Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, December 6, 2021


 Openers:  I have been rather amused by the protests which have come to me regarding the "disparaging" comments I have made, in previous tales of the Space Patrol Service, regarding women.  The rather surprising thing about it is that the larger proportion of these have come from men.  Young men, of course.

Now, as a matter of fact, a careful search has failed to reveal to me any very uncomplimentary remarks.  I have suggested, I believe, that women have, in my experience, shown a sad lack of ability to understand mechanical contrivences.  Perhaps I have pictured some few of them as frivolous and shallow.  If I have been unfair, I wish now to make humble apology.

I am not, as some of my correspondents have indicated, a bitter old man, who cannot remember his youth.  I remember it very well indeed, else these tales would not be forthcoming.  And women have their great and proper place, even in a man's universe.

Some day, perhaps, the mood will seize me to write of my own love affair.  That surprises you?  You smile to think that old John Hanson, lately Commander of the Space Patrol Service, now retired, should have had a love affair?  Well, 'twas many years ago, before these eyes lost their fire, and before these brown, skinny hands wearied as quickly as they weary  now...

-- "Priestess of the Flame" by Sewell Peaslee Wright (Astounding Stories, June 1932)

All I can say is John Hanson better not run across any of the 21st century women I know with that condescending, sexist attitude.

Hanson was the hero of ten short stories that ran in Astounding 1930 to 1933.  The author (1897-1970) published another ten stories in the science fiction and fantasy fields and was one of the most popular writers in the genre.  I don't know much about the author, but all ten John Hanson stories are available on the internet for you purusal:

  • "The Forgotten Planet" (Astounding Stories, July 1930)
  • "The Terrible Tentacles of L-472" (Astounding Stories, September 1930)
  • "The Dark Side of Antri" (Astounding Stories, January 1931)
  • "The Ghost World" (Astounding Stories, April 1931)
  • "The Man from 2071" (Astounding Stories, June 1931)
  • "The God in the Box" (Astounding Stories, September 1931)
  • "The Terror from the Depths" (Astounding Stories, November 1931)
  • "Vampires of Space" (Astounding Stories, March 1932)
  • "Priestess of the Flame" (Astounding Stories, June 1932)
  • "The Death-Traps of FX-31" (Astounding Stories, March 1933)

Incoming:  A box of books from George Kelley, one of nature's noblest:

