Monthly Archives: September 2017

Lesann Berry’s Feed the Beast

feed_beastThe first episode of Lesann Berry’s Alternate History Archive began in The Digest Enthusiast book five. Below are the opening lines.

“Kiefer turned his back but the cops kept talking. Shoulders hunched down, he shuffled away. He hated pity. The last thing he wanted to deal with right now was some yahoo’s good intentions. The bottle in his pocket victimized him enough. Blinking, he counted off three breaths before scanning the alley entrance.”

Episode two appears in TDE6, and I’m pleased to report Kiefer will return in TDE7, due out in December 2017, which no longer seems so far off. Each episode of the Alternate History Archive includes an illustration by Michael Neno.

Ray Mason’s Doomed World

worldsoffantasy4c4bwStories from Worlds of Fantasy #4 (John Spencer and Company 1951): “Doomed World” by Ray Mason

Errant planet Atlanta is torn from its orbit due to intense volcanic activity and suddenly appears on the plexoid instrument panel “right in the recognised traffic lane between Earth and Mars.” First spotted by Radd Baker, in charge of the space freighter LS4K, he and his space-hardened second-in-command, Peter Lorrimer, decide to investigate.

Upon landing they find the planet populated with human beings who escaped from the destruction of Altantis thousands of years ago. Now their descendants face oblivion again at the hands of mother nature.

Radd saves the day with a minor assist from Peter, all while winning the heart of Juda. “They didn’t come any lovelier, not in all the Earth!”

The plot of “Doomed World” is its main asset. The characters are as uninspired as its writing. Only through some combination of nostalgic charm and guilty pleasure can readers plod through to reach “the end.” But man, you gotta love the cover of this digest magazine!

Magazine of Horror #2

“The Space-Eaters” by Frank Belknap Long (Weird Tales July 1928)
“The Faceless Thing” by Edward D. Hoch
“The Red Room” by H.G. Wells
“Hungary’s Female Vampire” by Dean Lipton
“A Tough Tussle” by Ambrose Bierce (Can Such Things Be?)
“Doorslammer” by Donald A. Wollheim
“The Electric Chair” by George Waight (Weird Tales Jan. 1925)
“The Other One” by Jerryl L. Keane
“The Charmer” by Archie Binns
“Clarissa” by Robert A. W. Lowndes (expanded version of “Gourmet” from Renascence 1946)
“The Strange Ride of Morrowbie Jukes” by Rudyard Kipling (Under the Deodars)

Bill Crider Discovers Digests


F&SF Dec. 1951

Excerpt from our interview with Bill Crider, author of the Dan Rhodes series, for The Digest Enthusiast book five:

“It was when I was in junior high that I really hit my stride, though, and that was thanks to one of those big Groff Conklin anthologies of SF stories, The Big Book of Science Fiction. I thought the stories were wonderful, every one of them. I’ve always been one to read everything in the book, so I read the copyright page and discovered that all the stories had been published in magazines. The next day I was at the local bookstore (yes, even my small East Texas town had one), where I located a couple of digests, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and Astounding Science Fiction. I bought those and was soon off on a real binge. I bought every SF digest that I could get my hands on.”

Ellery Queen’s Challenge to the Reader

mercury66Mercury Mystery #66 from 1943 reprints nine stories from the earlier hardback of the same name with 25. Queen’s challenge is simple:

“I’ll change the familiar names of the detectives to ones of my own invention, and I’ll challenge the reader to deduce who the detective is in each story. The only alteration of the original text will be the disguising of the detective’s name.

“[T]here will be clues galore . . . Clues created by the author of the story, lying right there in the author’s own text.”

Steve Carper explores this forgotten beauty and others in his article “The Riddle of the Ellery Queen Selects Series” in The Digest Enthusiast book five.

Magazine of Horror #1

“The Man with a Thousand Legs” by Frank Belknap Long (Weird Tales Aug. 1927)
”A Thing of Beauty” by Wallace West
“The Yellow Sign” by Robert W. Chambers (The King in Yellow)
”The Maze and the Monster” by Edward D. Hoch
“The Death of Halpin Frayser”by Ambrose Bierce (Can Such Things Be?)
”Babylon 70 M.” by Donald A. Wollheim
“The Inexperienced Ghost” by H.G. Wells (Twelve Stories and a Dream)
”The Unbeliever” by Robert Silverberg
“Fidel Bassin” by W. J. Stamper (Weird Tales July 1925)
“The Last Dawn” by Frank Lillie Pollock (Argosy June 1906)
“The Undying Head” by Mark Twain (Life on the Mississippi)

Opening Lines

magabook_1Selected from a digest featured in The Digest Enthusiast book four:

“The air of the city’s cheapest flophouse was thick with the smells of harsh antiseptic and unwashed bodies. The early Christmas snowstorm had driven in every bum who could steal or beg the price of admission, and the long rows of cots were filled with fully clothed figures.”

“Badge of Infamy” by Lester del Rey Galaxy Magabook #1

Lorrie McLaughlin’s The Way Out

suspense_4Stories from Suspense Magazine #4 Winter 1952: “The Way Out “by Lorrie McLaughlin

The final story of the Suspense digests is a “storyette,” a filler for the final page. With only a single page to work with McLaughlin does a fine job setting up a desperate situation, planning its aftermath, and taking the fatal last step from which there is no return.