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Okay, ton of stuff on my desk that I should do, but no urgent deadlines, so fuck it, I have time to write about something I want to rather than something I've been paid to do that isn't due yet. The front-room is off limits as my sister-in-law is visiting so she and Kathy are already watching MSNBC and fussing about the Trumpster. Fine, I shall stay back here in the bedroom office with a thermos of coffee and a couple of cats and write about something...

But what? as usual, my pals Rippa & @odessasteps gives me some ideas as a jumping-off point... The Internet Speculative Fiction Database, as well as being a totally amazing resource for looking up books and stories and even magazine issues also does a daily birthday and passing list. So here's the idea for the new OSJ project which I'll attempt to keep up with, work permitting... Each day I shall pick an author whose birthday falls on that day and an author whose passing falls on that day and write a bit about each. Hopefully, I'll turn y'all on to some good reads, be they current or old school. If this sounds interesting please hit me up with a like so I know I'm not taking time away from electronic pinball in futility. 

 

 

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2/11/17:

Today marks the birthday of the late, great Daniel F. Galouye (1920-1976) and the sad passing of Cleve Cartmill (d. 1964) familiar with either or both? You should be. but it isn't your fault if you aren't, there are reasons both sort of dropped off the radar. 

First, Mr. Galouye: How much do I like this guy's writing? So much so that there was an offer on the table for me to publish his complete short fiction in six volumes. Unfortunately, this was right when the housing market crashed and I lost all my money. He's probably best known today for the film The 13th Floor and the brilliant mini-series based on his novel Counterfeit World done by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. His novel Dark Universe was up for the 1962 Hugo, losing to Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land. With all the wisdom of fifty years of hindsight, I think I can say that the voters got it wrong. 

Lots of Galouye's fiction centers around people discovering that they possess special abilities and must learn how to use same (shades of the X-Men, just ten years or so earlier). What's unfortunate, is that is body of short fiction (lots of novelettes and novellas), gets short shrift, being too long for the tastes of most anthologists but too short for book publication. (See, I was going to bundle up five to seven per book, 'cause that's how I roll, but it never happened). In the 1950s, Galouye was one of those guys who wouldn't put up with John W. Campbell's pompous nonsense and never sold to Astounding/Analog even though he wrote many, many tales of psychic powers which were just the thing Campbell was hard for in the fifties. Instead, Galouye found a haven as pretty much the star writer for Imagination, a lower-paying market to be sure, but he got the role of big fish in a small pond. Just as Imagination was fading away, new markets like Galaxy, If, and a revitalized Amazing and Fantastic emerged and Galouye was a major, major player in the 1950s-1960s. If you read contemporary letter columns, he gets mentioned in the same breath with Theodore Sturgeon and Philip K. Dick, and in my opinion, rightfully so. There's stuff at Project Gutenberg and issues of Imagination are cheap, check him out, you'll be glad you did!

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2/11/17

The sad passing in 1964 of Cleve Cartmill... For any fans of old-school science fiction and fantasy the "Golden Age" is generally considered to be the years of WWII and the standard bearers for the era, as people tired of the ghoulies and ghosties of Weird Tales and looked toward the stars and future that science promised on one hand, and the screwball supernatural comedies like Topper and the other works of Thorne Smith that indicated the supernatural was not something to be feared as much as it was something to be laughed at (generally through the haze of multiple martinis) on the other were the dual publications Astounding and Unknown, edited by John W. Campbell. 

Campbell made his bones as an E.E. Smith clone writing reams of Star Wars-like nonsense of exploding planets, death stars, etc. until switching (under the name Don A. Stuart) to a much quieter, cerebral type of SF that hadn't been previously seen. Campbell was just the man to drag SF in to the 20th century and away from the reams of crap written about people flying around in spaceships and fighting hand to hand with sabers (WTF?). He assembled a bullpen of (mostly) young writers, headed by pulp veteran wordsmith L. Ron Hubbard and set out to change the face of science fiction. Who was in this legendary stable? How about for starters, Robert A. Heinlein, Issac Asimov, L. Sprague de Camp, Henry Kuttner, Anthony Boucher, Jane Rice, C.L. Moore, Theodore Sturgeon? Household names all, and add to the list, the forgotten man, one Cleve Cartmill...

