dumped in favor of the rather inept Philip Gourevitch, and decamped to her own rather good, a bit more Harper's-like, magazine A Public Space by 2006) and Lorin Stein, it has been a benign and easily-spotted, much-felt contributor to the public culture...never as dull as The New Yorker often was in the 1970s, for example, and frequently publishing impressive new writers as well as old lions.

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