Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Short Story Wednesday, Guest Post: Paul Di Filippo: THRILLING WONDER STORIES, Winter 1945, edited by Sam Merwin, Jr.

[TM notes: Paul posted this review in FictionMags, and it's reprinted with his permission. It should be noted that this was Sam Merwin's first issue of the magazine, after it had been edited by perhaps its worst editor, Oscar J. Friend, for several years.]

Over the course of many weeks, I read a few pages each night of this zine:

Contents (view Concise Listing)

I'll try to reconstruct a few thoughts.  Overall, I have to say this was a humdrum, just good-enough issue, with a couple of stinkers.

First, the cover is an accurate depiction of an event in "Fog Over Venus"--except that in the text, no women are involved, just burly construction workers.  But of course, the gal makes for a better cover.

• 6 • The Reader Speaks (Thrilling Wonder Stories, Winter 1945) • essay by Sergeant Saturn [sic--an editorial fiction, soon banished by new editor Merwin. TM]

The character of Sergeant Saturn, ringleader of the letters column, is absolutely bonkers.  His speech reads nowadays like someone suffering from glossolalia and fantastical delusions:

"Careful with the Xeno jug, Frogeyes, you're spoiling my space vest--and with dry-cleaners shot to Pluto and gone.  That's better, but less noise please. Old Wart-Ears is after my scalp since last issue."

I detect in this banter full of in-jokes and specialized jargon the roots of what Stan Lee did in his heyday at Marvel Comics. "Listen up, pilgrims--nuff said!"  I wonder if Lee was raised on TWS and other pulps of its ilk. [Seems likely. I will note my own first exposure to the characters gave "Wart-Ears"'s name as "Wartears", and I wasn't at all sure, given the era, that he/its name wasn't essentially "War-Tears"... TM]

In any case, though, these letter writers sure are lively and opinionated. They obviously go through a lot of work to compose their responses, all for egoboo and the glory of SF and TWS.  Most famous name [among the letter-writers] this time around is Chad Oliver.

Maybe modern zines should have such a fictional mascot. I fondly recall Pedro the Mule from my Boy's Life days. And of course the EC Comics horror figures, The Old Witch, etc.

F&SF could have "Old Sally Sturgeon, widow to one of the first Martian settlers." Asimov's could have "R. Tarheel Oliphant, cybernetic circus performer."  I don't know, I'm sure the Assembled Here can think up better mascots.

Lightspeed could have Tacky Yon, sentient photon.

• 11 • "Fog Over Venus" • novella by Arthur K. Barnes

Dueling entrepreneurs fight to tame the hell of Venus with a reliable transport system.  Explicit reference to Barnes's "Interplanetary Hunter".  Vivid, but a little drawn out.  The great men duke it out while the grunts do all the work.  Reprinted once, in 1955.

• 37 • "Castaways in Two Dimensions" • short story by Frank Belknap Long

Dan and Joan crash land on an asteroid, then enter the "Ul Dimension" with their robot Knobby.  The inhabitant of this space threatens, but they escape.  Ends with Joan kissing Knobby:  "a kiss so wet and vehement, it almost short-circuited him..."  Never reprinted.
• 46 • "Pi in the Sky" • novelette by Fredric Brown

The constellations start changing shape, confounding humanity.  They eventually form an advertising jingle. But our hero uncovers the fact that it was all a global illusion. Reprinted often.

• 63 • "Stop, Thief!" • short story by Fox B. Holden

Ostensibly humorous short-short about an alien--Fuj--who wants to steal the Earth. Human hero stymies him, then send him to bother the Japs. Never reprinted.
• 68 • "I Get Off Here" • short story by Oscar J. Friend [as by Ford Smith]

In the 22nd century, the villain Hermes threatens nastiness via teleportation rays, but is stymied by Devore Ragon, operative of "the Solar Observance System, famous detective agency." But Hermes does escape, opening up room for a sequel, natch. Never reprinted.
• 76 • "They Sculp" • short story by Frank Belknap Long [as by Leslie Northern]

