Monthly Archives: August 2016

The Better Life of Charles V. DeVet

Amazing (Sept. 1950) with Charles V. DeVet’s first short “The Unexpected Weapon”

Amazing (Sept. 1950) with Charles V. DeVet’s first short “The Unexpected Weapon”

A prolific author in the 1950s, Charles V. DeVet (1911–1997) wrote mostly short science fiction stories. He sold to Amazing, Fantastic Adventures, If, Galaxy, Other Worlds, Planet Stories, and several others including Super-Science Fiction. His story, “The Better Life” from SSF #6 (Oct. 1957) opens with a jolt:

“A blast of wind jerked at the window as Roy McMahon opened it. He slipped—and he was dead.”

The story ends true to form, as Peter Enfantino wrote in his synopsis for TDE3, with “. . .one of the most abrupt finales ever!”

DeVet also wrote two novels with Katherine MacLean, Second Game (1958), which garnered a Hugo award nomination in the form of a novelette in 1959, and Cosmic Checkmate (1962). His final novels were Special Feature (1975) and Third Game (1991).

Jack Schaefer, Judd and Pocket Gophers

Monte Walsh 2003

Monte Walsh 2003

Best remembered for his first novel, Shane (1949), Jack Warner Schaefer (1907–1991) began his career as a newpaperman for the United Press news agency. In 1955 he moved from Connecticut to Santa Fe where he continued to write western novels and short stories.

His story “Judd” appeared in the first issue of Gunsmoke (June 1953). Here’s the opening paragraph:

“Old Judd Birkitt sat on the worn log door-sill of his cabin and looked down the slope and across the creek, watching Sam Jenkins and the stringy woman Sam called his wife pile their few belongings in a rickety buckboard. The morning sun was warm on his face and he wriggled his old bare feet in the warm dust of his dooryard. The Jenkinses drove away without a glance back at the shack in which they had lived for better than four years. Footloose, he thought. They would be the first to go. . . .”

In addition to Shane, another Schaefer book Monte Walsh (1963), was re-envisioned for the silver screen starring Lee Marvin, directed by William Fraker in 1970. The story was filmed a second time in 2003 as a TV movie with Tom Selleck, Isabella Tossellini and Keith Carradine.

In 1975 the Western Literature Association awarded Schaefer its Distinguished Achievement award. In his later years, he turned to writing about nature. His final works were The American Bestiary: Notes of an Amateur Naturalist (1975) and Conversations with a Pocket Gopher and Other Outspoken Neighbors (1978).

Dashiell Hammett: Two Sharp Knives

Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine (Sep. 1945)

Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine (Sep. 1945)

The opening: “On my way home from the regular Wednesday night poker game at Ben Kamsley’s I stopped at the railroad station to see the 2:11 come in—what we called putting the town to bed—and as soon as this fellow stepped down from the smoking car I recognized him. There was no mistaking his face, the pale eyes with lower lids that were as straight as if they had been drawn with a ruler, the noticeably flat-tipped bony nose, the deep cleft in his chin, the slightly hollow greyish cheeks. He was tall and thin and very neatly dressed in a dark suit, long dark overcoat, derby hat, and carried a black Gladstone bag. He looked a few years older than the forty he was supposed to be. He went past me towards the street steps.”

In his introduction to “Two Sharp Knives” by Dashiell Hammett, in Bestseller Mystery B81 (Hammett Homicides, 1946) Ellery Queen (Fred Dannay) writes, the story “…is deliberately less sensational, deliberately restrained in both the selection of material and the manner of telling [than Red Harvest]. This conscious restraint adds to Hammett’s realism, rather than detracts from it…”

“Two Sharp Knives” was previously published in Collier’s (Jan. 13, 1934) and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine (Sep. 1945).

Jaw-Dropping Interviews With the Dead

Beyond Nov. 1968

Beyond Nov. 1968

Complete with its Jackie O cover and shock-inducing headlines, the November 1968 cover of Beyond leans more tabloid than digest. The cover girl’s prediction was the juice to seal the sale but the mind-numbing “word from your publisher” (Bernard S. Adelman) inside, zaps all its other zingers.

“With this issue, BEYOND launches what it believes is one of the most exciting and astonishing series to appear in any publication anywhere: INTERVIEWS FROM BEYOND, beginning on page 62!

“Through the courtesy of one of the foremost researchers in psychic phenomena of our time, BEYOND will present each month, an authentic series of interviews with some of the outstanding figures of the 20th century; statesmen, entertainers, public personalities in every walk of life who in recent years have passed into the Beyond.”

Transpose the numbers and 62 becomes 26, where Steven Albert shares the fruits of the astonishing Dr. X’s invention, a “huge gray painted machine which hummed softly as its complex power structure activated electronically. . .” The first contacts:

Marilyn Monroe: “Only now, on this other plane, am I making progress toward peace and happiness.”

Tyrone Power: “…when I think of your plane, I am concerned only of the fate of my loved ones still with you—my ex-wife and young daughter.”

Jayne Mansfield: “My greatest sorrow is that I had to leave my small children behind, without the love of their own mother.”

Albert’s rock-solid report closes with a promise: “Dr. X. turned off the machine. The first historic INTERVIEW FROM BEYOND was over. There will be more.”