  • Poul Anderson, Ensign Flandry.  Classic science fiction novel.  (Just about everythinng Anderson wrote should be labeled "Classic.")  "Dominic Flandry had a great future ahead of him as savior of the civilized universe.  In later years his talent for swift action would be unmatched, his reputation fabulous.  But here he is at the age of nineteen:  fresh out of the Naval Academy, naive...and in terrible trouble.  The Mersian Empire had sworn to chew Earth to bits and spit out the pieces.  The attack had already been launched...but no one knew how or where the ravening power of the savage green-skinned aliens would strike.  Only Ensign Flandry had the the form of a code that he might or might not be able to decipher.  The Mersians were after Flandry with every weapon in their fantastic arsenal.  And just to make it worse, Earth's armada's were after him, too, for desertion, high treason, and more.  Where could he begin?"  Part of Anderson's vast Technic Civilization series.
  • Tony Hillerman, editor; Otto Penzler, series editor, The Best American Mystery Stories of the Century.  Doorstop mystery anthology with 46 stories from 1903 to 1999.  Penzler whittled a primarylist of several thousand stories to the few hundred from which Hillerman selected the final contents.  Many of the usual suspects are here, as well as a number of authors not usually recognized as mystery writers.  The scope and breadth of the anthology is impressive.  Authors are O. Henry, Willa Cather, Jacques Futrelle, Frederick Irving anderson, Melville Davisson Post, Susan Galspell, Dashiell Hammett, Ring Lardner, Wilbur Daniel Steele, Ben Ray Redman, James M. Cain, John Steinbeck, Damon Runyon, Pearl S. Buck, Raymon Chandler, James Thurber, Cornell Woolrich, William Faulkner, Harry Kemelman, Ellery Queen, John D. MacDonald, Ross MacDonald, Stnley Ellin, Evan Hunter, Margaret Millar, Henry Slesar, Patricia Highsmithh, Shirley Jackson, Flannery O'Connor, Jerome Weidman, Joe Gores, Harlan Ellison, Robert L. Fish, Joyce Carol Oats, Stephen King, Jack Ritchie, Lawrence Block, Stephen Greenleaf, Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton, Donald E. Westlake, James Crumley, Bredan DuBois, Michael Malone, Tom Franlin, and Dennis Lehane.  A line-up so impressive that you don't really mind if a couple of your favorite authors had been omitted.
  • Vladimis Nabokov, Pale Fire.  Literary "novel," with a 40-page Poem in Four Cantos, "Psle Fire," followed by a 244-page "Commentary" on the poem, as well as a brief "Index."  "This centaur work, half-poem, a creation of perfect beauty, symmetry, strangeness, originality and moral truth.  Pretending to be a curio, it cannot disguise the fact that it one of the gret works of art of this century." -- Mary McCarthy
  • George Pelecanos, The Double.  Thriller novel.  "The job seems simple enough:  retrieve the valuable painting -- The Double -- that Grace Kincaid's ex-boyfriend stole from her.  It's the sort of thing Spero Lucas specializes in:  finding what's missing and doing it quietly.  But Grace wants more.  She wants Lucas to find the man who humiliated her -- a violent career criminal with a small gang of brutal thugs at his beck and call.  Lucas is a man who knows how to get what he wants, whether it's a thief on the run or a married woman.  Now he's in the  midst of a steamy passionate affair that he knows can't last, and in pursuit of a dangerous man who's got nothing to lose.  Every man has a dark side -- but confronting his own may be Spero Lukas's undoing."  This is the second (and thus far, last) book in the Spero Lucas saga.  It was a finalist for the 2013 Hammett Prize.
  • Robert Sheckley edited by Sharon L. Sbarsky), The Mask of Manana.  A retrospective collection of 41 stories, published to celebrate Sheckley's Guest of Honourship at Interaction, the 2005 World Science Fiction Convention in Glasgow, Scotland.  The contents cover Sheckley's amazing career from his early story "The Leech" (Galaxy Science Fiction, December 1952; Sheckley published ten stories that first year when he became a professional author -- at least five of them in the December issues of various magazines) to 1992's "Dukakis and the Aliens" (from Mike Renick's anthology Alien Presidents).  Special points to this collection for reprinting all eight wonderful stories about the AAA Ace Decontamination Agency.  Although Sheckley wrote a number of well-respected novels, it is safe to say that his main reputation rests on his short fiction, which should be required reading for all fans of science fiction and of great writing.
  • Harry Turtledove, Advance and Retreat.  Military alternate history novel of sorts, with a good dollop of fantasy, the third volume of The War Between the Provinces trilogy.  "When Avram became King of Detina. he declared he intended to liberate the blond serfs from their ties to the land.  This noble assertion immediately plunged the kingdom into a civil war that would prove long and bloody, and set brother against brother.  The northern provinces, dependent on their serf' labor, seceded, choosing Avram's cousin, Grand Duke Geoffrey, as their king.  To save the kingdom, Avram sent armies clad in gray to go against the slave-hiolding North, battling Geoffrey's army, arrayed in blue.  Though King Avram held more land and wealth than Geoffrey, Geoffrey's men were better soldiers and the North had better and more powerful wizards.  Still, as the war raged on, greater population and superior organization began to tell and the tide turned against the North.  Even so, the war is far from over.  the South still faces two formidable leaders:  General Bell, whose loss of a leg only stengthened his resolve, and Ned of the Forest, whose unicorn riders are the most dangerous force on the Northern side.  And though the Southern sorcerors have become more adept at war spells, use of sorcery is unpredictable -- as the North leaarned earlier when its forces held an almost impregnable position, but retreated in terror when an overconfident soceror's spell went awry.  Though victory seems in sight for the South, its armies must now battle the North on its own ground, ground which will prove treacherous and deaadly."  Does anybody write this stuff better than Turtledove?
Thank you, George.