A little girl's father-inventor opens an interdimensional portal, and she and a local hobo go through it, to confront the resident aliens.  "It looked not unlike an enormous mummified bullfrog, agate-eyed and with folds of dead-black flesh..."  But the aliens are aesthetes, and the humans finally flee with an extremely valuable sculpture. The end. Never reprinted.
• 85 • "You'll See a Pink House" • short story by Wilm Carver

Our hero is the only one--thanks to brain damage--who can see a certain pink house. Everyone else thinks he's crazy. But he investigates and finds that the pink house is itself an alien entity, that there are millions around the globe, and that they suck elan vital from humans. The pink house kills the narrator, but he survives in astral form. He eventually descends into the the body of one Wilm Carver, SF author, types up the narrative we are reading--as a warning--then drifts off into the ether. Never reprinted.
• 92 • "De Profundis" • short story by "Murray Leinster"

Deep-sea sentient creatures exist, unknown to humanity--until a record-breaking bathyscaph penetrates, before encountering potential destruction. Inside are a husband and wife--as in Long's asteroid story--and the benthic creature can read their minds. He takes a liking to them and carries them to the surface, at some cost to himself. However, when he returns down below, he is regarded as crazy, imagining non-aquatic life. Much reprinted.

• 111 • The Story Behind the Story: "Fog Over Venus" • essay by Arthur K. Barnes

This listing only partial, since Brown also contributes a few paragraphs about his story.

Copyright © 2023 by Paul Di Filippo (on LJ)

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

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

NUMB3RS: Season 4, 401 "Trust Metric" and 402 "Hollywood Homicide" from the TV GUIDE blog of the television series, 28 September/5 October 2007

Further rescues from my "drafts" file of copy for my TV GUIDE blogs, formerly linked at the bottom of my links list (the current TV GUIDE website instead redirects to barebones information on the series, etc.).

Pluto TV offers "free, with ads" streaming of these and other episodes (for whatever reason, they have season four's second episode listed as  its third), and the series repeats are currently broadcast on the H&I network in the US at 3am ET, daily...mildly amusingly, head to head with repeats of the Scott Brothers, then Ridley alone. series The Good Wife in the US on competing Start TV network. Albeit H&I is more or less pitched at men, Start at women. Decent viewing for insomniacs.

In Numb3rs, to give it its preferred logotype, Cheryl Heuton and Nicholas Falacci have created an almost perfect machine, taking the eccentric detective series, whose roots go back at least as far as the Sherlock Holmes stories of Arthur Conan Doyle but which is perhaps best represented on US television by Columbo, and combining that with the ensemble workplace/family drama, which came to its mature form in the US with such 1980s series as Hill Street Blues and St. Elsewhere. In addition to good to excellent scripts, sly casting and performances and impressive design, the two extra strokes of brilliance in the makeup of Numb3rs are the gimmicky but nonetheless enjoyable use of applied mathematics in the characters’ crime-solving and, less obviously, the splitting of the eccentric detective into a team of eccentrics, making at least some of the FBI agents at the heart of the show nearly as odd as the mathematicians and physicists (and a city-planner paterfamilias) who aid them. That the Scott brothers, Tony and Ridley, were willing to co-produce the series and occasionally, as with tonight’s fourth season premiere directed by Tony, to take an even greater hands-on interest, is hardly surprising, beyond that a pair of somewhat competitive brothers are the heart of the show. Even where Numb3rs is unbelievable, and it is frequently in small and sometimes large ways, it remains entertaining.

Tonight’s episode [401; "Trust Metric"] picks up from last season’s finale and its quasi-cliffhanger, wherein an ex-military member of the FBI unit directed by Don Eppes (Rob Morrow) was discovered to be a traitor, selling sensitive data to the Chinese government, and perhaps willing to kill to protect his secret. Disgraced and incarcerated agent Colby Granger (Dylan Bruno) somewhat unsurprisingly turns out to be not truly a “mole,” but apparently a triple agent deeply undercover to help ferret out some true double agents in the US Department of Justice. One Mason Lancer (no relation), played with sufficient dead-eyed menace by Val Kilmer, is flushed out thus.

