Wednesday, February 22, 2023

SSW: WORLDS OF IF: A RETROSPECTIVE ANTHOLOGY and GALAXY: THIRTY YEARS OF INNOVATIVE SCIENCE FICTION edited by Frederik Pohl, Martin H. Greenberg and Joseph Olander; TQ 20 (for the 20th Anniversary of TRIQUARTERLY) edited by Susan Hahn and R. Gibbons

 A Wednesday's Short Stories combo redux post, inspired in part by Rich Horton's recent review of an issue of If from 1957; for more of today's posts, please see Patti Abbott's blog:

FFB: WORLDS OF IF: A Retrospective Anthology, Pohl, Greenberg & Olander, ed. (Bluejay '86); TQ 20 (TriQuarterly 20 years), Gibbons & Hahn, ed. (Pushcart '85; essentially a reprint of TriQuarterly issue 63, Spring/Summer 1985)

Nearly contemporary issues:

Executive summary: 

Two impressive slices through the first two decades of two important, but not always sufficiently respected, fiction magazines. If, aka Worlds of If, ran from 1952-1974, with some weak attempts at revival afterward (at the end of 1974, it was merged into its longterm stablemate Galaxy, which itself staggered into folding and sporadic revival by 1980); even at its weakest points editorially under original publisher James Quinn, If was an elegantly-produced magazine, and while the later publishers at the "Digest Productions"/Guinn/Galaxy group and UPD Publications varied in their investment, it was often striking later as well. TriQuarterly began as a relatively modest physical production, though less so in content, in 1964, had made itself into one of the most visually as well as literarily impressive of little magazines throughout the 1970s thanks to founding editor Charles Newman and successors Elliot Anderson and Robert Onopa, the latter being rewarded by being unceremoniously dumped for daring to treat "popular fiction" as essentially no different from "literary fiction"; TQ never quite recovered its spirit, though it did continue, and is now a webzine.

What's good about these anthologies: Take a quick look at their contents, below. As the material about each magazine in their respective volumes makes clear, the not terribly well-measured consensus view about these two magazines was that they were very well in their way, but not the Serious Contenders that were, say, the hidebound 1969 Analog or The Hudson Review, nor even the resolutely lively contemporary issues of The Paris Review or Galaxy, when If and TQ had also been hitting their very comparable high-quality marks for some years, would continue in If's case till merger in 1975 and in TriQuarterly's case was allowed to continue doing so for another half-decade beyond that year. Again, look below at the evidence. In addition to the good to great fiction in the If volume, you get a plethora of reminiscences by the writers and editors, some taken not long before these folks died or otherwise became incapable of comment (the book was also delayed for several years). The material about the magazine is less generous in the TQ, perhaps in part because the book's editors were also TQ's editors after the shameful putsch in 1980/81, but to help make up for that, the selection of poetry and artwork as well as fiction is even larger.

What's not so great about these anthologies: Don't let your book be the last Bluejay book nor the second Pushcart anthology of material the Pushcart folks didn't shape for themselves...because signs of haste and slipshoddery will be evident all over the productions, beginning with the covers. Both manage to have half-good covers, with some boldish graphics not employed quite properly...clearly the white space in the If was meant to hold some writers' names, and the TQ would work better if the cover gave a legible indication what "TQ" meant...the contributors' names in both cases are almost illegible on the back cover, if the casual browser gets past the front cover. The "If" in the one should've been larger, to resemble the magazine's frequent logo; the spine of the TriQuarterly jacket *doesn't have the title "TQ 20" on it anywhere*. It takes some effort to get much more clumsy than this.