I picked up a few other books last week.
  • Ray Garton, Ravenous and Bestial.  Werewolf horror novels.  In Ravenous, "When Emily Crane's car breaks down on a dark. lonely road at night, she is attacked and raped by a man she kills in self defense.  That night, the dead rapist walks out of the morgue.  Later, Emily begins to experience strange cravings and her body undergoes terrifying changes.  When brutal killings leave victims partially eaten in the northern California coastal town of Big Rock, Sheriff Arlin Hurley scoffs at the talk of werewolves...until a tuft of wolf's fur is found on a victim.  It soon becomes clear that whatever is responsible for the killings, it's not alone.  There are more than one.  And they are doing something much worse than killing and eating people.  Nearly 25 years ago, Ray Garton reinvented the vampire mythos with his erotic novel Live Girls.  Now he has updated the curse of the werewolf in Ravenous."  In the sequel, Bestial, "Something dark and sinister is spreading through the California town of Big Rock.  Something more brutal and animalistic than normally lurks in the shadows of our daily lives.  And its numbers are growing exponentially.  Werewolves have arrived like an epidemic.  This time, though, the outbreak is careful, planned by the hungry monsters themselves.  Thitime, werewolves have dug their claws in deep and continue to grow even more powerful.  As the infection transfers through grisly violence and horrific sex, the entire town transforms into either starved predator or terrified prey.  This time, there's no escape.  Can the remaining band of humans fight back?  Are there enough left to stop the trail of terror?  Were there ever enough?  This gut-wrenching follow-up to Ravenous by Grand Master of Horror Ray Garton will have you too scared to turn the page -- or too scared to stop, if only to seek refuge in its shocking end."  As you can tell, Garton is an acquired taste.
  • Michael Sims, editor, Dracula's Guest:  A Connoisseur's Collecction of Victorian Vampire Stories.  An anthology with (he-he) some bite.  22 stories and excepts from approximately 1738 -- with a few pre-Victorian examples to set the stage -- to 1897.  Authors include Lord Byron, John Polidari, Johann Ludwig Tieck (reportedly), Theophile Gautier, Alexei Tolstoy, John Malcolm Rymer, Fitz-James O'Brien, Eric, Count Stenbock, Mary Elizabeth Bradden, Hume Nisbet,  Mary E. Wikins-Freeman, M. R. James, and Bram Stoker -- a virtual Who's Who of well-known writers in the genre.  Some tales are familiar, some are not, but this is a cornucopia of vampire stories for the true fan.


Department of First Stories:  One feature of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine is their Department of First Stories, featuring the publication of the first professional sales of various authors in the magazine.  EQMM has published over 500 stories by first-time writers, incuding Stanley Ellin, David Morrell, and Robert L. Fish.

That got me thinking:  What about the first stories that have been published in fiction magazines?  By this I mean the very first story published in the very first issue of the magazine.  An idle enterprise sparked by idle curiosity and of no real value whatever.  Nonetheless, here goes:

Action Stories, September 1921 -- "The Limits of Endurance" by Morgan Robertson  (Robertson waas a popular author of sea stories, most notably "Futility:  The Wreck of The Titan," which "predicted" the sinking of the Titanic fourteen years later.  Action Stories ran until 1950.)

Adventure, November 1910 -- "Yellow Men and Gold" [Part One of Four) by Gouverneur Morris  (Morris was the great-great grandson and namesake of the Founding Father.  Although he wrote a number of novels, he was best known for his many short stories in the general ficytion magazines of the time.  Yellow Men and Gold was published in books form in 1911.  The first complete short story in this issue began on page 15 -- "First of All -- The News" by "E. J. Rath," a pseudonym for J. Chauncey & Edith Brainerd.  Adventure continued until 1971.)

Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, December 1956 -- "Here Lies..." by C. L. Moore  (This issue is recorded as Volume 1, Number 12; Numbers 1-11 do not exist.  The following issue, January 1957, was Volume 2, Number 1.  Go figure.  C. L. Moore [Mrs. Henry Kuttner] was best known for her science fiction and fantasy.  AHMM is still going strong.)

