Friday, January 06, 2012

Forgotten Books: The Fiend in You -- Edited by Charles Beaumont

Quick, who was the first writer to have short fiction published in Playboy? Okay, admit it. The only reason you answered "Charles Beaumont" is that you saw who edited The Fiend in You. Beaumont was a brilliant writer who died far too young and under sad and terrible conditions, but he left behind a body of work that anybody would be proud of.

This anthology, as you can see from the Table of Contents, has stories by big name writers and some who aren't quite so well-known. Many of them are stories published within a year or so of the anthology publication, but there are some older ones as well. Richard Matheson, one of several Beaumont friends whose stories are here, gets to open and close the anthology.

Well, sort of. There's something after Matheson's second story that's not mentioned in the ToC. It's a short, uncredited essay titled "The Reason for Ballantine's Chamber of Horrors." It's a rationale for reading horror stories. Was the original title of The Fiend in You" supposed to be "Chamber of Horrors"? I haven't a clue.

Another little curiosity is that Stanley Ellin's story is listed in the "Acknowledgments" as having originally appeared in Stanley Ellin's Mystery Magazine. As far as I know, there was never a magazine by that name. Maybe Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine is correct, but that's just a guess.

All that aside, this is a dandy little collection that as far as I know has never been reprinted. If the story titles intrigue you, inexpensive copies are easy to find on the 'Net.


Todd Mason said...

Ballantine was always more than ready to dip its corporate toe into horror, even if they felt they had to, as with Wellman's John the Balladeer collection WHO FEARS THE DEVIL?, ludicrously tag it prominently as sf (well, there is One [1] arguably sfnal vignette in the book, involving time travel). I suspect a house ad.

Jeff Segal has reviewed one book so far in FFB history (open door, Jeff!) and it's THE FIEND IN YOU

, so I have this handy for quotation:
from the Contento index:

The Fiend in You ed. Charles Beaumont (Ballantine F641, 1962, 50¢, 155pp, pb)
vi · Introduction · Charles Beaumont · in
7 · Finger Prints · Richard Matheson · ss *
14 · Fool’s Mate · Stanley Ellin · ss Stanley Ellin’s Mystery Magazine, 1948; EQMM Nov ’51
31 · Big, Wide, Wonderful World · Charles E. Fritch · vi F&SF Mar ’58
35 · The Night of the Gran Baile Mascara · Whit Burnett · ss Transition Fll ’29; EQMM Jul ’65
46 · A Punishment to Fit the Crimes · Richard M. Gordon · ss, 1962
54 · The Hornet · George Clayton Johnson · ss Rogue Sep ’62
59 · Perchance to Dream · Charles Beaumont · ss Playboy Oct ’58
68 · The Thirteenth Step · Fritz Leiber · ss *
75 · The Conspiracy · Robert Lowry · ss New York Call Girl, 1958 (a Lowry collection)
84 · Room with a View · Esther Carlson · ss Fantastic May/Jun ’53
90 · The Candidate · Henry Slesar · ss Rogue, 1961
98 · One of Those Days · William F. Nolan · ss F&SF May ’62
103 · Lucy Comes to Stay · Robert Bloch · ss Weird Tales Jan ’52
110 · The Women · Ray Bradbury · ss Famous Fantastic Mysteries Oct ’48
121 · Surprise! · Ronald Bradford · ss, 1962
127 · Mute · Richard Matheson · nv *

...but I suspect that Contento was following the credits here...unless there was a STANLEY ELLIN MAGAZINE that was a little-magazine project, a la Joseph Payne Brennan's MACABRE, I suspect an erroneous artifact you've discovered. Phil Stephensen-Payne has no citation for an ELLIN magazine at Galactic Central, for example:

Jerry House said...

Great selection! I suspect STANLEY ELLIN's MYSTERY MAGAZINE was the classic 'zine published in an alternate universe by Specialty of the House Press.

Many of the writers were from the SoCa group that Beaumont hanged out with -- Matheson, Fritch, Nolan, Johnson, Bradbury. The only writer not familiar to me is Ronald Bradford. Since his story seems original to this book, and since I can't find anything else he wrote, his name might be a pseudonym for another writer represented in the book.

George said...

I remember buying and reading this collection as a kid. I loved it! I even sought out more books by Charles Beaumont, but there were only a very few.

J F Norris said...