Unfortunately, the bad packaging gives way in the If to some very blatant typos (Charles Beaumont's The Hunger and Other Stories becomes the "Hunter"; the Zelazny here is incorrectly cited as the only story he published in If; there's a more unforgivable one that I'll have to find again--it's Martin Greenberg's contention that Larry Niven was rare in being conversant in both "hard" science fiction and adventure if Poul Anderson and at least arguably Jack Vance and the predominance of the contributors to the magazine Unknown didn't rather roundly contradict that). Perhaps even more of a mixed bag is the uncorrected nature of a number of the memoirs; several contributors, Algis Budrys for one and P.J. Farmer to a gross extent, manage to get historical facts out of order (Budrys misremembers Fairman as the editor after Quinn), but mostly the disagreements between the nonfiction contributors are reasonable disagreements of judgment, and useful assessments. (One which definitely caught my eye detailed editor Larry Shaw's run-ins with Evan Hunter, whom he found unpleasant, not least when Shaw sought to have him correct an error in his famous, overrated story "Malice in Wonderland," and Hunter replied, "Well, it's only science fiction, after all." A kind of irresponsibility I tend to find in all the Hunter [McBain, et al.] fiction I've read.)

The TQ basically reshoots the pages of the magazine for the book; the typefaces are unmistakable, and so any typos in the original magazine run are presumably reproduced here (I haven't spotted any blatant ones yet); and, again, as little as possible is said about the purge of Anderson and Onopa from the magazine; in fact, Onopa is neither reprinted (he contributed interesting fiction, as well) nor mentioned. Very much down the memory hole.

At left, a 1974 issue; below left, one of the last Anderson/Onopa issues, from 1980.

These books are valuable documents, if not quite what they could've been; the magazines treated, as their staffs were, with insufficient respect once again. And, in part as consequence, they are long out of print. But they will reward you if you seek them out, and they won't cost you too much...unless you don't look for the bargains. The better work represented here is even worth a premium price.

Some If covers through the years, below:

Fact (I believe) about If: it employed more book-publisher editors as its editor or associate/assistant editor than any other sf magazine has, before or since: founding editor Paul Fairman might make the weakest link (in several ways!) by being the editor in charge of the Ziff-Davis fiction magazines later when they published the one volume/issue of Amazing Stories Science Fiction Novels, Henry Slesar's novelization of 20 Million Miles to Earth (I wouldn't be surprised if Fairman eventually edited books for others, as well). James Quinn (Handi-Books--or did he not wield an editorial hand there as well as publishing?), Larry Shaw (Lancer Books), Damon Knight (Berkley), H. L. Gold (Galaxy Novels), Frederik Pohl (Ace, Bantam), Judy-Lynn Benjamin/Del Rey and Lester Del Rey (Ballantine/Del Rey), Ejler Jakobsson (Award and other UPD lines), James Baen (Ace, Baen Books) and Jean Marie Stine (Donning/Starblaze Books).

courtesy the Locus Index:
Worlds of If: A Retrospective Anthology ed. Frederik Pohl, Martin H. Greenberg & Joseph D. Olander (Bluejay 0-312-94471-3, Dec ’86, $19.95, 438pp, hc) Anthology of 24 stories. This is the last Bluejay book.