Cartmill hit the scene in 1941 with "Oscar" followed by a couple of other short stories in Unknown (later called Unknown Worlds, for purposes of this series and because I'm a lazy fuck who doesn't want to look up  each issue to see what the mag was called then, I'm just going with "Unknown", and if y'all want precision, look it up at the ISFDB.) by the end of the year he hit his stride with the amazing novella "A Bit of Tapestry". From that point on, Cleve Cartmill was as much of a go-to guy for a lead feature as Hubbard had been in 1939-1940. Cartmill's unique style didn't always sit well with Campbell, leading some of his most interesting work to show up in places like Super Science Stories and later The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.

Until 1944, Cartmill was a house on fire, publishing great short fiction and great lead novels both. Just as suddenly as he had appeared, he vanished for five five years. Returning after the pulps had died and/or converted to digest format, he wrote a number of memorable fantasy pieces and a pretty fair space opera concerning a salvage ship finding cool stuff, Space Scavenger. Unfortunately, he never wrote the big novel and there were no awards when he was producing his best material, so with the exception of a few editors (including, however immodestly myself), Cartmill remains the forgotten giant of Astounding/Unknown. In addition to Space Scavenger there exists a real nice sampler volume, Prelude to Armageddon; I lost a bundle publishing it, but would do so again in a NY minute, 'cause that's how I roll, anyway, it's a beautiful hardcover published at $45 available postpaid to anyone that wants one for $30 or $50 overseas. I'll even write something nice to you as the editor if you want one. Seriously, commercial aside, do investigate Cleve Cartmill, you'll be amazed at what people are missing out on.

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I'm not going to write it now, because UFC has left me exhausted screaming at the TV, but your author of the day is going to be Hilbert Schenck (if anyone's wanting to read something to get ahead of the game). Here's were the project gets tough, no one of any real note passed away today that was a bonafide sf writer, yes, we lost comic artist John Severin and genius comedian Sid Ceaser, but I'm not going to write about them. For that matter the birthday list was pretty thin with my other possible choices being Donald Kingsbury, Terry Bisson, and Ray Manzarek of the Doors (yes, he wrote an sf/horror novel). While Bisson is really good, he's also contemporary enough that I expect people are hip to him. Of the others, Schenck is by far the most interesting and in a few hours you'll see why...

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2/12/17

Okay then, Hilbert Schenck: Every once in a great while a writer comes along who isn't really driven (or allowed by other factors such as work or family life) to produce a great deal of work, but what they do produce is often exquisite. Bob Leman was that guy, so was Hilbert Schenck. If you were around in the early 1950s, you would have seen the odd, Teutonic by-line (with "jr." appended to it), show up in the April issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction as the author of the competent, but hardly world-beating tale "Tomorrow's Weather".

And that was, seemingly that. Save for showing up occasionally in letters columns and contributing a poem or two and contest entries, there was nothing more from Schenck for over two decades as his work as an engineer and teacher was apparently more than enough to keep him busy. During this time (based on lettercolumn appearances), it was clear that Schenck remained a fan of the genre and was taking notes. In 1979 he returned with a burst of creativity and quality that has few peers in the history of the genre. Over the next decade he averaged two award finalist positions per year and produced no less than a dozen highly-regarded short stories, four novels, all of which are good and two collections, Wave Rider and Steam Bird, both of which belong in every serious collection of SF. By 1993 he called it a career, leaving a small, but amazingly memorable body of work. I just re-read a few stories in  Wave Rider this morning when I got up and have to say that they hold up incredibly well.

Unlike many who look toward deep space, Schenk found a great deal of awe and wonder in the mysterious inner-space of our own oceans. If you like any of the work of Peter Watts, Schenk would be the optimistic counter to Watts' depressing worldview.

Check his stuff out, you'll be glad that you did.

 

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C'mon people, start hitting the "likes" so I don't feel like I'm talking to the cats...

2/13/17

Well, today marks the birthday of my man, Henry Rollins, but y'all don't need me to tell you about Henry Rollins. Also the birthday of the late Leo Frankowski, an engineer that did a fairly cool time-travel series about (you guessed it, an engineer named Conrad Stargard). Ignoring the blatant Mary Sue-ism, it was actually a fun series except for Frankowski's clunky dialogue. The man wrote like an engineer and that's not necessarily a good thing.

Also the birthday of Virginia Swain, author of a really cool, creepy horror novel The Hollow Skin 1938. It's a sleeper that has never caught on with collectors, see if your library has it. I wouldn't spend big bucks to own a copy (I have a vg copy with no dustjacket), but it is a good read and worth seeking out. 

