GW Thomas’s Dark Worlds is one of the better blogs out there, at least for fans of classic SF, comics and pulps. In just the last few weeks he’s discussed Sword & Sorcery at Warren (Part 10: 1980), Bronze Age DC Werewolves (Parts 1, 2, and 3) and Golden Age Plant Monsters.
No one else is doing scholarship on plant monsters, and Thomas clearly deserves an award for that alone. But my favorite recent piece was his 2-part article on interplanetary graveyards, cemetery worlds, and junkyard planets in comics and pulps.
Avon Fantasy Reader #1 (Avon Books, February 1947). Cover artist unknown
On the occasion of this year’s Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention — my fifth — I resolved to learn from past mistakes and come armed with a specific list of items needed to plug holes in my considerable collection of science fiction and fantasy paperbacks and pulps. This year, I came looking to complete my set of all 18 volumes of Donald A. Wollheim’s Avon Fantasy Reader, a digest magazine I’d poked at before due to its propensity to publish works by Clark Ashton Smith, a writer who never disappoints. The convention coughed up all but two of my missing issues, but crucially provided the first volume in the series, which I had never before seen in person. I snagged it immediately, of course, and began reading it that day.
The Avon Fantasy Reader ran 18 issues, from February 1947 to March 1952. Originally intended as a quarterly, it usually managed three issues per year. Wollheim’s introduction to the first volume promises tales of fantasy and imagination about “those strange forces which exist just beyond the boundaries of knowledge.” He further touts a roster of authors that represented “a sure guarantee of the best stories of their kind available.”
May/June 2023 issues of Analog Science Fiction & Fact, Asimov’s Science Fiction,
and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Cover art by Eldar Zakirov
(for “Aleyara’s Descent”), 123RF, and Maurizio Manzieri (for “The Dire Delusion”)
There’s a lot of great reading in store for us in this month’s print magazines. Including a classic mummy horror tale, stories of fox-gods and conjure houses, and a new tale of Cascor the Discriminator by Matthew Hughes (in F&SF); a sexy apocalypse robot, a Star Trek-like tale of the coldest spot in the universe, and a hero in an ancient Greek Labyrinth (in Asimov’s SF); and a Raymond Chandler-esque noir in space, an action-packed novella of terrifying aliens on an alien world, a berserk mech on Mars, and a wry narrator with hangover in a dystopian London (Analog).
The big SF magazines are packed with brand new fiction from Sean McMullen, Allen M. Steele, Lavie Tidhar, Matthew Hughes, Zig Zag Claybourne, Frank Wu & Jay Werkheiser, Mark W. Teidermann, Andy Dudak, R. Garcia y Robertson, Tom Purdom, Sandra McDonald, Bill Johnson & Gregory Frost, Chris Willrich, Barbara Krasnoff, Melissa A. Watkins, and many more. See all the details below.
David C. Smith and Steven H Silver find priceless treasures in the Dealers Room at Windy City Pulp & Paper
A month ago I wrote a short convention report on the 2023 Windy City Pulp & Paper Show, which took place Friday April 21st to Sunday, April 23rd in Lombard, Illinois. In that article I mostly rubber-necked at the gorgeous Weird Tales pulps and other rare magazines sold during the evening auctions, and took covetous pictures of the pre-auction displays.
Here in Part II, I’ll share a few more photos of the vendors and personalities I met, and showcase a few of the many treasures I dragged home in seven heavy boxes — including vintage comics, science fiction digests, graphic novels, new releases, and of course lots of great old paperbacks. Assuming you enjoy cautionary tales of disastrous self control, it should be an entertaining read.
Old Moon Quarterly is a magazine of weird sword-and-sorcery fantasy. In the tradition of Clark Ashton Smith, Tanith Lee and Karl Edward Wagner, it contains stories of strange vistas, eldritch beings, and the bloody dispute thereof by swordsmen and swordswomen both.
