Friday, June 23, 2017

THE DUTTON REVIEW, edited by Jerome Charyn, Hal Scharlatt and Robert Brown (E. P. Dutton, 1970)

The Dutton Review got off to a good start and didn't get to go anywhere else; this was the only issue. And while E. P. Dutton had a lot to be proud of on its lists, they clearly weren't too interested in their women writers; even Managing Editor Susan Stern apparently couldn't convince them to publish more than one writer, Norma Meacock, with a novel excerpt, who didn't carry the XY chromosome. 

Otherwise, it's a nice mix of poetry, short fiction (albeit as much excerpts from novels by William Gaddis and Stanley Elkin), Anthony Kerrigan writing on Borges to accompany the Borges story (translated by Borges and Norman Thomas di Giovanni, then in the midst of their project producing the best translations of Borges's work), Jack Newfield's critical survey of journalism, Rudolf Wurlitzer's "found poem" of sorts, and somewhat more traditional autobiography (also an excerpt) from Ray Mungo. There's a  brief editorial request that contributions be sent to a certain address, further suggesting  this was not meant to be purely a loss-leader and sampler of forthcoming work, but something along the lines of New American Review or New World Writing or New Directions (clearly missing the requirement that New be part of the title) or Works in Progress (the Book of the Month Club series that did somewhat more resemble, if not entirely, a sampler of recent offers). Probably a pity it didn't get to a second issue, nor a healthy run. 

From the FictionMags index, slightly corrected:
Please see Patti Abbott's blog for more of this week's books, and I'll be hosting next week.

Friday, June 16, 2017

FFB: ALIEN CARGO by Theodore Sturgeon (Bluejay Books/St. Martin's 1984)

Theodore Sturgeon's other collections can all be considered to be superfluous, after the monument that was Paul Williams (and daughter Noel Sturgeon)'s The Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon set (Williams couldn't quite complete his work with the multivolume project, due to early-onset Alzheimer's after a traffic accident while bicycling) ...except there is something to be gained in trying to determine why certain stories were included by which editor...presumably Sturgeon (presumably with input from Bluejay editor/publisher Jim Frenkel), in selecting this cross-section as some of his best short fiction from the first two decades+ of his professional career, had some interesting reasons for putting together this set of stories, when such early collections as E Pluribus Unicorn and Caviar had also covered this ground (it shares no less than six stories with the latter, and six more with Sturgeon's first collection Without Sorcery, and perhaps was meant in some way to be a new edition of these books). Happily, Sturgeon provides headnotes to the stories as presented here, though as he was going into his final months, he wasn't as loquacious as with some of his earlier collections, including those for Bluejay and Dell publication over the previous half-dozen years. (And there have been collections published since, which hope to be more portable introductions to Sturgeon, and the potential for the small press North Atlantic to give up the ghost or at least the in-print status for the Complete Stories is not negligible.) Alien Cargo was the last new Sturgeon book published during his lifetime. 

Here's what this book offers, from the Locus Index of anthologies and collections:

Alien Cargo Theodore Sturgeon (Bluejay 0-312-94008-4, Jun ’84 [Jul ’84], $14.95, 284pp, hc) Collection of 14 early stories culled from other collections (there are no copyright acknowledgements), with a few lines of new introduction to each.
  • 7 · Introduction · in
  • 11 · It · nv Unknown Aug ’40
  • 31 · Cargo · nv Unknown Nov ’40
  • 54 · Poker Face · ss Astounding Mar ’41
  • 64 · Microcosmic God · nv Astounding Apr ’41
  • 87 · Two Percent Inspiration · ss Astounding Oct ’41
  • 103 · Brat · ss Unknown Dec ’41
  • 118 · Medusa · nv Astounding Feb ’42
  • 135 · The Martian and the Moron · nv Weird Tales Mar ’49
  • 156 · Shadow, Shadow on the Wall · ss Imagination Feb ’51
  • 165 · The Traveling Crag · nv Fantastic Adventures Jul ’51
  • 191 · The Touch of Your Hand · na Galaxy Sep ’53
  • 227 · Twink · ss Galaxy Aug ’55
  • 242 · Bright Segment · nv Caviar, Ballantine, 1955
  • 262 · “Won’t You Walk...” · nv Astounding Jan ’56
There are surprising and unsurprising inclusions and omissions here, even given the aforementioned collections of the previous five years (and the return to print of such books as E Pluribus Unicorn in that period). Any best-of the early Sturgeon not including "It" is simply wrong, and any not including "Microcosmic God" is bucking the nostalgic glow this story has for's the One Story, written at the beginning of his career essentially, that too many people would continue to insist for decades afterward was the best story he would ever write...also simply wrong. (It's comparable thus to such other early hits as "Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper" by Robert Bloch, "Nightfall" by Isaac Asimov and "El hombre de las esquinas rosadas" by Jorge Luis Borges, aka "Streetcorner Man"--the Bloch not only hugely plagiarized, but also the story he was tagged with for general identification purposes till the film version of his novel Psycho appeared...all four writers have noted that in their correct estimate, they did much better work after learning a bit more about life and writing, which wouldn't stop the unclever from letting them know they'd peaked with near-juvenilia). 