So we turn to the page of passings... Last year on this day my dear friend Bud Webster died of cancer (a big FUCK YOU to cancer). A minor fiction writer, Bud's stories are fun, but he really excelled in his essays on the same kind of stuff that I do, finding forgotten treasures and turning people on to new reads. As far as fiction went, his main series centered around Bubba Pritchert and enlivened the often dry pages of Analog, sadly, there are only four novelettes, I wish that he had written more. Check out his bibliography at the ISFDB, if you're looking for something new to read, you'll find it in Bud's essays.

Lastly two authors passed today that I'm willing to bet have flown way under the radar:

Alice Perrin 1867-1934: Alice was the wife of a diplomat stationed in colonial India contemporary with Rudyard Kipling. Like many women of her social station, she turned to writing as a hobby. More serious than most, Alice started selling stories regularly, drawing heavily on local folklore and custom for background. Was she as good as Kipling? No, probably not, but she was damn good when it came to the horrific. Sadly, the only modern collection of her work eliminated all but her supernatural tales leaving aside dozens of tales of grim and gruesome murders on the floor. Again, this would be a library or Project Gutenberg quest as opposed to dropping a bunch of money on turn of last-century collections. 

Finally, W. Kirk Mashburn jr. : A pulpster in the classic sense, Mashburn was a Weird Tales regular who fortunately HAS been preserved by anthologists, most notable Stefan Dziemianowicz and the late Robert Weinberg. If you find those "100 - series alliteratively titled Barnes & Noble productions, (Creepy Little Creatures, Wild Little Weird Tales, etc.) you'll find some of Mashburn's shorter work. Not to toot my horn, but "toot-toot-toot", I've been given the greenlight to put together a collection, Masters of the Weird Tale: Four Horsemen that will collect the small, but totally cool output of Mashburn, David Eynon, C. Hall Thompson, and Ewen Whyte; none of whom have enough material for a solo collection, but put together will be a massive tome of some truly great weird fiction. Mashburn's best-known tale is probably "Placide's Wife", a chilling yarn of vampirism that has been reprinted in the readily available anthology Weird Vampire Tales, but for some reason, the even better sequel has yet to be reprinted, of course, I'm going to fix that...

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Will there be a write up next month for Douglas Adams, or Andre Norton this week?

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7 hours ago, zev said:

Will there be a write up next month for Douglas Adams, or Andre Norton this week?

You guys really, really don't need me to tell you about Douglas Adams, do you? I mean, I dig his stuff, but he's pretty well known by the mainstream as well as hardcore sf fans. Now as for Andre Norton, everything that I am today is due to Andre Norton, so damn right I'm going to write about her.. A real trailblazer, and I'm proud to say that I've read every word she ever wrote. 

 

 

 

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When I was 14 or 15, I was in a Prodigy chat with Douglas Adams. I asked a stupid question.

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8 minutes ago, Matt D said:

When I was 14 or 15, I was in a Prodigy chat with Douglas Adams. I asked a stupid question.

Was the answer "42"?

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Okay, 2/14/17. I'm going to start with an apology. I should be writing about Richard Laymon, one of the greatest horror authors who ever lived. Richard Laymon passed away at age 52 from a sudden heart attack in 2001. Dick was one of my best friends in the world, I got the phone call from Nancy Collins just a few minutes after it happened, (Nancy had just happened to call the Laymons moments after it happened.) I was in shock then, and trying to write about him now just fucks me up too much. Let just say if you like a good B-movie horror romp, Dick was your guy... "Anyone can die at any moment and the innocent must suffer." Drive-in rules from Joe Bob Briggs, but Dick incorporated them into most of his novels. RIP, my friend. 

If you're really curious about Richard Laymon, there is a wonderful memorial volume entitled In Laymon's Terms and the "Richard Laymon Kills" website is still up and running. 

I'll be back to write about J.T. McIntosh a bit later.

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Okay, thinking about my late pal fucked me up more than I thought it would, but I try to be a trooper...

2/14/17 Alba gu brath! (I'm Irish, of course I understand enough of the Scots bastardization of the language to write "Scotland Forever") (ooops, the wife just reminded me that I'm an 1/8th Scots and 1/4 Armenian and to shut up with that shit).

