Art Taylor’s “Blue Plate Special”

barrelhouse10_500Crime fiction writer Art Taylor’s stories have appeared in quite a number of digest magazines. Foremost, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, but he also made his way into the special Crime issue of lit mag Barrelhouse, issue 10 in 2011, with an unsettling “Blue Plate Special.”

Read our extensive interview with award-winning author Art Taylor in The Digest Enthusiast book four.

Avengers of the Moon

Captain-Future500Quest Beyond the Stars was the first Captain Future story I read while in high school. It was the Popular Library reprint edition, and I read every one in the series after that. In 2009, Pulpville Press came out with Captain Future Man of Tomorrow, a collection of the short stories written after the Captain’s own magazine folded.

I first heard about Allen M. Steele’s new book from Tor starring Curt Newton and his crew in the Jan/Feb issue of Asimov’s. Avengers of the Moon arrived in yesterday’s mail and I started reading last night. It’s great to see the Captain in hardcover. It’s dedicated to “Edmond Hamilton—Captain Future’s creator and the father of space opera.”

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.

The Grift that Keeps on Giving

grift_2One of the original crime fiction digests out of the early digital age of POD was Grift Magazine. The creative vision of John Kenyon, Grift Magazine has appeared twice. The first in April 2012, the second in July 2013. It’s been a long haul for No. 3, but as recently as August 2015, Kenyon posted on his Facebook page, “Life gets in the way sometimes, but it will be worth the wait.”

I interviewed John in mid-2016 for fourth The Digest Enthusiast and asked him about the origins of Grift.

“I started Grift because at the time there were few print venues for crime fiction. Plenty of online outlets, but the opportunities to publish in print were lacking, I thought. At the same time, the sensibilities of the publications that did exist—both in print and online—seemed at odds with what I and others I knew liked to read and write. While it seemed as if other publications leaned toward the ultra-violent, I wanted something more cerebral. No less hard-hitting, but just with less gore. I also wanted to offer a forum for nonfiction work, independent scholarship that would help to expand readers’ understanding of the genre.”

The first two editions of Grift Magazine are outstanding. While we’re waiting for the third, the originals are available thanks to the magic of POD at Lulu.com.

Project Updates

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Pulp Modern Vol. 2 No. 1
Production is crackling like Arizona lightning. The return of Pulp Modern launches next month with a brand new 132-page edition featuring 14 stories, Print and Digital. The latest: our pal, cartoonist Bob Vojtko has signed on to provide a few moments of mirth amid the gloriously dark dreams of the authors lined up by editor Alec Cizak.

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The Digest Enthusiast Book Six
You got it, things are pealing along here as well. B.K. Stevens, whose standalones and series have graced the pages of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine for over twenty years, promises to enlighten us with her inside stories on Lt. Johnson and Sgt. Bolt, Iphegenia and Harriet, Leah Abrams, and more. It’s happening in June, in Print and Digital, so mark your calendar, diary, or palm.

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.