So, aside from a handsome if busy cover by Rowena Morrill, and a typeface used throughout the book which is too faint for absolute ease of reading, what we have here is something like, but not quite, a Sturgeon best-of his short fiction, despite a strong case to be made that either A Touch of Strange or E Pluribus might better represent his short work at its best; certainly the two together are at least as good a selection as this one is, and they don't include dozens of stories collected in the later best-ofs as well as those only available in the complete set.  "It" would be worth the purchase price of the book by itself, literally Sturgeon's masterwork, the story which demonstrated how he had gone beyond the flashily promising newcomer of his earlier work to a fully-formed artist; the last sentences will probably stick with me for several more decades, as they have over the forty-plus years since I first read them. And the introductory note to this one, one of the longer in the book, is also quoted in the appropriate volume of the Complete Stories, noting Sturgeon's surprise at learning how influential his story was particularly on comics artists and writers (characters running from the Hulk to Swamp Thing, and no doubt such more ridiculous creatures as the Heap, owed more than a little of their
conception to the relentless, uncreated but utterly curious golem that is It in the story) and his gratitude toward Ray Bradbury, tasked with presenting Sturgeon with an award at the first San Diego ComicCon, unstintingly praising the slightly older writer and noting how much of his work was patterned on Sturgeon's. (Kurt Vonnegut and Stephen King being among the more obviously influenced by Sturgeon, as well, as both were happy to state...Vonnegut character Kilgore Trout has this name for a reason.) "Brat" and "Shadow, Shadow, On the Wall" remind me again that we could still use a collection devoted exclusively to Sturgeon's horror fiction, some of the best from a 20th Century writer never devoting most of his energy in that direction (putting him in the same class thus as Patricia Highsmith, Muriel Spark, Saki and Cornell Woolrich)...these not being on par with "It" or "A Way of Thinking" or "The Professor's Teddy Bear" but certainly worth gathering with those and the others. 

There's barely a Sturgeon book not worth reading (I'm told that one might be the highly sought-after-by-collectors rush job/Jean Shepherd-instigated literary open hoax/joke that is I, Libertine, written by Sturgeon and Betty Ballantine under extreme time constraints in a marathon session, and published as by "Frederick Ewing" as a Ballantine Books offer), and this one has both Sturgeon's desire to preserve these stories together and his too-brief introductions to further recommend it. If you're still on the fence about investing in the Complete Stories...go check it out of a library...but you'll still have a fine time with an inexpensive copy (or less inexpensive one) of this collection. (Sturgeon's West being the most unlikely item, and quite brilliant, many of the stories in collaboration with Zane Grey Western Magazine editor Don Ward.)

Please see Patti Abbott's blog for more on this week's books. 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Friday's Forgotten Books: the links to the reviews and more

By the "Wade Miller" duo...a Suspense novel
This Friday's crop of reviews of books, and magazines and more, that the contributors feel might warrant more attention than they've received or received of late (except for those which are warnings--more of these than usual this week!). Yvette Banek suspects, and I think correctly, that she has the Least Forgotten entry this week, though a few others have probably never been out of print among the other citations...and there is a greater representation of fiction-magazine editors perhaps than ever before, with novels by such editors as Ted White and, next to each other, former "officemates" Michael Moorcock and  Kyril Bonfiglioli (the former edited New Worlds, initially for Compact, while the latter edited, sometimes leaning very heavily on Keith Roberts, stablemate Science Fantasy, later retitled SF Impulse and then Impulse, for the same publisher), and a book about Leo Margulies mixed in (along with magazine issues themselves, and anthologies edited by magazine editors).  A few contributors might be added over the course of the day, as they upload their reviews...if I've missed yours or someone else's, please let me know in comments. Thanks, everyone! 