So, I think we can all agree that the coolest things to come from Scotland are David Tennant and the Proclaimers (and before any Rowdy Roddy Piper fans run in, I loved the dude but he was Canadian of Scots ancestry). The third really cool thing to come from Scotland is an author you probably haven't heard of, unless you're one of those people like me that will grab up armloads of 1950s and 1960s paperbacks just for the cool covers and eventually read them...

J.T. McIntosh is the pen-name of James Murdoch MacGregor, which is about as fucking Scottish as John Francis Conall Pelan is Irish, so good for him... Anyway, the typical Scottish iconoclast, MacIntosh was a mainstay of both American and British SF magazines from the mid-1950s through the 1970s. Totally ignoring trends, McIntosh wrote classic 1940s Sf updated for his era, I'd guess a fair comparison would be Stephen Baxter or Alistair Reynolds, (neither man really breaks any new ground, but what they do with established tropes is pretty cool). Always his own man, McIntosh did something unprecedented in the field, at the age of 54, when many writers (including yours truly), are just hitting their stride, he quit. What's more he quit cold turkey and refused to allow the reprinting of any of his work. Oddly enough, he remained quite friendly with a lot of old-time British fans, carrying on e-mail correspondence up until his death in 2008. 

McIntosh (or as he often spelt it, M'Intosh), wrote on pretty much every Sf trope that you can imagine and then some. If you look for his stories, Galaxy and New Worlds are your best bets. However, it is with his short, punchy and direct novels that he really excelled and for some reason (probably the lack of reprints) collectors have sort of ignored him, meaning that you can find nice first edition hardcovers from 40 years ago for about $20 and paperbacks under $5.00 with free shipping. He's a writer long due for rediscovery, and now that he's gone, he can't bitch about people reading his work.

  The Suiciders: Mcintosh, J. T.This is the Way the World Begins: J. T. McIntosh

A caveat, if you weel... When I refer to prices on older stuff keep in mind that I have the collector mentality and think in terms of nice condition additions to my shelf porn. In the case of McIntosh (just as an example), if you aren't picky about condition, you can get a shitload of good stuff (hardcover or paperback) off of abebooks.com for around three bucks, often with free shipping.

If you haven't used the site here's a real quick primer:

Use advanced search, type in author's name and scroll down to the option for pricing, hit "lowest price" and wait for results, like I said, if you aren't picky about condition, lots of booksellers want to move dead inventory at break-even or even a slight loss. It costs about three bucks media mail to ship a paperback or thin hardcover, so you'll find a ton of books in the $3-3.50 range with free shipping, basically the bookseller just wants to make room for other stuff. I've probably got five boxes of duplicates, no-longer-needed  anthologies, stuff that I know I will never re-read and the like that I should list just to make some damn room, but I am (at the end of the day) a lazy fuck that can't get too excited about spending a bunch of time listing stuff that I won't really make any money on... Someday, but not today... ;-)

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11 hours ago, OSJ said:

Okay, 2/14/17. I'm going to start with an apology. I should be writing about Richard Laymon, one of the greatest horror authors who ever lived. Richard Laymon passed away at age 52 from a sudden heart attack in 2001. Dick was one of my best friends in the world, I got the phone call from Nancy Collins just a few minutes after it happened, (Nancy had just happened to call the Laymons moments after it happened.) I was in shock then, and trying to write about him now just fucks me up too much. Let just say if you like a good B-movie horror romp, Dick was your guy... "Anyone can die at any moment and the innocent must suffer." Drive-in rules from Joe Bob Briggs, but Dick incorporated them into most of his novels. RIP, my friend. 

If you're really curious about Richard Laymon, there is a wonderful memorial volume entitled In Laymon's Terms and the "Richard Laymon Kills" website is still up and running. 

I'll be back to write about J.T. McIntosh a bit later.

Love Laymon,but how can you write about the man without using the word Rump at least once sir? :P

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I am so ashamed... In addition to the memorial piece I wrote for In Laymon's Terms, I also wrote a piece doing the best I could to mimic Dick's style and general plot twists he used in his short fiction. I thought I had done a pretty fair job, sent the piece off to Kelly Laymon and Steve Gerlach, (the editors of the volume), they loved it. Then as a I read the final galleys, far too late for changes, I realized that I had not only failed to describe any, but indeed had failed to even use the word "rump". A black mark on my record to be sure...

