Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, April 13, 2012


This is the day that Patti Abbott's merry band (well, some of us anyway) celebrate John D. MacDonald, chronicler of Florida crimes and passions and creator of Travis McGee.  Although best known for his suspense novels, JDM began his career in a most pulp-worthy manner in the 1940s, peppering those forgotten magazines with a barrage of stories of various genres.  Early on he became one of the favorites in the science fiction field, churning out over three dozen sories from 1948 through 1950.  It was in 1950 that his first science fiction novel, Wine of the Dreamers, saw the light of day in the May issue of Startling Stories.

     From Wikipedia:  "The book is set both on Earth (dealing with a top-secret military spaceflight project in an imagined 1975) and a far-away planet of humans able to influence Earth while they sleep, believing that the planet and all its inhabitants are simply part of their dreams that they can toy with.  MacDonald described the books as 'a symbolic novel of how when original purposes are forgotten, the uses of ritual can be destructive.'

     "Galaxy reviewer Groff Conklin wrote [of the book edition] that 'The skill and the imagination with which the tale is developed are genuinely satisfying.'  P. Schuyler Miller [in Astounding Science Fiction] found the novel to be 'well and smoothly told, with likable characters a bit beyond the cardboard stage.'"

     Wine of the Dreamers appears to have been well received by the readers of Startling Stories also.  A glance through the letter columns of subsequent issues shows praises from fans Nancy Moore, Ed Butenhof,  future editor/writer Shelby Vick, future publisher/editor/bookseller Gerry de la Ree, and future writer/editor Lin Carter.  Certainly there were many more favorable reactions in letter columns I don't have immediate access to.

     MacDonald wrote two more sf novels:  Ballroom of the Skies and The Girl, the Gold Watch, and Everything, as well as a collection of sixteen of his sf stories, Other Times, Other Worlds.  A number of his sf stories have been reprinted in various anthologies and/or are available online.

     Here's a flavor of MacDonald's early sf, from Startling Stories, September 1948:

     For more JDM and other of today's Forgotten Books, stop by Pattinase, where Patti Abbott will have reviews and links.


  1. A flavor of JDM that I have been able to enjoy, that STARTLING STORIES short...thanks again for the pointer.

    And I certainly hope you're back and all are treating you much more kindly.

  2. You're back, and you back is treating you, as that might be put in English...

  3. I wish JDM wrote more science fiction.