Friday, October 20, 2017

FFM: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, January 1976, edited by Edward Ferman (Mercury Press 1975)

Stories by Joanna Russ, Kit Reed and Stuart Dybek, and the best columnists in the fiction-magazine field.

This was the first issue of F&SF I ever held in my hand. It might not've been the first issue to appear on the newsstand of the Hazardville, CT, drug store where I bought my comic books, then running at an industry standard of a quarter apiece, except for the fatter ones. I had bought a very few paperback books off the spinner rack next to the comics, including a copy of Harry Harrison's anthology of new fiction (and an Alfred Bester memoir) Nova 4 as a birthday gift for my father. That edition was a Manor Book, a reputedly mobbed up outfit that seemed overrepresented on the paperback spinner rack, even as there was never any lack of Charlton Comics in the comic-book spinner (similar accusations). Considering the degree to which magazine distribution in the '70s was often a great source of legit business and money laundering for certain entrepreneurs, it might've been almost surprising how many DC and Marvel and Archie and Gold Key comics were also on the racks, though I'm sure the distribution mobsters weren't going to lose any legit profit just to make their brothers in paperback or comics publishing happier or richer. 
    Meanwhile, the little magazine rack had some items of interest from time to time...I bought an issue of National Lampoon there, I think a bit earlier or later since I road my bike over to do so, less likely in December. My mother confiscated and returned it to the store, and got a refund, delivering a ukase to me and a bored clerk never to attempt a similar transaction again. (I think my father, a Playboy subscriber for some years, must've bought the other two or three issues around the house. I assume my mother bought the Playgirls, or Dad bought them for her...possible she ordered it through Publisher's Clearing House. She never believed you could win their sweepstakes without buying something.)
    And I had certainly been aware of digest-sized fiction magazines. The earliest reading I remember vividly includes a science-fiction pulp reprint magazine, which one I still haven't rediscovered, and a DC sf comic book, likewise; I loved my few copies of Humpty Dumpty and Children's Digest magazines when four and five and six, and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, which for some reason was stacked in the young readers' section of the Enfield Library in 1974-76, and a few Analogs were around the house from my father's haphazard collecting. But I'd never seen this title before...and might not've seen it again at the drugstore. What was almost certainly true is that I probably had 50c or 90c on me, rather than a dollar, so I knew I couldn't afford this magazine even as I flipped through it. I was even familiar with the magazine by name, and as a source of stories I had read read in various anthologies and collections. 
First US collections from each writer to include these stories.
    So it was another couple of years before I caught up with it again, through a 1971 back issue in the Londonderry Junior High library, and then the March 1978 issue. Winter's boon, fiction magazines for me in those years, clearly...I'd started buying new AHMMs with the January 1978 issue. And after falling in love, I ordered a box of back issues from the magazine, which never arrived. The Fermans & co. were kind enough to send a replacement...and among those warehoused items, smelling fascinatingly of wood and ink after sitting on palette stacks for a couple of years, was a copy of this issue, so I could read it in, if I'm not mistaken, the autumn of 1978.
resembles Trump.
    Three stories within made the strongest impression. "My Boat" by Joanna Russ was a fascinating meld of Philip Roth-esque discussion between two Jewish men of a certain age, the protagonist relating the adventures of his and two adolescent friends' (a girl and a boy) from decades earlier, and their sort of modified Peter Pan-esque experience, with an overlay of Lovecraftian flavors. 
    Kit Reed's "Attack of the Giant Baby" involves an experiment that goes awry, and an infant with a passion for Malomars who is enlarged (along with a favorite toy), and what can result from that. The attention to wryly sketched-in detail is what made the story both grounded and hilarious, far more so than, say, the film Honey, I Blew Up the Kid...which I believe faced some legal questions for its similarity in certain aspects to this short story.
    Stuart Dybek's "Horror Movie" is an urban nightmare...a young adolescent, not quite raising himself but coming close and having more traumatic events than usual go down in this particular day, has to deal with various sorts of predator including an apparently supernatural one...the basic Geist of horror, a fiction (or other narrative) which is in large part about learning to cope with the terrors we all face, though some of us more than others, was very explicitly spelled out by this story from fairly early in my reading. 
    The other stories were pleasant but minor--a slight "Black Widowers" story by Isaac Asimov, one of several rejected by Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine but with some tangential relevance to fantastic fiction, so they were good-enough reasons to have Asimov's name on the cover aside from citation of his monthly pop-science column. Gary Wolf's cover story, or at least the cover by David Hardy, might also have been a(n admitted) literary ancestor of Bender the robot in the television series Futurama (though I don't trust my faint memory of this, and should Go Check)...Wolf's clever, amiable work would eventually include the literary adventures of Roger Rabbit, the rather more sophisticated source for the mixed animation/live action film.
    And I must admit I haven't yet sought out the issue to reread the stories by Haskell Barkin (an old friend of Harlan Ellison and an occasional fantasist) or Michael Coney (a Canadian writer prone to sometimes goofy, sometimes quietly effective work), neither of which made a strong impression (or at least a lasting one). Good examples of Asimov's
science column and Baird Searles coping as best he might with one of the poor 1970s ER Burroughs film adaptations are joined by a cute, grim Gahan Wilson cartoon, one of F&SF's infrequent letters columns, and Algis Budrys's fine assessment of the work of, and reminiscence about, two of the more distinctive older writers in the field, "Lester Del Rey" (actually Leonard Knapp, but known to all his friends and spouses as Del Rey), who had been a mentor to Budrys early in the latter's career, and R. A. Lafferty, who had begun writing and publishing in middle age in the latest '50s, in part to keep himself away from alcohol, and had already cleared his own distinctive path through little and fantastic-fiction magazines...and of another veteran, one who came up in the same years as Budrys himself, if a half-dozen earlier, Poul Anderson. 

The ISFDB index:
The earlier UK collection (1978 vs. 1981)
For more of today's books, and mostly actual books, please see Patti Abbott's blog.

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...