Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, February 3, 2020


Openers:  The president's of the New York Central and the New York, New Haven railroads will swear on a stack of timetables that there are only two.  But I will say there are three, because I've been theer on the third level at Grand Central Station.  Yes, I've taken the obvious step:  I talked to a psychiatrist friend of mine, among others.  I told him about the third level at Grand Central Station, and he said it was a waking-dream wish fulfillment.  He said I was unhappy.  That made my wife kind of mad, but he explained that he meant the modern world is full of insecurity, fear, war, worry, and all the reast of it, and that I just wanted to escape.  Well, hell, who doesn't?  Everybody I know wants to escape, but they don't wander down into any third level at Grand Central Station.

-- "The Third Level" by "Jack Finney" (Walter Braden Finney, 1911-1995), from Collier's, October 7, 1950; also published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, October 1952; in The Best from Fantasy and Science Fiction, Second Series, edited by Anthony Boucher and J. Francis mcComas (1953); in Finney's 1957 collection The Third Level, (also published in the UK as The Clock of Time, 1958); in Fifty Short Science Fiction Tales, edited by Isaac Asimov and Groff Conklin (1963); in A Science Fiction Argosy, edited by Damon Knight (1972); in Science Fact/Fiction, edited by Edmund J. Farrell, Thomas E. Gage, John Pfordresher, and Raymond J. Rodrigues (1974); in Weird Worlds #1, 1978; in Lost Worlds, Unknown Horizons, edited by Robert Silverberg (1978); in Fantastic Worlds:  Myths, Tales, and Stories, edited by Eric S. Rabkin; in Macabre Railway Stories, edited by Ronald Holmes (1983); in Science Fiction:  A Historical Anthology, edited by Eric S. Rabkin (1983); in Spirits, Spooks and Other Sinister Creatures, edited by Helen Hoke(1984); in The Best Fantasy Stories from The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, edited by Edward L. Ferman (1985); in Finney's collection About Time (1986); in The Prentice Hall Anthology of Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited by Garyn G. Roberts (2000); in anonymously edited The Time Machine and War of the Words with Connections (2000); in Time Machines:  The Best Time Travel Stories Ever Written, edited by Bill Adler, Jr. (2002); and in The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Volume 2, edited by Gordon van Gelder (2014).

Phew, that's a lot of reprints.  And it's also an indication of how good a writer Finney was.  Many of his book have become classics and have often been filmed.  If you have not done so, sample his work:

  • 5 Against the House, 1954.  A caper novel.  Filmed the next year with a screenplay by Sterling Silliphant and others.
  • The Body Snatchers, 1955.  Also published as (The) Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  One of the great novels that captured the paranoia of the 1950s.  It was filmed three times with screenplays by Daniel Mainwaring (1978), Stuart Gordon and others (1993), and David Kajganich (2007 -- the one true turkey of the bunch in my opinion).  A good retrospective of the influence of the book and movies is They're Here!, edited by Kevin McCarthy (star of the 1978 film) and Ed Gorman.
  • The Third Level, 1957.  Collection of twelve short stories, many of which have been anthologized numerous times and two, "Such Interesting Neighbors" and "Second Chance," have been televised.
  • The House of Numbers, 1957.  Prison escape novel.  Released as a film the next year with a screenplay by Don Mankiewicz.
  • Assault on a Queen, 1959.  Another caper novel, this time's the target is the Queen Mary.  Filmed in 1966 with a screenplay by Rod Serling.
  • Good Neighbor Sam, 1963.  Comic novel.  I was always under the impression that this was a movie tie-in novel, but it may be that the 1964 film was based on the book.
  • I Love Galesburg in the Springtime, 1963.  Collection of ten short stories, half of which have been anthologized.  One story, "The Love Letter," has has been filmed as a television movie; another has been expanded into a novel (see below).
  • The Woodrow Wilson Dime, 1968.  Time travel novel.  Based on the short story "The Coin Collector," also published as "The Other Wife," included in I Love Galesburg in the Springtime.
  • Time and Again, 1970.  Time travel novel.  Next to The Body Snatchers, this is Finney's best-known novel.
  • Marion's Wall, 1973.  Ghost comedy novel.  This one was filmed in 1985 as Maxie, with a screenplay by Patricia Resnick.
  • The Night People, 1977.  Suspense novel.
  • The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 1978.  A rewrite.
  • Forgotten News:  The Crime of the Century and Other Lost Stories, 1983.  Nonfiction.
  • About Time, 1986.  Retrospective collection of twelve stories, ten from previous collections and two others.
  • Three by Finney, 1987.  Omnius collection of The Woodrow Wilson Dime, Marion's Wall, and The Night People.
  • From Time to Time.  Time travel novel, a sequel to Time and Again.  

No matter which book you pick uip I guarantee you'll be entertained.


