Saturday, February 11, 2006

Top Twenty

The best thing I found in those letters I've mentioned here and here, is a list I made in January 1961 of my twenty favorite SF books. (You can click on the image to enlarge it.) I make no apologies for this list. I still love those books, even #6, Hunters out of Time, which isn't strictly a book but a novel that appeared in Amazing Stories in 1959. Number 9, Starship Soldier, is obviously a reference to the serial version that appeared in F&SF, and I probably hadn't read the novel version in 1961. You'll notice there's a lot of Heinlein on the list. I was obviously a big fan. You might also notice that there are several short story colections on the list. I came to SF reading through short stories, and I read a ton of them. There's one book on the list that I don't remember at all: Harlan Ellison's The Man with 9 Lives. I must have liked it a lot since I put it on the list, and it's embarrassing to me that I have no memory of it. I have a copy, so I'll have to check it out.

Mystery*File Update

GOLD MEDAL CORNER - DAY KEENE, by Bill Crider: "As I’ve been telling anybody who’ll listen for nearly forty years now, one of my favorite paperback writers is Harry Whittington. But this isn’t about him. It’s about a friend of his, Day Keene. Whttington and Keene shared an agent (Donald MacCampbell), which might explain why the two turned up so often at the same publishing houses, places like Phantom Books, Original Novels, Ace, Graphic, Pyramid, Avon, and of course Gold Medal. "

This is an article that originally appeared in the print version of Mystery*File, with some slight changes. Steve Lewis has compiled an excellent bibliography, and there are lots of nice cover scans.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Paging Terrill Lee Lankford (Again)

Charleston Daily Mail: "Here's a tip about life: Naming something probably means it's going to stay in your home for a very long time.

That's what happened to Parkersburg resident Sarah Stapp, who was driving on W.Va. 47 five years ago when she saw what looked like a newborn kitten crawling along the highway.

'I just can't pass it by,' Stapp recalled thinking. 'I just can't do that.'

Well, it wasn't a kitten. It was a baby opossum. A near-blind, toothy, road-crossing, acting-dead-when-threatened marsupial."

Feral Pigs?

The very first Sheriff Dan Rhodes mystery, Too Late to Die, featured an encounter with feral pigs. So does the one coming out in April (cover at left). Some people wonder if there really are feral pigs running loose in Texas. Sure there are, and I wish I'd known about this classified ad before I wrote A Mammoth Murder so I could have included it. Thanks to Banjo Jones for finding the ad, even if it's a little late for me.

Why Private Eyes Love Valentine's Day - One Tough Day for Two-Timers: "'It's a good holiday for business,' Mr. League says. The Greensboro, N.C., gumshoe has already scheduled five infidelity investigations for Tuesday, and plans to add two part-time sleuths to his staff of four to handle the demand."

Good Grief! I Wrote FanFic!

A while back I mentioned some letters I wrote over 40 years ago. A friend had sent me a couple of them, and today he sent me the rest. I now have a total of 33 letters and two postcards that I wrote to him when I was in college. (Naturally I didn't keep his replies.) Among the many things I didn't remember was that I wrote fanfic in one of the letters: "As I raced across the ochre sea-bottoms of Barsoom, the dying planet, astride my thoat, followed closely by the faithful Woola, I remembered the many times that my sword had drunk blood and sliced bodies to the greater glory of my planet. I thought of Tars Tarkus, Kantos Kan, Cathoris, my son, and the incomprable Dejah Thoris, Princess of Helium, my wife. The red mist, remnant of the fighting blood of my Virginia ancestors, swirled before my eyes, as I thought of being slain by the horrible Drefgs."

The Drefgs were my own invention, and the passage mercifully ends right there. As far as I know it's the only fanfic I ever wrote, but I'm not swearing to that.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

More Than You Really Want to Know

This guy is definitely no James Bond.

FunReports.Com: British spy caught on tape masturbating on a stone-like transmitter: " Journalist of Russia’s First TV Channel (ORT) Viktor Shvagerus insists that Russian special services have a video of British spy Andrew Fleming masturbating on the spy stone. Two weeks ago, Russia’s FSB reported seizing of a spy electronic device belonging to the British intelligence designed as a stone. But it turned out later that the national TV channels did not show the most interesting part of the spy scandal."

