Saturday, April 30, 2011

David Letterman vs. Donald Trump

Ed Gorman: I've said many times that Mark Evanier's "News From Me" is one of my five favorite blog spots. His knowledge, wit and wisdom make just about every blog post memorable. Yesterday he opined on the Donald Trump-David Letterman connection and it's a showbiz story that is relevant to the sorry state of our politics today. Log on and scroll down a ways. This is definitely a must-read if you're interested in confirming (again and again) what a giant true 100% asshole Trump is.

Mark Evanier:

"In the meantime, I have a sorta-first-person anecdote about Trump and Letterman. I was backstage at a taping of Dave's NBC show back in May of 1992 when Donald Trump was a guest and I'm going to tell what I remember with the following caveat: I have a real good memory but I'm not sure I recall this exactly. I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to the details at the time and some of the backstory I heard was second-hand. So I don't guarantee I have this exact but the essence of the story is true...

Mike Tyson had been sentenced to prison for raping a beauty pageant contestant. Trump had made headlines with a suggestion that struck some as outrageous. It was that Tyson not serve time behind bars but instead atone for his crimes with a couple of boxing matches — perhaps promoted by Mr. Trump or at a Trump resort? — with the proceeds going to charity. The proposal was big news for a few days there and Trump was appearing on Dave's show to discuss it."

for the rest go here:

Friday, April 29, 2011

Donald Westlake interview

Ed here: The Mystery Scene website is packed with various kinds of goodies. Here's an excerpt of an interview I did with Donald Westlake not long before his death. There's a link to it and while you;re there check out everything else on the website.

Westlake: Story defines the books for two reasons, both because story is what fiction is about and because, since I don’t outline or prepare in any other way, the story is forced to emerge or die. “Narrative push,” as I know you know. Once we have the fuel on board—and then, and then, and then—it’s nice to be able to try different things. Not to get digressive, but to give the story little extras. For instance, in one book I saw I had an opportunity, if I wanted, to tell one section in first person from Parker’s point of view. Since he isn’t someone who tends to want to tell other people anything, particularly anything unnecessary, I wondered if I could do it, what he would sound like, and would it turn out to be one of those false notes. In the event, it was fine. (And no, I can’t right now remember which book.) More recently, in Ask the Parrot, I suddenly realized I could do one chapter from the parrot’s point of view, and that made me very, very happy.

Gorman: You’ve written that you didn’t know how editors let alone readers would react to a hero like Parker. Were you surprised when your editor asked for more?

Westlake: When I wrote The Hunter it was supposed to be a one-off. A difficult unpleasant guy without redeeming qualities bent on revenge. Then Bucklyn Moon, an editor at Pocket Books, said he liked the book and wondered if Parker could escape at the end and me write “three more books a year about him.” (I actually did, the first two years.) I really had to concentrate on that, because Parker was everything a main character in a novel was supposed to not be. The big question was, could I go back to him, knowing he was going to be a series character, meeting the readers again and again, and not soften him. No sidekick or girlfriend to have conversations with, no quirks or hobbies. That was the goal. Somebody who, in a western, would be a lone traveler in the dimness on the other side of the campfire from the hero. Now that menacing but unimportant minor character would be asking for everybody’s attention. No, not asking, assuming.

for the rest go here:

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Is The Office’s Weepy Good-bye for Michael Scott or Steve Carell?

Ed here: As a big fan of The Office (I've come to enjoy it more than the original UK version even if it's nowhere near as daring), I've been fearing for weeks that the goodbye episode would resort to treacle on high. The trailer with Jim all gushy and mushy certainly makes you cringe but today on the New York magazine blog there's a very nice tribute to what Steve Carrell has done with the character over the eight years he's been there. (I'll watch tonight but I won't be surprised if this turns out to be as bad as the Seinfeld sign-off.)

New York Magazine:

Is The Office’s Weepy Good-bye for Michael Scott or Steve Carell? by Willa Paskin

Photo: Chris Haston/NBC

Here is a truncated list of inappropriate things that Michael Scott has done to his staff this season on The Office:

• egged Toby’s house; publicly given him an award for being despicable; yelled at him “You bitch! You can’t help people. You couldn’t help your marriage"; other daily tortures
• been so overcome by jealousy that he interrupted Andy’s performance in Sweeney Todd with boos, and other petulant behaviors
• lied to Dwight about recommending him for a job
• crashed Jim and Pam’s child’s baptism; called their child a “b-i-t-c-h”
• humiliatingly force-fed Kevin broccoli
• had a temper tantrum at Gabe’s apartment because he felt his authority was being threatened; his poor behavior included being rude to Gabe, throwing pizza dough, destroying everyone else’s ability to watch Glee
• regularly disparaged Phyllis about her age, even though they went to high school together
• tried to keep Darryl from getting his due credit for an idea

So why are all of these people serenading him on the occasion of his departure?

for the rest go here:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

New Books: The Girl Who Wanted to be Sherlock Holmes by Bill Crider

When Ed Gorman graciously invited me to write a little piece about The Girl Who Wanted to be Sherlock Holmes, my direct-to-Kindle YA novel, I was forced to think about why I published it in the first place. It wasn’t because I expected fame and fortune to follow immediately, even though I must admit that reading about Amanda Hocking’s millions of sales might have been a motivating factor. Somehow, though, I don’t think my sales will approach hers. Or anybody else’s for that matter. What it comes down to is that I did it for fun.

Here’s the story. I wrote the book some years ago and sent it to my agent, who supposedly loved it. Little did I know that my agent had pretty much quit agenting, at least for me, and that he wasn’t even sending the book out. I found out he’d really retired when eventually a manuscript was returned to me because someone had found it lying outside the door of his deserted office. Imagine my surprise. At any rate, I pretty much gave up on any projects at all for a year or two. I had to fulfill a contract for a Sheriff Dan Rhodes novel, and I wasn’t sure what I’d do after that. Everything else got shelved.

Eventually I decided to look for another agent, and I got a good one, but she doesn’t handle YA material. I never sent her a copy of Shirley Holmes. It just gathered figurative dust (and some literal dust, too). Then, not long ago, I got it out and read over it and found I liked it as much as ever. I’d always wanted to write something along the lines of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books I’d loved as a kid, and this was it. But nobody was ever going to see it unless I did something about it. It occurred to me that the easiest thing to do would be to put it on Kindle. And I did.

So far I’ve gotten several e-mails about the book, mostly to let me know that the cover bites the moose. Obviously I’m no graphic designer, and my Photoshop skills are about the same as those of one of my cats. (The other cat is much better at it than I am, but she doesn’t work cheap.) I’m looking into the possibility of a different cover. Maybe if I get one, the sales will climb, but Amanda Hocking isn’t looking over her shoulder, believe me.

At any rate, the book is out there if anybody wants to read it, and if I become rich and famous as a result of this post, I’m going to cut Ed in for 10%.

New Mystery Website

From Publishers Weekly:

Macmillan has launched, an online community for fans of crime and mystery fiction, focused on celebrating the genre and offering a combination of new material and pre-release excerpts as well as fan and writer commentary and more.
Like its sister community sites,, focused on science-fiction and fantasy, and, for romance, CriminalElement is a “publisher neutral” community, reaching beyond Macmillan authors to include crime and mystery authors and creators from all publishers. The site is beginning with original fiction and articles by such noted crime writers as Rosemary Harris, Luis Alberto Urrea, Joseph Finder and Steve Hamilton.

Liz Edelstein, senior manager and editor of CriminalElement and a published author herself, said the site was not simply to promote Macmillan authors. “We think of as a community for fans, by fans, and the focus is on editorial content rather than on marketing.” Edelstein said the site will highlight the vast range of crime and mystery writing—from Noir and procedurals to mystery graphic novels—and reach out to fans of the genre to make the site a destination for creators and fans.

The site is looking for short story submissions and excerpts and any interested parties should contact Edelstein (

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New Books: THE MICK CALLAHAN NOVELS by Harry Shannon

by Harry Shannon
$4.99 Kindle

Like many of us, I grew up loving books by Donald Hamilton, Richard Prather, and the great John D. MacDonald. I’ve always wanted to be an author but kept postponing any serious attempt. But then the character of a failed young media superstar named Mick Callahan captured my imagination just as I turned fifty, months after the birth of my first and only child. I felt compelled to write my first real novel.

