Mike Robertson Books

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Ravensdale, WA  98051

E-Mail: MRobert722@aol.com

 

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Good Reading

Book, Comic, CD/DVD and Old Time Radio suggestions.  Too much of a Good Thing is always wonderful!

 

The Adventures of Cardigan by Frederick Nebel:  Mysterious Press, one of the Dime Detective Classic collections featuring 6 stories from the great Dime Detective magazine, 1933 to 1935.  Private eye Jack Cardigan, with co-workers Pat Seaward and George Hammerhorn, work for the Cosmos Agency, fighting crime & corruption with brains, fists and guns.  Great hard-boiled detective yarns with interesting storylines, excellent plotting plus terse fast-action dialogue.  I sat down one evening with this volume intending to read only one or two stories, but wound up finishing the book at one reading.  Nebel also wrote as Grimes Hill, Lewis Nebel and Eric Lewis and worked for early adventure pulps North West Stories, Danger Trail, Action Stories, Frontier Stories, various air/aviation pulps plus Black Mask and Dime Detective. He moved on to the “slick” magazines to include Collier’s.  Other series characters: Tough Dick Donahue and MacBride & Kennedy, the latter being reworked into the 9 film Torchy Blane series.  I’ve yet to read a sub-par Frederick Nebel story - there ain’t any! 

 

Doc Savage:  For 2011 I started to re-read this series of pulp stories of the Man of Bronze and his band of aides. Loads of fun for a cold winter evening, doubly so as I’m alternating Doc Savage and Shadow novels. The Bantam Doc Savage paperbacks are getting as expensive as good to fine condition copies of the pulps and for certain stories the pulps are easier to find!  Fun adventures and the James Bama, Bob Larkin and/or Joe Jusko covers will knock your socks off.  Highly Recommended.  Doc Savage, The Shadow and other pulp reprints are currently available, two novels to a volume with background notes, photos and essays by Anthony Tollin and Will Murray.  Check out www.shadowsanctum.com for more info and pricing. 

 

Spy Smasher-Republic 1942, 12 chapters, glorious black and white, directed by veteran serial director William Witney.  On my top 20 favorite serials list, Spy Smasher features a nice performance (in a dual role) by Kane Richmond, near perfect as the squared-jawed, athletic hero from Fawcett’s Whiz and Spy Smasher comics of the early 1940s.  Co-starring Marguerte Chapman, Sam Flint and Hans Schumm, this serial has it all - great slam-bang fight scenes, fast car and motorcycle chases, cool underground hideouts, acrobatic stunts, evil Nazi bad guys & sympathizers, a traitorous tv broadcaster plus cool futuristic machines to include an electric ray gun, tv (well, it was 1942…), secret bombsights, and a prop-driven auto gyro “bat plane” - no Batman to be seen!  The Spy Smasher costume translates well to the screen. Even his cape looks cool, and that’s not easy to pull off, especially in 1942 with no special effects. Of course any real life dirty-fighting bad guy would grab that cape and pull our hero down or wrap it around his neck and choke him out - but hey, this is comic book to screen storytelling and that behavior isn’t allowed.  Thankfully!  The last chapter seemed a bit hurried, but the bad guys get what they deserve and our hero, a bit worse for wear, survives.  Recommended - shoo the cat off the couch, fire up the VHS tape player or the DVD player (available in both formats), grab a big bag of popcorn (extra butter, please!), the beverage of your choice, and have a very enjoyable evening. 

 

Cult Magazines: A To Z edited by Earl Hemp and Luis Ortiz, Nonstop Press 2009, quality softcover, 224 glossy interior pages with thick cardstock covers, $34.95 retail.  Billed as “A Compendium of Culturally Obsessive & Curiously Expressive Publications”, this volume covers magazines published 1925 through 1990, featuring such titles as Castle of Frankenstein, The Shadow, Doc Savage, Tiger Beat, True Strange, Weird Tales, Expose, Eyeful, Sexology, The Nudist and many, many more.  Impossible in a volume this size to cover everything, but most genres are represented: pulps, pin-up magazines, nudist/health publications, true detective, monster mags, joke and humor magazines and music/teen/record zines are included.  Many cover reproductions - a minimum of one per page with as many as six. Each magazine title or publisher is covered in an essay by contributors to include Riley Adams, Mike Ashley, Earl Kemp, Will Murray and Bob Weinberg, among others.  I enjoyed the book, especially those cover reproductions, several I’ve not seen in 30 or 40 years.  The pulp and digest coverage is great.  My only quibble is the actual layout of the book.  It would have been nice (and, I think, more effective) to match cover reproductions to essays when possible.  Difficult in a volume of only 224 pages but with a little extra work and some juggling here and there…..still, only a minor irritation.  I’ll forego my usual glossy interior pages complaint this time.  The higher quality glossy paper really makes the cover repros look great.  I’ll just wear my sunglasses next time!  Check this one out - interesting reading with great visuals.  $34.95 is a chunk of coin these days, but you may be able to find a discounted copy with a little effort. 

