Friday, March 01, 2013

Overlooked Magazines: Suspense, Fall 1951

Suspense Magazine was connected in some way to the famous radio show of the same name.  The masthead says it's "The High- Tension Magazine Inspired by CBS Radio and Television Series Suspense." There's not much information about it available on the Internet, but I found out here that there were four issues published in 1946-47.  That incarnation died, but in 1951-52 another run of four issues appeared.  Not mentioned at the link above is at least one novel that appeared in the same format.  The copy of that one I have was written by Bob Wade and Bill Miller under their Will Daemer pseudonym.

The radio show, even in the early '50s, occasionally delved into SF, so I guess I shouldn't have been surprised to discover in the issue before me a story by Fritz Leiber.  I was a bit taken aback, however, when I saw it was a story about Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, as the radio show didn't wander into that kind of fantasy as far as I know.  The story, as you can see on the cover scan, is "Dark Vengeance," and that's what threw me, as I didn't know of a story about Fafhrd and the Mouser by that title.  That's because the title was changed to "Claws in the Night" when the story was reprinted in Swords Against Darkness where I first read it.  It's one of those stories that was written before passage of the law against using adverbs and before the law about telling instead of showing was put on the books.  And you know what?  It's still a dandy story.  I think people sometimes worry too much about supposed "rules" of writing and don't let the story develop the way it wants to.  Anyway, if you don't like birds, this story will creep you out. And maybe even if you do like birds.

"Wall of Fear" by Will Jenkins (Murray Leinster to SF fans) is a reprint.  It's about an escaped convict, a favorite theme in this magazine, and probably on the radio show, too.  It's predictable but okay.

William Sambrot's "The Saboteur" is about a mercenary who's helping to plan a mine to blow up the Golden Gate Bridge.  He's more successful than you might think.

In H. L. Gold's "Love Ethereal," a woman trapped in a loveless marriage falls for an invisible man.  And has an invisible baby.  That's not the punchline, though.

"How Can You Be Reading This" by Charles H. Gesner shows you what can happen when you say the word pungent to the wrong person.  It's not pleasant.

"Not a Leg to Stand On" is another escaped convict story.  "Don Mardick" is supposed to be a pseudonym, but I don't know who's behind it.

Talmage Powell is a familiar name, and his story set in the Florida back country has a bird tie-in that's even more unpleasant than the one in Leiber's tale.

"Pattern for Dying" by Morris Cooper is yet another escaped convict story.  Things never seem to work out for escaped cons in these stories, and this one's no exception.

Sir Arthur T. Quiller-Couch is a name I encountered in my grad school days, but not in a way related to his fiction.  "The Seventh Man" was at one time a pretty famous ghost story, and it's still a good one.

Philip Weck's "You Can't Run Away" is a returning vet tale. The old hometown's not the same. The woman he left behind is married to a no-good, who turns up dead.  Style is everything in this story, and I thought it worked.

I haven't read the other stories yet, but it wasn't quality that caused this magazine to fail.  The ones I read are all well done.  Maybe the public just didn't want a general fiction magazine of this kind.  Here's the entire ToC:


George said...

Wow, that SUSPENSE issue was full of great stories by some great writers! Of course, I was only two years old back in 1951...

Todd Mason said...

The daughter of another writer laid claim for her father for "N. R. de Mexico" (the associate editor), but I suspect Larry Shaw (the writer/editor and Futurian) was the NRD in this case...and doesn't that TOC look like a predecessor to Robert Arthur's and Harold Masur's ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS: anthos...Robert Arthur had his own shortlived eclective radio-associated digest going at about this time, THE MYSTERIOUS TRAVELER MAGAZINE...

Anonymous said...

The earlier Suspense Magazine really had more to do with the radio series than the 2nd incarnation from the early 50's. The one from the 40's novelized scripts [edited by Leslie Charteris creator of The Saint] The 50's version had 1 script reprint per each issue. Also of Note for collectors of Suspense Magazine .. Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine September 1944 script of missing episode 'The Hangman Won't Wait' / and a year later Sept 1945 script of missing episode 'Will You Walk Into My Parlour'

Unknown said...

I haven't seen the '40s version. Maybe I'll run across one someday.