Mick Callahan is a decent guy when he’s sober; athletic and exceedingly bright, but he is also very troubled. He’s my Jungian shadow, I suppose--someone who pushed the boundaries of his life even further than I did back in my wayward youth. Like me, Callahan grew up in Nevada , is a recovering alcoholic, a psychologist and a former entertainer. Like me, he managed to trash a promising career in the entertainment business, but in his case, by punching someone on live television. Unlike me, he’s also a Navy seal washout whose abusive stepfather made him fight other kids for money.

I first pictured the poor guy on the comeback trail, hunched over the decrepit console of a funky radio station in the middle of the desert, desperately trying to hold his own as guest host of a call-in program designed for UFO junkies, black helicopter paranoiacs and those who have been anally probed. To make the experience even more excruciating, it seemed appropriate to have Callahan also hail from that desolate area, a town called Dry Wells, Nevada. This way, the poor guy returns home not in triumph, but in disgrace. That concept became the first novel, “Memorial Day."

The second book grew out of reading an article about the “Burning Man” festival, which began in California but ended up in Nevada . I’ll admit I was initially fascinated by the wildness of it, although time and common sense have tamed it down since I’d first heard of it. In this book, I had some old enemies lure Mick there to take their revenge.

“One of the Wicked,” the third Callahan, is set half in Los Angeles and half in Nevada at a mythical new casino in the Valley of Fire. It takes Mick into more of a thriller status than the first two books, a trend I continue into the fourth novel, “Running Cold,” which is due in June.

Naturally, Callahan’s fiery temper is always a big part of any story. However, he is also a trained therapist, so Mick uses a variety of actual therapeutic techniques to probe for clues. The guy knows how to back people into a corner and play them like a piano, so the dialogue is loads of fun to write. My own background as a counselor comes in handy.

In honor of the June release of “Running Cold” the first three Mick Callahan novels “Memorial Day,” “Eye of the Burning Man” and “One of the Wicked” are now in one inexpensive Kindle book, simply entitled The Mick Callahan Novels.

And you get all this for only $4.99! Hope you’ll take a few minutes to check it out one of these days. I know Mick would appreciate that.

Harry Shannon

Monday, April 25, 2011

Vince Keenen: The Hardy Boys

Ed here: On The mighty fine Abbott Gran Medicine Show Vince Keenan talks about the books of his youth. There's not a word of treacle in the piece and there's a good deal of wisdom.

Vince Keenan:

The truth is that then as now, I consumed heroic quantities of crime fiction. And that meant The Hardy Boys. It’s fashionable to mock the series in all its gee-whiz, asexual glory. But I refuse to do that. I come here to praise Frank and Joe Hardy, not to bury them with scorn. The boys put me on a glide path that led to Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, to Lawrence Block and James Ellroy. For good and ill, they made me the reader that I am today.

The series is a remarkable American narrative in itself. Created by Edward Stratemeyer, the pioneer of book packaging. Cranked out by countless ghostwriters. (I never believed in Santa Claus, but it crushed me to learn that Franklin W. Dixon wasn’t real.) The first 38 entries were substantially revised beginning in 1959 to simplify them in the face of television’s popularity and to eliminate racial stereotyping. As a result, two completely different novels with the same title could be in simultaneous circulation, a lesson I learned the hard way. Buying the “wrong” version of The Missing Chums (#4 in the series) prompted a crash course in typefaces. I soon discovered that the original editions had denser text in every sense.

for the rest go here:

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Do Literary Gimmicks Work?

From The Daily Beast

Do Literary Gimmicks Work?
by Caryn James

From Steve Martin’s art world games to a novel constructed like a dictionary, there’s a slew of gimmicky new novels. Caryn James wonders if they equal good fiction.

Those live-action newspapers from the Harry Potter books and films—with moving and talking images on the page instead of old-fangled still photographs—don’t seem like a stretch today. They’re more like a prototype for the near future. Soon we’re likely to see a first-rate literary novel written expressly for the iPad or whatever higher-tech device comes next. We already have video books, cross-bred from e-books, and extra features. How can plain ink-on-paper compete with reading as an action sport?

We have entered the Age of the Stunt Novel, literary fiction that relies on gimmicks: photos splashed throughout the text, codes for your smartphone, stand-on-your-head structures, anything that screams “Look, this isn’t a boring old book.”
From Joyce and Beckett through Georges Perec, playing with form is nothing new, of course. The experimental novels of the 1970s turned stunts into a new genre. In Walter Abish’s Alphabetical Africa, for one, all the words in the first chapter begin with the letter A, expanding in chapter two to include words beginning with B, and so on. What we’re seeing now doesn’t come with the same rigorous artistic principles.

The impulse behind today’s shift is partly commercial. You can’t blame frantic authors, stranded in the land of tumbling sales, closing bookstores, and miniscule e-book royalties. But the dynamic also flows, perhaps unconsciously, from the powerful influence of the Web and the way we juggle several things at once, watching online video or TV while texting or checking email and talking on the phone. That multiplicity is creeping into novels.

for the rest go here:

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Beware-Crankiness Ahead Talking Funny

I watched Talking Funny last night with Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Louis CK, and Ricky Gervais and my impression was that these egomaniacs love themselves a lot more than I do.

Seinfeld hasn't been very funny since his show ended, Rock peaked sometime back, Louis CK has always irritated me (he's the guy at the bar who always gets decked) and Gervais' fame and fortune has turned him into a preening parody of his former self.

So there you have it--my prejudices going in. I admit to them. Maybe I'm being unfair. Maybe when this many shallow minds try to get analytical at once boredom is guaranteed. It's what I always tell people who people who are assume that all writers are smart. I always say no, they're not. (I'm not very smart--and that's not self-effacement; I'm just not that bright.) They're talented. And there's a difference. For instance If you've ever heard Marlon Brando try to talk you know that not all actors are smart.

What I'm saying is that all the guys on Talking Funny last night are indisputably talented. Seinfeld-Larry David created what is for me the greatest anti-sit-com of all time. Rock knocked the walls down. Geravis' Extras is nothing less than brilliant; to me it's more important than his version of The Office. Louie CK, I'm sorry to say, is not in this league and never will be. But four out of five ain't bad.

Maybe I expected too much and the fault is therefore mine. I didn't hate it, I just thought it was dull..

Friday, April 22, 2011

John D. MacDonald on Dashiell Hammett

Ed here: Steve Scott does excellent work on his The Trap of Solid Gold website dedicated to the work and life of John D. MacDonald. Be sure to check it out. Here's a sample.

JDM on Dialogue

"I never met [Dashiell] Hammett and never corresponded with him. Here are some small and unimportant ways in which our lives touched. Hammett and I were both discharged from the Army in September of 1945 at Fort Dix, NJ. I was 29 and he was 51.

"His first novel, Red Harvest, was published in 1929 when he was 33. My first novel, The Brass Cupcake, was published in 1950 when I was 34. Both novels are still in print.

"His last short story in the pulp magazine Black Mask was "Death and Company," published in 1930. Seventeen years later, my first story in that magazine was titled "Manhattan Horse Opera," which doubtless shows a smidgen or two of the Hammett influence. He influenced us all: The straight, simple prose style. Everything deleted except what moved the action forward. Characters shown through action and through dialogue -- with a special emphasis on making the dialogue ring true. This is a very chancy area. You cannot have people talking the way people actually talk. Transcribe a tape of any casual conversation, and you will see what I mean. You have to do dialogue that, if spoken exactly as written, would sound just a little bit stilted -- yet on the page, it creates for the reader the imitation of a total reality."

-- from John D MacDonald's book review of Shadow Man (a Hammett biography) published in the August 2, 1981 edition of the Washington Star.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Gorman-Piccirilli; Edmond Hamilton

Ed here:That fine writer James Reasoner was nice enough to review the novella that Tom Piccirilli and I did. If you like adventure stories, give this one a try. I think you'll enjoy it. Thanks, James.


Cast in Dark Waters - Ed Gorman and Tom Piccirilli
How long has it been since you read a good, old-fashioned, swashbuckling pirate yarn? Well, neighbor, that’s too long, as they used to say on the Wolf Brand Chili commercials. What you need to do is read CAST IN DARK WATERS by Ed Gorman and Tom Piccirilli, which is a pirate yarn . . . and more.