As often on the series, there wasn’t too much sophisticated detective work involved in these events, and some of the law enforcement practice displayed is questionable at best, such as when an attempt is made to recapture Granger and his old Army buddy at a subway station with police are employed on only one side of the tracks, allowing the fugitives to easily escape…even given that Eppes and his inner circle are uncertain as to whether they should let Granger remain at large, surely someone among the police agents at the subway station would’ve said, Say, shouldn’t some of us be over on the other platform, too? But the interaction between the academics and the primary FBI agents under Epps, including the characters played by Dianne Farr and Peter MacNichol (for varying reasons missing from too many recent episodes), is often the greatest strength in Numb3rs, and so too in tonight’s. Farr is particularly good with bits of business that add texture to the drama, as when her Diane Reeves character doesn’t quite suppress her irritation when mathematician Charlie Epps (David Krumholtz) pulls a cube of ice from her glass of tea to use as a visual aide. Tony Scott’s contributions to “Trust Metric” include the unusually large number of jump cuts and quick edits even for this series, which will often engage in those for the sequences set in the Los Angeles FBI headquarters, usually bathed in a blue light (or at least shot through a blue filter), versus the relatively sedate editing and camera movement in the sequences set at the Eppes family home or at the CalTech analog that serves as the home base for Prof. Eppes and his fellow academics, including computer scientist and romantic partner Amita Ramanujan (Navi Rawat).

[402: "Hollywood Homicide", 5 October 2007]

This was a consolidating episode for the series…easing the Colby character back into the team, showcasing the romances of the Eppes brothers (David Krumholtz’s Charlie with Navi Rawat’s Amita, and the slight edge in Charlie’s voice in response to the gentlest of nudges from his womanfriend; Rob Morrow’s Don with Aya Sumika’s Liz Warner, neither yet good at defusing the workplace/relation tension), giving nearly everyone in the cast a setpiece. It also gave the show an opportunity to mock [then-current HBO tv series] Entourage and to make a few inside jokes about Numb3rs itself…as when mildly starstruck Charlie and the less-impressed Larry Fleinhardt (Peter MacNicol) demonstrate how they use calculations of water displacement to determine the size of a murder suspect, only to be told by their audience of a film actor and his lifelong friend that their efforts are just like something out of the movies…”only not as cool.”

Aside from the Eureka! moment that led up to that exercise, the math in this episode was rather light; the A and B storylines for this one were still wrapped up in questions of identity (and here’s where serious spoilers begin). Aside from various members of the FBI detail, most obviously Alimi Ballard’s David Sinclair, still trying to come to terms with Colby’s long-term deep cover, the primary mystery of the episode involves what turns out to be two prostitutes who’ve undergone plastic surgery to look nearly identical…one murdered and the other apparently the intended target of that murder.

Kelly Overton excels in the small role as the latter, flint-hearted Andrea Barton, who has been blackmailing the actor and his entourage with information her “twin” had picked up and passed along. It turns out that the actor, who makes much of his brother having been killed in a carjacking some years earlier, actually killed the brother himself in a drunken accident…more twinning, or almost, and more deception.

Aside from being well-paced and only rather slightly far-fetched, the strength of this episode is, as I suggest above, in reinforcing or reintroducing several of the themes that have run through the series, not least the relation between Amita and Charlie. Charlie can be remarkably abrasive at times, while he dithered over whether he wanted to pursue a relation with Amita (if she would have him), and one of the strengths of the series is that this rarely felt like a gambit on the part of the producers so much as genuine unresolved tension within Charlie’s slightly maladjusted soul, which is mirrored in a similarly rocky romantic life for his brother. Leaving aside the affect the death of their mother might have had on the brothers, it also suggests what life with obsessive people, whether ingenious mathematicians or dogged FBI agents, can let one in for.

Ben Blacker's  The Writer's Room podcast, with Heuton and Falacci, among others...

Monday, April 24, 2023

MASTERS OF SCIENCE FICTION episode 4: adapting "The Discarded" by Harlan Ellison (from the 2007 TV GUIDE blog for the series)

Continuing from yesterday, some of the text entries from now-vanished tv series blogs on the TV Guide website, this one the fourth in a series I wrote in 2007 about the ABC-TV airing of the (six-episode) Masters of Science Fiction, the last episode they chose to air, adapting Harlan Ellison's 1959 short story, "The Departed".

