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A (Black) Gat in the Hand: Rex Stout’s ‘The Mother of Invention’

A (Black) Gat in the Hand: Rex Stout’s ‘The Mother of Invention’

“You’re the second guy I’ve met within hours who seems to think a gat in the hand means a world by the tail.” – Phillip Marlowe in Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep

(Gat — Prohibition Era term for a gun. Shortened version of Gatling Gun)

If you read more than just this Pulp series of mine each summer, you know that I am a gargantuan Nero Wolfe fan. It’s my favorite mystery series, and I have written a lot of fiction and non-fiction about Wolfe, and Archie Goodwin.

Rex Stout wrote several novels and many short stories, before the first Wolfe novel dropped in 1934. Of course, there was no looking back after Fer de Lance.

He placed “A Professional Recall” in the December, 1912 issue of The Black Cat magazine. “Pamfret and Peace” followed the next month. There would be three more over the next few years.

The Black Cat was founded by Herman Umbstaetter in 1895. He had gained and lost a fortune before managing to fund his own magazine in Baltimore. It was not a Pulp, and was about the size of the Dime Novels of the day (about 6” x 9”). Umbstaetter encouraged new writers, and paid based on the quality of the story, not by the word. His wife did the early covers.

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A (Black) Gat in the Hand: Ya Gotta Ask – Reprise

A (Black) Gat in the Hand: Ya Gotta Ask – Reprise

“You’re the second guy I’ve met within hours who seems to think a gat in the hand means a world by the tail.” – Phillip Marlowe in Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep

(Gat — Prohibition Era term for a gun. Shortened version of Gatling Gun)

Nine years ago this past January, I wrote a post here titled, Ya Gotta Ask. I felt like that one could use a bit of polish and expansion, and it would still be a pretty good post. So, here’s a revised version, as the Monday morning column gets ready to kick off another Summer of Pulp with A (Black) Gat in the Hand.

One of the cool things about Black Gate is that there are a bunch of authors who blog here. These are Writers with a capital ‘W’. I have worked hard to become a pretty good blogger, and I think I’ve succeeded. I’ve got a couple awards to back that up. I’ve published some short stories and non-fiction, as well. But I still think of myself as a lower case ‘w’ writer. I am working towards capitalizing that letter, but as any Writer will tell you, you just gotta keep working at it.

Now, some authors here at Black Gate can (and have) given you advice on how to write a novel, or get a book published: be it here, or on their own blogs or other sites. Follow their advice, make it happen, and then you can be a Writer too (a novel isn’t the defining element: I’m just using it as a benchmark for this essay). I’m going to make a suggestion on how you can become a writer, like me. I know, I know: you’re all atingle.

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Disembodied Heads, War Robots, and Crime Hives: May-June 2024 Print SF Magazines

Disembodied Heads, War Robots, and Crime Hives: May-June 2024 Print SF Magazines


May-June 2024 issues of Analog Science Fiction & Fact and Asimov’s Science Fiction. Covers
by Kurt Huggins (for “Uncle Roy’s Computer Repairs and Used Robot Parts”) and Shutterstock.

There’s no sign of the new issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction this month, which is a little concerning. Distribution issues caused the January/February issue to be renamed “Winter 2024” and ship significantly late, but now that spring and gone and summer is upon us, I’d hoped to at least hear news of the next issue. Their website still shows the Winter issue, and their Facebook Page hasn’t been updated since December. These are not promising omens.

Fortunately there’s plenty of great fiction in the print magazines we do have in hand, the May-June issues of Analog and Asimov’s SF, including new stories from Rich Larson, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Christopher Rowe, William Preston, Amal Singh, Martin L. Shoemaker, Edward M. Lerner, Sean Monaghan, Aimee Ogden, Richard A. Lovett, Mark W. Tiedemann, and Robert Silverberg.