Gorman and Piccirilli have come up with a fine protagonist in the young woman known as Crimson, a beautiful, redheaded female pirate in the Caribbean sometime in the late 17th or early 18th century. She’s hired by a tobacco planter from Virginia and the man’s wife to retrieve the couple’s daughter, who has run off with a pirate who makes his headquarters on an island that’s supposed to be cursed.

Because this is as much a horror tale as it is a pirate story, you know things aren’t going to go particularly well on this mission, and sure enough, they don’t. But there’s plenty of pulpish goodness along the way, including swordfights. You know I love me some swordfights.

Gorman and Piccirilli have done a great job on this novella, which was originally published as a limited edition hardcover. I missed out on that edition and have wanted to read it ever since, so as soon as it became available as a very affordable e-book, I grabbed a copy. It’s available at all the usual outlets, including the publisher’s website, and if you enjoy high adventure yarns with more than a touch of creepiness and some fine characters, I highly recommend CAST IN DARK WATERS.


Ed here: I was raving about Edmond Hamilton's science fiction last night. What's cool about this volume is that it also includes some of his horror stories which are spectacular.

The Universe Wreckers
The Collected Edmond Hamilton,
Volume Three
Edmond Hamilton
Introduction by Eric Leif Davin
Illustrated by H.W. "Wesso" Wessolowski, Frank R. Paul, Hugh Rankin, C.C. Senf, J. Fleming Gould, and Leo Morey
ISBN 9781893887411
784 pp. Hardcover
Less than a year after the release of first two volumes of THE COLLECTED EDMOND HAMILTON (Vol. One: The Metal Giants and Others and Vol. Two: The Star Stealers: The Complete Tales of the Interstellar Patrol) Haffner Press lets no grass grow under our feet as we announce the next volume of collected stories from one of the godfathers of Space Opera.

This volume sees Hamilton established not only as a regular contributor to Weird Tales, but also to Amazing Stories, Hugo Gernback's new magazine Air Wonder Stories, and the young upstart publication, Astounding Stories. Eight of these stories are reprinted for the first time, including two novels: "Cities in the Air" and "The Universe Wreckers."

Hamilton's as-yet-unrecognized talent for the short horror story gets a work-out with "The Plant Revol," "Pigmy Island," and "The Life-Masters."

As with previous volumes in this series, an appendix showcasing the original pulp magazine illustrations also bulks large with obscura including reader's letters from the vintage magazines commenting on these stories, along with editorial correspondence between Hamilton and his editors.

University of Pittsburgh professor Dr. Eric Leif Davin (and author of Pioneers of Wonder: Conversations with the Founders of Science Fiction and Partners in Wonder: Women and the Birth of Science Fiction, 1926-1965) provides a lengthy introduction placing these Hamilton stories in historical context and shares a wealth of information on the editorial policies of the commissioning editors. His website is:

Table of Contents

Related Books
The Vampire Master
Stark and the Star Kings
The Metal Giants and Others
The Star Stealers
Captain Future - Volume One
Captain Future - Volume Two

Table of Contents
Introduction by Eric Leif Davin
"Cities in the Air" (Air Wonder Stories Nov, Dec ’29)
"The Life-Masters" (Weird Tales, Jan ’30)
"The Space Visitors" (Air Wonder Stories, Mar ’30)
"Evans of the Earth Guard" (Air Wonder Stories, Apr ’30)
"The Plant Revolt" (Weird Tales, Apr ’30)
"The Universe Wreckers" (Amazing Stories May, Jun, Jul ’30)
"The Death Lord" (Weird Tales, Jul ’30)
"Pigmy Island" (Weird Tales, Aug ’30)
"Second Satellite" (Astounding Stories, Aug ’30)
"World Atavism" (Amazing Stories, Aug ’30)
"The Man Who Saw the Future" (Amazing Stories, Aug ’30)

• Original Pulp Illustrations
• Readers' Letters from Original Magazines
• Correspondence between Hamilton and the SF Luminaries of the Day

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Paul Levine; Captain Future


From Paul Levine

I was sitting at the end of the bar sipping single-malt Scotch when I
spotted the tall blond woman with the large green eyes and the small gray

That’s the opening line of “Flesh & Bones,” Paul Levine’s bestselling 1997
thriller that has just been released as an e-book. It’s the last of the
critically acclaimed series featuring Jake Lassiter, the second-string
linebacker turned hard-boiled Miami lawyer.

“Flesh & Bones” deals with the very real issue of “recovered memories.”
In the opening scene, fashion model Chrissy Bernhardt shoots her wealthy
father. She claims to have recently recovered repressed memories of
having been sexually abused by him as a child. Hired to defend her, Jake
Lassiter begins to doubt his client, even as he falls for her.

“Another breathless thriller,” wrote the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
“Filled with smart writing and smart remarks,” proclaimed the Dallas
Morning News.

“Flesh & Bones,” priced at $2.99, is available on Kindle, Nook, and at

-----------------------------------------CAPTAIN FUTURE

Ed here: Edmond Hamilton is one of my favorite old-time pulp writers. That he survived the pulps and went on to write some of the most masterful stories of the Fifties and Sixties is a credit to his skill and intelligence. But even these days I pick up one of his old pulp stories from time to time and have a great time with it. If you want to know where Star Trek and all other such shows and books came from, look no further than this gorgeous edition of Captain Future Volume One.

The Collected Captain Future
Volume One
Edmond Hamilton
Introduction by Richard A. Lupoff
Illustrated by George Rozen, Earle K. Bergey & H.W. "Wesso" Wessolowski
ISBN-10 189388735-9
ISBN-13 978189388735-0
776 pp. Hardcover
Here is a letter, attributed to Standard Magazines editor Leo Margulies, sent to science fiction fanzine editors in 1939. This text is from Bob Tucker's classic fanzine Le Zombie (vol. 2, No. 4, Oct 28, 1939)

"Dear Mr. Tucker,

Can there be anything new in scientifiction? We say yes -- and offer CAPTAIN FUTURE. Fellows, CAPTAIN FUTURE is tops in scientifantasy! A brand new book-length magazine novel devoted exclusively to a star-studded quartet of the most glamorous characters in the Universe. And the most colorful planeteer in the Solar System to lead them -- CAPTAIN FUTURE. You'll find Captain Future the man of Tomorrow! His adventures will appear in each & every issue of the magazine that bears his name.

He ought to be good. We spent months planning the character, breathing the fire of life into him. For we feel that the man who controls the destinies of nine planets has to be good. But don't take our word for it -- get your first copy of CAPTAIN FUTURE the day it hits the newstands and marvel at the wizard of science as he does his stuff on every thrilling page.

You'll find Captain Future the most dynamic space-farer the cosmos has ever seen. A super-man who uses the forces of super-science so that you will believe in them. You'll see Captain Future's space craft, the Comet spurting thru the ether with such hurricane fury you'll think Edmond Hamilton, the author, has hurled you on a comet's tail.

And you'll agree that Captain Future's inhuman cavalcade -- the Futuremen -- supplement the world's seven wonders. There's Grag, the metal robot; Otho, the synthetic android; and Simon Wright, the living brain. A galaxy of the ultimate immortal forces!

So come on....give the most scintillating magazine ever to appear on the scientifiction horizon the once over. You'll be telling us, as we tell you now, that CAPTAIN FUTURE represents fantasy at it's unbeatable best.

CAPTAIN FUTURE will appear at all newsstands in a few weeks. Price, 15 cents. First issue features Edmond Hamilton's novel, CAPTAIN FUTURE AND THE SPACE EMPEROR. Cover by Rozen. Illustrations by Wesso. Short stories by Eric Frank Russell and O. Sarri. Brand new departments -- THE WORLDS OF TOMORROW, THE FUTUREMEN, UNDER OBSERVATION, and THE MARCH OF SCIENCE.

That's all.

