Category Archives: Synopsis

Galaxy Magabook No. 2

magabook_2Galaxy Magabook No. 2: After Worlds End & The Legon of Time
 by Jack Williamson, 1963, cover art by Ed Emshwiller

After Worlds End: “In this strange world danger was his every day companion—despair dogged his steps—and the greatest peril of all was his only hope for life!”

The Legion of Time: “They stormed the wall of the future on the trail of one woman who was too evil to live—and another who might never be born at all!”

Lorenz Heller aka Larry Holden

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Suspect #1 Nov. 1955

Stories from Suspense Magazine #2 Summer 1951: “Criminal at Large” by Lorenz Heller

Heller was a novelist, short story writer and screenwriter who wrote dozens of shorts for detective magazines under the name Larry Holden from 1946–1959. He also wrote as Frederick Lorenz and Burt Sims.

“Criminal” sets up a tension-filled confrontation between a housewife and an escaped killer. Unlike many of the stereotypes in stories of this era, the housewife, Aunt Libby, could fend for herself: “She could fix anything. Last Spring, when the level-wind on my reel jammed, she fixed it in nothing flat, and still got more trout than Uncle Steve and me.”

The short-lived Suspect Detective Stories was a good market for Heller. His “Blood Money” appeared in the debut issue (Nov. 1955) under his own name, as well as “Death is Where You Find It” by Larry Holden. He returned in the second issue (Feb. 1956) as Holden for “One for the Hangman.”

Seaman Thomas Gilchrist

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Adventure Aug. 1949 with Thomas Gilchrist’s “Appointment with Fear”

Stories from Suspense Magazine #2 Summer 1951: “Survival” by Thomas Gilchrist

Three men adrift in a dinghy after their boat capsizes at sea, fight for survival as heat, hunger and thirst draw them closer to death every moment. It’s no surprise who maintains their humanity
as desperation rises between the wealthy boatman, an old man and a native Pacific islander, but Gilchrist does a beautiful job describing the tension as their plight worsens.

Thomas Gilchrist was a sailor who wrote sea adventures. His stories appeared in Adventure, Bluebook, and Suspense.

Image from Galactic Central.

Walter Snow’s “The Nightmare Face”

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Mike Shayne Sept. 1966 with Walter Snow’s “Who’s Afraid of Kathrine Mansfield?”

Stories from Suspense Magazine #2 Summer 1951

A newspaper journalist and pulp fiction writer, Walter Snow wrote mostly adventure and detective stories. The Walter Snow Papers, hosted by Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, reports: “Snow’s writing style is characterized by his ability to bring his characters to life.” Here’s an example from his story “The Nightmare Face” from Suspense Magazine #2:

“Carlotta flirts indiscriminately with eager sailors, pats their cheeks, blows them kisses. When they get too fresh she brandishes a baseball bat prankishly. It’s an act that keeps the bar crowded when the fleet is in. Brazenly, Carlotta sasses all her customers: ‘You’re stingy tippers. Me, I want a man with money.’”

Set in the Florida Keys, Carlotta’s brazen behavior ends suddenly when she turns up dead beside her suspected paramour in the wake of a hurricane. It’s up to local law enforcement to figure out if the storm had any help.

Snow’s work also ran in Gang World, Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, Short Stories, and Suspect Detective Stories—and was anthologized in collections like 20 Great Tales of Murder and With Malice Towards All. He wrote two mystery novels The Golden Nightmare (1952) and The Gauguin Murders (1972).

Nathaniel Weyl’s “Blood Will Tell”

redstarovercubaStories from Suspense Magazine #2 Summer 1951

A brief, but tightly-plotted short with murder, blackmail and revenge tangled together just like its cast of characters. Nathaniel Weyl (pronounced “while”) was an economist and author of two books, Treason (1950) and Red Star Over Cuba (1962). In his youth, a member of the Communist Party of the United States (1933–1939), he later leaned conservative and became a vocal anti-communist. In 1952, he testified against Alger Hiss, a former State Department official, convicted of perjury, who served 44 months in prison. Weyl died in 2005 at the age of 94 in California.