This episode, "The Discarded", as available ("free with ads") on Roku TV.  The series' page.

Tonight's episode is the fourth and last ABC intends to run, of the six that were produced (all six will be seen in Canada, at least, on the cable channel Space, starting in November). And it was the episode a number of people were most eager to see, I suspect, since it was based on a short story by Harlan Ellison, who has established himself as a major figure in both prose fantastic fiction (among other sorts) and in screenwriting, as well as some notable comics scripting and work in other media. Apparently Ellison gave executive producer Keith Addis strong support when they resisted the attempts by ABC to call the series "Masters of Sci-Fi" which would be comparable to calling its Showtime sibling series Masters of Horror something like "Masters of Spookiness" instead.

(ABC chose to slip "scifi" into the URL for the series' pages on, anyway...perhaps the smallest of many hostilities the network has shown toward this project). And the story was adapted for television by Ellison and Josh Olson, best-known for his excellent work in adapting the graphic novel A History of Violence for the 2005 film; Jonathan Frakes, of Star Trek: The Next Generation, directed the episode.

It's a pleasantly baroque staging of a rather simple tale of multiple betrayals, most of them betrayals of people with unusual appearance due to their infection with a plague known to the characters as "RIGM" or the "Blood Poo" (broadcast self-censorship) which causes limbs or organs to undergo extreme  deviance from the norm...John Hurt's character grows an extra head, albeit a smaller one, from his shoulders. A number of these folks have been quarantined, like the lepers exiled to the Hawaiian island of Molokai referenced in the drama, on poorly-maintained spacecraft and left to their own increasingly dispirited, often suicidal devices. Suddenly an emissary from Earth comes to beg for their blood, to help create a vaccine for RIGM, which has grown more virulent as it continues to plague the planet's human population; the emissary himself is infected and suffering. The deal: a trade of their blood samples for an opportunity to take up tracts of land, rather like reservations, on Earth. The de facto leader of the Discarded on this particular cargo ship is certain that the Earth government won’t honor its end of the bargain, and aggressively insists as much, till he's accidentally killed...leaving Hurt's character as the grand old man of the ship's crew, despite being the one who killed his best friend.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, the late leader's suspicions are borne out...once the Earth has the blood cultures they need, they simply exile a few more of the most "unsightly" folk to the ship, crushing the hopes of those waiting to return to Earth for the first time in years or decades.

Ellison’s early short stories often are grim and relentless, and this one, written while facing great personal hardship (including attempts by his immediate commanding officers to court-martial him for a minor infraction, living off-base as a married draftee without permission), is no exception. Today’s Ellison touch is most obvious in the word-drunk play with language evident in the lines given Hurt’s character, named for a most unpleasant fellow GI Ellison knew then. Hurt delivers the speeches with a Shakespearean’s aplomb, in a good performance among many here, one that works well with Brian Dennehy’s gruff cynic and the largely Canadian supporting cast (Ellison has acute cameo role, as well). Among those Canadian actors were a number who are in their daily lives unusual-looking, due to circumstances of birth or surviving severe burns among other mishaps...they moved Ellison mightily by suggesting that they’d adopt the term “the Discarded” for themselves. (The short story was give this title in its 1959 magazine appearance by the late Cele Goldsmith Lalli, who went on from “discovering” such writers as Ursula K. Le Guin, Thomas M. Disch, and Keith Laumer as editor of the Ziff-Davis fiction magazines Fantastic and Amazing, to become the chief editor of ZD’s bridal magazines when the publisher sold the fiction titles). You may decide for yourself how many in-jokes are suggested by a character who shares the cameo scene with Ellison, an apparent teenage girl in a cheerleader’s outfit who is otherwise unusual mostly for having only one large Cyclopean eye centered above her nose; a reference to Maria Bello’s former cheerleader role in A History of Violence, to the gifted cheerleader in Heroes (rather unlikely, given when this was filmed), or to the monocular character Leelah from Futurama…or none of the above. John Frizzell’s jazz score for the episode was impressively good, seeming at one point to rework or quote another 1959 cultural product, the Miles Davis Quintet’s “So What?”