  • Mike Ashley, editor - The Mammoth Book of Science Fiction.  SF anthology with twenty stories from 1952-2002, with two outliers from 1901 and 1906.  "...{C]ontaining some of the best science fiction produced mover the past 50 years, 20 leading authors of the genre ask the question 'What if...?' and give their their own fascinating versions of the changes that will happen in the centuries to come."  This rather generic and ho-hum blurb omits mention of the two outlier stories but I won't quibble.  The "leading authors" include Stephen Baxter, Brian W. Aldiss, Michael Swanwick, Philip K. Dick, Peter F. Hamilton, Connie Willis, Eric Frank Russell, Clifford D. Simak, and Greg Egan.  An impressive lineup.
  • John Ball, editor, Cop Cade.  The MWA anthology for 1978.  The theme Ball selected was the police procedural, but he chose to interpret the theme very loosely.  Fifteen or the 21 stories previously appeared in print, and seven appear to be original to this anthology.  Authors include Robert L. Fish, Cornell Woolrich, Edward D. Hoch, Stanley Ellin, Bill Pronzini (both solo and with Jeffrey Wallman), Henry Slesar, and Francis M. Nevins.  Again, an interesting and diverse lineup.
  • Gary A. Braunbeck, In Silent Graves.  Horror novel.  "Robert Londrigan seemed to have t all.  He was a newscaster with a rising career.  He had a beautiful wife, Denise, and a new baby on the way.  But in just a few short hours Robert's world was turned upside down.  Now his family is gone -- but the torment only gets worse when his daughter's body is stolen from the morgue by a strange, disfigured man...Robert is about to begin a journey into a world of mystery, horror and revelation.  He will learn -- from both the living and the dead -- secrets about this world and things beyond this world.  Though his journey will be grotesque, terrifying and heartbreaking, he will not be allowed to stop.  But can he survive with his mind intact?  Can he survive at all?"  Sounds gruesome.
  • Jonathan Luna & Sarah Vaughn, Alex + Ada.  Graphic novel.  The first volume in the series, collecting the first five issues of the comic book.  "The last thing in the world Alex wanted was an X5, the latest in realist androids.  But after Ada is dropped into his life, he discovers she is more than just a robot."
  • George R. R. Martin & Gardner Dozois, editors, Dangerous Women.  Doorstop fantasy/SF/and other things anthology with 21 stories from Martin, Jim Butcher, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Brandon Sanderson, Joe Abercrombie, Joe R. Lansdale, Megan Abbott, Lawrence Block and others.  From Martin's introduction:  "Here you'll find no hapless victims who stand by whimpering in dread while the male hero fights the monster or clashes swords with the villain, and if you want to tie these women to the railroad tracks, you'll find you have a real fight on your hands.  Instead, you will fins sword-wielding women warriors, intrepid women fighter pilots and far-ranging spacewomen, deadly female serial killers, formidable female superheroes, sly and seductive femmes fatale, female wizards, hard-living bad girls, female private investigators, stern female hanging judges, haughty queens who rule nations and whose jealousies and ambitions send thousands to their grisly deaths, daring dragonriders, and many more." You go, girl woman!
  • 'Patrick Quentin"  (Richard Wilson Webb & Hugh Callingham Wheeler), Run to Death. - A Peter Duluth mystery.  "When a beautiful blonde asks for a ride, you' better think twice.  Peter Duluth thought only once.  Blondes are a rarity in remote, tropical Yucatan.  Peter thought this one would make an innocent addition to his sight-seeing trip through the jungle to the dead cities of the Mayan Indians.  But Deborah Bland, although she looked an innocent seventeen, was a very complicated blonde.  She brought her own atmosphere with her.  her atmosphere was -- terror."
  • "L. T. Woodward, M.D." (Robert Silverberg), Sophisticated Sex Techniques in Marriage.  **ahem ** Nonfiction.  "This is the first marriage manual that accurately reflects today's changing sexual attitudes.  It is, therefore, undoubtedly the only truly modern sex manual available in the English language.  Written by a famous physician, it offers new insights and suggestions for increasing sexual pleasure in marriage."  I sincerely suspect that every part of this blurb is false.  Silverberg churned out over a dozen "nonfiction" sex books under the Woodward pseudonym in the 60s.  Somebody dumped a couple of dozen such sex books at the local thrift store, but this was the only one I could find by Silverberg, and (alas) there were none by Lawrence Block writing as "Benjamin Morse, M.D." -- if there had been, I would have snapped them up. Sic transit gloria smut.

Trumplestiltskin:   It looks like it's all over but the shouting, and there will be plenty of shouting.  Mitch McConnell has maneuvered his caucus into denying witnesses and documents in the impeachment trial.  Trump will be acquitted Wednesday, which will not stop bim from bragging about it the day before during th State of the Union speech.

It's probably all to the good.  As bad as Trump presidency is, I shudder to think of a Pence presidency.  And Trump will have to live for the rest of his life knowing that he will go down in history for being impeached.  And the investigations will continue and more facts will come to light.  The  number of people who want Trump removed has not lessened.  Itis going to be rough year for both the president and the country.

