Tag Archives: Suspense Magazine

Peter Phillips for Suspense

astounding_2_1949Stories from Suspense Magazine #1 Spring 1951

In “She Didn’t Bounce” by Peter Phillips, a cocksure suitor, enamored with a plump woman in his office plays a cheeky game of seduction in this surprisingly ribald entry in Suspense #1, that runs just three pages.

Phillips (1920–2012) was a UK writer and journalist, with nearly two dozen science fiction and detective stories published in US pulps and digests. His most famous, at least at the time of Suspense #1, was “Manna,” first published in the Feb. 1949 Astounding and “perennially reprinted in anthologies.”

“The Quick and the Bomb” by William Tenn

Stories from Suspense Magazine #1 Spring 1951

Tenn was the pseudonym writer Phillip Klass used for most of his science fiction stories, reserving his own name for his nonfiction work. Born in London, Klass grew up in Brooklyn, New York. After marriage, the couple moved to Pennsylvania, where he taught comparative literature at Penn State University. Among his students who became writers themselves were David Morrell and Ray Ring.

Tenn’s stories appeared in Astounding, Galaxy, F&SF and many other magazines and collections. In “The Quick and the Bomb” a man rejects city life to build a self-sustaining bomb shelter under his farm to protect his family from the impending nuclear war. It’s a fascinating glimpse into post-WWII anxieties, told with Tenn’s trademark sarcastic wit.

Ray Bradbury’s Small Assassin

Dime Mystery Nov. 1946

Stories from Suspense Magazine #1 Spring 1951

The idea that a newborn, a tiny baby could be an assassin aiming his sights on his own caregivers, aka his parents, is absurd. Yet, that is the premise of “Small Assassin” by Ray Bradbury that was reprinted in the first edition of Suspense Magazine. The story’s first appeared in Dime Mystery (Nov. 1946).

Despite the premise, the story is well-written and has been reprinted in multiple anthologies, including one named for the story. It was adapted for an EC comic book and an episode of The Ray Bradbury Theater television series and even has a page on Wikipedia.

Here’s the opening paragraph:
“Just when the idea occurred to her that she was being murdered she could not tell. There had been little subtle signs, little suspicions for the past month; things as deep as sea tides in her, like looking at a perfectly calm stretch of cerulean water and liking it and wanting to bathe in it, and finding, just as the tide takes your body into it, that monsters dwell just under the surface, things unseen, bloated, many-armed, sharp-fanged, malignant and inescapable.”

Image from the Wikipedia page.

James A. Kirch

Stories from Suspense Magazine #1 Spring 1951

An issue highlight, “The Eyewitness Who Wouldn’t See” by James A. Kirch, concerns the owner of a diner and his girl. Both witness a murder, but only the woman is brave enough to make a statement. Before the case goes to trial, she disappears. The police and a gangster pressure the diner’s owner to reveal the woman’s hiding place. Problem is, he really doesn’t know. A tight plot with good dialogue and mounting tension made this yarn one of the issues best stories.

I didn’t find much about Kirch online. His earliest story listed at Galactic Central is “One-Way Ticket” from Detective Fiction Weekly (Aug. 27,1938). Kirch’s short stories appeared often in detective pulps during the 1940s. His last, “Cops Don’t Run” was published in Argosy (Aug. 1957).

A science-storyette from S. Fowler Wright

Stories from Suspense Magazine #1 Spring 1951

“Obviously Suicide” by S. Fowler Wright
. A prolific author who wrote dozens of science fiction, mystery and historical novels between 1924 and 1954. In addition to his own name, Wright often wrote under the names Sidney Fowler and Anthony Wingrave.

His novel, The Adventure of Wyndham Smith (1938) was reprinted in Famous Fantastic Mysteries June 1950.

At the time he wrote “Suicide” for Suspense, he was the magazine’s senior contributor at age 70. It’s not exactly science fiction—Suspense labels it a science-storyette (a short or shortened story)—in this case three pages. The opening passage serves as a good summary:

“In about two seconds the Earth would dissolve in a blaze of fire,” the research worker at the N.U. Laboratory told his wife. “There would be a burst of light and—one planet less in the universe. The amazing aspect is its very simplicity. Ii could be made in a backyard shed. All one needs is a combination of three substances, all easy to obtain, and then nothing more than a loop of heated wire.”