--Leo Margulies"

Table of Contents

Related Books
The Vampire Master
Stark and the Star Kings
The Metal Giants and Others
The Star Stealers
The Universe Wreckers
Captain Future - Volume Two
Table of Contents
Introduction by Richard A. Lupoff
Original Magazine Editorial
"Captain Future and the Space Emperor" (Captain Future, Win ’40)
"Calling Captain Future" (Captain Future, Spr ’40)
"Captain Future's Challenge" (Captain Future, Sum ’40)
"The Triumph of Captain Future" (Captain Future, Fll ’40)
"The Future of Captain Future"
Artwork Gallery

Edmond Hamilton (1926-1977) was a pioneer of American science fiction who began his writing career during the 'Golden Age' of pulp magazines. He sold his first story, 'The Monster-God of Mamorth" to Weird Tales magazine in 1926 and became a prolific contributor to the science fiction pulp magazines of the 30s and 40s. He was writing and getting published through the 1960s, even as the popularity of science fiction action/adventure tales of the kind he specialized in was fading. Now under the deft and expert editorship of Stephen Haffner, Haffner Press is bringing out deluxe editions comprising all of the Edmond Hamilton stories, beginning with "Captain Future", a quintessential science fiction hero who, along with his three companions (a sentient robot, a synthetic android, and a disembodied brain kept alive in a serum-case) protected the solar system against all manner of villains and menaces. Captain Future was such a popular character that it became the title of one of the many science fiction pulp magazines of the day. Now all those wonderful science fiction adventures of yesteryear are available in a single 776-page volume.

Also very highly recommended for dedicated science fiction fans and made available by Haffner Press is a collection of Edmond Hamilton stories originally published in the pages of Weird Tales magazine (along with two that were published in Amazing Stories Quarterly and one printed in Science Wonder Quarterly): "The Collected Edmond Hamilton: Volume One: The Metal Giants And Others" and "The Collected Edmond Hamilton: Volume Two: The Star-Stealers: The Complete Tales of the Interstellar Patrol".
—Midwest Book Review

"One more title for tonight, also a deeply-appreciated review copy: The Collected Captain Future, Volume One, from Haffner Press. Edmond Hamilton was the quintessential space opera writer of the 1930s and '40s, but he was an author I had never read: with this book in hand, I read the 150-page long title story, "Captain Future and the Space Emperor", first published in 1940. It is a hoot; it is a casebook of prose the like of which is described in writing courses under the heading *do not write like this* -- a compendium of "said-bookisms" such as "he muttered sickly to himself", "the President asserted confidently", "the thing gasped hoarsely", and so on and on. But more than that, it's a tale of simple presumptions about space flight and planetary natives and easy villains with unironic tags like "space emperor"... So unironic that it's hard to believe anyone could have read this stuff without choking. Isn't there a lesson here, though, about context and presumptions and relative sophistication? Might we reflect on what has or has not changed since then? As an example, here back in 1940 two of Edmond Hamilton's characters debate about who or which is most human... a debate carried on in subsequent decades by Isaac Asimov and STTNG's Data and all the way to Bernard Beckett's Genesis. Some things never change; some debates seem never to be resolved."
—Mark R. Kelly, Views from Medina Road, the locusmag blog


Monday, April 18, 2011

Jack Williamson; Robert Colby

Ed here: Haffner Press continues to produce some of the most beautiful books I've ever seen. If you've seen any of its Jack Williamson collections (this is the final one in the series) you know how rich they are not only in artwork and the art of making books but in bringing back classic material in a permanent form. If you love science fiction you'll love these books. Jack Williamson was always one of my favorite writers so this is a special treat.

At the Human Limit,
The Collected Stories of Jack Williamson,
Volume Eight
Jack Williamson
Foreword by Connie Willis
Cover art by Ralph McQuarrie
ISBN 9781893887510
616-page Hardcover

Full Color Endpapers

The ambitious program to collect the short fiction of Grand Master Jack Williamson concludes!

As with previous volumes in this series, the full-color endpapers reproduce the original magazine covers (with artwork by masters including Virgil Finlay, Jim Burns, Luis Royo and Vincent Di Fate) of the stories herein, and the binding is designed to match the 1940s editions of Williamson's works published by Fantasy Press. The book is smythe-sewn, bound in full cloth, and printed on acid-neutral paper, with full-color endpapers reproducing each story's original cover art.

With a foreword by award-winning author and long-time friend of Williamson, Connie Willis, At the Human Limit represents the changing state of mid-20th Century American Science Fiction and concludes the documentation of Williamson's unparalleled career.

Table of Contents

Related Books
The Worlds of Jack Williamson
In Memory of Wonder's Child
The Metal Man and Others
Wolves of Darkness
Wizard's Isle
Spider Island
The Crucible of Power
Gateway to Paradise
With Folded Hands . . .
The Queen of the Legion
Table of Contents
"Foreword" by Connie Willis
“Second Man to the Moon” (Fantastic, April 1959)
“The Masked World" (Worlds of Tomorrow, October 1963)
“Jamboree” (Galaxy Magazine, December 1969)
“The Highest Dive” (Science Fiction Monthly, January 1976)
“Farside Station” (Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, November/December 1978)
“. . . All Ye Who Enter Here” (Stellar Science Fiction #6)
“A Break for the Dinosaurs” (Speculations, 1983)
“Space Family Smiths” (JD Journal, 1983)
“At the Human Limit” (The Planets, 1985)
“The Mental Man” (Amazing Stories, October 1988)
“The Bird’s Turn” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, October/November 1992)
“Venus Is Hell” (Omni, October 1992)
“The Litlins” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, December 1993)
“The Fractal Man” (VB Tech Journal, July 1996)
“The Firefly Tree” (Science Fiction Age, May 1997)
“The Hole in the World” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, October/November 1997)
“The Purchase of Earth” (Science Fiction Age, July 1998)
“The Story Roger Never Told” (Lord of the Fantastic: Stories in Honor of Roger Zelazny, 1998)
“The Pet Rocks Mystery” (Alien Pets, 1998)
“Miss Million” (Amazing Stories, Winter 1999)
“Eden Star” (Star Colonies, 2000)
“Nitrogen Plus” (Asimov’s Science Fiction, October/November 2001)
“Afterlife” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, February 2002)
“The Planet of Youth” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, April 2002)
“Shakespeare & Co.” (Shelf Life, 2002)
“The Man From Somewhere” (Asimov’s Science Fiction, October/November 2003)
“Black Hole Station” (Space Stations, 2004)
“Devil’s Star” (Visions of Liberty, 2004)
“Dream of Earth” (Amazing Stories, November, 2004)
“The Half Men” (Absolute Magnitude, May 2005)
“The Cat That Loved Shakespeare” (Chronicle, August 2005)
“Ghost Town” (Weird Tales, July 2005)
“The Mists of Time” (Millennium 3001, 2006)
“A Christmas Carol” (The Worlds of Jack Williamson, 2008)

---------------------ROBERT COLBY

Ed here: Several of you wrote off-line for information about Robert Colby whose novel The Captain Must Die I praised awhile back.Here's a very good piece and bibliography about Bob from Pete Enfantino on the Mystery File website.

ROBERT COLBY - A TRIBUTE by Peter Enfantino

Robert Colby died last week. A lot of people won’t even recognize the name. That’s a shame, but it’s their loss. Colby was every bit as good a writer as the other Gold Medal authors of the 50s and 60s who’ve found favor among historians and collectors. He just never had one of those million sellers like the other guys did. There was no Death of a Citizen or Hill Girl. Just respectable sales for some of his “adult” titles like Lament for Julie (Monarch, 1961) and Executive Wife (Monarch, 1964).

My introduction to Robert Colby, as was my introduction to all the classic Gold medal authors, was through an article Ed Gorman wrote for a magazine I used to co-publish called The Scream Factory. In the piece Ed sang the praises of a couple dozen GM authors, writers such as Peter Rabe, Vin Packer, Gil Brewer, Wade Miller, and Harry Whittington. Back in 1993, (when the article first appeared) Black Lizard was publishing a lot of forgotten writers like Packer, Rabe, and Brewer, so I was fairly familiar with those guys. One of the writers Ed praised was Robert Colby, a name I was not so familiar with. Ed called Colby’s The Captain Must Die (Gold Medal, 1959) “one of the great GM novels,” so I knew I had to check this one out.

for the rest go here:

The new "Parker." What do you think?

Jason Statham is 'Parker' for Taylor Hackford's New Film Noir Thriller
April 18, 2011
Source: Variety
by Ethan Anderton

(link from Noir of The Week)

Since his 2010 film Love Ranch starring Joe Pesci went largely unnoticed, director Taylor Hackford (Ray) looks to be putting his talents to work on a film more appealing to general audiences. Variety reports the filmmaker will direct a new thriller called Parker, and Jason Statham (Crank, The Transporter) is in negotiations to star in the film as well. Based on series of novels by Donald Westlake, the story follows a thief who, though at times is forced to be a killer, still lives by a code of honor that includes never stealing money from people who need it. His word is his bond, and if he is crossed he will strike back. Read on!

