Monthly Archives: November 2016

November 1965 Newsstand

Traveling back to November 1965, below are some of the digest magazines found on newsstands of the day (click image to enlarge). Most are November issues, with a few from October or September still current at the time. (No doubt some are missing, Children’s Digest, Exploring the Unknown, F&SF and Search among them, but time travel remains an inexact science.) Most images from Galactic Central.



Famous Fantastic Mysteries Digest

Famous Fantastic Mysteries Jan. 1951 first digest-size issue

Famous Fantastic Mysteries Jan. 1951 first digest-size issue

“In 1951, the long-running pulp Famous Fantastic Mysteries published a few issues in an appealing format that was slightly larger than the usual digest size. It measured 6-1⁄4” x 8-1⁄2” (a half-inch wider than Dell/Penny Press’ current digests) and had trimmed edges, but apparently was not embraced by all of FFM’s readers and the untrimmed pulp format returned after a few issues.”

The magazine also replaced its passionate red and yellow masthead with a more modern treatment that ran for two years.

“In the May 1951 (digest) issue, a reader wrote: ‘Over the past few years there has been a tendency for some publishers to bring out their magazines in a digest-sized form, and this has been encouraged by a small, but vocal, group of snobbish fans who sneer at any ‘pulp’ magazine, and hail as ‘adult’ anything appearing in digest size. In my opinion, these fans are suffering from an inferiority complex—they want to show their fantasy magazines to their friends, but are ashamed of those which are conventional pulp size. I was prepared for all the new publishers in the field to pander to this minority group by restricting their magazines to digest size, but I never expected Popular Publications to slavishly follow this current trend. In my opinion, it is a fad which will not last long.’”

Excerpts (in quotes) from “In Defense of Digests” by Rob Imes, editor of Ditkomania, from TDE1.

The origin of “thug”


Kali, from the cover of Beyond January 1969

“Violence in American Linked to Cult of Assassins” leads off the Beyond January 1969 issue. It’s about the people who worship Kali, the goddess of evil, by Harvey Drew. Founded by Mahomed Ben Ali aka “The Old Man of the Mountains” who lived in the Atlas Mountains in North Africa.

“Kali’s followers were a recognized caste in India’s complicated social system who called themselves “Thuggees” and killed their victims bloodlessly by strangulation with a knotted cord. Until the arrival of the British they were practically licensed murderers who were simply avoided as much as possible and who were killed on sight if caught at their work.

“The British rulers of India took drastic steps to stamp out the Thuggee cult. By the beginning of the 20th century, it was assumed to have ended, to be remembered only by the use of the word “Thug” to describe a rough undesirable individual.”

Austin Hamel’s Beautiful People

William R. Bowman's illo for Austin Hamel's story in Super-Science Fiction Aug. 1958

William R. Bowman’s illo for Austin Hamel’s story in Super-Science Fiction Aug. 1958

“Not knowing who, or for that matter, what to expect on that world, we just found ourselves calling it—it. No Grecian names, nothing as pompous as naming the world, the planet after our own names. It simply remained it all the way out in our little space raft we had fashioned together after five years of work. Of course, with the law against private excursions to new worlds, we hadn’t told a soul, except for a newspaperman we knew who promised not to tell a soul until we were well out of the solar system. So it was a rather quiet departure with just Morris, the reporter watching glumly as we flamed off for the stars.”

That’s the opening paragraph of “The Beautiful People” by Austin Hamel, with art by William R. Bowman from Super-Science Fiction August 1958. This may be Hamel’s only published SF yarn, but he also found success with Guilty, Murder and Manhunt around this same time. You can also find a few of letters of comment from him a decade earlier in Captain Future (Spring 1944) and Famous Fantastic Mysteries (Sep. & Dec. 1944).

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine Dec. 2016

eqmm_12_2016_500EQMM is 75 years old. An amazing publishing feat for any magazine. The December issue continues its tradition of outstanding short mystery fiction with the final 75th Anniversary edition. This issue’s insightful Editorial by Janet Hutchings reviews the founding scope of the magazine and its expansive role in today’s ever-challenging marketplace.

