Friday, April 20, 2018

FFB: WORKS IN PROGRESS, the Doubleday/Literary Guild periodical anthology series, edited by Martha Saxton

New American Review had the strength of reflecting editor Theodore Solotaroff's wide-ranging interests, and such other emerging and continuing magazines and periodical books as New Directions, The Paris Review and TriQuarterly and Winter's Tales similarly had their niches (or died quickly as did The Dutton Review), as did the freshet of fantastic-fiction anthology series (there was a perhaps surprising lack of crime-fiction series in the US, but the UK had Winter's Crimes as well); if there was a  "bookazine" which was bridging a gap between these series and the rather more demotic selections of Book Digest (much less Reader's Digest), it was this rather wide-ranging, somewhat expensive loss-leader anthology series from Doubleday, and primarily meant for members of D-day's "prestige" book club The Literary Guild, the more upmarket cousin of the Doubleday Book Club (which had begun as the Doubleday Dollar Book Club) and its more thematic corporate family (the Mystery Guild, the Science Fiction Book Club, etc.), meant to be a direct challenge to the Book of the Month Club. 

Works in Progress lent itself, as a result, to excerpts from the more sophisticated upcoming and soon-t0-be-released books, but didn't make any effort to avoid those things which were more likely than a new collection of poetry to land on the bestseller lists. Alix Kates Shulman's Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen, for example, was excerpted at length in the sixth volume, the first one I read (as a teen), and the excerpt was much the best part of that notable but now obscure feminist novel. Other contributors to that 1972 volume included Muriel Spark, Thomas Berger, Don Delillo, Anne Tyler, George MacDonald Fraser and D. H. Lawrence...along with those such as Otto Friedrich, whose readership today isn't what it was forty-six years ago. Editor Martha Saxton received no credit in the first volume (there's even an unsigned editorial, and headnotes to each contribution, as there would be in successive volumes, but at least Saxton and art director Joel Snyder are credited on early pages, occasionally also associate editor Andrea Starr, in the other volumes I have before me: 3, 4, 6 and 7; as far as I know, volume 8 was the last issue)(I'm pretty sure I have #5 kicking around here somewhere, though I don't think I yet have the second or the last). 

So, this anthology series wasn't making too many discoveries, in the manner of, say, Discovery (or New World Writing or the other anthology series of earlier years), nor quite unearthing the mix of relatively obscure reprints and more or less rare work from familiar names that Short Story International featured, or that the Pushcart Prize volumes would tend to seek out. But in its three-year run (the first volumes were issued in 1970, only the last was published in 1973), the series did more than an easily-dismissed job of attempting to draw attention to good work from those who picked up the volumes through the Lit Guild, or paid the rather stiff prices for the nicely-produced books on the paperback racks in those months (cover prices ran from $1.45 to $2.50 in a period when most mass-market paperbacks were floating about 95c, to $1.50 for the very fat ones). They are a nice mix of intelligent work from their time, and might point today's reader in a few directions they wouldn't otherwise know to follow. The last volume has a flow from "Horatio Alger, Jr." to Brian Aldiss's critical history of science fiction, Billion Year Spree (as it would be published, without initial article, in book form), to Francine Prose.

Indices to follow! (Particularly since they seem to be unavailable elsewhere.)

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

Friday, April 13, 2018

Friday's "Forgotten" Books and More: the links to the reviews and more: Friday the 13th edition/13 April 2018

This week's books, unfairly (or sometimes fairly) neglected, or simply those the reviewers below think you might find of some interest (or, infrequently, you should be warned away from); certainly, this week as most weeks we have a few not at all forgotten titles.  Patti Abbott hopes to return to hosting next week (getting some eye work done today)...Amy Nolan in Library Journal provides a starred review of I Bring Sorrow and Other Stories of Transgressionconsider picking it up for yourself and asking for it at all the better libraries...while the USA cable channel has ordered a pilot for a series adaptation of Megan Abbott's novel Dare Me, co-produced by MA...

Yvette Banek: The Corpse Steps Out by "Craig Rice" (Georgiana Craig)

Les Blatt: Corpse in a Gilded Cage by Robert Barnard

Robert E. Briney: The Third Bullet and Other Stories by John Dickson Carr

Brian Busby: All This Difference by Dorothy Dumbrille

Martin Edwards: Death Knocks Three Times by "Anthony Gilbert" (Lucy Malleson); The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

Peter Enfantino and Jack Seabrook: DC war comics, June 1972

Will Errickson: Shadowshow by Brad Strickland; in search of obscure horror fiction

José Ignacio Escribano: Death Makes a Martyr by "John Bude" (Ernest Carpenter Elmore)

Curtis Evans: Code Three by "James M. Fox" (Johannes Knipscheer) and his correspondence with Raymond Chandler

Paul Fraser: New Writings in SF 1, edited by John Carnell; Astounding Science-Fiction, May 1938, edited by John W. Campbell, Jr. 