This definitely sounds like a job for Jason Statham, and considering Westlake has written no less than sixteen novels featuring the titular character. This isn't the first time, the character has been seen on screen as films like Payback (with Mel Gibson) and The Outfit (with Robert Duvall) were adapted from stories featuring Parker, though his character name was changed for the films themselves. Hackford is looking forward to making this his first sort of film noir saying, "I don't want to get stuck in a genre. What I like the most about this piece of material is that you can take a genre piece like this and turn it into a great movie." The role seems like old trick for Statham, but with someone like Hackford behind the camera, this could be interesting. What do you think?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Ramble House Story

Here's my interview with the talented and tireless Fender Tucker about his fine Ramble House imprint.

What motivated you to establish Ramble House Publishing?

Back in 1999, Jim Weiler, a fellow programmer at the software com-pany we
worked, and I decided to figure out how to make books at home using our
PCs and laser printers. It worked, sort of, and we started with the
novels of Harry Stephen Keeler, a forgotten author that Bill Pronzini and
Francis M. Nevins had championed. Soon after, we met Gavin O’Keefe, from
Bendigo, Australia, online and he began providing brand new cover art.
Before we knew it, the three of us had made a couple of thousand copies
of the A6-sized, dustjacketed paperback books. Then, in 2005 the POD
companies made it easier to use them than to make my own books. So we
branched out into other forgotten authors and even added a few living
writers who have supported us.

Describe your line to those unfamiliar with it.

Ramble House is a Print-On-Demand publisher. We take old books that are
out of copyright (or in copyright limbo) and re-edit them and sell modern
editions of them through the Ramble House web site or Ama-zon. We don’t
have an inventory of books; they’re only made by Create Space, Lightning
Source or Lulu after we get an order for them. We mostly do old, forgotten
mystery or horror authors but we’ve also added a few modern mystery and
western writers in recent years.

One way to get a sense of your publishing program is to ask what type of
fiction you prefer reading.

I enjoy old mysteries the most, especially noir, but I can’t pass up
ob-scure science fiction, erotica or horror and detective pulps. Of
modern authors I find that I tend to read only the ones I have met in
person at Bouchercons and other book shows. I will also read almost
anything by an amateur author like myself who will swap books with me. I
always report on their book but they rarely ever say anything about mine.
Could that be a hint?

I read an article recently that claimed that small publishers now discover
and develop new writers far more often than the big pub-lishing houses in
NYC. How do you feel about that?

I believe it, although I think that the traditional publishing process is
still the best way to get the cream of the literary crop paid for their
work. Let me digress a bit by saying that I stopped paying any attention
to mu-sical awards back in the 80s when it became easy for anyone to
record a song with reasonable quality. How can they say at the Emmy’s
that these are the best songs of the year when the judges only heard 2%
of the songs written and recorded that year? I’m beginning to feel that
way about novels and short stories. There are way too many novels written
and published every year for anyone to claim to have a handle on which
are the best. I predict that in a few years I will even say the same
thing about the Oscars. Back when there were only 100 or so films a year
with any production quality at all, the Oscar meant something. Now there
are 1000 (3000 if you count India) films every year it’s getting harder
to say that a $100,000 film by a teenager from Cedar Rapids couldn’t be
better than the latest James Cameron blockbuster.
Democracy is good for humanity and cults. It’s bad for tradition and
el-ites. The old ways produced a Mozart every century; the new ways
pro-duces several Willie Nelsons. I’m fine with the new ways.

What are two or three of the biggest problems small publishers face?

Getting the word out about a new product is the biggest problem facing a
small publisher. Once his books get listed somewhere, he then has to find
a way to make his books stand out and that is where the many liter-ary
awards help. However, since I just trashed the whole idea of awards in a
field where there are too many competitors, I guess there’s no real
solution to the problem. In the future, all books will be cult books.

Do you feel that that tsunami of self-published books get in the way of
legitimate small publishing?

Is Ramble House “legitimate”? Probably not, according to the way I’m sure
many veterans of publishing feel. I’ve rejected a few books because they
weren’t in the Ramble House mold, but in general I feel that every-body’s
story deserves to be available in my all-time favorite medium: the paper
book. No, I don’t think everybody’s “memoir books” get in the way.
Readers just have to be a little more discerning when buying an unknown

Small press publishing is a perilous task--how are things going so far?

Ramble House started as a hobby and it’s still one for me, although I
must admit, the few hundred dollars it adds to my social security check
every month is quite welcome. If I needed $1000 a month minimum from
Ramble House I’d have given it up years back and somehow tried to land a
real job. I don’t recommend getting into POD publishing as I have if you
have a family to feed. It’s more suited for an ambitionless curmudgeon
who likes to read.

The beauty of my business is that I get paid in royalties. There’s a
reason why that way of getting paid is given such a lofty name. It’s
income suitable for a king. It’s getting paid for something you already
did. Now that Ramble House has over 300 titles in its stable, I can
probably look forward to getting $500 a month for the rest of my life. If
I get up to the 1000 titles mark, I might get that number up to $1000. Of
course, I la-bored pretty hard for the past ten years to get in this
position, and if I’d had a decent job instead I would have made $200,000
or so and could make $500 a month in interest. I guess it’s the socialist
in me, but I’m happy with collecting royalty, and consider interest a form
of blood money.

Which title has been your biggest success so far?

By far, GADSBY by Ernest Vincent Wright is Ramble House’s best-seller.
It’s sold maybe 500 copies. I consider it practically unreadable but it’s
a lipogram, and the gimmick of having no letter E anywhere in the text
makes it a curiosity that many people can’t resist. I doubt if many
people actually read it all the way through.
Of the rest of the RH titles, the two impossible crime books by Hake
Talbot, RIM OF THE PIT and THE HANGMAN’S HANDYMAN al-ways sell well. Of
our reference books, Mike Nevins’ THE ANTHONY BOUCHER CHRONICLES and

Tell us about your some of your current books as well as a few future ones.

Thanks to our merging with John Pelan of Midnight House, we’ve added a
bunch of horror and detective books from the pulps. Authors like Mark
Hanson, Day Keene, Walter S. Masterman and John H. Knox are his specialty
and we hope to have many more collections and novels from them in the near
future. John’s imprint is The Dancing Tuatara Press.
A similar surge of titles from Gelett Burgess and Philip Wylie comes from
Richard A. Lupoff under his Surinam Turtle Press imprint.
I’m excited about our publishing the novels of William Ard, one of my
favorite 50s and 60s writers, and I still think everyone ought to read at
least Harry Stephen Keeler novel.

How are you planning to deal with the e book stampede?

I’m hoping that a single format for e-books emerges and that it’s easy to
convert a well-edited and formatted book to that format in a few
min-utes. Then I’ll probably spend the time to convert most of the RH
titles to it and offer them as well as the paper editions. I don’t have
an e-book reader myself, and probably won’t get one because I can’t see
carrying around an electronic device. I’ve had a cell phone for five
years now and it stays in my bedroom, running down its batteries
regularly even though it never rings or is used. I dread talking on the
damn thing. I’d probably feel the same way about a Kindle.

Where do you hope Ramble House will be two years from now?

I’d love to move Ramble House to California where I understand people can
actually smoke marijuana without danger of getting thrown in jail by an
alcoholic, wife-beating sheriff, but I’m pretty sure Ramble House will
still be in Vancleave MS. I bought 1000 ISBNs back in 2004 and have used
550 of them so far. I hope to live to use up all of them even though as
far as I can tell, the ISBNs haven’t helped sell a single book.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

eBook Tops All Trade Publishing Categories in February

eBook Newser:

eBook Tops All Trade Publishing Categories in February

By Jason Boog on April 14, 2011 3:47 PM
eBooks hit a major milestone in February. According to Association of American Publishers (AAP) sales figures, eBooks ranked as the top format “among all categories of trade publishing” that month.

eBook sales totaled $90.3 million for the month, expanding 202 percent compared to the same period last year. Below, we’ve embedded the full release.

Here’s more from the AAP: “This one-month surge is primarily attributed to a high level of strong post-holiday e-Book buying, or ‘loading,’ by consumers who received e-Reader devices as gifts. Experts note that the expanded selection of e-Readers introduced for the holidays and the broader availability of titles are factors.”