1 · Introduction · Frederik Pohl · in
6 · As If Was in the Beginning · Larry T. Shaw · ar, 1986
19 · Memoir · Philip K. Dick · ms
20 · The Golden Man · Philip K. Dick · nv If Apr ’54
50 · Memoir · Robert Sheckley · ms
51 · The Battle · Robert Sheckley · ss If Sep ’54
57 · Last Rites · Charles Beaumont · ss If Oct ’55
71 · Game Preserve · Rog Phillips · ss If Oct ’57
85 · The Burning of the Brain · Cordwainer Smith · ss If Oct ’58
95 · Memoir · Algis Budrys · ms
103 · The Man Who Tasted Ashes · Algis Budrys · ss If Feb ’59
117 · Memoir · Poul Anderson · ms
119 · Kings Who Die · Poul Anderson · nv If Mar ’62
147 · Memoir · Fred Saberhagen · ms
148 · Fortress Ship [Berserker] · Fred Saberhagen · ss If Jan ’63
158 · Father of the Stars · Frederik Pohl · ss If Nov ’64
177 · Trick or Treaty [Jame Retief] · Keith Laumer · nv If Aug ’65
202 · Memoir · R. A. Lafferty · ms
203 · Nine Hundred Grandmothers · R. A. Lafferty · ss If Feb ’66
214 · Memoir · Larry Niven · ms
216 · Neutron Star [Beowulf Shaeffer] · Larry Niven · nv If Oct ’66
234 · Memoir · Roger Zelazny · ms
235 · This Mortal Mountain · Roger Zelazny · nv If Mar ’67
272 · Memoir · Harlan Ellison · ar *
289 · I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream · Harlan Ellison · ss If Mar ’67
305 · Memoir · Samuel R. Delany · ms
306 · Driftglass · Samuel R. Delany · ss If Jun ’67
324 · Memoir · Isaac Asimov · ms
326 · The Holmes-Ginsbook Device · Isaac Asimov · ss If Dec ’68
336 · Memoir · Philip José Farmer · ms
338 · Down in the Black Gang · Philip José Farmer · nv If Mar ’69
359 · Memoir · Robert Silverberg · ms
361 · The Reality Trip · Robert Silverberg · ss If May ’70
378 · Memoir · James Tiptree, Jr. · ms
379 · The Night-Blooming Saurian · James Tiptree, Jr. · ss If May ’70
385 · Memoir · Theodore Sturgeon · ms
388 · Occam’s Scalpel · Theodore Sturgeon · nv If Aug ’71
409 · Memoir · Clifford D. Simak · ms
410 · Construction Shack · Clifford D. Simak · ss Worlds of If Jan/Feb ’73
424 · Memoir · Craig Kee Strete · ms
427 · Time Deer · Craig Kee Strete · ss Red Planet Earth #4 ’74
433 · Afterword: Flash Point, Middle · Barry N. Malzberg · aw

courtesy WorldCat:
TQ 20 : twenty years of the best contemporary writing and graphics from TriQuarterly magazine
Editors: Reginald Gibbons; Susan Hahn
Publisher: Wainscott, NY : Pushcart Press, ©1985.
Description: 667 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.