And the arguable betrayal of this series by ABC wasn’t restricted only to the network’s lack of publicity or other support, but, also by a number of local affiliates, who particularly have been eager to pre-empt Masters of SF from its 10pm ET/PT slot on Saturdays, in favor of local specials or sports coverage, often delaying the run till early-morning hours on Sunday. Given the (at least) interesting nature of at least three of the episodes, this seems more than a shame…but one that will presumably soon be remedied for those interested by a home-video release. And Canadians, at least, will have the option of seeing the two episodes, based on stories by Robert Sheckley and Walter Mosley, that we in the States will have to wait for.

[Since I haven't recovered them, not] Coming soon…a recap of the series as presented by ABC…and a consideration of the controversy surrounding the treatment of Robert Heinlein’s story by Michael Tolkin for the third episode, “Jerry Was a Man”...

Sunday, April 23, 2023

From the TV GUIDE blog for MASTERS OF SCIENCE FICTION: on the adaptation of "Jerry Was a Man" by Robert A. Heinlein

TV GUIDE used to have, in its website, blogs for various television series, and, as a staffer, I wrote the entries for a number of those blogs, beginning with the ABC-TV series Masters of Science Fiction (4-25 August 2007)...other blogs I wrote for have old, now-"repurposed" links in the column at the right side of full-screen views of the blog here. MoSF was a companion series to the Showtime series Masters of Horror, and had six episodes in total, only four of which were broadcast by ABC as a summer replacement/filler series (the cable channel Space in Canada ran all six shortly thereafter, and the series was offered on DVD). I interviewed Harlan Ellison, sadly bedridden at that point, for his participation in and background for the articles I wrote. Here's the text of of the "Jerry Was a Man" as I've just found it in my drafts file.

The episode, as currently available ("free, with ads") on Roku.

“Jerry Was a Man” is the slickest and most handsomely-produced of the three episodes shown by ABC so far, and it’s based on a short story by probably the most influential of American science fiction writers of the Twentieth Century, Robert A. Heinlein—2007 is the centennial of his birth. Not the best American sf writer of the century (though many would give him that, too), but the most influential in part in demonstrating the ease with which one could sketch in details to give a sense of otherness in his fiction…but otherness in which his characters were entirely at home (unless there was some reason they shouldn’t be). And ingenuity, both in sociological speculation and in story construction, was often his strong suit, particularly in the work he published in the first decade or so of his sf-writing career, beginning with a story in John Campbell’s magazine Astounding Science Fiction in 1939. This story was first published in a competing magazine, Samuel Merwin’s Thrilling Wonder Stories, eight years later, by which timeHeinlein had established himself as a superstar in the sf field, and had also begun publishing sf stories in the hugely popular general-interest "slick"-paper magazines of the time, such as Collier’s and The Saturday Evening Post, when they were multi-million-copy-selling staples of many Americans’ reading.

Heinlein was also a Californian for most of his early adult life, and prone to satirical observation; the potential for a somewhat updated skewering of the idle rich of a certain flavor, among others, is probably what attracted the deft satirist Michael Tolkin to this story…Tolkin wrote the  screenplay for and directed this episode. It’s not in the same league as such previous Tolkin works as The Player or The Rapture, nor, clearly, was it meant to be, so much as a bit of fun at the expense of self-satisfied crusaders, such as Anne Heche portrays here, corporate greed and insensitivity, as personified by Malcolm MacDowell’s character’s genetic-modification factory, and of other targets as they arise…down to an otherwise sober judge in the trial at the center of the drama all but clapping her hands as some audiovisual footage is submitted in evidence. “I like videos,” she purrs.

The "Jerry" of the title is one of a series of manufactured androids, genetically modified clones which are (somewhat improbably) put to use as extreme inexpensive slave labor, since they have been created with only very limited desires and abilities, or so their manufacturers argue. The Van Vogels, an excruciatingly wealthy couple (and named for writing friends of Heinlein, the van Vogts), seek from the same manufacturers an item that will trump a country-club rival’s six-legged dachshund.