Side by Side

It's always fun (to me) to look at the new covers that appear on the Hard Case Crime editions and compare them with the originals. Here was have the original Gold Medal cover for A Touch of Death paired with the new one. Both very nice. Note the cover blurb on the earlier one. I agree.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Holmes on the Range -- Steve Hockensmith

I went to Steve Hockensmith's signing at Murder by the Book last night and picked up a copy of the hardcover, though I did a blurb for the book and had already read an ARC. So you can tell I liked it.
Though this book is set in Montana around 1892, St. Martin's is wisely marketing it as a mystery novel, which it is, and not as a western, which it also is. Old Red and Big Red Amlingmeyer are a couple of cowboys who admire the exploits of Sherlock Holmes (who's a real person as we all know). Old Red decided to emulate the Holmesian method in solving the murder of the general manager of their ranch, and the fun begins.

If you've read Steve's stories in EQMM about the Amlingmeyer brothers, you know you're in for a good time with this well-plotted mystery. And plenty of laughs as well. Check it out.

Over at Ed's Place

Gormania: "I'm always interested in the lives and working methods of other writers so toward that end I'm beginning a series called Pro-Files in which various professional writers answer the same seven questiions.

Pro-Files launches tonight with one of the most skilled and neglected writers working today. Bill Crider's books and stories have been giving me true pleasure for well over two decades now."

Ed is too kind. He might get an argument from some small-minded persons on that "skilled" bit.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

You Won't Want to Miss this One!

Houston's Mystery Book Store Since 1980 - Murder by the Book:

"MBTB's Noir Night II

Monday, May 8, 2006, 6:30 p.m.

Ken Bruen, Steve Brewer, Reed Farrel Coleman, Bill Crider, Peter Spiegelman, Jason Starr, Duane Swierczynski"

Monday, February 06, 2006

Priest -- Ken Bruen

You didn't expect me to wait until next year to find out what's going on with Jack Taylor, did you? Of course not. I bought the British paperback at Murder by the Book the other day and read it the following evening.

I wasn't at all sure how Jack was going to survive the terrible event that concluded The Dramatist. Now I know, but I'm not going to tell you. You'll have to buy Priest to find out. But survive Taylor does, and he's asked to investigate the beheading of a priest. There's abuse of children involved, and Jack has other problems as well. A young man named Cody wants to be his partner in the p.i. business. Ridge is being stalked. Jeff and Cathy, devastated by the death of their daughter, are on Jack's mind and conscience. They both turn up, and Cathy threatens Jack's life.

There's an REM song that Jack mentions often, "Hurt." Jack seems to prefer the Johnny Cash rendition, but the words are the same: "I will let you down. I will make you hurt." Anybody who associates with Jack should take those words to heart. They might as well have been written about him.

You might think (or hope) that this will be the time that Jack sees a light at the end of the tunnel. As usual, if he does, it's just a will o' the wisp, luring him on into an even deeper darkness. The end of Priest leave a number of questions unanswered, but it's just as terrible for Jack as the ending of The Dramatist, if not more terrible. Now I'll have to wait another year to find out what happens to him next.

D. B. Cooper, Where Are You?

Arkansas Times: "A Mena resident who found the only money recovered from the famous 1971 D.B. Cooper plane hijacking and robbery is preparing to sell what is left of his bounty.

Brian Ingram, who is now 34 years old, came across a buried bundle of twenty-dollar bills in 1980 while camping with his family on the banks of the Columbia River in Washington state. "

Sunday, February 05, 2006

David Goodis

microbrewjournalism - Shooting pool with David Goodis: "If I had two hours to live, I would spend most of it watching Dark Passage, the best movie every made. "

James Reasoner pointed me to this page with a post to rara-avis. Some interesting commentary, along with great cover scans.

Janes in Jail [Not Starring Sybil Danning]

14 WFIE, The Tri-State's News Leader: New Jail Goes Wild: "There was also concern that male inmates were able to watch women in certain cells take showers and use the toilet. Jailers say that problem has been fixed by moving all the women to a different housing pod.

Williams says, 'Those women were putting on a show. It wasn't that they didn't want to be seen. They were performing.'"

Ray Rhodes

Anna Nicole Smith isn't the only famous person from my hometown of Mexia, Texas. The defensive coordinator for the Seahawks is Ray Rhodes, the best football player to come out of Mexia High School. He was an excellent defensive back even then, and he starred in the NFL. Now he's coaching (he was head coach in Philadelphia for a while). He's several years younger than I am, but I knew his father. When I was in high school, I worked at a freight line, and his father was the stock manager at the local J. C. Penney's store. I saw him nearly every day of the week in the summers when we delivered the freight to Penney's. So naturally I'm rooting for the Seahawks today.