Category Archives: Excerpts

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.

Art Taylor’s “A Voice from the Past”

eqmm_8_2009EQMM Aug. 2009 included Art Taylor’s “A Voice from the Past,” which he spoke about in this excerpt from his interview in The Digest Enthusiast book four:

“I wrote about half of my story ‘A Voice from the Past’ and then put it aside for several years, not sure where to go next with it. When I returned to it with fresh eyes, I came up with ideas about the rest of the plot, what seemed suddenly not just right but maybe inevitable, given all the seeds I’d planted in the first half.”

Art’s “Parallel Play” from the Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warming anthology, won the Agatha Award for Best Short Story in May 2017.

Irving Burstiner’s “Pardon My Terror”

msmm_2_1957_500Stories from Suspense Magazine #2 Summer 1951: “Pardon My Terror” by Irving Burstiner

Suspense Magazine editor Theodore Irwin wrote that submissions often seem to arrive in trends. A wave of “wife murders or ghost yarns.” For Suspense #2 there was a run on “fiends,” from which Irwin selected two, based on merit and because “. . . they serve to emphasize the vast differences writers can bring to the same theme.”

“Terror” is only just over three pages in length, yet Burstiner manages to add a clever twist to bring his story’s fiend to a satisfying end.

Burstiner also create a puzzle called “Find the Detective,” for Michael Shayne Mystery Magazine (Feb 1957).

Ron Fortier’s The Hideout

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The Digest Enthusiast #4

Although The Digest Enthusiast is primarily a non-fiction series, we like to include a few short stories in each edition. After all, fiction is why readers are drawn to the digests we write about in the first place.

“The Hideout” is a Brother Bones short story featuring Ron Fortier’s iconic avenger. Here’s an excerpt from the story which appeared in The Digest Enthusiast book four, with illustrations by Rob Davis.

“Bones, you are needed.” Within the shimmering yellow flame he saw the tiny angelic face of his spirit guide; a teenage girl he’d shot to death in his previous life as gunman Tommy Bonello.

The origin of Betty Fedora

bettyfedora3Excerpt from “Digital Digest Magazines” from TDE4.

Kristen Valentine [editor/publisher/designer], began Betty Fedora, “Because the other crime fiction magazines out there, while very good, feature stories that are heavy in the noir tradition: men getting in fights, femme fatales, and that’s it. I wanted to explore stories featuring female characters as a starting point.”

To date there are three issues of Betty Fedora out, with issue four due in Fall 2017.

H.G. Wells Society Newsletter

wells_30Excerpts from Joe Wehrle, Jr.’s review of the H.G. Wells Society Newsletter #30 from TDE4:

“This may be a somewhat unusual entry in the catalog of digest-size publications, but I think the newly-redesigned H. G. Wells Society Newsletter certainly qualifies for inclusion. I recently received issue 30, Autumn 2015, with cover illustration by J. Begg, reproduced from the Illustrated London News of 25 January 1913.

“I find articles in the Wells Society publications to be very carefully researched and highly literate. A majority of the writers and the editorial staff have doctorates and associations with prestigious uni- versities. They tend to delve deeply into the subject matter, avoiding superficiality and the stereotypical.

“This newsletter is issued twice a year, and there is also a thicker, and very scholarly annual, The Wellsian.

“Subscriptions and general enquiries may be addressed to secretary Eric L. Fitch, 20, Upper Field Close, Hereford HR2 7SW, UK.”

H.G. Wells Society website

Clifford Simak’s Empire

gn7An excerpt from Steve Carper’s “The Galaxy Science Fiction Novels” from TDE4 covers Galaxy Novel #7 (1951), Empire by Clifford D. Simak:

The story originated from John Campbell as a teen. Simak wrote, “Empire was essentially a rewrite of John’s plot. I may have taken a few of the ideas and action, but I didn’t use any of his words. And I certainly tried to humanize his characters.”

Steve’s TDE article focuses on the first 35 Novels published by Galaxy. Surprisingly, the final 11 were published by sleaze house Beacon. For the story on those, see his follow-up piece in the current issue of Paperback Parade (#97) from Gryphon Books.

Raymond F. Jones’ “The Alien”

gn6This excerpt from Steve Carper’s “The Galaxy Science Fiction Novels” from TDE4 covers Galaxy Novel #6 (1951), The Alien by Raymond F. Jones:

“The alien of the title of Jones’ book is found buried deep in an asteroid, the remains of a planet that exploded 500,000 years ago, creating the asteroid belt. That impossible cosmology is par for
 the book, which has its archaeologist heroes battle the weaponized brain of the alien by hopping into a convenient-but-never-before-mentioned faster-than-light starship and zooming to another planet to bring back the only weapon in the universe that can defeat him.”

Steve’s TDE article focuses on the first 35 Novels published by Galaxy. Surprisingly, the final 11 were published by sleaze house Beacon. For the story on those, see his follow-up piece in the current issue of Paperback Parade (#97) from Gryphon Books.

John Dickson Carr and Cabin B-13

ellery_queens_mystery_194405Stories from Suspense Magazine #1 Spring 1951

From the story’s introduction: “Numbering its audience in the millions today, the CBS radio-television program series Suspense for a number of years has ranked as one of the finest dramatic programs on the air. It has brought to perfection a new type of high-tension presentation—in tune with our time, in harmony with modern concepts of gripping entertainment.

“In each issue, the magazine Suspense will present one of the distinguished scripts which have made broadcasting history. The initial choice, Honeymoon Terror, was originally given over the CBS network in November, 1943, under the title Cabin B-13, starring Margo and Phillip Dorn.”

“Cabin B-13” was one of the most popular episodes of Suspense, it was rerun in November 1943, but its original broadcast was on March 16, 1943. Even the script had an earlier printing, in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine May 1944.

Image from Galactic Central.