When told their desire for a live Pegasus is impractical, they settle for a miniature elephant (the size of a toy poodle) which can write the sentence “I like you” in cursive with a pen clutched in its trunk, and also insist on taking a mine-sweeping android, or “Joe,” which they are allowed to lease rather than buy, since it has already been sold to a pet-food manufacturer…as raw material. Ms. Van Vogel becomes an advocate for Joes’ rights, and finds a lawyer who is ready to argue the case that their manufacturer has no right to execute the Joes when they outlive their usefulness. Jerry is demonstrated to be as capable of deception and selfishness as any other human, and thus the case is won.

There are funny bits sprinkled throughout the episode, such as the geneticist’s rant criticizing himself for truckling to the Van Vogels and similar wealthy fools rather than doing work that will actually benefit humanity, or in Ms. Van Vogel’s sudden affectation of beret and Che Guevara t-shirt as she is interviewed for television news about her newfound advocacy (even if the latter is a particularly easy sort of joke). The animation of the miniature elephant ranges from acceptable to quite good indeed (I was reminded of the quite different sort of special effect used to create miniature elephants for the 1940 film version of The Thief of Baghdad). The framing of the shots at times seemed a bit odd: in the courtroom, one of the three judges is not only not heard from but barely can be seen in the image as broadcast, and a chat between Ms. Van Vogel and Jerry, during which they both lie in a bed, presumably intentionally has Heche’s head partially off the screen but for no obvious reason (at least when viewed as an analog broadcast in the 4:3 ratio). And I wonder if a telling point is intended by having the Joes speak in what sounds like a parody of what dialog Chinese-American characters were often given in westerns in decades past…one suspects the treatment of Chinese-American near-slave labor in California, and its effects on subsequent generations, didn’t escape the notice of either Heinlein  nor Tolkin. And I wonder how much the somewhat similar matters dealt with in L. Sprague de Camp’s short story “The Gnarly Man” inspired Heinlein to write this one.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Short Story Wednesday: BEST DETECTIVE STORIES OF THE YEAR: 23rd Annual Collection, edited by Anthony Boucher (Dutton, 1968)

Best Detective Stories of the Year: 23rd Annual Collection edited by Anthony Boucher (William White) (Dutton, 1968, 253pp, hardcover)

Sixth and last of the volumes in this series edited by "Anthony Boucher" (and this one even copyrighted in 1968 by his widow, Phyllis White), Boucher notes in his introduction his series of distracting illnesses over the last year and more, and apologizes for not including the innovation in the series he added upon succeeding David Cooke and "Brett Halliday" as editor, the Yearbook of the Detective Story...there are thus intimations that Boucher suspected this might be among his last works.

Also notable, the degree to which old favorites, among writers and magazines, are depended upon, and larger than even usual percentage of the book devoted to variously humorous crime fiction. He hadn't taken a story from Manhunt, a pale shadow of its glory days by the mid-'60s, since the '64 volume, nor any from Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine in this volume, nor do either have any citations in the "Honor Roll', leading to suspicions he might not have read their issues for '67 (or at least not charitably) and, lamenting the folding of The Saint Mystery Magazine in '67, he cites it as his second-favorite, after Ellery Queen's, with which he had a long and collegial relationship (ranging from publishing the first English-language translation of Borges's fiction in that magazine in the 1940s, to co-founding The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction as Mercury Press's second fiction magazine per se, after EQMM in 1941, in 1949).

Ron Goulart, for example, began his professional career in the informal writer's workshop Boucher ran in his San Francisco Bay-area house, and Goulart's first professional sale was a reprint of his humor piece "Letters to the Editor", originally published in the U.C. Berkeley campus humor magazine Pelican, to F&SF in 1950. His story in this volume is an expert lampoon of Evan Hunter's "Ed McBain"-written "87th Precinct" series, with a special attention to, among other details, the incessance with which characters "cradle" their telephones rather than simply hang up. Likewise: "It bothered [Lt.] Terse sometimes that Megapolis City had the same street names as New York City. He had learned to work with it."

Jack Ritchie, another writer with at least a certain humorous touch to any of his impressive array of short stories, has two stories in this volume, the first being lead-off story "By Child Undone", Ritchie's slick and rather deft bit of fair-play detection writing (not his common mode); I guessed the gimmick, but not too long before Ritchie had the protagonist learn what it was. 