Preface/1964-1984 --
Forward / Charles Newman --
Fragments from the unpublished death fantasy sequence of Judgment day / James T. Farrell --
To friends in East and West "A New Year's greeting" / Boris Pasternak --
Three essays / Roland Barthes --
Two stories / Richard Brautigan --
In a hole / George P. Elliott --
Two poems / Anne Sexton --
Why is American poetry culturally deprived? / Kenneth Rexroth --
Storm still / Brock Brower --
TV / Howard Nemerov --
Two essays / E.M. Cioran --
The fly / Miroslav Holub --
Two poems / Vasko Popa --
A damned man / Aleksander Wat --
From the wave / Thom Gunn --
Meeting hall of the Sociedad Anarquista, 1952 / Irving Feldman --
Few things to say / John Frederick Nims --
The town / C.P. Cavafy --
Tuesday siesta / Gabriel García Márquez --
The sea / Jorge Luis Borges --
The doll queen / Carlos Fuentes --
From unusual occupations / Julio Cortázar --
Montesano unvisited / Richard Hugo --
Possibility along a line of difference / A.R. Ammons --
Life / Jean Follain --
Footprints on the glacier / W.S. Merwin --
The Eagle Exterminating Company / James Tate --
The double dream of spring / John Ashbery --
Toward a new program for the university / Christopher Lasch --
Three meetings / Stanley Elkin --
Three / W.S. Merwin --
Pain / Maxine Kumin --
That's what you say, Cesar? / Andrew Glaze --
Enigma for an angel / Joseph Brodsky --
Two poems / Osip Mandelstam --
To Edward dahlberg / Jack Kerouac --
Confessions / Edward Dahlberg --
From The tunnel: why windows are important to me / William H. Gass --
The wheel / Aimé Césaire --
A tale from Lailonia / Leszek Kolakowski --
Men fought / Jorge Luis Borges --
Meredith Dawe / Joyce Carol Oates --
From Ninety-two in the shade / Thomas McGuane --
Torpid smoke / Vladimir Nabokov --
My encounters with Chekhov / Konstantin Korovin --
Commitment without empathy : a writer's notes on politics, theatre and the novel / David Caute --
Human dust / Agnes Denes --
Heart attack / Max Apple --
The reurn of Icarus / David Wagoner --
With Uncle Sam at Burning Tree / Robert Coover --
Gala / Paul West --
The sewing harems / Cynthia Ozick --
Two shoes for one foot / John Hawkes --
Coyote hold a full house in his hand / Leslie Marmon Silko --
Dillinger in Hollywood / John Sayles --
Walking out / David Quammen --
Where is everyone? / Raymond Carver --
Hunters in the snow / Tobias Wolff --
From A flag for sunrise / Robert Stone --
Embryology / Magdalena Abakanowicz --
Going to the dogs / Richard Ford --
Editorial / Reginald Gibbons --
Dear Lydia E. Pinkham / Pamels White Hadas --
Somg of napalm / Bruce Weigl --
Three prose pieces / Stephen Berg --
Had I a hundred mouths / William Goyen --
From Steht noch dahin / Marie Louise Kaschnitz --
Prayer for the dying / Willis Johnson --
Don't they speak jazz? / Michael S. Harper --
Aubade / Roland Flint --
The third count / Andrew Fetler --
In the cemetery where Al Jolson is buried / Amy Hempel --
June harvest / W.S. Di Piero --
Ambush / John Morgan --
Instructions to be left behind / Marvin Bell --
Gill Boy / Dennis Schmitz --
From A minor apocalypse / Tadeusz Konwicki --
The belly of Barbara N. / Wiktor Woroszylski --
Two poems / Stanislaw Baranczak --
Isaac Babel / R.D. Skillings --
The story tellers / Fred Chappell --
Night traffic near Winchester / Dave Smith --
Sweet sixteen lines / Al Young --
Father and son / Morton Marcus --
His happy hour / Alan Shapiro --
The last class / Ellen Bryant Voigt --
Two poems / C.K. Williams --
Recovering / William Goyen --
On welfare / William Wilborn --
Two poems / William Heyen --
The hooded legion / Gerald McCarthy --
Snowy egret / Bruce Weigl --
Three epigrams / Elder Olson --
Interview with Saul Bellow / Rockwell Gray, Harry White and Gerald Nemanic --
Fulfilling the promise / Lisel Mueller --
The Aragon ballroom / John Dickson --
The city / Lorraine Hansberry --
The address / Marga Minco --
Departures / Linda Pastan --
He, she, all of them, ay / John Peck

Every issue of If online at the Internet Archive.
All print issues of TQ now online.

Brian Lindemuth's Spinetingler magazine blog [now dead/removed] will be offering the links to other FFBs this week, as Patti Abbott is at [the 2011] BoucherCon. [She's home, now, at last report.]

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

SSW Part 1: Robert Arthur, Robert Bloch, Algis Budrys, "T. P. Caravan" (Charles Carroll Muñoz), Miriam Allen deFord, August Derleth, Shirley Jackson, Henry Kuttner and Catherine L. Moore, Allen Kim Lang, Fritz Leiber, Richard Matheson, Frederik Pohl and Isaac Asimov, Mack Reynolds, Mann Ruben, Margaret St. Clair, Theodore Sturgeon, Jack Vance, Manly Wade Wellman, Cornell Woolrich: 1949-54 magazine short stories--Across Six Aprils (Short Story Wednesday)

Not quite random picks from the US fantasy(+) magazines of that half-decade (subtitle phrase inspired by Irene Hunt).