Amazing Stories, April 1926 -- "Off on a Comet -- or, Hector Servadac" [Part One of Two] by Jules Verne, translated by Ellen E. Frewer  (A translation of "Hector Servadac," which originally was published in France as a serial in 1877; first book appearnce 1878.  The first complete short story in this issue was "The New Accelrator" by H. G. Wells. a reprint from the Deeember 1901 issue of The Strand MagazineAmazing Stories is recognized as the first true science fiction magazine; it has gone through many changes over the years, but is still limping along.)

The Arkham Sampler, Winter 1948 -- "Messrs Turkes and Talbot" by H. Russell Wakefield  (Wakefield was the author of a number of horror collections several of which were published by Arkham House.  He is also known as the author of two nonfiction studies of crime, The Green Bicycle Case and Landru:  The French BluebeardThe Arkham Sampler was a semi-professional magazine that ran for eight quarterly issues.  Edited by August Derleth, it promoted Arkham House authors and inncluded items of interest [articles, fiction, poetry, and news] to Arkham House readers.)

Astounding Stories of Super-Science, January 1930 -- "The Beetle Horde" [Part One of Two] by "Victor Rousseau" (Victor Rousseau Emmanuel, a popular pulp writer who worked under at least thirteen pseudonyms)  (The first complete short story in this issue was "The Cave of Horror by Capt. S. P. Meek, the first of seventeen stories about Dr. Bird.  Astounding became Analog in 1960 and continues under that name today.)

Argosy, started as The Golden Argosy, December 9, 1882 -- "Do or Dare; or, A Brave Boy's Fight for Freedom" [Part One of Twelve] by Horatio Alger, Jr.  (Do or Dare appears to have been first published in book form sometime in the 1890s.  Alger, of course, was the popular author of Rags-to-Riches juvenile novels.  The first full story in this issue was "The Dogs of St. Bernard" by W. H. W. Campbell.  Argosy began as a boy's magazine, changed its name to The Argosy in 1888, and switched to an all-fiction format in 1896. It became one of the leading pulp fiction magazines.  It absorbed other magazines and was at times titled Argosy and Railroad Man's Magazine and Argosy Allstory Weekly.  Once one of the leading pulp fiction magazine, it became a men's adventure magazine in 1943, and lasted until late 1977.  In 1978, four issues were produced by another publisher and concentrated on articles against the government.  A semi-pro incarnation of Argosy started in 1989 and ran until 1994; another incarnation ran for three issues in 2005-6.  Altus Publications brought the magazine back in 2016 for a single issue.)

Astonishing Stories, February 1940 -- ""Chameleon Planet" by "Polton Cross" (John Russell Fearn)  (Fearn was a prolific writer who used at least 27 pseudonyms on his stories and wrote severaal hundred novels in the science fiction, western, detective, and romance fields.  Astonishing was a very low-budget, short-lived science fiction magazine that published 16 issues, ending in April 1943.  It and its sister magazine, Super Science Stories, was first edited by a teen-aged Frederik Pohl, who used his fan connections -- including his fellow Futurians -- to provide much of the content.

The Atlantic Monthly, November 1857 -- "Sally Parson's Duty," the author, uncredited, was Rose Terry (later, Rose Terry Cooke)  (Terry began as a poet, later becoming a very popular author of stories about New England life.  Her fame was such that at least five different persons attempted to impersonate her.  Other contributors to this first issue of The Atlantic were Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, John Greenleaf Whittier, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and James Russell Lowell.  The Atlantic has always had a strong literary reputation.  It is still being published, although its concentraation is now on reviews and commentary.)

The Avenger, September 1939 -- "Justice, Inc." by "Kenneth Robeson" (Paul Ernst)  The Avenger ws Richard Henry Benson, a millionaire adventurer whose wife and daughter were killed by criminals.  The magazine lasted for 24 issues, each featuring a novel about the crime-fighting title character.  The Avenger also appeared in six short stories ghosted by Emile C. Tepperman.  All 24 Avenger novels were published in paperback in the early Seventies, and were followed by another twelve novels ghosted by Ron Goulart.  In 2008, Moonstone Books began publishing new stories by different authors about The Avenger.)

Baseball Stories, Spring 1938 -- "Smart Money Ball" by Linton Davies  (Sports pulps were once big business.  Davies, who also wrote in other fields, especially aviation stories, was later the editor of Baseball Stories, Football Action, and All-American Football Magazine, as well as the aviation pulp WingsBaseball Stories lasted for 33 quarterly issues, finally breathig its last in 1954.)

