Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Your Ed Emshwiller cover painting for the day.

January 1962 issue, edited by Cele Goldsmith. Also features stories by J. G Ballard, Miriam Allen deFord and others. "The Mars Snooper" is journalism by the concept artist Frank Tinsley about a proposed type of atomic-energy-fueled rocket; probably happily, it didn't get too much further into reality than an Estes model rocket kit.

I haven't read Bova's story, to know at all what his towers might've been inspired by (though Simon Rodia was another son of Italy), but the resemblance to a Watts Tower of the tallest segment in the painting is pretty obviously intentional...

The Estes model kit:

Did you ever fire off model rockets? I was just a little late for Centuri rockets, though had some Estes models. Lost one by putting a too-powerful engine in it, though watching it going up about 3000 feet was arguably worth it (it was one of the lightest, most basic models).

Sunday, October 15, 2017

2017 Anthony and Macavity Awards

Friday, October 13, 2017

Friday's "Forgotten" Books: Friday, 13 October 2017: the links to the reviews and more

This week's selections of books (and magazines, short fiction and poetry) offered for your attention, after receiving too little at least of late, according to the contributors (along with the occasional warning...only two of those this week, I think). Michael Gilbert is the writer of the week, by a nose or a preface. If I've missed yours or someone else's book, please let me know in comments. Patti Abbott will be back at compilation, after coming back from the Toronto Bouchercon, next week...

Hephzibah Anderson: The Great Writers Now Forgotten

Bernadette: A Case of Two Cities by Qiu Xiaolong

Les Blatt: The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy L. Sayers

Brian Busby: Edna Jacques, poet

Alice Chang: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Bill Crider: Bloody Vengeance by Jack Ehrlich; The Villa of Mysteries by David Hewson; King Buff by Ellis Christian Lenz

Martin Edwards: Fear to Tread by Michael Gilbert

Peter Enfantino, Jack Seabrook and Jose Cruz: EC Comics, January 1954

Will Errickson: Deathchain by Ken Greenhall

Curtis Evans: Death Came Softly and Crook o'Lune by ECR Lorac

Fred Fitch: Nobody Runs Forever by Donald Westlake

Paul Fraser: Unknown Worlds, December 1942, edited by John W. Campbell, Jr.

John Grant: Dark Passage by David Goodis; Helliconia by Brian Aldiss

Rich Horton: You Shall Know Them by "Vercors" (Jean Bruller) translated by Rita Barisse; Fantastic: Stories of Imagination, January and February 1964, edited by Cele Goldsmith Lalli (featuring The Lords of Quarmall by Fritz Leiber and Harry Fischer)

Jerry House: Past Times by Poul Anderson

Nick Jones: The Rediscovery of Mankind by "Cordwainer Smith" (Paul Linebarger); Infinite Stars edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Tracy K: Bodies Are Where You Find Them by "Brett Halliday" (Davis Dresser)

George Kelley: How to Write Tales of Horror, Fantasy & Science Fiction edited by J. N. Williamson

Joe Kenney: Balzan of the Cat People: The Caves of Madness by "Wallace Moore" (Gerry/Gerard F. Conway)

Margot Kinberg: Close Quarters by Michael Gilbert

Rob Kitchin: Moth by James Sallis

Richard Krauss: The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (first edition) edited by Peter Nicholls 

B. V. Lawson: The Abandoned Room by Charles Wadsworth Camp

Evan Lewis: Little Caeser by W. R. Burnett

Steve Lewis: Dead or Alive by Patricia Wentworth; "The Avenging Phonograph" by E. R. Punshon; Why Me? by Donald Westlake

Gideon Marcus: If, November 1962, edited by Frederik Pohl

Todd Mason:  First issues, July/August 1963: Gamma edited by Charles Fritch; Magazine of Horror edited by Robert A. W. Lowndes, and the three other fantasy-fiction magazines then professionally publishing in English

Marcia Muller: Finding Maubee aka The Calypso Murders by A. H. Z. Carr

Neeru: Close Quarters by Michael Gilbert

Juri Nummelin: All the Young Warriors by Anthony Neil Smith

Matt Paust: CannaCorn by Con Chapman

James Reasoner: Never Say No to a Killer by Clifton Adams

Gerard Saylor: Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat by Andrez Bergen; Rusty Puppy by Joe R. Lansdale

Kevin Tipple: Spirit of Steamboat by Craig Johnson

"TomCat": The Haunted Gallery by John Russell Fearn

Prashant Trikannad: secondhand bookselling in Mumbai and nearby

Samuel Wilson: Barbed Wire by Elmer Kelton; "Oysthers" by Gordon Young

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Overlooked A/V: 18 October 2017