Patti Abbott should be back to gathering the links next Friday, and, as always, it's been a pleasure to spell her.  Todd Mason

Mark Baker:  The Last Dinosaur by Sandy Dengler

Yvette Banek: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Joe Barone: Wings of Fire by Charles Todd

Les Blatt: Mystery Mile by Margery Allingham

John Boston: Amazing: Fact and Science Fiction Stories, June 1962, edited by Cele Goldsmith

Brian Busby: News Stand Library books

David Cramner: Forever and a Death by Donald Westlake

Bill Crider: Mulliner Nights by P. G. Wodehouse; Dragon's Claw by Peter O'Connell (a Modesty Blaise novel)

Jose Cruz, Peter Enfantino & Jack Seabrook: EC Comics for April 1953, adapting Ray Bradbury et al., edited by Al Feldstein and Harvey Kurtzman

Scott A. Cupp: The Chinese Agent by Michael Moorcock

William F. Deeck: Don't Point That Thing at Me by Kyril Bonfiglioli

Martin Edwards: Until She Was Dead by Richard Hull

Will Errickson: Something Evil by Arthur Hoffe (and the cover art of Bob Foster)

Curt Evans: Such a Nice ClientA Swan-Song Betrayed and The Innocent by Josephine Bell

C. C. Finlay: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, May 1964, edited by Avram Davidson

Fred Fitch: The Road to Ruin by Donald Westlake (continued)

Paul Fraser: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, June 1952, edited by Anthony Boucher and J. Francis McComas

John Grant: The Prone Gunman by Jean-Patrick Manchette (translated by James Brook)

Rich Horton: Sweet William by Marguerite Bouvet

Jerry House: Tom Swift and His Aerial Warship, Or, The Naval Terror of the Seas by "Victor Appleton" (Howard Garis)

Nick Jones: The Forever War by Joe Haldeman, Galactic North by Alistair Reynolds and many others

Tracy K: Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood (a Phryne Fisher novel)

George Kelley: The Fredric Brown Mystery Library, Volume One: Death in the Dark; Volume Two: Murder Draws a Crowd edited by Stephen Haffner

Joe Kenney: The Strangler by "David Black"

Margot Kinberg: You by Zoran Drvenkar (translated by Shaun Whiteside)

Rob Kitchin: Moon over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch

Richard Krauss: The Case of the Lonely Lovers by "Will Daemer" (Robert Wade and Bill Miller)

B.V. Lawson: Find the Innocent by Roy Vickers (William Edward Vickers)

Evan Lewis: The Maltese Falcon comics adapted from Dashiell Hammett's novel, illustration by Rodlow Willard (continued)

Steve Lewis: Murder is My Dish by Stephen Marlowe (a Chester Drum novel); The Altar of Asconel by John Brunner; Hot Summer, Cold Murder by Gaylord Dold; Android Avenger by Ted White

Colin McGulgan (hosted by Sergio Angelini): Trial and Error by Anthony Berkeley

Neeru: Journey Under the Midnight Sun by Keigo Higashino (translated by Alexander Smith)

Francis M. Nevins: Strangers in the Night by Georges Simenon; The Case of the Shivering Chorus Girls by James Atlee Phillips; The Count of 9 by "A. A. Fair" (Erle Stanley Gardner)

John F. Norris: The Thing in the Brook by "Peter Storme" (Philip Van Doren Stern)

John ONeill: World's Best Science Fiction, 1965, 1968, 1969, 1970 edited by Donald Wollheim and Terry Carr

Matt Paust: The Prisoner of Zenda and Rupert of Hentzau by Anthony Hope

Bill Pronzini: The Pricking Thumb by H. C. Branson

James Reasoner: Lust Shop by "John Dexter"; Leo Margulies: Giant of the Pulps by Philip Sherman
"The Snail Watcher" by Patricia Highsmith

Kelly Robinson: "The Snail-Watcher" and "The Quest for Blank Claveringi" by Patricia Highsmith (an FFB Classic, which has resulted in BBC Radio interviewing Kelly for a program about snails...)