Always good to see two of the "Twilight Zone" script writers in one anthology. Very hard to find any of George Clayton Johnson's stories in ANY anthology. I'll have to hunt for this one. Two other TZ alums as well -- Matheson and Bradbury. A couple of people I've never heard of: Whit Burnett, Esther Carlson, Charles Fritch...

Fred Blosser said...

I don't have my copy handy, but I think it was published in 1962 among a fair number of Ballantine horror titles around 1960-62 -- Ray Russell's SARDONICUS (another good pick for unjustly forgotten collection), a few Arkham House reprints, a couple of Sarben titles, Leiber's SHADOWS WITH EYES, ZACHERLY'S VULTURE STEW, etc. They used to be advertised in the back of FAMOUS MONSTERS. Don Wollheim edited THE MACABRE READER and MORE MACABRE for Ace around the same time. I assume all tagged onto a mini-revival in horror fueled by the release of the old Universal horror movies to TV in the late '50s, Corman and Hammer, TV's THRILLER, etc. I believe WHO FEARS THE DEVIL followed in 1963 or 1964. By then, it appears Ballantine figured the horror phase had passed and they were better off using an SF tag and putting their money into the ERB paperback revival.

Todd Mason said...

Well, Beaumont was often cited as one of the "little Bradburys" and this anthology is rife with those folks. Whit Burnett is perhaps best remembered as the editor of STORY magazine in its heroic years, often along with Martha Foley of BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES renown. Speaking of Renown, Charles Fritch was the last editor of MIKE SHAYNE MYSTERY MAGAZINE in the 1980s, as well as of the short-lived sf/fantasy magazine GAMMA in the 1960s (which first published, among other good things, Patricia Highsmith's "The Snail Watcher"), and was meant to be the editor of CHASE, an even shorter-lived crime fiction magazine that was meant to be a companion to GAMMA but ended up being published by Acme/Health Knowledge and edited by their editorial wizard, Robert Lowndes.
Fritch was also, as one might intuit, a writer, primarily of short fiction. I couldn't remember why I knew Esther Carlson's name aside from this anthology, so I find she was an occasional F&SF contributor, as well, and rented with her husband the servant quarters at Fletcher Pratt's mansion for a while in the '50s (this courtesy Frederik Pohl's blog).

Actually, there are four TZ (the original series) writers (including Beaumont) in the book...Henry Slesar also contributed scripts to the series, albeit he did a lot more work for ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS: and EDGE OF NIGHT, among others. Such TV vets as Bloch and Nolan, and Leiber as well as Bradbury, either scripted or were adapted for NIGHT GALLERY and the revived TZ.

Todd Mason said...

Also, Fred, the success of Hammer's new series of horror films didn't hurt. This little boomlet, along with some apparently decent import sales for the PAN BOOKs OF HORROR, apparently allowed Robert Lowndes to talk Health Knowledge into the MAGAZINE OF HORROR and the subsequent stablemates. (The less hardy SHOCK! and SHOCK and TALES OF THE UNANTICIPATED all cluster around that latest '50s and earliest '60s period, too.)

Todd Mason said...

It seems that there was No STANLEY ELLIN MYSTERY MAGAZINE, as Douglas Greene and Lawrence Block confirm...Block also notes that Ellin sent all his work along to Dannay at EQMM. So, a typo of Beaumont's or of someone at Ballantine, presumably.

Todd Mason said...

And I should note that my using the past tense in reference to Fritch as writer is to indicate that he hasn't published in a while, though as far as I know he's still alive.

Fred Blosser said...

Another odd-name-out in the table of contents is Richard Gordon, best known for DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE and its sequels. Matheson adapted his own "Mute" as a pretty good TZ segment during the series' hour-long run in the early '60s.

Todd Mason said...

Denny Lien has pointed out to me a middle-aged moment on my part above, where I refer to the late 1950s Michael Avallone-edited (and too-largely -written) magazine TALES OF THE FRIGHTENED as TALES OF THE UNANTICIPATED, which is a recent Minnesota-based little magazine of sf and fantasy, apparently not quite as dead as feared.

Matthew Bradley said...

I would recommend to John--and anyone else seeking George Clayton Johnson's short fiction--his collections TWILIGHT ZONE SCRIPTS AND STORIES (Streamline Pictures, 1996) and THE FOUR OF US ARE DYING AND OTHER STORIES (Subterranean Press, 1999). And, of course, anyone interested in Matheson might want to check out my book RICHARD MATHESON ON SCREEN (, in which George is quoted extensively regarding his personal and professional association with Richard.