Barry Gardner: Nevermore by William Hjortsberg
Features Dashiell Hammett's second BM
 story, and first Continental Op...and a
Hammett letter to the editor in the
letter column...

John Grant: The Dying Game by Åsa Avdic (translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles); Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman; Money Shot by Christa Faust 

Bev Hankin: Murder Out of Turn by Frances and Richard Lockridge

Rich Horton: The Ballad of Beta-2 by Samuel R. Delany; Alpha Yes! Terra No! by Emil Petaja; Masters of Evolution by Damon Knight; Fire in the Heavens by George O. Smith

Jerry House: I Am a Barbarian by Edgar Rice Burroughs; The Strand Magazine edited by Herbert Greenhough Smith; Black Mask edited initially by Florence Osborne with H. L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan

Janet Hutchings: "The Adventure of the Simpcox Miracle" by William Shakespeare (as excerpted by Frederic Dannay)

Kate Jackson: A Talent for Murder by Anna Mary Wells; The Deadly Climate by Ursula Curtiss

Tracy K.: Gold Comes in Bricks by "A. A. Fair" (Erle Stanley Gardner)

George Kelley: The Case of the Baker Street Irregulars by "Anthony Boucher" (William White); Frenzy of Evil by Henry Kane; Halo for Hire: The Complete Paul Pine Mysteries by Howard Browne (as originally attributed to "John Evans")

Joe Kenney: Hanoi by "Nick Carter" (Valerie Moolman, in this case); The Mistress Book by Jim Deane

Margot Kinberg: The Ghosts of Belfast by Stuart Neville

Rob Kitchin: Capture by Roger Smith

B. V. Lawson: A Thief in the Night by Ernest William Hornung

Des/D. F. Lewis: Black Static, July and September 2014, edited by Andy Cox; Interzone, July/August and September/October 2014, edited by Andy Cox

Evan Lewis: "Surprise Attack" drawn by John Severin (author uncredited)

Steve Lewis: Graveyard Watch by John Estevan; "The Theft of the Mafia Cat" by Edward D. Hoch; A Bullet for a Lady by Bernard Mara

Gideon Marcus: Worlds of If Science Fiction, May 1963, edited by Frederik Pohl

John F. Norris: Murder En Route by Brian Flynn

John O'Neill: The Masters of Solitude by Marvin Kaye and Parke Godwin

Matt Paust: Dead or Alive by Patricia Wentworth

Mildred Perkins: The Courier by Gerald Brandt

J. Kingston Pierce/Steve Lewis: To Keep or Kill by Wilson Tucker

James Reasoner: "Dead Man's Rancho" by T. W. Ford

L. J. Roberts: The Disappeared by C. J. Box

Gerard Saylor: In the Woods by Tana French

Steven H. Silver: "Cat" by Bill Pronzini; "Found Objects" by Emil Petaja; "Rat" by James Patrick Kelly; "Waiting for the Iron Age" by David Langford; "The Way into the Wendy House" by Barrington J. Bayley; "Bakasi Man" by Nnedi Okorafor

Kerrie Smith: The Detection Collection edited by Simon Brett

Dan Stumpf: The Big Clock by Kenneth Fearing

Kevin Tipple: Hard Trail to Socorro by Wayne D. Dundee

"TomCat": What Happened to Hammond by John Russell Fearn

Danielle Torres: Little Reunions by Eileen Chang (translated by Jane Weizhan Pan and Martin Merz)

David Vineyard: Blackshirt Wins the Trick by "Roderick Graeme" (Roderic Jeffries)

Friday, April 6, 2018

Friday's "Forgotten" Books and more: the links to the reviews and more; 6 April 2018

This week's books, unfairly (or sometimes fairly) neglected, or simply those the reviewers below think you might find of some interest (or, infrequently, you should be warned away from); certainly, this week as most weeks we have a few not at all forgotten titles.  I will host again next week. Patti Abbott hopes to return to hosting the week after...Amy Nolan in Library Journal provides a starred review of I Bring Sorrow and Other Stories of Transgression today...consider picking it up for yourself and asking for it at all the better libraries...