1949: Fritz Leiber: "The Man Who Never Grew Young" (first mass-market reprinting from original 1947 publication in the Arkham House small-press collection Night's Black Agents); and Robert Bloch: "The Unspeakable Betrothal" Avon Fantasy Reader #9 (February?), edited by Donald A. Wollheim

1950: Mack Reynolds: "Isolationist" Fantastic Adventures April 1950, edited by Howard Browne; Robert Arthur: "The Flying Eye" (reprinted from Argosy 18 May 1940); and Cornell Woolrich: "Speak to Me of Death" (reprinted from Argosy 27 February 1937) Fantasy Fiction May 1950, edited by Curtis Mitchell; Isaac Asimov and Frederik Pohl (as James MacCreigh): "The Little Man on the Subway" Fantasy Book  early/January? 1950, edited by Margaret and William L. Crawford

1951: Margaret St. Clair (as Idris Seabright): "Brightness Falls from the Air"; and Richard Matheson: "Through Channels"; and Manly Wade Wellman: "Larroes Catch Meddlers" The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction April 1951, edited by Anthony Boucher and J. Francis McComas; Allen Kim Lang: "An Eel by the Tail" Imagination April 1951, edited (and packaged almost insanely poorly) by William Hamling; Theodore Sturgeon: "Ghost of a Chance" Suspense Spring 1951, edited by Theodore Irwin (reprinted, for the first time, from Unknown Worlds June 1943, edited by John W. Campbell, where it appeared as "The Green-Eyed Monster"); C. L. Moore and Henry Kuttner (as by "C. H. Liddell"): "Golden Apple" Famous Fantastic Mysteries March 1951, edited by Mary Gnaedinger; Jack Vance: "The New Prime" (as "Brain of the Galaxy") Worlds Beyond February 1951, edited by Damon Knight; Fritz Leiber: "Cry Witch!"; and Kris Neville: "Seeds of Futurity" 10 Story Fantasy Spring 1951, edited by Donald A. Wollheim                                                                                                                  

1952: August Derleth: "The Night Road" Weird Tales May 1952, edited by Dorothy McIlwraith

1953: Shirley Jackson: "Root of Evil" Fantastic April 1953, edited by Howard Browne; Margaret St. Clair: "The Espadrille" Famous Fantastic Mysteries April 1953, edited by Mary Gnaedinger; Algis Budrys: "The Weeblies" Fantasy Fiction (first issue as Fantasy Magazine) June 1953, edited by Lester Del Rey

1954: Miriam Allen deFord: "Gone to the Dogs" (aka "Henry Martindale, Great Dane") Beyond Fantasy Fiction March 1954, edited by H. L. Gold; Charles Carroll Muñoz (as T. P. Caravan): "The Soluble Scientist" Universe Science Fiction March 1954, edited by Bea Mahaffey; Mann Rubin: "The Other Voice" Fantastic Universe March 1954, edited by Beatrice Jones; Robert Bloch: "The Goddess of Wisdom" Fantastic Universe May 1954, edited by Leo Margulies

A small panoply of stories I've been meaning to read or reread or in a couple of instances have stumbled across while looking up the others. Most notable for how little-discussed they are of late...a few understandably, if not necessarily deservedly. All more or less what might've been on newsstands in April of 1949-54, arbitrarily enough.

The 1949 entries, from an issue of Avon Fantasy Reader, include one of Fritz Leiber's best-known early stories and a reasonably well-known item from Robert Bloch's bibliography (the Bloch was bumped from another Donald Wollheim project at Avon, the notable 1949 original-fiction anthology The Girl with the Hungry Eyes and Other Stories, the title story being another major Leiber story). The Reader having been Wollheim's attempt to recreate the flavor of Farnsworth Wright's Weird Tales, as opposed to the less gothic and more modernist approach of Dorothy McIlwraith's issues, the spirit of the Bloch and its Lovecraftian elements made it at least as at home in the magazine. 

"The Man Who Never Grew Young" is a lovely work, as many readers here will already know, that takes the concept of time-regression away from the single-person or similar "small-batch" examples, most famously of  late F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button", and, in a sense at least, of Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment", and posits a world in which some sort of barely-remembered (by the protagonist) near-Doomsday weapon has caused, as a result of detonation, the regression of time for everything on the Earth...except, apparently, for the protagonist, who remains pretty much as he has been as those people and other things around him tend to flow backwards, as it grows more difficult to remember just how things once were for him and his world (he is thus a sort of immortal, as he watches his lovers and friends eventually find their mothers and be reabsorbed, and civilizations become less complex over time). The elegiac quality of the story is beautifully maintained. It's sadly less than remarkable that Leiber couldn't find a periodical market for the story, which first appeared in his first collection. 