Alice Chang:  "NC, Esq." on Titanic; Dark Souls 3

A. J. Wright: Frances Bergen

the Allan Fish Online Film Festival 2017

Anne Billson:  Horror and Women; That Darn Cat  (1965 film)(Cat of the Day); Lav Story: Toilets in Film

The Big Broadcast15 October

Bill Crider: The True Story of Jesse James [trailer]; The Purple Mask [excerpt]; Harlan Coben's The Five [promo]; Black Bart [excerpt]; Solomon Kane [trailer]; The Third Man (NTA/BBC tv series); Phantom Lady [trailer];
This is Elvis [trailer]; Bulldog Drummond (1929 film); The Count of Monte Cristo (1956 tv series); Rock! Rock! Rock! [trailer]; Scaramouche (1923 silent film); The Face of Fu Manchu [trailer]; The Four Feathers (1939 film) [trailer]; The Prisoner of Zenda (1952 film) [trailer]; The Prisoner of Zenda (1937 film) [trailer]; In a Valley of Violence [trailer]

The Faculty of HorrorGremlins (1984); 31 Days of Halloween: Andrea, and Alex; Cube

How Did This Get Made?The Wraith

Much more to come...

Friday, October 6, 2017

MAGAZINE OF HORROR, V.1 N.1, August 1963, edited by Robert A. W. Lowndes (Health Knowledge, Inc.); GAMMA V.1, N.1, July 1963, edited by Charles Fritch (Star Press, Inc.)

Two magazines which offered their first issues in the summer of 1963; both were on newsstands in July. Both would offer a mix of fantasy (very much including horror), some sf and (as has often been the case with fantasy-fiction magazines over the decades) some stories that were more fantastic-adjacent than departures from consensus reality.

Both were produced on modest budgets, but Gamma featured a full-color cover and relatively good paper, if a saddle-stapled binding; the first issue of Magazine of Horror (the lack of article in the title has always seemed awkward to me) was on a lower grade of paper, but the first issue, at least, was perfect-bound (glued, with a spine), though not long after, the MOH would also go to staple-binding. 

And, in their mix of new and reprinted content, the two magazines come off rather more similarly than one might expect, particularly as the Magazine of Horror was both economically but also by intent delving largely into public domain reprints from the pulps, most importantly Weird Tales, and earlier fiction from other sources, featuring reprints from Mark Twain, Ambrose Bierce, Robert Chambers and H.G. Wells along with the WT crew, while Gamma (with some if limited visual art within) was devoted to showcasing the "Little Bradburys" of the Los Angeles area, many of whom were screenwriters and not a few in Rod Serling's stable of contributors to The Twilight Zone...hence the prominence, aside from commercial good sense, in highlighting Bradbury's (reprinted) contributions, the Serling interview, and a piece of juvenilia by Tennessee Williams first published in Weird Tales (and also conveniently in the public domain); the other reprints in Gamma include decade-old stories from other fantasy/sf magazines and one of the most prominent fanzines of the time, a poem from a regional magazine and one of a number of vignettes commissioned for an advertising series that ran in Scientific American. Chatty headnotes to the stories and other expressions of strong editorial presence are hard to miss in both issues. 

Gamma [v1 #1, #1, 1963] (50¢, 128pp+, digest, cover by Morris Scott DollensEditors: Charles E. Fritch, Editor; Jack Matcha, Executive Editor; William F. Nolan, Managing Editor

Magazine of Horror and Strange Stories [v1 #1, #1, August 1963] ed. Robert A. W. Lowndes (Health Knowledge Inc., 50¢, 132pp, digest) 
Both magazines lead off with stories by the kind of writers who would predominate throughout their runs; unfortunately neither is a first-rate story. Frank Belknap Long's "The Man with a Thousand Legs" is a remarkably tone-deaf attempt to emulate Lovecraftian overstatement (which Lovecraft himself wasn't so good at), clunking along through one clumsy turn of phrase after another (and exactly one good one, when it's suggested a shell game con-man will look upon a potential source of income as his oyster); Charles Beaumont, probably the most widely-respected of the group of writers dismissively tagged "little Bradburys" by some, but who notably could dig a bit deeper in his best work than Bradbury usually was able to, provides something very much like a Bradbury version of a Manly Wade Wellman story, set among rural folk coping with a very old and eyeless man, replete with pet raven and guitar, who serves as a harbinger (agent?) of death when he comes down the hill and plays and sings his "Mourning Song" in front of the houses of the soon-dead...for however many days till the death actually occurs. By 1963, Beaumont was probably already dependent on his friends to finish when not completely ghost his work for him, as the early-onset Alzheimer's which would kill him a few years later was already making its presence known. Long's story is among his earliest work, though he did make some judicious rewrites at Lowndes's request (presumably excising some though not all the racist language in the original)...but not nearly enough of them. 