Yvette Banek: Nothing Venture by Patricia Wentworth

Les Blatt:  The Iron Clew by Phoebe Atwood-Taylor

Elgin Bleecker: "Fall Guy" by George Harmon Coxe; "Doors in the Dark" by Frederick Nebel (Black Mask stories)

Brian Busby: Will Davies

Jose Cruz, Peter Enfantino and Jack Seabrook: EC Comics, December/Best of 1954

Martin Edwards: The Rynox Mystery by Philip MacDonald

Will Errickson: The Flesh Eaters by L. A. Morse

Curtis Evans: Off with His Head by Ngaio Marsh

Paul Fraser: Science Fantasy, July-August 1964, edited by Kyril Bonfiglioli

Barry Gardner: World of Hurt by Richard Rosen

John Grant: The Dying Game by Åsa Avdic (translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles); Kolchak: The Night Stalker by Jeff Rice

Bev Hankin: The Mystery at Hunting's End by Mignon G. Eberhart; The Three Fears by "Jonathan Stagge" (Richard Webb and Hugh Wheeler)

Rich Horton: Avalanche by Kay Boyle; Beyond Fantasy Fiction, May and July 1954, edited by H. L. Gold

Jerry House: Manga Shakespeare: King Lear loosely adapted by Richard Appignanesi and Ed Hillyer

Janet Hutchings: Donald A. Yates

Kate Jackson: Black Express by "Conyth LIttle" (Constance and Gwenyth Little); The Ledger is Kept by Raymond Postgate

Tracy K: A Small Death in Lisbon by Robert Wilson

George Kelley: The Case of the Baker Street Irregulars by "Anthony Boucher" (William White); Watson's Choice by Gladys Mitchell; The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter by Theodora Goss

Joe Kenney: Israeli Commandos: The Fireball Assignment by Andrew Sugar; Diamonds are Forever by Ian Fleming 

Margot Kinberg: The Salaryman's Wife by Sujata Massey

Dana King: The Choirboys by Joseph Wambaugh

Rob Kitchin: The Demon Under the Microscope by Thomas Hager

Des Lewis: Vastarien: A Literary Journal, Spring 2018, edited by Matt Cardin, Jon Padgett and Dagny Paul

Evan Lewis: American Frontiersmen on Film and Television by Ed Andreychuk

Steve Lewis: No Wings on a Cop by Cleve F. Adams; Dial "M" for Murdock by Robert Ray

Victoria Lucas: The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis

Gideon Marcus: Analog Science Fact --> Science Fiction, April 1963, edited by John W. Campbell, Jr. 

Walker Martin: pulp magazine art

Francis M. Nevins: early Maigret stories by Georges Simenon

John F. Norris: Lady in Danger by "Susannah Shane" (Harriette Ashbrook)

Michael Nye: 8 sports novels

John O'Neill: Study War No More edited by Joe Haldeman

Matt Paust: The Lucky Stiff by "Craig Rice" (Georgiana Craig)

Mildred Perkins: Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan

J. Kingston Pierce: Thrilling Detective edited by Kevin Burton Smith

James Reasoner: Sleep with the Devil by "Day Keene" (Gunard Hjertstedt)

L. J. Roberts: Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart; The Paris Librarian by Mark Pryor

Gerard Saylor: Out of Cabrini by Dave Case; Dodgers by Bill Beverly

Steven H. Silver: "When I Was Miss Dow" by Sonya Dorman; "The Fane of the Black Pharaoh" by Robert Bloch; "Eyes of Amber" by Joan D. Vinge; "High Weir" by Samuel R. Delany: "Far and Deep" by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Kerrie Smith: Roseanna by Maj Sjowall & Per Wahloo (translated by Lois Smith)

Kevin Tipple: The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths

"TomCat": Murder at the Tokyo American Club by Robert Collins; Death Must Have Laughed by John V. Turner

Danielle Torres: Keep the Home Fires Burning by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles; Dying Voices by Laura Wilson

Fletcher Vredenburgh: Witch World by Andre Norton

Friday, March 30, 2018

Friday's "Forgotten" Books: the links to the reviews and more; 30 March 2018

This week's books, unfairly (or sometimes fairly) neglected, or simply those the reviewers below think you might find of some interest (or, infrequently, you should be warned away from);certainly, this week as most weeks we have a few not at all forgotten titles. Patti Abbott or I will host again next week. 

