Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Bouns FFM for Wednesday -- Espionage Volume 1, Number 1

The first issue of Espionage doesn't have great cover, which is fitting since the stories aren't great, either.  Most of them aren't even very good.  The idea of a magazine devoted to spy stories in 1984 seems a little odd.  The fascination with spy fiction had long since disappeared by then, hadn't it?  

As you can see from the contests list below, there are a few familiar names.  There are also a few names I never heard of before, nor have I heard of them since.  The magazine didn't last long, and I can see why.  I read every story in the issue, and most of them have already slipped from my mind. Jack Ritchie's story is a reprint, but I believe it's the only one in the issue. It's not bad.  The Asimov story really strains to explain its not-quite-dying message.  The Hoch story is one of the okay ones.  The Goulart tale is a "Odd Jobs, Inc." story and not intended to be taken seriously.  It's amusing, but not one of his better ones.  Ardath Mayhar's story is in the form of a letter, and it's printed in italics.  It's not long, but I found the italics annoying.  The story was okay, though.  Some of the others seemed to have no point, like "The Hurricane Courier."  I think the less said about most of them, the better.  So I won't say any more.  Well, I will say that the magazine improved, but not enough to save itself.  It's an interesting curiosity from another time.

3 · Editorial · [The Editor] · ed
6 · Time to Kill · Tony Wilmot · ss
16 · The Queen and King · Isaac Asimov · ss;
24 · The President’s Brain Is Missing · Ron Goulart · ss
39 · The Purist · Edward Wellen · ss
48 · The Hurricane Courier · P. E. Halycon · ss
58 · The Foreign Minister’s Brother · Stuart Symons · ss
69 · The Commissar · Jack Ritchie · ss
78 · Historically Spying... · Joe Lewis · nonfiction
81 · A Boy and His Camera · Jery Tillotson · ss
92 · Breakfast at the Kawnbawza · Isak Romun · ss
100 · The Hatchtree Assignment · Edward D. Hoch · ss
115 · The Knack · Percy Spurlark Parker · 
118 · The Intelligence Process [Part 1 of 3] · Ernest Volkman · ar
128 · Winds of Change · John Lutz · ss
134 · A Cameo Disappearance · E. Brooks Peters · ss
152 · You Can’t Fool a Wife · Ardath Mayhar · ss
158 · Game Pages 

17 comments:

George said...

I rarely saw a copy of ESPIONAGE magazine. I regret not picking up a copy when I had the chance.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

The cover reminds me of THE COYOTE CONNECTION, though the latter cover is much better.

Todd Mason said...

Yes, this was an issue I was surprised to see made it to my local newsstand in late '84...it might've been at the excellent newsstand at Book 'n' Card, or at a Crown Books or the like...what I didn't learn till much later was that the editor/publishers, well-meaning tyros, were the sisters of Bob Guccione, so had a silent backer to help muscle their efforts onto stands and have a bankroll to try to get their professionalism on. I don't remember Any of the stories, which does say something, nor much of the other fiction from the subsequent issues I bought, but clearly EQMM, AHMM and even the flailing MSMM didn't have too much to worry about in terms of their best contributors turning away from them.

I did think the notion of an espionage fiction magazine wasn't the worst possible approach, as while certainly the Bond craze had banked, there wasn't any lack of continuing bestseller interest in spy fiction and the occasionally popular spy drama in tv and film in the not yet dead (and Reagan-stoked) Cold War. And I'd missed MYSTERY MONTHLY (which barely got onto shelves in Honolulu, when at all), and even NEW BLACK MASK and HARDBOILED were a few months into the future when ESPI rolled out...

Todd Mason said...

And when I write MYSTERY MONTHLY above, I meant to write MYSTERY MAGAZINE...the generic titles of the late '70s and early '80s magazines probably didn't hurt, but also perhaps didn't help make either effort as memorable or eye-catching to browsers as their staffs hoped...

Fred Blosser said...

I never bought any of the issues, although I remember seeing them on the racks and speed-read Francis Nevins' interview with Philip Atlee in a later issue while browsing at a long-gone newsstand in D.C. At the time, without really checking the masthead, I'd assumed it was one another Renown digest mag.

Tom Johnson said...

I don't recognize this cover, but I know I have one or two issues of ESPIONAGE, I think I recall a John Jakes story in one, but that's I remember about the magazines.

Stephen Mertz said...

Nothing on that cover would make me pick up that magazine then or now. The high point of the run was Nevins' excellent interview with Atlee in a later issue. Why, so often in publishing, do the people who have the money not have a clue about how to do it and the people who know how to do it don't have the money?

Todd Mason said...