Battle Aces, October 1930 -- "Squadron of the Living dead" by Stueart M. Emery  (Emery was the author of many aviation and western pulps stories.  Battle Aces ran for 27 issues before morphing into the character pulp G-8 and His Battle Aces.  G-8 flew the skies for 110 issues before crashing in 1944, leaving three issues unpublished.  All the G-8 stories were written by Robert J. Hogan.)

Battle Birds, December 1932 -- "The Invisible Ace" by Ralph Oppenheim (The 59th story [out of 70] by Oppenheim about The Three Mosquitoes.  Battle Birds changed its name to Dusty Ayers & His Battle Birds in July 1934, concentating on the adventures of the newly titular hero and rrunning for twelve issues until 1935.  Five years later, Battle Birds revived and ran [sans Dusty] for another 66 issues until May 1944.)

Best Western Magazine, September 1935 -- "Range Feud" by "Max Brand" (Frederick Faust)  (Faust wrote a gazillion tightly plotted popular westerns as Max Brand, the name he also used for his Dr. Kildare medical novels.  Not to be a one-trick (or two-trick) pony, he also authored many historical and adventure tales.  His writings are still popular today.  Best Western Magazine underwent several title changes before its final issue in Msrch 1957.)

Beyond Fantasy Fiction, July 1953 -- ...And My Fear Is Great... by Theodore Sturgeon  (Beyond was a short-lived companion fantasy magazine to Horace Gold's Galaxy, rivaling Campbell's Unknown from a decade before.  Sadly, it lasted for only ten issues, going from 160 pages to 128 pages.  But those ten issues were glorious -- publishing stories from top authors such as Ray Bradbury, Philip Jose Farmer, Isaac Asimov, John Wyndham, Damon Knight, Frederik Pohl, and Richard Matheson.)

The Black Mask, April 1920 -- "Who and Why?" by J. Frederic Thorne  (Thorne was the author of some twenty stories, according to the FictionMags Index.  He published several books based on legends of the Alaskan Klingats and one book on the manufacture of flax for fiber.  Black Mask began as a general fiction magazine by H. L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan to offset losses from  thier magazine The Smart Set.  The pair sold the magazine after eight profitable issues.  Black Mask soon morphed into one of the first all-detective magazines, pioneering the "hard-boiled" story.  It ran for over thirty years, ending with the July 1951 issue.  Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine then arranged to incorporate Black Mask into its title, including at least one Black Mask- type of story per issue.  Attempts to revive the magazine have been sporadic.)

The Blue Book Magazine began as The Monthly Story Magazine, May 1905 -- "The Ordeal of Fire" by Forrest Crissey  (Crissey was a prolific writer of books and articles during the first quarter of the twentieth century.  Many of his articles were published in The Saturday Evening Post, where he was a staff member from 1901 to 1934.   His best-known book was Tattling of a Retired Politician [1903].  The Monthly Story Magazine had several title changes before it became The Blue Book Magazine in 1907.  It retained that title for 45 years, becoming Bluebook in 1952.  Once one of the top three major general fiction magazines [along with Adventure and Argosy, the magazine switched gears in its final years, adding articles of general interest to a male audience.  [Articles about the war had previously been a staple of the magazine.]  Part men's adventure magazine and part advice for men, Bluebook continued to publish [an ever-decreasing amount of] fiction until its demise in May 1956.  The magazine was revived as Bluebook for Men in 1960 but it had lost all sembllance to the previous incarnations.  According to Mike Ashley, the 613 issues of the original Blue Book were "a wonderful chronicle of the first half of the twentieth century, perhaps more than any other pulp magazine.")

Boy's Life, March 1, 1911 -- "The Lost Express" by John Carisford  (As far as I can tell, this is the only story pubished under that name.  Boy's Life was the magazine of The Boy Scouts of America.  It is still going strong under its new title Scout Life.  For 110 year, it has provided healthy adventure stories for boys, along with articles of interest, humor, and profiles of scouts.  A requirement in my household during my scouting years.)