"The Unspeakable Betrothal" by Robert Bloch is nearly the last of his blatantly Lovecraftian works, before his stated (vain, but knowingly so) hope to put Lovecraftian pastiche to bed permanently with his 1979 novel Strange Eons. (Bloch, as I've noted here on the blog before, was a student and protégé of Lovecraft's, as was, much more briefly, Leiber, and they were the most notable writers to emerge from the Lovecraft Circle of corresponding friends, and did the most to expand and refine Lovecraft's innovations.) It's also, I see on rereading, a harbinger of the increasing turn toward explicitly psychological analysis in his storytelling, while in this case retaining the supernatural element...which would continue, without supernatural elements, through such stories as "Lucy Comes to Stay" and "I Do Not Love Thee, Dr. Fell", both clearly leading up to the novel Psycho, and such other earlier crime fiction as The Scarf and subsequent work such as Firebug and "A Home Away from Home"...

1950: Fantastic Adventures, under the editorship of Howard Browne for three years before it was merged with the new and rather more modish Fantastic, had a brief spell of featuring no little first-rate work (such as Leiber's You're All Alone and Theodore Sturgeon's The Dreaming Jewels), at least some purchased for a mooted 1950 upgrade of companion magazine Amazing Stories, but mostly was treated as a repository of so-so pulp fantasy and sf adventure fiction, much of it published under house names, even if some of it had suggestions of better work to come from such writers as William McGivern and, in this case, the young Mack Reynolds, the son of Verne Reynolds, a presidential candidate for the very doctrinaire Marxist, and first US socialist, political party, the Socialist Labor Party (founder Daniel De Leon had criticized his contemporary Karl Marx for deviation from the latter's own early proposals). Political considerations would find interesting ways to inform nearly if not all of Reynolds's fiction, and "Isolationist", while an early and not completely successful example, is a forerunner building toward such better stories as "Pacifist" and "Compounded Interest" this case, a misanthropic farmer has his day, and an acre of good corn, ruined by the unwelcome visit of some condescending aliens, in a spaceship which reminds the protagonist of  children's toys that have led to weapons of mass destruction. (Reynolds has another story in the same issue, "He Took It With Him", under a pseudonym, likewise taking a this case "You can't take it with you" as in any material wealth into what afterlife there might be...and putting forth a literal reconsideration of the terms in question.)

Reasonably prolific pulp-magazine contributor (largely to aerial-combat fiction titles) Curtis Mitchell's undercapitalized Magabook, Inc. offered two issues only of Fantasy Fiction (the second retitled Fantasy Stories for no obvious reason), and the magazine relied heavily on reprints from the eclectic fiction magazine Argosy and its competitor Adventure (often given new and intentionally crude new titles), interlarding them with short new pieces that often were tagged "true fantasy stories"--about mildly or less mildly bizarre supposed actual occurrences with some sort of uncanny element. My eye was drawn by the first issue containing older stories by Robert Arthur, Richard Sale and Cornell Woolrich I hadn't read.

The Arthur, from Argosy's 18 May 1940 issue, is what I'd call an almost-good example of his work, and I can understand his not rushing it back into print...a camera with an unintentionally-created magical lens which photographs the thoughts of its subjects at the time the shot was taken. It plays out reasonably cleverly, if not too surprisingly. 

To be continued...

for more of today's short fiction reviews, please see Patti Abbott's blog.