Friday, April 15, 2011

A fine Piece of Writing

Ed here: Megan Abbott and Sara Gran call their shared blog The Abbott Gran Old Tyme Medicine Show. I've only started reading it and now I never miss it because in terms of keen observation and wonderful writing I think it's without peer.

In the piece I'm linking to a writer named Stonafitch writes a memoir of his uncle William Harrington who wrote crime novels and ghosted a large number of books. Stonafitch charts the life of a man who never won the acclaim or fame he wanted and turned bitter because of it. Harrington lived large as they say. He also lived in one of those inchoate alcoholic hazes that only the true warrior drunks can sustains. Sometimes for years. (I know whereof I speak.)

His bitterness reminds me of a few writers I've met along the way. There was one critically acclaimed horror writer who wrote for Mystery Scene I couldn't take more than a few minutes of on the phone. I've always been an enthusiast. I enjoy pushing writer and books I like. But no matter who I mentioned he'd have some snarky remark to make. He'd always been thought to be The Next Big Thing but not even two lead slots with a big house broke him out and by God he was going to take it out on the rest of us. A prick.

This is a remarkable piece of work. And when you finish that scroll down to Megan Abbott's take on Gloria Graham. Eloquent and definitive.


The real Uncle Bill was often charming and occasionally mean but it was excusable because he was a writer, and so, insecure and deeply flawed. He looked like a pocket-sized Norman Mailer, without as much genius or popularity but with an extra dose of street smarts. Bill inspired a kind of fearful awe in our family because he was pretty much always half-drunk and prone to conversational bullying.

Bill took great delight in turning any family occasion into a debacle, which I appreciated, kind of:

Florida, 1968–Family vacation. We climb a tower at a scenic overlook. When everyone else is climbing down, Bill grabs me by the ankles and hangs my scrawny, seven-year-old ass, Pip-like, above the Everglades. When I scream and squirm like a psychotic shrimp, he tells me now you know what if feels like to be scared.


I had dinner with Bill spring of my senior year in college, hoping for advice for a young writer about to venture out into the marketplace. What I got instead was an evening-long, soul-killing rant about his huge book advances, celebrities he knew, and how bad most other writers (Harold Robbins!) were.

After dinner, which included drinking most of the red wine in southern Connecticut, my ursine uncle padded off to his study to write. I could barely walk but Uncle Bill was writing, or appeared to be. My last memory of that night? His puffy face and glittering eyes lit green by the screen of his expensive PC, the first I had ever seen.

There goes a pro, I thought at the time, too young to recognize a drinker with a writing problem. After that, I lost touch with Uncle Bill on purpose, trying to avoid contagion from the palpable bitterness that pumped through him like central air.

for the rest go here:

Thursday, April 14, 2011

New Books: Fall From Grace by Wayne Arthurson

By Wayne Arthurson
Author of Fall From Grace

I’ve been answering many questions about my recent release, Fall From
Grace, but probably the most common has been: “Where do you end and where
does your main character Leo Desroches begin?”

I’ve been very polite responding to that question, not only because I’m
Canadian and we’re supposed to be more inclined towards politeness, but
it’s also a valid question. There are many similarities between me, the
writer, and Leo, the main character in Fall From Grace and future novels
in this series.

For one, Leo and I are both journalists. We are also Cree, a type of
Canadian Indian, although in Canada we don’t use the term Indian. It’s
considered derogatory so we just say First Nations or Aboriginal. Leo and
I are also French Canadian, but the difference is that Leo’s father is
French Canadian and his mother is Cree. For me it’s the opposite. Not
that big a difference, I know.

Leo and I both grew up on Canadian Armed Forces bases, and that childhood
connection also plays into our aboriginal background. Because these bases
tend to be more homogenous in culture, many of them like a small town
even those located in the middle of a major city, my family put aside or
ignored much of our cultural background, especially the aboriginal side.
So Leo’s initial forays into his aboriginal background echoed mine;
although we both took different routes. In Fall From Grace, Leo meets
Francis, an aboriginal elder. Francis takes Leo under his wing, offering
him opportunities to explore this side of his personal history. Francis
also plays a role in the plot of the mystery, although I’m not going to
give away any spoilers.

My exploration was more individual, beginning about 15 years ago with a
visit to my father’s home town of Norway House, an aboriginal community
about 40 miles north of Lake Winnipeg. And my journey has also been more
of an internal one, with the acceptance that even though I didn’t grow up
in a traditional aboriginal home on a Reserve, my life story is still a
valid Canadian aboriginal story and more common than you think.

So in those ways, Leo and I are similar. But like I say in my interviews
about Fall From Grace, Leo investigates the murder of a prostitute and
because of that, draws the ire of some bad folks who threaten his life in
numerous ways. I have never investigated such a story in my journalism
career. And the oly people I’ve angered are those whose names I spelled
incorrectly. Also, Leo is a degenerate gambler with a serious proclivity towards risk
taking behavior. I’m being very polite here because Leo has a very acute
gambling problem that has resulted in losing his family and forcing him
to live on the street for a number of years. His risk taking behavior has
also surprised many readers; it even surprised me when I was writing the
book. I rarely gamble, save for the buying of the odd lottery ticket. And
my risk taking behavior consists of trying to make a living as a writer
and being a punk rock drummer a number of years ago.

But regardless of Leo’s faults, we are both hopeful people. And I like
Leo, and hope that many others do as well.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Grandmaster is Having a Birthday

Ed here: Bill Pronzini is having a birthday today. This is an opportune time for me to thank him for thirty years of friendship, innumerable kinds of help and for never complaining about how much I've learned (i.e. stolen) from his work. Happy birthday, Bill.

Here's a review from a few years ago. This is one of my favorites of Bill's stand alones.

The Other Side of Silence

Bill Pronzini has become not only a poet of people, but a poet of place as well. In THE OTHER SIDE OF SILENCE, corporate security specialist Rick Fallon is, like many Pronzini protagonists, spiritually adrift. And with good reason: The death of his son also meant the death of his marriage. So when he finds Casey Dunbar in an isolated pocket of Death Valley and finds her suicidal, he recognizes a kindred spirit.

Her son has been abducted by her vengeful and cynical husband, not because he cares about the boy, but because he wants to destroy her. The desert speaks to both Fallon and Casey, and in its solemn silence, they agree to start on the long and dangerous journey to recapture her son.

Pronzini’s prose has never been more evocative, giving us a land as seared as the people who inhabit it. The pursuit of the boy is filled with page-turning suspense and constant revelation of the characters the two protagonists meet on their way to the explosive and unexpected ending.

If you need any more evidence as to why The Mystery Writers of America named Pronzini this year’s Grand Master, this novel should make the case once and for all. —Ed Gorman

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Paris Review Interview With Ray Bradbury

Ed here: I want to Thank Terry Butler again for the link. This is the most insightful Bradbury interview I've ever read.

"Around 1947, when I published my first novel, Dark Carnival, I met the secretary of Norman Corwin, a big name in radio—a director, writer, and producer. Through her I sent him a copy of Dark Carnival and wrote a letter saying, If you like this book as much as I like your work, I’d like to buy you drinks someday. A week later the phone rang and it was Norman. He said, You’re not buying me drinks, I’m buying you dinner. That was the start of a lifelong friendship. That first time he took me to dinner I told him about my Martian story “Ylla.” He said, Wow, that’s great, write more of those. So I did. In a way, that was what caused The Martian Chronicles to be born.

There was another reason. In 1949, my wife Maggie became pregnant with our first daughter, Susan. Up until then, Maggie had worked full-time and I stayed home writing my short stories. But now that she was going to have the baby, I needed to earn more money. I needed a book contract. Norman suggested I travel to New York City to meet editors and make an impression, so I took a Greyhound bus to New York and stayed at the YMCA, fifty cents a night. I took my stories around to a dozen publishers. Nobody wanted them. They said, We don’t publish stories. Nobody reads them. Don’t you have a novel? I said, No, I don’t. I’m a sprinter, not a marathon runner. I was ready to go home when, on my last night, I had dinner with an editor at Doubleday named Walter Bradbury—no relation. He said, Wouldn’t there be a book if you took all those Martian stories and tied them together? You could call it “The Martian Chronicles.” It was his title, not mine. I said, Oh, my God. I had read Winesburg, Ohio when I was twenty-four years old, in 1944. I was so taken with it that I thought, Someday I’d like to write a book like this, but I’d set it on Mars. I’d actually made a note about this in 1944, but I’d forgotten about it.