Breezy Stories, September 1915 -- ""The God Asleep" by Louise Winter  (Winter was a reguar contributor to Breezy Stories, Saucy Stories, and Droll Stories -- all publishers of risque [for the time, but pretty tame now] stories of sex and love, usually involving a lack of clothes.  The title kept changing between Breezy Stories and Breezy Stories and Young's Magazine until its final issue in December 1949.  During the Thirties and Forties, the magazine relied heavily on reprinted stories from past issues.)

...This is more fun than I originally thought!  More to come in future posts.

A Favorite:  I keep going back to this Cathy Fink version of this song:

How to Levitate:  Yeah, right.

Crazy Theories of 2020:  2021 is not quite over, so let's go back to 2020, a time when JFK Jr. did not come back from the dead to join Donald Trump on a presidential ticket.
  • Wayfair's expensive cabinets are used for child trafficking
  • 5G towers cause Covid-19
  • QAnon ( a blanket conspiracy)
  • Anti-malaria drugs cure Covid-19
  • Bill Gates wants to insert microchips in the human body
For further information on these, check out this article:

This is the tip of the iceberg and does not even approach the so-called "Election Steal."  Sometimes I wonder if we are the only sane ones left alive.

Florida Man:
  • Science has not been friendly to 59-year-old Florida Man Ralph Williams,  New technology enabled Florida police to definitively link him to the murder of 21-year-old Carla Lowe 38 year ago.  Williams had long been suspected in the murder but police previously did not have the evidencce needed for an arrest.  Williams, who had more than 20 criminal arrests over the years in Florida, was arrested for the killing on Monday in Jacksonville.
  • Florida Man Brendan Evans, 35, of Broward County, has been sentenced to ten years for animal cruelty.  Evans had been charged with stabbing a pit  bull puppy more than 50 times in 2017.  He then stuffed the puppy in a suitcase and left it to die.  The animal was found and sent to an animal clinic butu died two days later.  A searcch of Evans's apartment revealed cat paws, rats with severed heads, a bloody bathroom shower curtain and toilet, an 18-inch machete, and dried bllod and animal fur in his oven.  (Yech!)  Hundrds of animal lovers offered to adopt the dog before he died.
  • From animal abuse to animal love:  33-year-old Florida Man John Miller of Milton was caught humping dog by the animal's owner.  Miller then attacked the man, punching him in the head and on his body.  Miller followed this by destroying items in the man's house and his garage door before he grabbed a knife and threatened the dog's owner and his wife.  The path of true love (which I generously assume this was) is never easy.   
  • Helpful hint:  If you are going to kill and dismember a persson, remember to pupt the body parts where they cannot be found.  It seems Florida Man Robert Kessler, 69. did not follow that advice when he killed 49-year-old Stephanie Crone-Overholtz and dumped her parts into a bay.  One body part -- a leg with a tattoo of three heart and her son's name -- helped to identify the victim.  Keessler denies the charges (murder and abuse of a body), saying that he had met the Pennsylvania woman at a fast-food restauraant and invited her to stay at his home.  He later told her to leave, he stated.  Police verified that the two had been living together althouogh their exact relationship was unclear.  The victim's blood was found inside Kessler's car and home.
  • Does this count?  Current Florida Man and former California Man Akrum Alrahib, 43, pled guilty to defrauding California of more than $10 million in tobacco taxes in 2016 and 2017.  The crime may have been commited in California, but what the heck, I'll still claim him as a Florida Man.

Good News:
  • Pittsburg woman's food rescue app diverts 20 million pounds of surplus into 17 million meals for those in need
  • English teenager discovers a horde of 3000 year old bronze axes
  • World's first 3-D printed eye focuses gaze on digital prosthetics
  • New solution to ridding oceans of microplastics using acoustic waves
  • Youth hailed for providing renewable energy to 10,000 people with the use of batteries, wind, sun, or water
  • Once biologically dead, London's River Thames rebounds -- with sea horses and seals

Today's Poem:
Those Winter Sundays

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze.  No one thanked him.

I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he'd call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I lnow?  What did I know
of love's austere and lonely offices?

-- Robert Hayden

1 comment:

  1. Funny how people of the same age are either divesting themselves of books or adding to them. I wonder what drives it.