Richard Robinson: The Fredric Brown Mystery Library, Volume One: Death in the DarkVolume Two: Murder Draws a Crowd edited by Stephen Haffner

Gerard Saylor: Blood of Victory by Alan Furst

Victoria Silverwolf: Fantastic: Stories of Imagination, June 1962, edited by Cele Goldsmith

Kerrie Smith: A Jarful of Angels by Babs Horton

Charlie Stella: The Running Kind by Craig McDonald; North DIxie Highway by Joseph Haske

"TomKat": The Cases of Hildegard Withers by Stuart Palmer

A. J. Wright: Dan Dunn by Norman Marsh

Frank Babics 2012 FFB review

Friday, June 2, 2017

Friday's "Forgotten" Books; links to the reviews and more

This Friday's crop of reviews of books, and magazines and more, that the contributors feel might warrant more attention than they've received or received of late (except for those which are warnings--more of these than usual this week!). A few contributors might be added over the course of the day, as they upload their reviews...if I've missed yours or someone else's, please let me know in comments. Thanks, everyone!  Todd Mason

Sanford Allen: NASA research database

Sergio Angelini: Money, Money, Money by "Ed McBain" (Evan Hunter); Kiss Kiss Bang Bang by Mike Ripley

Yvette Banek: The Burning of Billy Toober by Jonathan Ross

Joe Barone: A History of God by Karen Armstrong

Les Blatt: Body Unidentified by John Rhode

Elgin Bleecker: No Beast So Fierce by Edward Bunker

John Boston: Amazing: Fact and Science Fiction Stories, April 1962, edited by Cele Goldsmith

Brian Busby: Frustration by Henry C. Clayton

Bill Crider: Virgin Cay by Basil Heatter; The Space Magicians edited by Alden H. Norton and Sam Moskowitz; The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore

William Deeck: The Lion's Mouth by James Corbett

Martin Edwards: Journal by Kate Paul; The Arsenal Stadium Mystery by Leonard R. Gribble

Peter Enfantino and Jack Seabrook: DC war comics, April/May 1969

Barry Ergang: Drum Beat--Marianne by Stephen Marlowe (hosted by Kevin Tipple)

Will Errickson: The Woodwitch by Stephen Gregory

Curt Evans: Blood and Judgment by Michael Gilbert

C. C. Finlay: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, October 1956, edited by Anthony Boucher

Fred Fitch: The Road to Ruin by Donald Westlake

Paul Fraser: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, February 1952, edited by Anthony Boucher and J. Francis McComas

Barry Gardner: A Beautiful Death by S. T. Haymon

Charles Gramlich: The Bane of Kanthos by Alex "Dain" (Alex Lukeman)

John Grant: The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines by Michael T. Mann

Rich Horton: Point Ultimate by Jerry Sohl

Jerry House: Scared Shirtless: Thirteen Spooky Stories by R. M. Sebastian

Tracy K.: The Hunter by "Richard Stark " (Donald Westlake)

George Kelley: Rock and Roll is Here to Stay edited by William McKeen; The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen by Hope Nicholson

Joe Kenney: The Executioner: Vegas Vendetta by Don Pendleton; Death List by Ronald Casler

Margot Kinberg: Never Buried by Edie Claire

Rob Kitchin: After the Fire by Jane Casey

Richard Krauss: Suspense Magazine, Summer 1951, edited by Theodore Irwin

B. V. Lawson: Windy City by Hugh Holton

Evan Lewis: The Maltese Falcon comics adapted from Dashiell Hammett's novel, illustration by Rodlow Willard (continued)
note George Chesbro story

Steven Lewis: Ransome's Move by Kyle Hollingshead; The House without a Door by Elizabeth Daly; "Ballots and Bandits" by Keith Laumer (Worlds of If,  September/October 1971, edited by Ejler Jakobsson); Jemez Brand by L. L. Foreman; The Lady in the Morgue by Jonathan Latimer

Marcia Muller: Green for Danger by Christianna Brand

John ONeill: the fiction of E. Hoffmann Price

Matt Paust: Reykjavik Nights and Into Oblivion by Arnaldur Indridason (both translated by Victoria Cribb)

James Reasoner: Flash Casey, Hard-Boiled Detective by George Harmon Coxe; Triple Western, April 1953, edited by G. B. Farnum

Gerard Saylor: Recipes for Love and Murder by Sally Andrew 

Victoria Silverwolf: Fantastic: Stories of Imagination, April 1962, edited by Cele Goldsmith

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Overlooked A/V: reviews, etc. of films, television, radio, podcasts, stage productions, video games, museum shows and more

A. J. Wright: Silent-Filmmaking in Birmingham

Alice Chang:  South Park: The Stick of Truth; The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (parody of typical game reviewers)

the Allan Fish Online Film Festival 2017

Anne Billson: The Comedy of Terrors

The Big Broadcast: 28 May 2017; features Murder by Experts and The Mysterious Traveler

Bill Crider: The Count of Monte Cristo (1934 film) [trailer]

Jack Criddle: Underrated 1987 films

Jackie Kashian/The Dork ForestCharlie Hester, voice actress/composer