If the Democrats were wise -- but when have they ever been during an election year? -- they would begin a concentrated attack on Trump's enablers who are up for reelection.  Not with any real click bait nonsense, but with hard, provable facts that expose their lies and their culpability, hitting them hard and often.  Then maybe, just maybe, we can claim our country back,

Pleading the Fifteenth:  The fifteenth amendment to the constitution is 150 years old today, the last of the Reconstruction amendments passed in the wake of the Civil War.  It gave citizens the right to vote regardless of "race, color, or previous condition of servitude."  For the past century and a half, we have seen protest, violence, and political chicanery as America tries to honor the spirit and letter of this amendment.  In Florida, voters on a bipartisan basis widely approved a law that allows former felons the vote.  Since Florida has a lot of former felons and since many of them are black, the Republican-controlled state legislature added a caveat must have paid all legal monies due to the state before they can vote; voting while still owing those fines would be considered fraud (a felony).  The fact that this goes against white the citizens approved is mote.  Former felons could easily have had small fines levied against them from years before without their knowledge (the state has never been good at communicating such things).  There is not really any way a person can definitely know they owe nothing (the state is not a whiz-bang at letting them know, remember?).  Thinking they have no monies owed and voting could well cost them their freedom.  The result?  Many former felons are too afraid to exercise their right.  Voter suppression can be candy-coated in Florida.  During the twentieth century, the U.S. Supreme Court took a broad view of the fifteenth amendment; today, with a highly conservative majority, not so much.  The fifteenth may need another 150 years for us to finally get it right.

Bragging Rights:  Grandson Mark likes to run.  While in high school he ran in numerous races, including two marathons.  Now a college freshman, he just hasn't been able to find the time to practice, but he still runs.  A few months ago he did well in a half-marathon.  This Sunday he participated in the Two Bridge Marathon from Pensacola to Pensacola Beach, a 15K run.  He beat the time he had hoped for, came in 6th in his age group and 126 in a field of well over 2000 runners, putting him well into the top 5% of runners.  Good work, Mr. Fleet of Foot!

He Lives!:  Mr. Peanut is back from the dead.  Did you ever think otherwise?  My prediction:  Nancy Drew will also come back from the dead, duh!

And She Doesn't:  Mary Higgins Clark, the Queen of Suspense, died this past week at age 92.  She was the author of 51 domestic suspense books, all bestsellers.  Her first novel, Where Are the Children?, has gone through 75 printings.  She was a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master (also a former president and member of the Board of directors of MWA), a Dame of the Order of St. Gregory the Great, a Dame of Malt, a Dame of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, a recipient of the Graymoor Award from the Franciscan Friars, a recipient of the Christopher Life Achievement Award, and was inducted into the Irish American Hall of Fame.  Clark was the former Chairman of the International Crime Congress, a  board member of the Catholic Communal Fund, and a member of the Board of Governors for Hackensack Hospital.  Clark was also honored with the Horatio Alger Award, the Passionist's Ethics in Literature Award, The Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University Spirit of Achievement Award, the National Arts Club Gold Medal in Education, the American Irish Historical Society Gold Medal of Honor, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and ws named a Bronx Legend.  Publishers Simon & Schuster fund the annual Mary Higgins Clark Award to authors of suspense fiction.  Despite her best-selling books and the above honors, Mary Higgins Clark will also be remembered by those in the mystery community as a generous and supportive friend.  She will be missed.

O, that Crazy, Wacky Florida Man:

  • Florida Man Darrell Bailey, 43, who had a warrant out for failing to register as a sex offender, fled from police officers, swallowed a bag of meth, nearly hit a police cruiser, drove over a fence, and hit a shed.  The Polk County Police Sheriff called Bailey's actions an "epic fail."  Also an epic fail, in my opinion, is Bailey's gloriously tattooed head.
  • Narjay Jackson, 19, was arrested by Miramar police for murdering a man he believed had placed a voodoo curse on him.
  • Florida Woman and one who will not get a Mother of the Year Award Amanda Chere Meador, 37, did however take an interest in her fifteen-year-old son's activities.  She drove the getaway car when he robbed a convenience store at gunpoint, and when her clumsy kid dropped some of the ill-gotten cash in the Winter Springs Circle K parking lot, she stopped the car to allow him to get while before speeding out of there.  She also acted as lookout and, according to police, actively encouraged him to do the robbery.  As they say, the family that preys together...
  • Florida Woman Sylvia Shumaker, 69, of Largo, was arrested for repeatedly calling 911 to ask advice on how to end her marriage. As she repeatedly called, she was repeatedly told that this was not a 911 matter and abusing the emergency phone line was against the law.  Still she continued.  alcohol may have been involved.
  • Penn State is suing Florida Man Paul L. Parshall, 80, over trademark infringement and selling beers and cigars with the school's name.   Parshall owns sportsbeerbrewing,com, which sells various items with the names of various sports teams (without permission, obviously).  What Parshall does is to try to trademark various names (such as Penn State Nittany Beer and Penn State Nittany Cigars) through state systems because the federal trademark system has refused his applications.  State trademarks are often not reported.  Parshall also tried to sell his bogus trademarks back to Penn State.  The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Florida.

Good Stuff:

Today's Poem:
If I Can Stop One Heart from Breaking

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain,
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

-- Emily Dickinson

No comments:

Post a Comment