Old Moon Quarterly emerged in 2022. This reviews the four stories inside the Winter 2023 issue (Vol III), which delivers solid doses of the weird adventure it promises. The Editor-in-Chief is Julian Barona, flanked by Assistant Editors Caitlyn Emily Wilcox and Graham Thomas Wilcox (who recently debuted here on Black Gate with his review of John Langan’s Corpsemouth and Other Autobiographies, so I gleefully checked this out). Excerpts best convey the style and elements of what to expect, so you’ll get those here!
A handful of items from Denny Lien’s incredible collection I was able to save from the dumpster
On Wednesday May 3, I drove 379 miles from St. Charles to Minneapolis, to help clean out the last of the legendary collection of the late Denny Lien. I’d been reliably informed that it was the final week his estate would have access to the house; the following Monday, Habitat for Humanity would take possession, and everything left would go in the dumpster.
Denny had the most incredible collection of magazines I’ve ever seen. During the scant few hours I had in the house I found virtually complete runs of Amazing Stories, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Worlds of If, Galaxy, Fantastic, Astounding/Analog, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Locus, Cemetery Dance, and many, many more — far more than I could ever pack and fit in the minivan I’d rented for the trip. Most were unread, in pristine condition.
The November 1958 and May 1961 issues of The Magazine of
Fantasy & Science Fiction. Covers by John Pederson and Ed Emshwiller
I’ve recently looked at a few issues of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction from the early to mid-50s, when Anthony Boucher (at first in collaboration with J. Francis McComas) was the editor. Boucher left that post with the August 1958 issue, and Robert P. Mills took over. (Mills had been the editor of F&SF’s sister magazine Venture for its ten-issue stint running bimonthly from January 1957 through July 1958.) He edited F&SF until the March 1962 issue.
These two issues, then, neatly mark a period early in his term, and one in the last year of his term. So it seems like a good idea to consider them together. (If truth be told, though, I bought these for another reason — they feature two of the very best stories from the first phase of Carol Emshwiller’s career.)
Various covers for Jack Vance’s novella “The Dragon Masters” over the years: the
original appearance in the August 1962 Galaxy, the 1972 Ace Double, and the 1981
Ace paperback edition. Cover art by Jack Gaughan, Josh Kirby, and David B. Mattingly
Over at Goodman Games Bill Ward, Howard Andrew Jones and a team of thousands have assembled a world-class fantasy blog around their magnificent magazine Tales From the Magician’s Skull. Recent articles include Bill Ward’s delightful survey of the Classic Covers of Jack Williamson, Jeff Goad’s Appendix N-inspired dive into the work of Fletcher Pratt, and Ngo Vinh-Hoi’s appreciation of pulp master Stanley G. Weinbaum.
But the piece that really grabbed my attention was part of their recent series on the amazing Jack Vance. Black Gate‘s own Fletcher Vredenburgh has a look at Vance’s Hugo Award-winning novella “The Dragon Masters,” calling it “a fantastic introduction to the science fiction of Jack Vance… one of the great writers of fantasy and science fiction.”
Original art for Perry Rhodan #415 (August 15, 1969) by Johnny Bruck
As a teenager in the late 1970’s, my favorite science fiction series was Perry Rhodan. Although the U.S. editions ceased in 1979 after #137, in its native Germany the series continues to this day in various forms, with over 3200 installments in the main series and counting.
Some of the earliest SF art I ever collected, starting at the old Chicago Comicon in the late 1980’s, were U.S. Perry Rhodan covers by artists Gray Morrow and George Wilson. In Germany up to that time, the primary cover artist was Johnny Bruck (a few of which were reprinted on early printings of some of the U.S. editions). For decades I tried to find Bruck PR covers, but with no success.
About six months ago, an avid SF art collector in Switzerland, Markus Rohrwild, began to post loads of Bruck PR covers on the Comic Art Fans site. He was friends with Bruck’s widow and had acquired hundreds of paintings from her. I eventually reached out to him to see if any might be for sale, and I was extremely pleased when he agreed to sell some to me.
I recently saw an ad for their Bookazine The RPG Book. The cover price is $19.99, but it’s currently available for only $11.99 (including shipping) from their online portal MagazinesDirect.com, so I ordered a copy. And I’m extremely glad I did. It turned out to be an entertaining and informative read — and a terrific intro to the very best computer role playing games of the past four decades.