Little known fact: Dick Laymon did the best Eric Cartman voice of anyone I've ever heard. ;-)

Hmmm 2/15/17 on the horizon... I've been up all night so I'm going to catch some zzzzzs, but when I return we have either Sax Rohmer or Jack Dann on the birthday side of things and Neil R. Jones on the passings. Get ready for Durna Rangue (space pirates) and the Jameson Satellite (early Cyborgs); tremendous stuff... Back in a bit... If anyone wonders why I was up all night, I've just been turned on to a horror author name of Adam L.G. Nevill... I'm all-in on this guy...

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2/15/17

Allrighty! We're starting to get some comments and it appears that some folks are reading this, so we shall carry on... On the birthday side of things we have Sax Rohmer, who wrote the horribly racist Fu Manchu series and similar stuff. I actually like the Asian super-villain pulp stuff when well-done, such as in the works of Eugene Thomas or Edmund Snell where the author handles the Asian characters respectfully, making fully-developed characters as opposed to the racist caricatures offered by the likes of Rohmer.

Also on the birthday side of things, happy 72nd to Jack Dann, the first and foremost of the Aussie Posse. Jack may fly a bit under the radar, despite being one of the most prolific anthologists of all-time as the co-editor (with Gardner Dozois) of the "Exclamatory Series: which features such volumes as Magicats!, Beastiary!, Dragons! etc. On his own he's produced over thirty other anthologies, all of which show a sure hand in story selection with an eye toward variety and unlike many anthologists, Dann always digs up something totally unexpected.  When I say that he flies under the radar, it's primarily due to the fact that he's the Aussie version of Harlan Ellison as a writer (without the prominent public persona). Dann has written novels, but in the greater scheme of things, they are of minor import when compared to historically significant volumes such as In the Field of Fire (co-edited with his wife). ITFOF is the speculative fiction anthology focused on the Vietnam war, which ranks as one of the most significant anthologies of the 1980s. 

As with Ellison, it is in the realm of the short story and essay that Dann leaves his indelible mark on the field. Since 1970 when he started by collaborating with George Zebrowski (someone else that merits your attention), Dann's short fiction has been omnipresent on the various awards' ballots. He's one of those guys like Robert Silverberg used to be, often nominated, rarely winning. a lot of that can be attributed to US bias in both the Hugo and Locus awards. Conversely, in his native Australia, no one else is even close as an award-winner. Another reason that Dann flies under the radar is that he's a frequent collaborator (the parallels career-wise between Dann and myself may seem eerily similar, it's no co-incidence, Jack's one of my literary heroes and I patterned my career in large part using him as a model of what to do to continually grow and improve as an author and anthologist). Dann has a significant body of collaborative stories with authors such as Michael Swanwick, Jack Haldeman II, Janeen Webb, Gardner Dozois, Gregory Frost, George Zebrowski, Susan Casper, Barry N. Malzberg and of course, his wife Jeanne Van Buren Dann. 

Now here's the really good news, despite such an illustrious career, Dann has never really caught on with collectors to the point that prices on his books have inflated a great deal. Careful shopping will get you all of the following volumes (all in hardcover if you like) for around a hundred bucks:

Timetipping - 1980

Jubilee - 2001

Visitations - 2003

The Fiction Factory - 2005 (all collaborative tales)

The Promised Land - 2007 (all stories set in the world of his acclaimed novel,  The Rebel: An Imagined Life of James Dean

While all of these books are worth your attention , let me turn you on to a little-known deal, Golden Gryphon Press has (sadly) thrown in the towel when it comes to publishing new books and are closing out their inventory. While I hate to see them go (I have a near complete collection, and while of course some books are better than others, there isn't a single one that I'd consider a disappointment or waste of money and the best of the bunch are cornerstone books for any collection). Anyway, their passing is your gain, all of their inventory is 50% off on their website. Keep in mind that Golden Gryphon was not a super fancy boutique press with inflated prices, they were a solid reading man's press. Quality content matched by quality materials (they used the same printer/binder as Arkham House) and reasonable (below market standard) pricing. All books were around twenty-five bucks, meaning that you can get yourself some nice collectible hardcovers for ten or twelve bucks each.

