Vintage Treasures: Tangled Webs by Steve Mudd

Vintage Treasures: Tangled Webs by Steve Mudd

Tangled Webs (Questar/Popular Library, August 1989). Cover by Blas Gallego

There was a time, not so many years ago, when my reading was spontaneous. My wife would mention an intriguing mystery she’d just finished, I’d pick it up for a minute, and the next thing you know I’ve spent two hours with my feet up on the washing machine. I could get lost in a book in a bookstore. I would miss stops on the bus. Once I was listening to the audiobook  of John Grisham’s The Pelican Brief during a nighttime road trip to Canada, and by the time that damn tape ended I’d missed the turnoff for Detroit by about two hours and was deep in northern Michigan. I still smell pines trees whenever anyone mentions pelicans. True story.

Anyway, the sad truth is these days my reading is by necessity much more planned. I have commitments that will take many months — to publishers, authors seeking cover blurbs, and writers looking for manuscript feedback. On top of that, there are new releases I dearly want to read, and only so many hours in the day.

I can’t let myself get distracted by the many tantalizing old books that pass through my hands. Even when they have cyborg assassins right there on the first page, like Steve Mudd’s forgotten 80s paperback Tangled Webs.

Inside cover for Tangled Webs. Cyborg Assassins, the 80s were your scene.

Tangled Webs was part of a small collection of paperbacks I bought on eBay late last year. I didn’t know anything about it. And truth to tell, I still don’t. There isn’t a single review of this book anywhere. Not on Amazon, not on LibraryThing, and not even on Goodreads. There are forgotten books and there are forgotten books, and then there’s Steve Mudd’s Tangled Webs.

I may be the only person on planet Earth to remember it. And now that you’ve made it this far, there are two of us. Hang on, I’ll clear off a chair for you in the Secret Rebel Nerd base.

My reading time is tightly scheduled these days, but let me tell you. Tangled Webs lingered long in my hands as I carried it down to the basement Cave of Wonders. I miss the days when reading happened on piles of dirty laundry in my bedroom, or on the lawn chair in the backyard. Now it happens in bed at the end of the day, when my eyes can barely stay open.

If my eyes could stay open a little longer tonight, they’d be reading about cyborg assassins in the Galaxy of Tyrants of Steve Mudd’s Tangled Webs, and I bet those eyes would jump across the pages.

The Planet Beyond (Questar/Popular Library, September 1990). Cover by Martin Andrews

The always reliable Internet Science Fiction Database tells me that Tangled Webs is one of only two novels Steve Webb ever wrote. The other was the sequel The Planet Beyond, which came out the following year. I found a copy in the same collection, and now both books are nestled together in a single towering stack in my basement. At least I know where to find them. For the next few days, anyway.

Whatever happened to Steve Mudd?

He’s not hard to find online, surprisingly. Bookology Magazine published a brief interview with him in 2015, in which he talked about his love for Ray Bradbury, Roger Zelazny, and Andre Norton (and the western Shane, which apparently produced a bangin’ book report).

Mudd’s bio (above) mentions that after his two science fiction novels he turned his attention to stained glass, and as of 2015 was working on a number of children’s book. None of them have (so far) made it to book shelves, but I’m keeping my eyes out.

Tangled Webs was published by Questar in August 1989. It is 248 pages, priced at $3.95. The cover is by Blas Gallego. It has been out of print since 1989, and there is no edition. The only copy I’ve even seen is currently safely stored in my basement. At least until it secretly finds its way to my TBR pile late one night while no one’s looking.

See all our recent Vintage Treasures here.

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Rich Horton

Can a book be forgotten if nobody heard of it in the first place? 🙂

With most of your Vintage Treasures I at least remember the name of the author, or seeing a mention in Locus, or passing by it on the shelves of a bookstore liike Paradise Bookshop in my hometown of Naperville. (On the same site as the more prominent Anderson Books, though the stores are not otherwise related.) In the case of TANGLED WEBS? Nothing! Only, I’d think I guy with the last name of Mudd might have thought to call his books TANGLED WEBBS instead!)

I hoped you waved hi to my daughter-in-law in Kalamazoo on your unplanned trip to northern Michigan, or to my Aunt’s summer place on Tiff Lake, to this day the only place I’ve waterskied.

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