Mark Baker: Murder on Washington Square by Victoria Thompson

Yvette Banek: Hide My Eyes by Margery Allingham

Les Blatt: All Things Impossible: The Impossible Files of Dr. Sam Hawthorne by Edward D. Hoch

John Boston: Amazing: Fact and Science Fiction Stories, April 1963, edited by Cele Goldsmith

Friday, March 23, 2018

FFB: MEMORIES AND VISIONS: WOMEN'S FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION edited by Susanna J. Sturgis (Crossing Press 1989)

From (insit), Summer 1990: "'Other'nesses"

Fantastic fiction has an obvious appeal to those who dislike the current state of affairs; those who are oppressed can play with notions of other ways of living, while those who are savagely oppressed can have a wider range of metaphor to express their outrage and joy (when expressing same nakedly wouldn't be wise). Hence, this volume: an anthology of original fantasy, sf and surrealist fiction by women [I didn't know at the time, and I think it's not mentioned on the copyrights page, that one story apparently had a previous or perhaps nearly simultaneous publication; see index below]. 

Memories and Visions features few familiar bylines [in 1990]; only R. M. Meluch has had a novel published by a major commercial house, and only Lorraine Schein and Kiel Stuart have sold much to the magazines devoted to various sorts of fantastic fiction. This is a collection devoted mostly to newer writers, or writers just beginning to play with fantastic motifs. In her funny and informative introduction, Susanna Sturgis notes the difficulties she had, during her tenure as book-buyer for DC's feminist bookstore Lammas, in generating customer interest in speculative fiction: "Some were already converted, some were willing to try, but many more were not even tempted by the well-drawn women characters and feminist themes, even lesbian love stories, of [Elizabeth] Lynn, [Marion Zimmer] Bradley, [Ursula K.] Le Guin, [Suzy McKee] Charnas and [Joanna] Russ, among others, [in mass-market paperbacks] at cover prices roughly a third of the trade paperback alternatives. 'I don't read science fiction,' was the explanation. 'It's too unbelievable. I can't deal with spaceships and elves.' [Ah, the elves of sf...or was that the cattle-rustlers of sports novels?] They bought lesbian romances instead.

"I could recommend plenty of titles with neither spaceships nor elves, and as to 'unbelievable'...Well, did you hear the one about the beautiful, brilliant woman with no apparent income who runs off to a secluded resort with an equally beautiful but shy, recently divorced woman, has perfect sex on the first try, and lives happily ever after?"

The stories range from very straightforward sf through allegorical surfiction to humorous fantasy. Caro Clarke's "The Rational Ship" is a solidly traditional space opera with high-tech overtones in form, though definitely not so in incident: a spaceship captain pilots her ship over long distances with the help of a "writer", another woman, who devises a scenario for the entire crew to grapple with telepathically as they go about their tasks--particularly the captain herself, who engages sexually with the writer, as a matter of course, necessity and grudging pleasure during the subjectively brief trip. Charlotte Watson Sherman's "Killing Color" is a horror story about racial murder and related diversions in the Old South; "The Harmonic Conception" by Nona M. Caspers is probably the funniest story in the book, about a lesbian living in an all-woman household who finds herself the victim of immaculate conception. Schein's "The Chaos Diaries" is meta-cyberpunk. Not everything here is as adept as everything else, and some of the best work is toward the middle of the volume, not the typical anthologist's trick, but the fourteen-story (including a set of novel excerpts, and a free-verse poem as last contribution) collection swings.

To read this book online, see the Internet Archive "library" here. It's also easily available secondhand; only the Laurell Hamilton story seems to have been reprinted so far (she's certainly seen the most commercial success among the contributors)...I don't see evidence of the novel the Shirley Hartwell excerpts are taken from being published, either. 

The Locus Index to the volume (the ISFDB index linked on the title):

Memories and Visions: Women’s Fantasy & Science Fiction ed. Susanna J. Sturgis (The Crossing Press 0-89594-391-3, Sep ’89, $9.95, 201pp, tp) Anthology of 15 feminist sf and fantasy stories, with an introduction by the editor. Also announced in hardcover (-392-1) but not seen.
Sturgis would go on to edit two more anthologies, mixing new and reprinted fiction, for Crossing Press, which would fold not too long after publishing both The Women Who Walk Through Fire: Women’s Fantasy & Science Fiction Vol. 2 (1990) and Tales of Magic Realism By Women: Dreams in a Minor Key (1991), both also recommended. Sturgis has continued to work as an editor and to publish fiction and nonfiction of her own, but has not assembled any further anthologies. 

For more of today's books, please see Patti Abbott's blog. (And buy her new book!)