As for The Fiction Factory, here ya go: "The eighteen stories include the Nebula-nominated "High Steel," with Jack C. Haldeman, set in a future where people are drafted to work for corporations. The story revolves around a Lakota wiseman draftee, about his struggle to keep his traditions and how his ancient knowledge is applied in outer space. "The Gods of Mars," with Gardner Dozois and Michael Swanwick, also nominated for the Nebula Award, is the story of the first manned landing on Mars, and its "storybook" ending, complete with canals — or not. Other stories are about time machines and revenge, first dates with Jesus, dinosaurs falling out of the sky, a vampire in a concentration camp, a famous painting that eats critics, a door-to-door computer salesman in Faerie, clowns that knock their audiences dead, performers Buddy, Janis, and Elvis touring together in an afterlife, and a most undignified Jack the Ripper." www.goldengryphon.com 

Anyway, if you're uncertain about diving in, there are some ex-library copies of Visitations and Jubilee on abebooks for like $3.50 and free shipping that' about the cost of a cup of coffee and an English muffin, and Jack Dann's stories will stay with you a lot longer. ;-)

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2/15/17:

Lest any forget, the "OS" in OSJ stands for "Old School", so we're jumping in the wayback machine to look at the work of an author who passed away 39 years ago today, but left us an incredible body of work. Let me preface this short essay by remarking that if there is anything cooler than pirates and ninjas, it would be space pirates and cyborgs! Neil R. Jones began his career at a time when "science" postulated canals on Mars, fetid swamps on Venus, and breathable atmospheres on asteroids, it was the 1930s and science fiction was entering its Golden Age where in the science became important and the Star Wars sort of science-fantasy that had ruled the magazines since the days of Edgar Rice Burroughs' "John Carter of Mars" in Argosy was being forced out of the major markets in lieu of the new order that required logical extrapolation on existing technology.

Neil R. Jones said "Fuck all that!" He wanted to write about space pirates and cyborgs and by God, that's exactly what he did for the next fifty years. Jones had two series that he's known for, the first the tales of the Durna Rangue ran from 1931 to 1951 mainly in Amazing Stories and Planet Stories. Mostly novelettes, there's just enough of these space pirate yarns to fill a really big (like 700-800 pages) book, and my buddy Stephen Haffner at Haffner Press keeps threatening to publish them. First and foremost these are adventure stories. If you swapped the planetary locations out with the Spanish Main and swapped the blasters for cutlasses you really wouldn't need to change anything else to make them regular pirate stories. The "smart fans" turned up their noses and the always humorless and pompous Everett Bleiler disparaged the stories as formulaic and scientifically impossible... So bloody what? I'm reading them to be entertained, not to learn engineering. If you're the sort of person who can suspend disbelief long enough to enjoy the Star Wars films or Avatar (and I sincerely hope that you are), then you're the sort of person that can kick back and enjoy an interstellar caper with the most memorable space pirates to grace the pages of the pulps...

Guess what? The Durna Rangue was not Neil R. Jones main series, not even close... Take one dying scientist launching himself into space in a home-made rocket, a group of cyborg space explorers, and a profound love of adventure and you have the Professor Jameson series. Once the alien explorers find the dying professor they put his brain into one of their extra robot bodies, making the good professor effectively immortal. Jones did something here that no author had previously attempted, he centered his stories around non-human protagonists. It could be argued that Professor Jameson himself falls into the non-human category after his brain transplanting. One that Jones did very smartly was to make the robot bodies considerably more efficient than the human form (see illustration below). 

With time effectively meaningless, the group of explorers roams the galaxy in search of adventure, encountering all manner of strange life forms (does this sound familiar?) While the cyborgs are effectively immortal they can be killed if the brain is destroyed as occurs when facing a species of metal-eating monsters. Yes, the stories are formulaic: Discover new race or new species. Landing crew is imperiled by same for one reason or another; or the friendly aboriginal people are endangered by something that only the cyborgs can combat. Lose one or two crew members in the battle that follows. Often as not, replace crew member with a brilliant aboriginal scientist willing to swap his "humanity" for the immortality promised by life as a cyborg. Rinse, repeat for over thirty years...

Yep, over thirty years... The last new Professor Jameson story appeared in 1989, a year after the author's passing. And here's the really cool thing, Jones didn't care about trends, he ignored John w. Campbell's call for psi-based stories in the 1950s, the "New Wave" came and went without phasing him. In fact, from contact with his nephew, I learned that there's a wealth of unpublished Professor Jameson stories that are slowly being organized for future publication. Neil R. Jones liked writing Professor Jameson stories whether the magazines bought them or not. Apparently, he was still writing them right up until his death. A wealth of the Jameson stories ave been collected in trade paperback by Armchair Fiction. You can read the first story right here for free https://www.gutenberg.org/files/26906/26906-h/26906-h.htm and better yet, eight of the fourteen uncollected/unpublished tales can be read right here at www.professorjameson.net. 