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Galaxy Science Fiction, February 1955: A Retro-Review

Galaxy Science Fiction, February 1955: A Retro-Review


Galaxy Science Fiction
, February 1955. Cover by Ed Emshwiller

Almost 70 years ago, the February, 1955 issue of Galaxy hit newsstands, and since I wasn’t alive, my review had to wait until now. My apologies to the authors who have been waiting. The cover is by Ed Emshwiller, titled “Chamber Music Society of Deneb.” I love his whimsical art; it’s part of what identifies the magazine as Galaxy.

“Helpfully Yours” by Evelyn E. Smith — Tarb Morfatch arrives on Earth from Fizbus — the first female of her species to do so.  She’s a new journalist for the Fizbus Times, a newspaper read both on Earth and Fizbus.  The “Helpfully Yours” column, which she’s taking over, answers Fizbian questions about Earth customs. Fizbian culture is as drastically different from humans as their avian appearance.

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Cloud Painters, Alien Blobs, and War in the Asteroids: March-April 2024 Print SF Magazines

Cloud Painters, Alien Blobs, and War in the Asteroids: March-April 2024 Print SF Magazines


March-April 2024 issues of Analog Science Fiction & FactAsimov’s Science Fiction, and the
Winter 2024 Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Covers by Eli Bischof (for “Ganny Goes
to War”), Eldar Zakirov (for “How Sere Kept Herself Together”) and Mondolithic Studios.

There’s some great old-time serial adventure in this month’s print SF magazines. In the Asimov’s SF novella “How Sere Kept Herself Together,” Alexander Jablokov brings back his cynical detective Sere Glagolit (introduced in “How Sere Picked Up Her Laundry,” in July/August 2017, and “How Sere Looked for a Pair of Boots,” January/February 2019) to discover why her client is being aggressively stalked by an enigmatic alien Cryptor.

And in “Brood Parasitism” Auston Habershaw gives us another exciting tale of the shape-shifting alien Tohrroid (first seen in Analog in Jan/Feb 2019, and most recently in the Nov/Dec 2023 issue), this time on a mission to assassinate the leader of an invading alien army. And in “Charon’s Final Passenger” in Asimov’s, Ray Nayler  returns to the setting of his popular story “Berb by Berb” in the November/December 2023 issue.

We covered the contents of the Winter 2024 F&SF (delayed by printer problems) last month, but don’t despair! The new issues of Analog and Asimov’s Science Fiction are packed with intriguing new fiction by David Gerrold, Sandra McDonald, Ashok K. Banker, Lavie Tidhar, Faith Merino, William Ledbetter, Sean Monaghan, Matt McHugh, Adam-Troy Castro, Don D’Ammassa, Karen Heuler, and lots more. The enticing details await below.

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A Sword Has Two (New) Edges: A Review of New Edge Sword & Sorcery Magazine, Issue #2

A Sword Has Two (New) Edges: A Review of New Edge Sword & Sorcery Magazine, Issue #2

New Edge Sword & Sorcery issue #2,
Winter 2023 (December 8, 2023). Cover by Gilead Artist

The second issue of New Edge Sword and Sorcery has been getting far less attention than its debut, likely because it lacks a story by legendary writer Michael Moorcock, but that’s a shame, as it actually exceeds its predecessor in every demonstrable way. This is editor Oliver Brackenbury’s third time at bat (including the Zero Issue) and he’s clearly getting a feel for how he wants his journal to work. I don’t always agree on the editorial choices of what is included under the NESS banner, but so what? I’m not the editor, and what matters here is that Brackenbury is experimenting and producing.

Let’s get to the goodies.