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 Wyndham’s “Operation Peep”

suspense_2Stories from Suspense Magazine #2 Summer 1951

Perhaps most famous for penning The Day of the Triffids, John Wyndham contributes a “science satire” as the opener for Suspense Magazine #2, called “Operation Peep.” People from an alternate universe are popping into ours at inopportune moments. The story never takes itself too seriously and indulges a few gems like this bit of scathing commentary on the world’s stupidity: “We’ve got two ways of using inventions,” she said. “One is to kill more people more easily; the other is to help short-sighted goons make easy money out of suckers.”

But don’t worry, the hero saves the world from peeping eyes and gets the cynical beauty to boot.

N.R. De Mexico’s Strange Pursuit

suspense_novel_1A half-page ad in Suspense Magazine #4 offered a series of three Suspense Novels, companion digest/ paperbacks to Suspense Magazine, all published in 1951. The offer combined all three, along with a copy of The Scented Flesh by Robert O. Saber, also in the digest/paperback format, for a buck, postage paid.

Madman on a Drum written by Suspense contributing editor N.R. De Mexico, was first published in 1944 by Cavalcade Books based in New York, as a digest-sized paperback. In 1951 it was retitled Strange Pursuit and featured as the first of three Suspense Novels from Farrell Publishing.

Strange Pursuit (Madman on a Drum) is a top notch thriller, cleverly plotted with beautifully written narrative and dialogue. When Lois Vincent fails to keep a date with boyfriend Larry Graham, the mystery of her disappearance sparks a surreal, paranoid crisis for Graham that quickly escalates into a full-blown conspiracy in which he can trust no one as he doggedly fights to clear himself of her murder and figure out who could so completely destroy his life.

John Gearon’s “Faces Turned Against Him”

persian-catStories from Suspense Magazine #1 Spring 1951

John Gearon’s fine novelette, “Faces Turned Against Him,” wraps up the first issue of Suspense Magazine on a high note. Gearon hooks readers with his characters, action and the magazine’s high-tension standard. Here’s one of several nice passages from the story:

“The windows were up and the heater was on. An hour after noon, cold weather had descended suddenly on New England. The road to Bridgeville and the county jail was like a ribbon of toothpaste squeezed snake-like across the dull brown landscape.”

John Gearon wrote scripts for both the Suspense radio and television programs. Under the pseudonym John Flagg, he wrote a series of thrillers for Gold Medal Books in the 1950s, including The Persian Cat, which was recently reissued as Black Gat Book #4.

The Mystic Visions of the Shah of Iran

1980_1_fate_2Feature articles from Fate #358 January 1980

Martin Ebon’s report for Fate opens with a recap of 1980’s current history: “His Imperial Highness Mohammed Riza Shah Pahlevi, who governed Iran with the certainty that he had been chosen to lead his backward nation to the status of a 21st-Century superpower, was ignominiously forced into exile early in 1979.”

True to its title, “The Mystic Visions of the Shah of Iran” focuses on the unique events the Shah experienced throughout his life.

At the age of seven, the future Shah lay sick with typhoid fever for weeks. One night in a dream, Ali, the husband of Mohammed’s daughter, came to him. He later wrote of the encounter in his autobiography. “He was sitting on his heels on the floor and in his hands he held a bowl containing a liquid. He told me to drink, which I did. That day the crisis of my fever was over and I was on the road to rapid recovery.”

In another childhood event, the boy travels a steep trail on horseback to Emamzadeh-Dawood, a favorite spot of his family’s in the mountains above Teheran. When the horse slips, Riza Pahlevi falls headfirst onto a jagged rock and faints. “When I regained consciousness the members of the party were expressing astonishment that I had not even a scratch. I told them that, as I fell, I had clearly seen one of our saints named Abbas and that I had felt him holding me and preventing me from crashing my head against the rock.”

A third event in the Royal Palace of Shimran, gave him further proof he was supernaturally protected. A vision of a man with a halo around his head. “As we passed one another I knew him at once. He was a descendant of Mohammed who, according to our faith, disappeared but is expected to come again to save the world.” It was an apparition. His guardian, also present, saw nothing. But the future Shah was undeterred from this lack of corroboration. He believed the vision true even if he alone was its sole witness.

As an adult, the Shah experienced no further visions. But early in his adult life, as a pilot, he made a miraculous landing when the engine of the plane he was flying cut out. He and his passenger escaped almost certain death without a scratch.

He summed up his seemingly unbelievable luck: “I am convinced that I have been able to accomplish things which, unaided by some unseen hand, I could never have done.”