“Bloodstained Glass” by Richard Helms, art by Mark Evan Walker
From the Editor’s Desk: Beyond Boundaries by Janet Hutchings
“Nothing Matters But Matter” by Sheila Kohler
The Jury Box by Steve Steinbock on The English Teacher by Yiftach R. Atir, The Kingdom by Fuminori Nakamura, I Shot the Buddha by Colin Cotterill, Mr. Campion’s Fault by Mike Ripley, The Hemingway Thief by Shaun Harris, Kilt at the Highland Games by Kaitlyn Dunnett, The Goddaughter Caper by Melodie Campbell, and Survivors Will Be Shot Again by Bill Crider; with special mention of Rhythm and Clues by Sue Ann Jaffarian, The Question of the Felonious Friend by Jeff Cohen and E.J. Copperman and A Killer’s Guide to Good Works by Shelley Costa.
“The Unseen Door” by Margery Allingham
“A History of Snakes” by Tom Tolnay
“The Truth of the Moment” by E. Gabriel Flores (Dept. of First Stories)
“Catspaw” by Peter Tremayne
“Dream Wedding” by Sarah Weinman (From Our Archives)
“With Eyes Like That” by Robert S. Levinson
“Ghosts of Bunker Hill” by Paul D. Marks, art by Allen Davis
“Stranger in the Night” by Hilde Vandermeeren (Passport to Crime) translated by Josh Pachter
2016 EQMM Readers Award Ballot
Index to Volumes 147 & 148
Bill Crider’s Blog Bytes column is absent this issue but slated to return, possibly next issue.

Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Vol. 148 #6, whole #903, Dec. 2016
Publisher: Peter Kanter
Editor: Janet Hutchings
Senior Assistant Editor: Jackie Sherbow
VP Design & Production: Susan Mangan
Senior AD: Victoria Green
Cover: Jill Hartley/
112 pages
$4.99 on newsstands until December 20, 2016
The Mystery Place: Ellery Queen website

The Creeping Siamese

Jonathan Press Mystery J48, 1950

Jonathan Press Mystery J48, 1950

“The Creeping Siamese” is the feature story of Jonathan Press Mystery J48, a digest anthology of Dashiell Hammett’s stories introduced and edited by Ellery Queen, and published in 1950. The lead story stars the Continental Op. reprint from Black Mask March 1926. Here’s the opening:

“Standing beside the casher’s desk in the front office of the Continental Detective Agency’s San Francisco branch, I was watching Porter check up my expense account when the man came in. He was a tall man, raw-boned, hard-faced. Grey clothes bagged loosely from his wide shoulders. In the late afternoon sunlight that came through partially drawn blinds, his skin showed the color of new tan shoes.”

Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine Dec. 2016

Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine Dec. 2016

Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine Dec. 2016

A special Case File with a number of voices long associated with the magazine help celebrate this remarkable 60th anniversary issue. (In case you didn’t already know, that cover in Alfred’s hands is No. 1.)

Editor’s Notes by Linda Landrigan
The Lineup
“Beks and the Second Note” by Bruce Arthurs, art by Tim Foley
“Whatever It Takes” by Lawrence Block
The Mysterious Cipher by Willie Rose
“Overworked” by Kristine Kathrun Rusch
“The Woman Who Sold Love Stories” by John C. Boland, art by Ally Hodges
Mysterious Photograph $25 fiction contest
“The Silent Order of God/A Ordem Silenciosa de Deus” by Stephen Ross
Booked & Printed reviews by Robert C. Hahn of Robert B. Parker’s Debt to Pay by Reed Farrel Coleman, a trio of Hard Case Crime’s latest, I Shot the Buddha by Colin Cotterill, and The Eastern Shore by Ward Just
“The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” by David Edgerley Gates
Dying Words acrostic by Arlene Fisher
“Lady Appleton and the Creature of the Night” by Kathy Lynn Emerson, art by Linda Weatherly
The Case File: Our Writers Remember with Ron Goulart, John Lutz, Josh Pachter, John H. Dirckx, Charles Ardai, and Brian Cox
The Story That Won: “What the Butler Knew” by Tim Hodge
Index to Volume 61

Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine Vol. 61 #12 Dec. 2016
Publisher: Peter Kanter
Editor: Linda Landrigan
Senior Assistant Editor: Jackie Sherbow
VP Design & Production: Susan Mangan
Senior AD: Victoria Green
Cover: Edward Kinsella
112 pages
$4.99 on newsstands until December 20, 2016
The Mystery Place: Alfred Hitchcock website
Happy Thanksgiving!

Jack Schaefer and Mr. Frailey

shaneThe uncredited line illustration for “The Hairy Mr. Frailey” by Jack Schaefer, that ran in Gunsmoke #2, August 1953, shows the protagonist outside the barber shop tipping his chair up against the wall. Here’s a few of the opening lines:

“New Calypso was getting to be a real town when Baldpate Frailey settled there. It wasn’t tucked away so far in a corner of Nebraska that you couldn’t find it on a map if you looked hard enough. On a big map. It bumped out with a fair quota of low buildings and squared corner roads on each side of the railroad and twice a week a freight train stopped and when the station agent sold a ticket he could set the signals and one of the two-a-day once-each-way passengers trains would squeal to a halt instead of chugging straight through.”

A bio of the author ran in the inside back cover of the debut issue: “Jack Schaefer describes himself: ‘As far back as my memory ranges, I’ve been feuding with folk, teachers, and assorted employers who are convinced that Jack must have been a baptismal John and that Schaefer should have two f’s. This is no joke.’ Schaefer with one f also has a strong newspaper background and even met his wife behind a reporters’ desk. Now she drives him to his typewriter so she can get to hers. Together they raise children, Angus cattle, drive cub tractors and are collecting courage to ride in the county hunt.”

Search #89 January 1970

Search magazine #89 January 1970

Search magazine #89 January 1970

Tim Beckley’s “World of the Off Beat” column was announced on the cover of Search #89. In a profile piece on Beckley for TDE3 Tom Brinkmann described it like this:

“Tim’s column concerned various predictions by different psychics, the first of which was Paul Twitchell head of ECKANKAR ‘the science of Soul Travel,’ who predicted, in an interview, that humans landing on the moon would result in ‘The Moon Plague,’ a virus that would be brought back to earth by those who traveled there. Twitchell claimed this virus would equal that of the Black Plague of the Dark Ages and, that ‘a quarter of the human race’ would die from it before it could be brought under control and stopped. Tim mentions that according to the people who keep score, Twitchell’s predictions were 85% correct. The ‘Moon Plague’ prediction belonged to the 15% that didn’t pan out. Twitchell’s method of ‘soul travel,’ i.e., Astral Projection, or leaving one’s body, to read the ‘Akashic Records’ which were described as an astral deck of cards that each individual had that could be read on the astral plane; each card representing a significant event in a past life.”

Many Mansions in the Sky

ssfbowman_500“The refugees from the atom-blasted Earth had been in space for years, their Ark headed for the stars. But who was sure there was a hiding place for man in the firmament?”

That’s the preview blurb for “Many Mansions in the Sky” by Koller Ernst as it appears in Super-Science Fiction August 1958, along with an illustration by William R. Bowman.

An active fictioneer in the 1950s, Koller Ernst wrote mostly for titles like Trapped, Guilty and Double-Action Detective, but he did manage three sales to SSF: April 1957, Feb. 1958 and this one.

Here’s the opening paragraph:

“At the moment there were just the two of them in the Star Ark’s observatory as they rushed toward Alpha Centauri’s worlds at the speed of light. They were Agar Tomas and his wife, Myra, the ranking astrogators.”