While the closing story is the only selection from The Saint magazine, and a clangorous one it is, Edward Hoch's early masterpiece "The Oblong Room", one which I first read in a "Hitchcock" anthology when I was about ten. The years have been kind to this bit of suspense fiction, and an early Captain Leopold story, with rather smoothly sensible handling of the potential kink and sexual minority aspects of the story helping to distinguish it deftly from too many of the other stories of the time, or since. Turns out to be far more sadly twisted than any of those aspects would drive...a very good story, and one which earned its Edgar Award for best short story of its year. It also deserved better proofreading than it got in this volume, with far more notable typos than the other stories seem to have...glad my first read, all those decades ago, looked less like the result of an optical scan of a grey photocopy. I suspect Boucher might well've passed by the time the galley of this one had been prepared, or was too close to it.

"Grendel Briarton" (Reginald or R. Bretnor) is represented here by one of his Ferdinand Feghoot pun stories, which Boucher is quick to note were a particular indulgence of his own in F&SF during his editorship, and Boucher was happy when Robert Mills, Boucher's successor as F&SF editor (and managing editor working with Frederic Dannay at EQMM, editor of Mercury Mystery Book/Magazine and Venture Science Fiction, both sadly folded as Mills stepped in at F&SF, and the continuing into the '60s Bestseller Mystery magazine)...happy when Mills continued to publish "feghoots", notable, Boucher notes, for not being solely pun stories, but pun stories (rather loosely) keyed to historical or "future-historical" events to spin their puns out of. This first post-F&SF example (Boucher somewhat disappointed Avram Davidson and Edward Ferman didn't share his enthusiasm for the series) appeared in the Sherlockian club organ The Baker Street Journal, and is about what one might expect from the series, cheerfully indulging in Holmes puns more heavily than any previous example chose to bang on about its targets. As someone who likes a good pun story...Fredric Brown could do them very well at times...this example is a bit of understandable nostalgia at play, and harmlessly brief. 

And in presenting Anthony Kerrigan's translation of Jorge Luis Borges's "The Dead Man", Boucher notes that Borges is his favorite living writer of any kind. Kerrigan, translating for the 1967 US version of A Personal Anthology, isn't quite as deft at the task as Borges himself and Norman Thomas di Giovanni would be a couple of years later, but essentially every predecessor is that much better than currently in-print Penguin's Anthony Hurley's butchery as to forgive nearly everything, in comparison. The Borges, which as Boucher notes, is an example of Borges making "the synopsis into an art form," also is part of JLB's career-long tribute to narrators from Lady Murasaki's on over to those from the earliest Arabic literature who continue to wish you to know things they describe might just have happened another way entirely. It's simply a pity that Boucher either didn't care for Borges's fantasy fiction, or, even more likely, didn't think F&SF readers would appreciate it. I certainly would've. This is, as Borges readers probably remember, a revenge story among the Argentine/Uruguayan criminal element.

Boucher is also very happy to feature one of Lawrence Treat's Homicide Squad/Alphabet stories, as every Boucher volume has, which Boucher credits as creating the template for police procedurals (more arguable than Boucher allows, but perhaps in terms of modern policing, more true than not) and the first of Joe Gores's DKA File stories, thus introducing the private detective procedural (same caveats, though in terms of realistic private detection, hard to argue with).

More to come after other tasks and needs attended to!

For more of today's Short Story reviews, please see Patti Abbott's blog.

Saturday, April 15, 2023

Saturday Music Club: some concerts and such, mostly rock, some jazz-pop

Some better recorded than others...

Aretha Franklin on The Steve Allen Show for Westinghouse stations and national syndication by them (the series that most influenced David Letterman's '80s chat show work), 1964...piano not always mic'd correctly, alas. (Clips-series repeats after first play.) 

"Lover, Come Back to Me"
"Rockabye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody"
"Won't Be Long"
"Evil Gal Blues"
...then repeats the same sequence.

Fanny: 1971-73. and some later, television and related performances (click link for video combo, or this one for Beat Club gig in entirety.)