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

SSW: John D. MacDonald, Kurt Vonnegut, "Oliver Wyman" (Olive & Wyman Holmes), Cyril Hume, Leon Ware: COSMOPOLITAN, July 1958, edited by John J. O'Connell; fiction editor Kathryn Bourne

 From the FictionMags Index, the fiction content:

illustration for "Fast Loose Money"
Unsurprisingly, the juxtaposi0n of unfamiliar-seeming MacDonald and Vonnegut stories in this late '50s issue of Cosmopolitan, still a more-0r-less not-gender-specific magazine at this point, was what caught my it happens, I had read the Vonnegut, but about forty years ago while first going through his collection Welcome to the Monkey House, among better short stories by him but few as unironic and heartfelt; the MacDonald was collected in his 1966 volume End of the Tiger and Other Stories (which I haven't yet read), apparently under JDM's preferred title "The Fast Loose Money" rather than the article-free version that Cosmo gave it. It, too, isn't the most memorable of MacDonald stories, but it's more than clever enough, and while the protagonist and his old war-buddy and partner in crime aren't quite the true "mean furniture" MacDonald would refer to in his work, extremely unsavory people who won't shrink from violence to get their ends, they aren't far from it, not particularly noble at all. In fact, their WW2 service in the US Army, in the Quartermasters Corps in India, was essentially one long set of scams, which has allowed for a civilian life of considerable comfort, driven in part by continued skimming in the small businesses they run, initiated with their GI nest eggs. Well-drawn characterization of the two married couples at the heart of the story (as is typical of MacDonald), and a deft resolution to the various plot turns (likewise). Bob Byrne, writing in the Black Gate blog, notes that MacDonald spent some WW2 Army time in the procurement service setting he describes here, and didn't love it, before reassignment to the OSS (Byrne also breaks down every detail of the story, so you might want to read "The Fast Loose Money", in the book or in the magazine issue online, before reading Byrne's article). 

The Vonnegut story, "The Manned Missiles", has very little that's surreal nor particularly ironic about it, in telling a simple near-future (for 1958) science fiction story in the form of a Russian father's exchange of letters, his translated into English by his student son, with those of the US father of another cosmonaut/astronaut, both with sons who died in an accident while in single-person craft in orbit, the American sent to try to determine what sort of observation/surveillance the Soviet was up to. A graceful and humane account, which reminded me a bit of the likes of Edmond Hamilton's "What's It Like Out There?" in slightly less melodramatic terms. Vonnegut's note in his introduction to Welcome to the Monkey House, that the large-circulation slick-paper magazines would take stories about almost anything, as long as they celebrated the Middle Class, doesn't quite apply here, as this one has a somewhat more universal appeal (I'd say, even given that both fathers are clearly of their respective countries' essential middle I have been of mine).

"Oliver Wyman" (the married writing team of Olive and Wyman Holmes) has another epistolary story which follows, but one of an utterly different stripe, a comic piece about a young woman with dreams of becoming an investing "angel" in a mildly distant cousin's Broadway production...if only she can pry some of her trust fund from her starchy, disapproving Bostonian aunt. The cousin, a young man who (as it turns out) fled the stultifying effect of Beacon Hill family, initially for a financial-industry job but soon becoming a producer, is not sure he wants anything to do with supportive young Kathy, much less the family money or its stern guardians. Amusing, if slight. Wyman Holmes was very briefly a professional actor, in one of Clare Boothe Luce's less successful B'way productions, Kiss the Boys Goodbye; Olive and Wyman, formerly Harvard students together, married during the short run of the play, and went on to at least a mildly productive writing career together. Wyman presumably knew from blue-blood Bostonian families, as likely the son of Henry Wyman Holmes, the founding Dean, in 1920, of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Olive Holmes seems to have been a dance student and perhaps briefly a professional dancer, who would eventually edit a volume of Henry Taylor Parker's dance columns for The Boston Evening Transcript titled Motion Arrested (Wesleyan University Press/Harper & Row 1982), among other work solo and with her husband, including what look like culture studies for the likes of the US Information Agency. Was Cosmopolitan almost as clandestinely tied up with the 1950s CIA as, say, The Paris Review?
illustration for "El Greco and Mrs. London"
Cyril Hume had an interesting career...and seemingly one of many starts and stops, including an abbreviated hitch in the US Army, followed by some time at Yale (possibly without graduating, as online biographies disagree about this), though a dark fantasy story he placed with The Yale Review in 1930, "Forrester", would be included the O. Henry Awards volume for 1931 (his work was given the arguable plaudit of a limited edition collection, issued after his first with a regular press run, by Doubleday/Doran in 1932, Myself and the Young Bowman and Other Fantasies). He soon made his way to Hollywood, where he would script (either completely or through adaptation) a number of crime dramas and fantastica among other work for film and eventually television, including several in the Tarzan film series, the film Ransom! (later remade, without exclamation point, with Mel Gibson in the Glenn Ford role), and writing the script, from another writer's treatment (which in turn owed something to The Tempest), for the notable sf film Forbidden Planet. "El Greco and Mrs. London" is almost a casually tossed-off story by a writer who clearly knows what he's doing, and probably has more than a little in common with his protagonist, an artist of some talent but little application who is somewhat bitterly teaching painting to an adult education class in a small high school. Some sharp observation of the kinds of students this kind of class could attract, as well as of the degree of self-loathing the instructor can turn outward, only to find that he's actually falling for a talented young widow among his students. Hume would die rather young, not too long after this story's publication, in 1966.