I stayed up all night at the YMCA and typed out an outline. I took it to him the next morning. He read it and said, I’ll give you a check for seven hundred and fifty bucks. I went back to Los Angeles and connected all the short stories and it became The Martian Chronicles. It’s called a novel, but you’re right, it’s really a book of short stories all tied together."

for the rest go here:

Monday, April 11, 2011

William Ard Back in Print


A Double Shot of Timothy Dane by William Ard


With an Introduction by Francis M. Nevins

In 1951 William Ard, in response to the wave of sadism and cruelty that was personified in the novels of Mickey Spillane, introduced Timothy Dane, a kinder, gentler PI. He set the tone for a series of Timothy Dane mysteries and Ramble House is proud to be bringing them back, two at a time, for all the young readers who may have missed the great William Ard. It's also for us oldsters who remember reading Ard the first time but can't easily find the rare Monarch and Popular Library vintage paperbacks.

Read Francis M. Nevins' informative introduction to see why William Ard matters and why all of his books need to be brought back into print.

(Ed here:Ard also created and wrote (under the name Jonas Ward) The Buchanan western series, a fine long running Gold Medal, one of which became a pretty good Randolph Scott movie. ,

304 pages. Cover designed by Gavin L. O'Keefe.

Available Editions
$18 Trade Paperback

$30 Hardcover with dust jacket

THE PERSONAL TOUCH E-mail and give me your complete mailing address. If my painkillers have kicked in I'll probably give you a discount. Free shipping to US. I take PayPal or a check.

$18 Trade Paperback 6" x 9"
$30 hardcover with dustjacket 6" x 9"

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Having just reread The Great Gatsby the past two nights and finding it, as always, my single favorite American novel (because it is the most American novel I've ever read) I've watched with, to be charitable. great skepticism as Baz Luhrmann sets about turning Fitzgerald's masterpiece into a 3-D movie. Really? 3-D? Isn't that like having a T.S. Eliot reading with rap music playing loud in the background? Now of course Luhrmann, reacting to criticism, keeps sending mixed signals about the 3-D. maybe maybe not he says, but that aside given the films of his I've seen he looks spectacularly wrong for this project. The only piece of good news in this A.V. Club news item is that he won't give Bradley Cooper the chance to ham up the role of Tom Buchanan but I'm not sure that Ben Affleck is much better. (This is why Hwood pays me the big bucks for my takes on things.) I also have my doubts about DiCaprio. He's too smirky and arrogant to be the sensible and somewhat forlorn narrator. Anyway here's the item. UPDATE: Who'd be on the money for Nick Carraway, the narrator, is Matt Damon. Perfect.

Ben Affleck likely joining Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby

By Sean O'Neal April 8, 2011
Ben Affleck has been concentrating on turning himself into a respected director, thereby making people forget all about his mid-’00s run of films like Gigli, Paycheck, Jersey Girl, and Surviving Christmas—which was working until we just now brought them up. So anytime he settles on to an acting role these days it’s extra noteworthy, particularly when it means he’ll be taking on the role of Tom Buchanan in Baz Luhrmann’s sure to be subtle and nuanced 3-D version The Great Gatsby. Bradley Cooper had been openly campaigning for the role of the wealthy, brutish, adulterous athlete going to seed, but it seems as though Luhrmann has been chasing Affleck all along, perhaps envisioning Tom as a more society-minded version of Affleck's asshole football player character in Dazed And Confused. Or maybe that's just wishful thinking. Anyway, now it looks as though he’ll be making some room in his crowded schedule to intimidate Leonardo DiCaprio. In 3-D. We can’t say that enough.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

The Hidden Hunter - Night of The Hunter

Ed here: Thanks to Terry Butler for this link

The hidden hunter - The Guardian

The classic Night of the Hunter is rumoured to have been a poisonous film to shoot. Can the restored outtakes reveal what really went on? By Robert Gitt

Robert Gitt
The Guardian, Friday 6 June 2003

I first saw The Night of the Hunter on late-night television in Hanover, Pennsylvania, in the summer of 1959, just after graduation from high school. At that time, it was still fairly rare to see a recent film on American TV, but it wasn't the newness of the film, or the presence of big stars like Robert Mitchum and Shelley Winters that made my parents look forward to seeing the film with such excitement. It was the information that Lillian Gish was in the cast. My mother and father were older than most of my friends' parents (my father had been born at the end of the 19th century), and they had the fondest memories of and greatest respect for Gish from their youthful moviegoing experiences.

The film was a revelation to my parents and to me. It was not only Gish's great performance and the fine work by the rest of the cast, but also the audacious storytelling techniques that made me immediately fall in love with The Night of the Hunter. And what a surprise it was that the great actor Charles Laughton, of all people, had actually directed this bizarre, frightening and amazing film.

Fifteen years later, in the summer of 1974, it was a great thrill to visit Laughton's widow, Elsa Lanchester, at her home in Hollywood. I was working for the American Film Institute in Washington, DC, and fellow archivist Anthony Slide and I had been sent by curator Larry Karr to retrieve the many boxes of photographs, sketches, memos and letters relating to The Night of the Hunter that Lanchester had agreed to turn over to the AFI for deposit at the Library of Congress.

For the rest go here:

Friday, April 08, 2011

Seeing Paul Schrader last night

Carol and I went to see Paul Schrader speak last night at Coe. Carol teaches there and in fact has Schrader's son Forrest in her writing class. I've read a few of Forrest's story. He's sure got the stuff, a real pleasure to read. And Carol says he a great guy as well.

Schrader spoke for nearly ninety minutes and every one of them was worth hearing.

* He said that the movie business was dying and that soon you'd be seeing theaters disappear. Like the publishing industry, Holllywood hasn't figured out how to use profitably use the new media.

* He was asked about the most difficult actor he'd ever worked with and he said Richard Pryor in Blue Collar (which I love). He said Pryor really hated white people back then and took it out on director Schrader and the cast. But, he said, Pryor's biggest problem was that he wanted to be the most popular comic in America and at the same time the blackest and angriest. Schrader said was impossible to be both. He said that whenever the cast turned against him Pryor then went into his charm mode and charmed them back to his side. Then once he had them again he'd turn on them.

* He said that now people were flooding film festivals with junk nobody wanted to see. It was aimed just at festivals not at the audience.

* He said that despite his strict religious upbringing he no longer believed in God. He quoted a South American writer: "We live in an age of religious feelings without religious beliefs." Fascinating.

* He doesn't think much of 3-D, said that it's been shown that our vision can't process it well.

* He said that he'd been told he could direct Rolling Thunder based on his own screenplay. But that when the movie had hopped from one studio to another the suits said no way could he direct. And they completely revised his script. He'd been on the set of The Wild Bunch and meant Thunder to be his Peckinpah flick. But to him the poor director and screenplay turned it into conventional melodrama.

* He spoke at length about the new technology in film. Sound, lighting and shooting in digital which he said will soon be preferred by the entire industry. Cheaper, faster, much easier to edit.

* He said that Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver was inspired by his own life and dilemma at the time and by a French film called Pickpocket.

And there was so much more.

Man, that was one of the finest ninety minutes of my life. I can see why he's in such demand as a teacher, which he is when he's between films.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Forgotten Books-The Broker by Max Allan Collins

MAX COLLINS – The Broker. Berkley, paperback original, 1976. Paperback reprint: Foul Play Press, 1985, as Quarry.

Now that Max Collins' Quarry novels have been reissued by Perfect Crime in truly impressive trade paperbacks, I thought I'd look at again at a review of mine from the mid-Eighties when Foul Play Press reissued the first four from the original Berkley editions.

Collins has always made hired hit-man Quarry believable to me for two reasons. One because he makes the convincing case that the only people he kills are scum, often mobbed-up scum, anyway. And second because of Quarry's sardonic voice. Humor has a way of making things real and Collins is a master of it.

In The Broker, the first in the series, we meet Quarry shooting a man in an airport men’s room. Quarry’s assignment is to bring what the man is holding (heroin) back to his employer, an icy sort called the Broker. Quarry complies.

After complaining that he does not like to deal in drug killings, he reluctantly takes another Broker assignment, this one working with a homosexual killer named Boyd. In the rest of the novel, Collins shows us an abundantly unpleasant world peopled with all sorts of characters, from cuckolded husbands to porno-crazed geezers who look like Gabby Hayes.