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11 hours ago, OSJ said:

I am so ashamed... In addition to the memorial piece I wrote for In Laymon's Terms, I also wrote a piece doing the best I could to mimic Dick's style and general plot twists he used in his short fiction. I thought I had done a pretty fair job, sent the piece off to Kelly Laymon and Steve Gerlach, (the editors of the volume), they loved it. Then as a I read the final galleys, far too late for changes, I realized that I had not only failed to describe any, but indeed had failed to even use the word "rump". A black mark on my record to be sure...

Little known fact: Dick Laymon did the best Eric Cartman voice of anyone I've ever heard. ;-)

Hmmm 2/15/17 on the horizon... I've been up all night so I'm going to catch some zzzzzs, but when I return we have either Sax Rohmer or Jack Dann on the birthday side of things and Neil R. Jones on the passings. Get ready for Durna Rangue (space pirates) and the Jameson Satellite (early Cyborgs); tremendous stuff... Back in a bit... If anyone wonders why I was up all night, I've just been turned on to a horror author name of Adam L.G. Nevill... I'm all-in on this guy...

I had read about 8 of Laymon's  novels and never noticed his over use of the word rump.Then found a podcast that had Ketchum,Ed Lee and I think Brian Keene talking about Laymon and IIRC Ketchum mentioned how often Laymon used the word rump. Now every book of his I read I notice it.

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2/16/17:

You know, February is my least favorite month, for some reason, it's a month in which I've lost way too many friends, (Dick Laymon, Bud Webster, a few days ago, Ed Bryant, and my favorite fantasy/horror author, who wound up becoming one of my best friends, Michael Shea... First, a quick acknowledgement of Octave Mirbeau who was born on this day in 1848 and passed, also on this day in 1917. He's known for only one book, it certainly isn't SF and it isn't quite horror in the ordinary sense, but Torture Garden is a weird, decadent book that readers in search of something different should definitely check it out. 

Anyway, back to Michael Shea... Shared-world anthologies are a dime a dozen in today's marketplace, but that wasn't always the case, with the exception of H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos which he openly invited everyone to jump in and expand and the continuations of the Conan series of Robert E. Howard by L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter, authors simply didn't fool around with other authors' characters or worlds, it just simply wasn't done. 

However, in 1974, specialty paperback house DAW Books published a slim novel "set in the world of Jack Vance's The Dying Earth... Originally published in 1949, Vance's "novel" (actually linked short stories), has long been considered a classic in the genre.Nowadays, it's a virtual cottage industry with Vance having added several volumes to the saga and Gardner Dozios assembling an amazing anthology of pastiches by some of the most notable writers in the field. However, at the time there existed only the sequel The Eyes of the Overworld, which introduced Vance's lovable rogue, Cugel the Clever. Shea had read the novel a few years earlier and been overcome by Vance's world-building, wit, and prose style. A few fan letters followed and permission was granted to the young author to take a stab at a sequel to the sequel, as it were. The result was spectacular. Shea did Vance as well as Vance. Reading the book at age 17, I was convinced that it was really Vance working a rib on his readers with this "Michael Shea" business. Five years later a novelette entitled "The Autopsy" under the Shea by-line appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and the over-the-top violence and gory details made it very clear that this wasn't Jack Vance and that Michael Shea was a serious talent in his own right. I'll be back to finish this in the morning, time to round up the cats...

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Today is Douglas Adams's birthday.  He would've been 65.

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And were I still doing this project (yeah, I know; short attention span... plus, it didn't seem like anyone was interested...) I'd have passed over Adams (assuming that everyone here is familiar with him) and written about Christopher Anvil instead. On the side of passings, we have no less than John Wyndham, Edmund Cooper and Fredric Brown. Brown is of course best-known for his extremely short, extremely effective stories, including what may be the best short horror story ever written by anybody. I'll reproduce it here:

"Knock" (c) The Estate of Fredric Brown

The last man on Earth sat alone in a room, there was a knock on the door.