Finally, for the purposes of this SSW entry (though I might read Finlay McDermid's novella for a later one), we turn to Leon Ware's "Sea Barrier", easily the worst of the short stories in this issue. Ware picked up an Edgar Award in 1966 for best young-readers' novel, The Mystery of 22 East, like this story one with a nautical setting, and if this story had been less simple-minded, I might be more willing to go dig up that or other work. This story posits, as one might in the late '50s with less likelihood of deserved mockery than today, that All Men Must Go Risk Their Lives in some pursuit, and All Women Will Do Better When They Just Accept This, No Matter How Little They Understand It Or Ever Will. Basically, a youngish lawyer and father of small children spends most of his weekends essentially stunt-sailing; his wife grows vexed at how little she and the kids see of him between work and his obsession with his hobby; she notes, a bit fretfully, his obvious itch to return to the wind in his face, and she learns, finally, from some shared wisdom from another "sailing widow" as both await their husbands' return (or worse) from at best a stupid attempt at a sailing run in a hurricane. But what are you going to do, Boys with Responsibilities will still be Boys, and that's All Men, and All Us Women just have to take it, and love them for it (and No Women clearly Ever Need Risk Nor Adventure in their lives, not even a little!  Says so right here!). Reductionist propaganda for irresponsibility and selfishness Rules OK. Remember, All Men are like this and All Women are like that. Hacks of various sorts still run these lines today, of course.

Meanwhile, here's this (touched on in the discussion of the Holmeses, above--see also in the comments below, for a bit more about Olive Holmes): In the July 1958 COSMO, in the editorial/in this issue column "What Goes on at Cosmopolitan" as signed by Associate Editor Harriet La Barre, this is the last item:

Write-where-you-are Twosome
Television buys a startling number of Cosmopolitan stories. But not the short story “Yankee Angel,” page 89. Any TV producer would run screaming from it; but everyone else will love it.

Oliver Wyman, who wrote the story, is really a couple of other people: the husband-and-wife writing team of Olive Holmes and Wyman Holmes. This Boston-born pair met at Harvard, where John Mason Brown was trying to teach them how to write plays. In the strange game of becoming a writer, Wyman first became a Broadway actor and was playing in Clare Boothe Luce’s “Kiss the Boys Goodbye” when he married Olive. The show promptly folded; no connection.

Unlike lots of writers of our acquaintance who can write only in a particular room or setting, this team can write anywhere—even in their two-room shack on a ten-acre island off the Maine coast. If too many guests turn up by motorboat, they retreat to a nearby tent and keep batting it out while sitting on an Army cot, their typewriter on an orange crate. Cosmopolitan, so far, has published four Oliver Wyman stories, mostly about the rich and stubborn Yankees that this Boston pair knows to a fare-thee-well.

—H. La B.

For more of today's Short Story Wednesday reviews,