Category: ARTS

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Thrills Down Under

What a curious thread unraveled from reading the scanned issue of Telepath #1 on eFanzines this weekend. The fanzine, originally published by Arthur Haddon in Dec 1951, provided some tidbits of information about Australia’s first (if short-lived) SF pulp, Thrills Incorporated. This pulp was created by Stanley Horowitz’ Transport Publications following the the success of the weird mystery pulp, Scientific Thriller which appeared in 1948. Thrills Incorporated appeared in March 1950 and lasted for a total of 23 issues, ending in June 1952. In the pages of Telepath, one of the Sydney Futurian Society fans, Vol Molesworth (1924-1964), interviewed the editor of Thrills Inc which helped to “clear up a number of points that fans in Australia and abroad had been debating.” This may have been a reference to a series of plagiarisations that took place in the first year of Thrills issues. As the editor, Alister Innes, confessed to Molesworth, “In the early issues we were hoodwinked by certain unscrupulous writers who plagiarised American SF stories without our knowledge. As soon as this was pointed out by our readers, we sacked those writers. Our present day policy is to give an author a title and an illustration and get him to write a story around them.” What a curious way to run a magazine! On the other hand, there might have been no way for the editors to have known that the stories were plagiarized. According to Garry Dalrymple (via email), foreign science fiction magazines were treated as contraband in Australia between 1940 and 1950. As prohibited imports, issues of SF mags were discovered during routine inspection of the mails, and returned to sender. This quarantine resulted in a market for locally printed SF pulps of questionable quality. At that time, said Dalrymple, just about the only new stuff getting through to Sydney (and the Sydney Futurians) were gifts from Forry Ackerman! On the quality of production that went into those opportunistic Australian SF pulps, one author put it this way: “Very often, when the editor (Innes) was running to a tight schedule he would have the artwork already done and hand you a picture, saying ‘Three thousand worlds and a title, old boy, and I do need them by Friday.” One picture he gave me didn’t allow a lot of scope as far as the title was concerned, I thought, so I called it ‘Jet-Bees of Planet J’. He took another look at the picture when I brought in the manuscript, then looked at the title again ‘See what you mean, old boy’. He nodded approval. “Sort of self-propelled by their own farts.’

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My, what long teeth you have Grandma!

Took a little drive to Pickety Place in N.H., thanks to a gift certificate for lunch from Jesse and Angelica. Thanks, guys! This strange business is based on the illustrations of Grandma’s House in the 1948 edition of Little Red Riding Hood, drawn by Elizabeth Orton Jones. Indeed, the illustrations look just like the actual building and the amazing old tree looming right alongside.

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Clearing the Minefields of Self-Indoctrination

Pleasantly surprised to discover Indoctrinaire, the first novel by Christopher Priest, a tale of strange foreboding and paranoia, wrapped up in altered states of consciousness and alternate realities. The protagonist, Dr. Wentik, finds himself forcibly recruited from his scientific research post beneath the South Pole, and whisked away to the Planalto District of Mato Grosso in Brazil. Both of these places are so far off the beaten track and outside of the ordinary world of human affairs that the novel begins with an eerie sense of dislocation, which is only accelerated into total disorientation as soon as Wentik begins to trek into the strangely deforested zone of Planalto. His guide, a tight-lipped man named Musgrove, shows signs of mental illness as the story progresses and Wentik finds himself an occupant of “the jail,” under interrogation by an equally opaque antagonist named Astourde.

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Steele Savage Paints the Kenekito Madual

It’s been a while since I posted a somewhat sarcastic note about the fine artist, Steele Savage. Now I feel compelled to follow up those seven images with yet another appreciation, since I really w

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Readercon 2009: Novels You Write vs. Novels You Talk About In Bars

This panel included Barry Malzberg, Allen Steele, James Morrow, and Rick Wilber. Rachel Pollack was scheduled to appear, but nobody seemed to know where she was. By way of introduction, Rick Wilber had prepared some sort of pseudo-clever analogy about the panelists, saying that they were at different places along the timeline. Wilber said that Allen Steele, having already published 15 novels was someplace near mid-career, and that James Morrow was “settled” into a successful career with a number of major achievements under his belt. Then Wilber introduced Barry Malzberg, with his long and distinguished career, as “still active in the field…” Somehow you could sense the fumble on that last note, which provoked Malzberg to pounce into action: “What a euphemism!” he roared. “Just say it: I’m an ancient writer, a washed up writer! Remember when Tom Disch said we’re all just ‘robots wired for sound?’ Well you can just go ahead and say a corpse wired for sound.” Richard Wilber, recovering, said: “Ok, late career…” “Autumnal!” said Malzberg.

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The riches of Readercon 2009

It was great to attend my first Readercon. Like entering a stranger’s house and finding yourself among all of your best friends. Of course some of them I met for the first time… like the Crochety

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Only a sample...

This “sample page” appears on Golden Age Comics blog, and makes me wonder if the wolfbane is blooming yet! The artist, Howard Norstrand, was a prolific inker of horror comics in the 50s. Thanks,