Wallace West is next up in the MOH, with "A Thing of Beauty," a Weird Tales reject that presumably sat in a drawer for three decades, and perhaps deservedly, though it's certainly a better story than the Long; a hunchbacked functionary at a medical school becomes obsessed with the corpse of a young woman, a suicide-by-gas, one of those he's charged with preserving for purposes of med student dissection. His rhapsodies over her nude form allow West to have him recite no little Romantic poetry, the caretaker's other obsession. WT editor Farnsworth Wright supposedly rejected the story as too distasteful, though its frankness is one of its few strengths. In the Gamma issue, Fritz Leiber's "Crimes Against Passion" is a playlet, one of his surprisingly few explorations of that form (given his theatrical background and love of the work of Shakespeare and John Webster, among others). It's also an excuse to rummage about mostly in Shakespeare's plays and to a lesser extent those of Aeschylus, while making easy jokes at the expense of modern psychiatry...this piece is one of the weaker Leiber fictions I've read, and feels like the kind of thing that instead would've gone to one of the more literate fanzines normally. Leiber is a better artist than West, but neither is swinging for the fences in these, even given the indulgence in hat-tipping to their literary favorites. The West isn' t horror fiction or at least is non-fantasticated; the Leiber is so much a stage jape or sketch that it barely registers as fantasy. 

The next (reprinted) stories in the issues are Robert W. Chambers's "The Yellow Sign" (from his collection of linked stories The King in Yellow, so much with us in the popular culture a few years back when the first season of the HBO series True Crime tied the murders portrayed in its narrative to a psychopath's devotion to the book)...this is the best-written story so far in the issue, by some distance, far more deft and fresh in the telling than the West and vastly better and less clumsily dated than the Long, for all that it hails from the 1890s; I suspect it suffers a little from being excerpted from the book, but it can stand, if probably less effectively, on its own as the story of a sort of haunting; Ray Bradbury's "Time in Thy Flight' had been his contribution  to the first issue of Fantastic Universe a decade before, cover dated June-July 1953 (edited by Samuel Merwin, Jr., who had been one of Bradbury's editors at Thrilling Wonder Stories and who would, as would Charles Fritch after him, eventually edit Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine), and it's as ham-handed and precious as Bradbury at his worst ever was, with 11yo children, on a time-travel field trip to 1928 holidays from a highly-regulated and antiseptic future, choosing to stay where fun is to be had...because 1928 orphanages were piles of fun. 

"The Vengeance of Nitocris" is also an early Weird Tales story, the first publication of a teenaged Thomas Williams not yet signing himself "Tennessee", and a narrative which is determined to not simply foreshadow but clumsily reiterate what was about to happen as an Egyptian pharaoh takes revenge on priests responsible for the death of  her brother, the previous pharaoh. The 1920s were a good time for working Ancient Egyptian settings into the ground, particularly in WT. While in the MOH "The Maze and the Monster" is a bit of throwing-back romp for Edward Hoch, harkening to "The Lady or the Tiger" and "The Most Dangerous Game" (and even the similarly retro "The Two Kings and the Two Labyrinths" by Borges, which Hoch might've been able to read) as well as grim adventure fiction of an even older vintage. Hoch had been one of Lowndes's "discoveries" at the Columbia crime fiction and other magazines he'd edited from the early '40s to the folding of the chain in 1960, and perhaps his most literarily significant new writer along with Carol Emshwiller; Hoch, as I didn't know previously, also contributed to the (ostensibly) nonfiction magazine Lowndes was already editing for Health Knowledge, Exploring the Unknown.  The reprinted A. E. van Vogt vignette, "Itself!", is slight, easy to take in, and indicative of how well he can put across paralogical moods and rather singleminded predation. Also, as isn't uncommon in his work, it's a bit goofy.

The new Silverberg and Wollheim stories in the MOH are good examples of what these writers can do, and I'm looking forward to the Ray Russell original and Kris Neville reprint in Gamma particularly, while holding out less hope for the Ackerman collaboration, never published with recognition of that collaborative authorship, and supposedly rewritten from a 1953 appearance in the literate fanzine Inside. The Wells story and Twain tall tale are good work, from my memory of them, decades ago...this review will be updated over the next day or so...

The two established fantasy and sf magazines in the US had solid issues out in theoretical competition with these startups...
The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction [v25 #1, #146, July 1963] (40¢, 132pp, digest, cover by Ed Emsh)

The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction [v25 #2, #147, August 1963] (40¢, 132pp, digest, cover by Ed Emsh)
While the only other fully professional fantasy/sf magazine in English, the British Science Fantasy, also had a pretty impressive issue:

Science Fantasy [v20, #60, (August) 1963] (2/6d, 112pp+, digest, cover by Gerard Quinn)

For more of today's books (and perhaps more magazines or short fiction), please see Patti Abbott's blog. I will be hosting next week, as the Abbotts hit the Bouchercon.