The Pulpster #25

The Pulpster #25

The Pulpster #25

Bookseller Mike Chomko is a huge supporter of the pulp and digest magazine community, including The Digest Enthusiast. Mike serves on the committee that produces the annual PulpFest show in Columbus, Ohio, and publishes The Pulpster magazine to dovetail with the four-day event. Although I wasn’t able to attend the show last month, as an advertiser I received a copy of The Pulpster #25. It’s a beautiful production, loaded with terrific articles. Here’s the full contents:

“From the Editor” by William Lampkin
“From the Publisher” by Mike Chomko
“What Becomes of Your Pulps After You’re Gone?” by David W. Smith
Cover Story: “90 Years of ‘Amazing Stories’” by Hugo Gernsback, Howard Browne, Joseph Wrzos, Barry N. Malzberg, Ted White (GOH of PulpFest 2016), Elinor Mavor and Patrick L. Price
“Farmer’s Ventures into the ‘Amazing’” by Art Sippo
“More Mystery for a Dime” by J. Randolph Cox
“Wallace Thurman and ‘Harlem Stories’” by David M. Earle
“A ‘Western Story’ Desperado” by Walker Martin
“Second-String Heroes” by William Lampkin

Download catalogs from the Mike Chomko Books website

The Pulpster #25
Editor: William Lampkin
Assistant Editor: Peter Chomko
Publisher: Mike Chomko
8.5” x 11” 52 pages
$13 postage paid (inquire for shipping outside the US)

Sea Stories #2

Sea Stories #2 March 1954

Sea Stories #2 March 1954

Like Gunsmoke, there were only two issues of Sea Stories. Pictured here is the second issue from March 1954, sporting a cover by Clarence Doore.

Contents include:
“Marine in the Tops” by Steve Frazee (novel)
“My Spy Story” by Sir Winston Churchill
“Gale from Hell” by Bill Erin
“Make a Fair Wind” by Garland Roark
“The Yellow Cat” by Wilbur Daniel Steele
“Flying Dutchman . . . J.G.” by Bill Robinson
“A Descent into the Maelstrom” by Edgar Allen Poe
“The Ancestor of the Sea Mine” (article)
“Genuine Hand-Made Sea Monsters” by Ken Sellers (article)
“Trafalgar” by Robert Southey (article)
“The Legal Shark” by John Marine (article)
“The Captain’s Shelf” (feature)

Sea Stories Vol. 1 #2 includes interior artwork by Berwin, Cato, Krenkel and Smith
Future Publications, Inc. 80 Fifth Avenue, New York 11, NY
Publisher: John Raymond
Editor: Harry Harrison
Circulation Mgr.: Bill Bradley
Art Director: Milton Berwin
Advertising Mgr.: David Geller
Associate Editor: John Vincent
Original price: 35¢
160 pages

Bookshots: Chase by Michael Ledwidge

Chase by Michael Ledwidge

Chase by Michael Ledwidge

One of the August Bookshots from the James Patterson fiction works is a new Michael Ledwidge release featuring series detective Michael Bennett.

“A man plunges to his death from the roof of a Manhattan hotel. It looks like suicide—except the victim has someone else’s fingerprints and $10,000 in cash. Enter Detective Michael Bennett.”

Chase is a 115-page novel that includes an 11-page preview of an upcoming Bookshots called Hunted, co-authored by Andrew Holmes.

Bookshots website

Daniel F. Galouye: The Childless Ones

World on a Wire

World on a Wire

“The natives of the new planet had no interest in sex.” That’s the teaser from the contents page of Super-Science Fiction #6 (Oct. 1957) for Daniel F. Galouye’s “The Childless Ones.” Here’s how the story itself begins:

“It was the native population that was responsible for temporary designation of the planet as Repugnant-I in Survey Headquarters files.

“Everything else was charming—pastel skies at sunset, pale green raindrops that fell occasionally against a back drop of majestic mountains, soft breezes that caressed fields of flowers and surrated through silent forests.”

Daniel F. Galouye (1920–1976) placed his novelette, “Rebirth,” in Imagination in 1952 and was soon selling stories to Galaxy and Fantasy & Science Fiction. His novel, Dark Universe (1961), was nominated for a Hugo award.

His novel Counterfeit World (1964), also published under the title Simulacron-3, was filmed as World on a Wire (Welt am Draht) (1973) by Rainer Werner Fassbinder and as The Thirteenth Floor (1999) by Josef Rusnak.

Diabolik-al Digests

Diabolik #1

Diabolik #1

Tony Raiola introduces American comics readers to the world of the long-running Italian series, Diabolik, with the Pacific Comics Club digest in November 1986:

“Diabolik is not a clear-cut figure, but just the opposite. He battles against concepts and facts in a fashion that reminds us of a primitive justice.”

The Pacific series only lasted two issues, but they followed the size and format of the original Italian comics which are still going strong in Italy.

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Hat tip to Bill Thom for highlighting our first digest magazine checklists in this week’s Pulp Coming Attractions.

Dashiell Hammett: The Main Death

Black Mask June 1927

Black Mask June 1927

Originally printed in Black Mask (June 1927), “The Main Death” was reprinted in Ellery Queen’s Bestseller Mystery B81 (Dec. 1946) aka Hammett Homicides. Here’s how the Continental Op starts things off:

“The Captain told me Hacken and Begg were handling the job. I caught them leaving the detective’s assembly room. Begg was a freckled heavyweight, as friendly as a Saint Bernard puppy, but less intelligent. Lanky detective-sergeant Hacken, not so playful, carried the team’s brains behind his worried hatchet face.”

Margaret Atwood wrote about Hammett in The New York Review of Books:

“Hammett was an admirer of Sherwood Anderson, who wrote concisely about hitherto overlooked corners of small-town life. He respected Faulkner as one might respect a very bright but weird second cousin. He found Hemingway irritating, like a brother who is also a rival, and took little pokes at him—in “The Main Death” he has a particularly vacuous rich girl reading The Sun Also Rises. He must have found it gratifying to be called “better than Hemingway” in the 1930 publisher’s ad for The Maltese Falcon.”

Image from Galactic Central.