FLiP: Love the Toxic City, 2020

01. Tarantula - 0:00 02. ニル・アドミラリ - 3:26 03. カザーナ - 6:44 04. Dear Miss Mirror - 11:04 05. Shut Up, Men! - 14:14 06. 二十億光年の漂流 - 18:47 07. かごめかごめ - 22:22 08. ライラ - 26:26 09. Raspberry Rhapsody - 30:07 10. darkish teddy bear - 34:25 11. ホシイモノハ - 37:30 12. a will - 41:36 13. 永遠夜~エンヤ~ - 47:29 14. Log in “Rabbit Hole” - 53:27 15. CHERRY BOMB - 57:09 16. カミングアウト- 1:00:57 17. カートニアゴ - 1:04:17 18. 最後の晩餐 - 1:08:36 19. Bat Boy! Bat Girl! - 1:12:36 -Encore- 20. 平成ジュラシック - 1:18:51 21. ナガイキス - 1:24:45

The Dream Syndicate at Rockpalast, 2017

1. Halloween 00:00:00 2. The Circle 00:06:48 3. 80 West 00:11:03 4. Armed With An Empty Gun 00:15:07 5. Like Mary 00:19:28 6. Out Of My Head 00:24:50 7. Filter Me Through You 00:28:50 8. Burn 00:32:33 9. Whatever You Please 00:38:12 10. Medicine Show Go 00:42:03 11. How Did I Find Myself Here 00:45:31 12. Forrest For The Trees 00:56:06 13. That’s What You Always Say 01:00:19 14. The Days Of Wine & Roses 01:04:30 15. Interview 01:11:41 16. Glide 01:15:07 17. Boston 01:20:58 Steve Wynn - lead vocals, guitar;  Jason Victor - guitar, backing vocals; Mark Walton - bass, backing vocals; Chris Cacavas - keyboards, backing vocals; Dennis Duck - drums

Bôa: Acton Live

1. Ambula - 0:00 2. Bitch - 1:40 3. Disco - 5:08 4. DIY - 9:13 5. Freakshow - 16:51 6. Headstrong - 19:52 7. I Am A Woman - 23:57 8. I Love You - 29:33 9. It Could Be Better - 34:27 10. Love Peace Harmony - 37:27 11. Smooth Water - 41:47 12. Snake - 45:27 13. Welcome - 50:14 14. Who Are You - 56:07 15. You're Wrong - 1:00:55 Ed Herten - Drums; Alex Caird - Bass; Ben Henderson - Sax; Paul Turrell - Keyboards; Steve Rodgers - Guitar, vocals; Jasmine Rodgers - Vocals

Jawbox live at the Black Cat, 2022

:00:57 FF=66 0:03:49 Mirrorful 0:06:51 Nickel Nickel Millionaire 0:09:53 Reel 0:13:23 68 0:16:50 Desert Sea 0:20:02 Won't come off 0:23:19 Spoiler 0:25:49 Consolation Prize 0:29:19 Grip 0:33:46 Lowdown 0:36:34 Under Glass 0:38:22 Static 0:42:05 Ones and Zeros 0:45:09 Send Down 0:48:33 Iodine 0:52:04 Livid 0:56:20 Cruel Swing 0:58:56 Motorist 1:02:44 Jackpot Plus 1:06:09 Savory 1:20:30 U-Trau 1:15:50 Cornflake Girl

The Zombies, Colingswood NJ, 2018

Road Runner 
The Look of Love 
I Want You Back Again 
I Love You 
Moving On Edge of the Rainbow 
Tell Her No 
You've Really Got a Hold on Me/Bring It On Home to Me 
Chasing the Past 
Care of Cell 44 
This Will Be Our Year 
I Want Her She Wants Me 
Time of the Season 
Hold Your Head Up 
She's Not There 
God Gave Rock and Roll to You

The Go! Team US tour 2018

1. Flashlight Fight 2. Mayday 4:40 3. Ladyflash 9:34 4. The Answer’s No 13:42 5. Hey! 18:37 6. Semicircle Song 22:27 7. Chainlink Fence 26:26 8. Get It Together 30:29 9. Rolling Blackouts 34:20 10. Everyone's a VIP to Someone 38:35 11. Huddle Information 43:06 12. All the Way Live 47:26 13. Keys to the City 51:53 14. She’s Got Guns 57:01 15. The Power Is On 1:01:07