Espionage Magazine [v1 #1, December 1984] ed. Jackie Lewis (Leo 11 Publications, Ltd.; Teaneck, NJ, $1.95, 164pp, digest, cover by David Wool)
3 · Editorial · [The Editor] · ed
6 · Time to Kill · Tony Wilmot · ss
16 · The Queen and King · Isaac Asimov · ss; as “The Queen & King” in the Table of Contents.
24 · The President’s Brain Is Missing · Ron Goulart · ss
39 · The Purist · Edward Wellen · ss
48 · The Hurricane Courier · P. E. Halycon · ss
58 · The Foreign Minister’s Brother · Stuart Symons · ss
69 · The Commissar · Jack Ritchie · ss
78 · Historically Spying... · Joe Lewis · ar
81 · A Boy and His Camera · Jery Tillotson · ss
92 · Breakfast at the Kawnbawza · Isak Romun · ss
100 · The Hatchtree Assignment · Edward D. Hoch · ss
115 · The Knack · Percy Spurlark Parker · vi
118 · The Intelligence Process [Part 1 of 3] · Ernest Volkman · ar
128 · Winds of Change · John Lutz · ss
134 · A Cameo Disappearance · E. Brooks Peters · ss
152 · You Can’t Fool a Wife · Ardath Mayhar · ss
158 · Game Pages · [Misc.] · pz
160 · The Queen and King Solution · Isaac Asimov · ms

for all the issues, see: http://www.philsp.com/homeville/fmi/c/clm190.htm#A1962

Todd Mason said...

Ernest Volkman, a regular in ESPI, was, wait for it, a PENTHOUSE veteran/trusty. Surprise! Also wrote a bit for the last days of ARGOSY.

Todd Mason said...

And why did Volkman stick in my head particularly? Because I just walked past my old copy of his true-crime collaboration, THE HEIST, about 10 minutes ago, where it was lying on a table, a book I considered doing for Patti's Heist Week for FFB. (Still haven't restored/rewritten that mangled-by-glitches post.) But did I register I was randomly dealing with Volkman? Nah. One can see how solipsism and similar paranoia can be attractive, particularly when one wonders about the early stages of Middle Age Momenting.

Todd Mason said...

And by the third issue, I certainl remember the Lansdale, and might vaguely remember the Goulart...

Espionage Magazine [v1 #3, May 1985] ed. Jackie Lewis (Leo 11 Publications, Ltd.; Teaneck, NJ, $1.95, 164pp, digest)
22 · The Intelligence Process [Part 3 of 3] · Ernest Volkman · ar
28 · Middle Man Out · Bob Wood · ss
47 · Violets in the Rain · Esther Jane Neely · ss
56 · The Day the Fish Were Fresh · Arthur Moore · ss
60 · Bestsellers Guaranteed · Joe R. Lansdale · ss
78 · The Secret of the Black Chateau · Ron Goulart · ss
92 · Interview: Frederick Forsyth · Ernest Volkman · cl
102 · Cover Story · Edward D. Hoch · ss
116 · The Magic Search · Preston Pairo, III · ss
132 · The Other Man in the Pinstripe · Francis M. Nevins, Jr. · ss Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine May 5 1980
140 · The Legend · Al Nussbaum · ss
150 · On File...: The Spider and the Fly · Richard Walton · cl
154 · Spying Through Time · Joe Lewis · cl

Michael Bracken said...

I have fond memories of Espionage because I had two stories in the magazine early in my mystery writing career, my 6th and 8th published mysteries (“The Only Good Red,” February 1985, and "Only Heroes Die,” November 1985), and it was the first magazine to put my name on a cover.

Espionage wasn't the only magazine published by Jackie Lewis and her sister, and I'd been writing for their other magazines long before they started Espionage.

Josh Pachter, a frequent contributor to the magazine, is supposed to have an article about it in a future issue of Digest Enthusiast.

Bill Crider said...

Michael, your name is on the back cover of Issue #1. I'm looking forward to Josh's article.

Todd Mason said...

That is news to me...that the Nee Guccione sisters had published other magazines...wonder why they thought the amateurish illustrations on ESPIONAGE's early issues' covers would fly...

Todd Mason said...

It's news, but it shouldn't be...I read this years ago, and forgot:

"I wasn't happy for more than one year in any of my three marriages," said Jackie who returned to college in her mid-30s and for the last several years has independently published her own collection of sex magazines, gay and straight. "But I`m a romantic. I`ll get married again. Given my age, I figure four husbands, maybe even five."

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1985-02-22/features/8501100834_1_bimonthly-publication-penthouse-science-fiction

Glen Davis said...

In just a couple of years, Clancy would re-ignite interest in the spy genre.

Todd Mason said...

And Robert Ludlum was reaching his zenith by late '84, Le Carre was perhaps at his height, Len Deighton also resurging. Martin Cruz Smith, Brian Garfield, Ross Thomas and others helped fill further demand...even if Garfield's relevant work, such as HOPSCOTCH and CHECKPOINT CHARLIE, was largely published in the latter '70s, the film of the novel out in 1980...