Paperback Parade #92
I’m not sure which is better, the title “Humanoid Puppets” or the book’s artwork by Ray Theobald, featured on the cover of Paperback Parade #92. If covers sell, this one is going fast.
The opening “Paperback Talk” by Gary Lovisi is an engaging mix of PBO news, LOCs, trivia and personal asides. Yes, the digital world is more immediate, but in that scrolling, jumping, click-tracking space there’s nothing to match this extended, diverse mix only available on paper. Even when news of a fresh title isn’t exclusive, its appearance here elevates its importance and Lovisi’s reporting puts a unique, personal touch on each entry.
Like a trip through a used bookshop, you never know what treasure lies waiting in the pages of Paperback Parade. This one hits the jackpot with Philip Harbottle’s report on Denis Hughes. After decades of research on post-war British science fiction writers, Harbottle earned the reward of literary agent to the Hughes estate. This gave him access to the writer’s personal memoirs. He presents key passages from Hughes’ memories here, connected by his own narrative to bridge the gaps in “Denis Talbot Hughes: His Own Story.”
Hughes only wrote science fiction during the early years of his long writing career, under an amazing array of pseudonyms. “. . . his work under such names as Gill Hunt and George Sheldon Brown rate as some of the worst SF novels ever published; but his later science-fantasy stories from the second half of his short [SF] career show he was a capable and often excellent writer.”
The many covers of his books shown in Harbottle’s “Denis Talbot Hughes: Bibliography” are every bit as strange and wonderful as the sample on PP #92’s cover. These pages alone are worth the price of admission.
Having read highlights of Hughes’ history and seen many of his amazing book covers, the outstanding question of their merit is answered in Harbottle’s final entry, “The Best SF of Denis Hughes.” “. . . a brief survey of the five Hughes titles that still burn brightly in my memory, fifty years after I first read them.” I won’t reveal their titles here, but I located three of the five on ebay as I write these words and suffice to say, I hope Harbottle finds a publisher to reprint them quickly! And let’s hope he can manage to retain their original covers.
Not long ago I heard Marc Maron’s interview with director William Friedkin (WTF podcast #684), who discussed The French Connection, The Exorcist, and Sorcerer, among other topics. When I realized Gary Lovisi’s article on “The Wages of Fear” was about the book on which Sorcerer was based, I was doubly intrigued. The Wages of Fear by George Arnaud, is hard-boiled suspense at its best, a novel loaded with hard-luck characters and dripping with intense atmospheric suspense.” Lovisi recaps the story and the history of the book, which began in hardcover, proliferated in several paperback editions and was filmed twice, once in 1953 with its original title, and finally by Friedkin in 1977 as Sorcerer.
PP designer, Richard Greene, offers a new installment of his “Matchless Paperbacks,” with an array of covers from Robert Ludlum’s series The Matarese Conspiracy, including a matchbook for The Matarese Circle.
Jon D. Swartz compiles “The Tor Double Novels,” listed in order by year along with notable awards, cover artists and personal recommendations. Like all of the articles in PP, it’s loaded with plenty of full color cover reproductions.
Gary Lovisi teams with Chris Eckhoff for the full list of “France Books: Fancy Sleaze with Foldout Covers.” Despite their name, France Books came from an outfit in California that published 70 titles under their banner during the early 1960s. I was surprised to learn several were written by Jim Harmon. With titles like Time Out for Sex, Call Me Nympho, and Jazz Me Baby, you don’t need the cover images to paint a picture of their content—but there are plenty unveiled here just the same.
As much as I enjoy reading PBOs, outdated attitudes of past decades, when too dominate can be spoilers. Richard Kellogg sums up the situation in his report on “Colonel Peter Trees: John Quirk’s Master Spy.” “Comments attributed to the leading characters may be perceived as sexist, racist, and homophobic. The females in the story are stereotyped as sex objects for the rich and powerful males attending the tournament.”
I can overlook a little of this, chalking it up to the era. But when these outdated attitudes drive the action, I have greater difficulty staying with the story. Kellogg gives fair warning for John Quirk’s trio of Peter Trees spy stories published in 1965, 1966 and 1968. “Despite these reservations, The Tournament provides a tantalizing glimpse back into the era of James Bond and the decade often referred to as the Swinging Sixties.”
In “Don Tracy & Deadly to Bed” Gary Lovisi espouses Don Tracy as an unsung scribe of noir and details the plot and post-war setting of a US Army base in Germany in Deadly to Bed. Lovisi’s verdict: a masterpiece of its genre.
Publishing westerns novels was declining in the late 1950s, so perhaps on the strength of their “Doubles,” Ace marketers thought to try “Three Westerns for the Price of One: The Ace Western Triples.” Michael S. Smith places them in the context of their era’s other entertainment trends and documents the stories and writers included in seven Ace Western Triples.
Paperback Parade #92 ★★★★★
5.5” x 8.5” 100 pages, full color throughout
$15 + postage for a single issue
$40 for three-issue subscription
From: Gryphon Books