The Broker and the other three novels in the first series — The Broker’s Wife (1976), The Dealer (1976), and The Slasher (1977) — depict the waning hippie/flower-power days with a great deal of historical accuracy. The Quarry books are therefore an important part of the crime fiction of the Seventies — a quirky, idiosyncratic look at the Midwest during the Gerald Ford regime.

The Quarry novels belong the shelves of every hardboiled fan. Max Collins is one of the finest artists of the form and these are vivid and compelling books that can be read again and again.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

RAVE REVIEWS for Top Suspense Group Anthology

We're getting great reviews for our first Top Suspense anthology. One story by each Top Suspense member, plus the original round robin story, plus a link that will reveal the authors for each section of the round robin story. Only $2.99 on Kindle and other e book servers. $11.99 for the handsome print edition. Here's the Amazon link

Unreasonable Doubt by Max Allan Collins
Death’s Brother by Bill Crider
Poisoned by Stephen Gallagher
Remaindered by Lee Goldberg
Fire in the Sky by Joel Goldman
The Baby Store by Ed Gorman
The Jade Elephant by Libby Fischer Hellmann
The Big O by Vicki Hendricks
The Chirashi Covenant by Naomi Hirahara
El Valiente en el Infierno by Paul Levine
A Handful of Dust by Harry Shannon
The Canary by Dave Zeltserman
The Chase by Top Suspense Group

Monday, April 04, 2011

Daisy California by Ricky Sprague

Ed here: My friend Ricky Sprague is a witty and very clever writer-cartoonist whose work ranges from the whimsical to the very dark (his blog Child-Murdering Robot manages to be both hilarious and outrageous frequently). Here's some of his latest work, two issues of a comic book that won me over by page four. Great work.

Daisy California issues available now!

You can purchase the first two volumes of the "Daisy California" comic book that I am creating with my seven year-old niece. It's her character, based on her, and her ideas. If you like little children and you like superheroes and you like comic books, then this should, in theory, be right up your alley. If you are unsure, you can visit the Daisy California website (consider "liking" her on facebook!) to preview the two available issues.

The "Preview Issue," in which Daisy California battles the nefarious villain Stranger Danger, can be purchased here.

The first issue, in which Daisy California battles the nefarious villain Nuketard, and along the way meets the superhero Purple Extravagance and the supervillain Loquacious Lexus Looney, can be purchased here.

These issues are guaranteed to go up in value. Not monetary value, but sentimental/artistic/historical value, as in you'll be able to tell your grandchildren that you got in on the ground floor of what is sure to become a major pop culture phenomenon, etc.

Order them here:

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Top Suspense Group: Introducing Stephen Gallagher

Ed here: Stephen Gallagher's novels make the case that popular fiction can also be literature. I've read several of his novels two and three times and with each rereading I find myself rewarded with images and nuances of character and subtle themes I'd missed previously. I can say the same for his short fiction. He is also a dazzling storyteller. He has Hitchcock's feel for pace and twist and Claude Chabrol's for the moments when anguished people come apart. We are delighted and proud to have him as a member of the Top Suspense Group. Order one of his novels today.

Stephen Gallagher is a novelist, screenwriter, and director. He is the author of fourteen novels, including Nightmare, with Angel; Red, Red Robin; and The Spirit Box.

Described by London newspaper The Independent as "the finest British writer of bestselling popular fiction since le Carré ... Gallagher, like le Carré, is a novelist whose themes seem to reflect something of the essence of our times, and a novelist whose skill lies in embedding those themes in accessible plots." According to Arena magazine, "Gallagher has quietly become Britain's finest popular novelist, working a dark seam between horror and the psychological thriller."

The Daily Telegraph wrote, "Since Valley of Lights, he has been refining his own brand of psycho-thriller, with a discomforting knack of charting mental disintegration and a razor-sharp sense of place." Charles de Lint wrote in Mystery Scene magazine, "Gallagher is a master of abnormal psychology and he just gets better and better." Also in Mystery Scene David Mathew added, "never a writer to rest on his laurels, he has written good hard thrillers, some horror genre work (such as Valley of Lights), and a novel (Oktober) that might even qualify as a vague distortion of contemporary world fantasy… in places. You might go as far as to employ that overused phrase sui generis. He is, at any rate, one of the best writers of his generation."

Winner of British Fantasy and International Horror Guild awards, Stephen Gallagher's screen work began with Doctor Who and includes miniseries adaptations of his novels Chimera and Oktober, which he also directed. He created and wrote for both the British and American versions of Eleventh Hour, which starred Patrick Stewart in the UK and Rufus Sewell in Jerry Bruckheimer's CBS remake. His most recent novel is The Kingdom of Bones and his next will be The Suicide Hour, both from Random House.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Top Suspense Group: Max Allan Collins

The Dark City by Max Allan Collins
$9.99 Kindle
$9.99 Nook

In 1929, Eliot Ness put away Alfonse "Scarface"Capone and became the biggest living legend this side of law and order. Now it's 1935. With the Untouchables and Prohibition behind him and the Great Depression falling darkly across the nation, Ness arrives in Cleveland to straighten out a crooked city. An anonymous ring of bent cops is dealing in vice, graft, gambling and labor racketeering, overlorded by a mysterious top cop known as "the outside chief!' But between corrupt politicians, jealous colleagues, a parasitic reporter and two blondes with nothing in common. Ness has big troubles pulling the sheets off the bed of blue vipers. Until the outside chief makes a move, and Ness moves just a bit quicker.

MAX ALLAN COLLINS, a Shamus-winning master of mystery' and suspense, has here skillfully woven fact and fiction to create a unique mystery series based on the life and exploits of one of America's most memorable heroes, Eliot Ness. The Dark City is the first in this rich, exciting new series.

Ed here: I'd like to remind people of how many fine writers you'll find in the Top Suspense Group. I'm sure that most of you have already read and enjoyed books and stories by Max Collins but some of you might now realize how long and how celebrated his career has been. You'll find some of his most exciting books available right now at

MAX ALLAN COLLINS has earned an unprecedented fifteen Private Eye Writers of America "Shamus" nominations, winning for his Nathan Heller novels, True Detective (1983) and Stolen Away (1991), receiving the PWA life achievement award, the Eye, in 2007.

His graphic novel Road to Perdition (1998) is the basis of the Academy Award-winning 2002 film starring Tom Hanks and Paul Newman. It was followed by two acclaimed prose sequels, Road to Purgatory (2004) and Road to Paradise (2005), with a graphic novel sequel, Return to Perdition, forthcoming. He has written a number of suspense series, including Quarry, Nolan, Mallory, and Eliot Ness. He is also completing a number of "Mike Hammer" novels begun by the late Mickey Spillane, and collaborates with Matthew Clemens on the J.C. Harrow serial killer novels.

His many comics credits include the syndicated strip "Dick Tracy"; his own "Ms. Tree"; "Batman"; and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, based on the hit TV series for which he has also written video games, jigsaw puzzles, and ten novels that have sold millions of copies worldwide. His tie-in books have appeared on the USA TODAY bestseller list nine times and the New York Times list three times. His movie novels include Saving Private Ryan, Air Force One, and American Gangster, which won the Best Novel "Scribe" Award in 2008 from the International Association of Tie-in Writers.

He has written and directed five feature films and two documentaries, including the Lifetime movie "Mommy" (1996) and a 1997 sequel, "Mommy's Day." He wrote "The Expert," a 1995 HBO World Premiere, and "The Last Lullaby," starring Tom Sizemore, a feature film based on Collins’ acclaimed novel, The Last Quarry.

His coffee-table book The History of Mystery received nominations for every major mystery award and Men’s Adventure Magazines (with George Hagenauer) won the Anthony Award.

Collins lives in Muscatine, Iowa, with his wife, writer Barbara Collins; they have collaborated on three novels and numerous short stories, and are currently writing the successful "Trash ‘n’ Treasures" mysteries—their Antiques Flee Market (2008) won the Romantic Times Best Humorous Mystery Novel award in 2009.

Visit his website at

Friday, April 01, 2011

Spinetingler Awards

Be sure to vote here in every category.

I'm recommending you vote for Dave Zeltersman's knock-out novel KILLER and Bill Crider's masterful editing of Damn Near Dead 2: Live Noir or Die Trying. BTW somebody name Gorman has been nominated for best collection. Please don't let my years of service in the Foreign Legion or single-handidly defeating the Venusians when they invaded influence your vote.