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Domestic Gods, Cannibal Toys, and Sherlock Holmes in Tombstone: January-February 2024 Print SF Magazines

Domestic Gods, Cannibal Toys, and Sherlock Holmes in Tombstone: January-February 2024 Print SF Magazines


January-February 2024 issues of
Analog Science Fiction & Fact and Asimov’s Science Fiction.
Cover art by Julie Dillon, and Maurizio Manzieri (for “Burning Grannies”)

It’s February 10th, and I’m a little concerned to see there’s no sign of the January/February issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Not on their website or Facebook Page, both of which still show the November-December issue, and not on Twitter/X or Amazon. I can’t even find a copy of the cover, which I usually receive from publisher Gordon Van Gelder. The only news I can find online is from Sam Tomaino, who shares this Note From the Publisher (and an advance review) in his excellent Zines & Short Fiction column at SFRevu.

Due to a set of unfortunate circumstances, this Jan/Feb 2024 issue was delayed by more than a month. For the sake of our newsstand readers, we re-named the issue “Winter 2024.” Subscribers should not worry about being shorted an issue.

Fingers crossed this is just a temporary glitch. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the new issues of Analog and Asimov’s Science Fiction, both of which are packed with intriguing new fiction from Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Greg Egan, R. Garcia y Robertson, Sean McMullen, Jeffrey Ford, Ian McDonald, Rory Harper, Michael Cassutt, Stanley Schmidt, Robert Friedman and Barry N. Malzberg, Martin L. Shoemaker, Raymund Eich, and lots more. See all the details below.

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Retro Review: Fantastic, August and October, 1972

Retro Review: Fantastic, August and October, 1972


Fantastic magazine, edited by Ted White. August and
October 1972. Covers by Jeff Jones and Mike Hinge

My Retro Reviews of Amazing have concentrated on the Goldsmith/Lalli years, but I recently read this pair of issues from Ted White’s era, which extended from 1969 to 1979. As a youngster, I started reading Amazing in late 1974, so right in the middle of White’s editorship.

These two issues, then, date a bit earlier than my first encounter with Amazing. I bought them so I could compare the serialized version of Avram Davidson’s Ursus of Ultima Thule with the book version. But there was plenty more of interest in these two magazines.

TOCs first.

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Bringing a Whetstone to an Old Blade: New Edge Sword & Sorcery Magazine #1

Bringing a Whetstone to an Old Blade: New Edge Sword & Sorcery Magazine #1

New Edge Sword & Sorcery Magazine, Fall 2023. Cover by Caterina Gerbasi

Disclosure: I was a Backer for the first four issues of this new journal.

As with the Zero issue, New Edge has absolutely fantastic, journal-level production values: heavy paper stock, trade or hard-cover binding, 8.5 x 11 stock, clean, professional layout, and absolutely terrific artwork. It looks great, feels great in the hand and has nothing amateurish about it. Whereas a counterpart magazine, Tales From the Magician’s Skull, has similar production quality but leans into a 30s pulp-retro vibe intentionally, NESS has a much more contemporary vibe, which fits its idea of taking a venerable genre and recasting it for modern audiences. (Which it does to varying degrees of success.)

So, looks great. How’s the contents?

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Heroic Fantasy Quarterly # 58 Now Available

Heroic Fantasy Quarterly # 58 Now Available

Heroic Fantasy Quarterly #58 hit the electronic shelves on November 26th.  We’ve got three stories and three poems — a full complement!

Fiction Contents

Dragon Tears Part II,” by Caleb Williams.  Exiled sorcerer-scribe Larohd du Masiim continues his quest to  gather the rare artifacts needed to gain back his lost love, the princess Yadira.  Catch up with Part I here.

Isle of the Thousand-Eyed Strangler,” by R. A. Quiogue.  Quiogue returns to our pages with a tale of fantasy south-seas derring-do among the Perfumed Isles.   Young prince Pandara, driven to piracy after the Wulongan Empire has laid waste to his home island, becomes embroiled with the last surviving priestess of a cult of the mythical sunken land of Sundramala.

The Third Way,” by Darrell Schweitzer.  A classic reprint!  Grion, the faithful servant of the great warrior Mazantes, flees with his master, along with anyone else who can, from the implacable wrath of Garadis and his army of monsters.  But their flight takes them to strange otherworlds where they hope to make a most desperate gamble.

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