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Just trying to get the writing gears going today as I have a ton of stuff that has sneaked up on me and is now URGENT and the best way to get the writing gears going is (surprise) to write something... Actually a pretty sad day; fifteen years ago the inimitable R.A. Lafferty left us and three short years ago the guy who was arguably the writer of the 1990s, Lucius Shepard passed away at 71. My connections with both run fairly deep, I never had a chance to meet R.A. Lafferty, but I've been given the dream job of editing his complete short fiction, of which Volume #4 was just released (and there's a separate thread for it), #4 features an intro from friend and mentor Richard A. Lupoff, #5, which will hit in mid-summer has a guest intro from Michael Kurland and then #6 has Neil Gaiman dropping in for a visit. Previous volumes featured Michael Swanwick, Harlan Ellison, and the late Bud Webster. Future volumes will include intros by Scott Nicolay, Jeff VanderMeer, Ramsey Campbell, & Samuel R. Delaney. With a variety of authors like that lining up to pay literary homage, you may well imagine that R.A. Lafferty had something going on, and he most certainly did... It's impossible for me to say "If you like so-and-so, you'll like Lafferty, because no one has ever written quite like Lafferty, nor do I think that anyone ever will. It's probably more accurate to call him a fantasist than it is to give him the "science fiction" label. But he's such a unique talent that even "fantasist" sort of slides off of him. If Harlan Ellison was a humorist and Irish Catholic as opposed to Jewish, you might have something sort of in the same ballpark, but not quite. Lafferty wrote novels. too; but none are of the weird genius that characterizes his short fiction. There's probably an unfortunate reason for that, Lafferty came to fiction rather late in life, in his mid forties before he tried his hand at fiction, and was winding down his career as an electrical parts salesman dealing with new construction. Lafferty characterized himself as "a drinking man who doesn't drink any longer". Being one myself, I felt an immediate kinship, as writing is a frustrating, solitary business and the temptation to look for plots at the bottom of a glass is an omnipresent temptation. And here's where I'm glad that I never did get to meet the great author; you see, his self-characterization was true only in his imagination. By all accounts, Lafferty drank incredible amounts of alcohol and this is where we see the effects in his writing. His short stories are always gems, perfectly crafted, exhibits of a writer fully in control of his material. His novels on the other hand can be meandering, repetitive and even disjointed, (though despite the flaws, they are all worth reading). Quite simply, drunk or sober, he would finish a short story in one sitting, not something one can do with a novel. The novels are characterized by numerous attempts to get back in the zone he was in previously. Sometimes multiple attempts would be required. 

Anyway, R.A. Lafferty came along at just the right time (early 1960s), the SF/Fantasy revolution was in full swing and even though they weren't entirely sure what it was that they were buying, editors seemed to feel that whatever this stuff was, SF fans would like it and they were 100% correct. https://www.gutenberg.org/files/51774/51774-h/51774-h.htm this link will take you to what I guess we can call a "typical" Lafferty story, though that's much akin to saying that there's a "typical" Salvador Dali painting or Harry Partch symphony.  Back with a bit on Lucius Shepard after lunch.

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If there hadnt been other candiadtes, i was going to make William Gibson the birthday of the day one day this week. But i really didnt want to post clips of the johnny neumonic movie. 

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4 hours ago, odessasteps said:

If there hadnt been other candiadtes, i was going to make William Gibson the birthday of the day one day this week. But i really didnt want to post clips of the johnny neumonic movie. 

Here you go.

 

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4 hours ago, odessasteps said:

If there hadnt been other candiadtes, i was going to make William Gibson the birthday of the day one day this week. But i really didnt want to post clips of the johnny neumonic movie. 

Your restraint is commendable. In my universe, Bill Gibson's story treatment for Alien III (homeworld) got filmed and Johnny Neumonic didn't. ;-)

Dept. of It's All Connected... Most folk will recall that Neuromancer debuted in the US as a paperback original, but I wonder how many will recall that it was part of an initial set of four books that launched the final wave of ACE Science Fiction Specials? Of course, nowadays Neuromancer is the only one selling for hundreds of dollars, but back in the day, all four titles were pretty highly regarded, Howard Waldrop's Them Bones, Kim Stanley Robinson's The Wild Shore, and the fourth book (that for a time was the most highly sought after of the group), Lucius Shepard's Green Eyes!  

 

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Funny that Rudy Rucker has a birthday only a few days after William Gibson. 

(I just looked. Bruce sterlings birthday is in april and neal stephensons is Hallowe'en. )

 

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