 

The Sandman by Joe Simon & Jack Kirby, DC hardcover collection, 2009, 300+ pages.  This volume reprints Golden Age Sandman stories from Adventure Comics #72-102 (and assorted covers) plus World’s Finest #6 and 7.  Great art and storytelling with inventive and interesting tales such as “Crime Carnival”, Dream of Doom”, “The Miracle Maker” among others.  Certain concepts and ideas in these stories were reworked and/or re-used by Kirby during his great 1960s Marvel  period - the “Crime Carnival” for starters, and of course Sandman’s “wirepoon” gun that allowed him and his companion Sandy The Golden Boy to swing from roof top to roof top - a means of travel adapted well for use by Spider-Man, Daredevil and a host of other Marvel characters - without the goofy wirepoon gun!  A couple of clunkers are included in this volume, not totally done by Simon & Kirby and the volume also reprints Sandman #1 from 1974 with art by Jack Kirby and Mike Royer - fun, but not equal to the Golden Age Sandman yarns.  Another plus - rather than use the quality glossy stock of the DC Archives series (not complaining - DC Archives highly recommended!), this book is printed on comic book stock - similar to the Mando paper of the 1960s, only whiter.  No blinding glare, just like reading a 1940s or 1950s or 1960s comic book - my eyeballs thank you, DC!  And, of course, thank you for publishing this volume!

 

Framed in Guilt by Day Keene:  Excellent 1949 novel with a Hollywood/movie industry setting centering on successful screenwriter Robert Stanton.  In due course, 2 people are murdered, there’s a bit of blackmail in the air - and then Stanton’s blind British wife and 6 year old son show up.  He has no recollection of either!  Nicely plotted with good dialogue, well-drawn characters and a handful of likely suspects.  The novel flows easily from one scene to the next.  A  likeable, upbeat ending makes this an enjoyable book by a talented author who wrote for the pulps, radio, and many paperback houses in the 1950s/60s.  This one might be difficult and a bit spendy to find in a paperback edition of the 1950s, but it is available in trade paperback format, large type, as part of the Linford Mystery Library published by F.A. Thorpe, Great Britain.  Libraries love these Thorpe editions - and so do my over-used eyeballs!  Check out other novels by Keene, including The Big Kiss-Off, To Kiss Or Kill, Murder on the Side, Strange Witness and Wake Up to Murder.

 

 

DC Archives All Star Comics Volume 9-DC Comics hardcover reprinting All-Star Comics #39-43.  All the DC Archives are worthwhile and a joy to read, especially since the material in original comic book format costs a small fortune.  With this volume the stories take on a more mature approach and the artwork shows signs of progressing from the crude yet enthusiastic art of the late 1930s thru the mid-1940s to what was offered in the 1950s and thru the Silver Age.  Carmine Infantino and Alex Toth have a few pages in this volume and Arthur Peddy does excellent work as well, as does super DC inker Bernard Sachs.  The covers are imaginative and several were used as the basis for covers on the Silver Age Justice League of America series.  The entire run of All-Star Archives is exceptional, but for me volumes 9 thru 11, reprinting issues #39 thru #57 are the best.   

 

The Best of Stanley G. Weinbaum:  Ballantine does it again, this time with 12 stories from the 1930s featuring wondrous worlds and alien aliens!  My favorites: “A Martian Odyssey”, “The Lotus Eaters”, “Proteus Island”, “Valley of Dreams” - and on further thought, “The Worlds of If” plus the other 7 stories in this volume!  Difficult to choose favorites from these 12 - enjoy them all.  Weinbaum’s career was cut short at age 33 from throat cancer but his published work is well worth the effort to find.  Recommended.

 

On The Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio by John Dunning.  Highly Recommended. An incredible reference work for fans of Old-Time Radio, listing approximately 1500 radio shows in alphabetical order from the 1920s thru 1960s.  Also listed for each show: timeslot, broadcast history, network, sponsors, major cast members, announcers, producers, directors, writers - you get the full picture - for radio, no less!  Over 800 pages, this lists for $55 but can be found with some effort in the $35 to $45 price range.  I got mine thru Wal-mart online and was just happy to even locate a copy.  Great book, superb reference.  If you’re not into OTR yet, you might want to check out this book at your local library & sample a few old radio shows on CD (from me or other on-line dealers; inexpensive in MP3 format).  You’ll be hooked! 

 

Hollywoodland-Focus Pictures 2006, 2 hours, 7 minutes running time with the usual special features to include deleted scenes, commentary, trailers. Rated R for language, sexual content & violence. Stars Adrien Brody, Diane Lane, Ben Affleck & Bob Hoskins - a great crime thriller based on one of Hollywood’s most notorious mysteries, the suicide of Superman actor George Reeves.  The film gives three possible scenarios for Reeves death and is well written and nicely paced. Brody is excellent as a private investigator intrigued by the case. In the course of piecing together Reeves last days, he runs into Reeves spurned lover played by the lovely Diane Lane with Bob Hoskins as her enraged husband - plus a scheming fiance`, hush-it-up police and studio bosses. Ben Affleck does a nice job as George Reeves and Diane Lane is sexy as always. Bob Hoskins shines as a powerful studio boss.  Enjoyable movie, recommended if you’re at all interested in George Reeves and the circumstances surrounding his death.  For more on the subject check out the book Hollywood Kryptonite by Kashner & Scoenberger.

 

W.T. Ballard: The Package Deal-well written novel, blurbed as “the fast brassy world of TV with the lid ripped off!”  I don’t know about any lid-ripping but this is an excellent novel as are all Ballard novels.  Ballard writes smooth dialogue with great plots and perfect pacing. Jerry Moore is an ex-Marine who had great success with his first novel but wound up as a reader for a pulp magazine until a friend calls with a job offer to write a new tv series - and the novel takes off from there. A dishy,  fast &  unscrupulous actress plus a few sleazy agents, know-nothing money-men and other well-defined characters round out a very enjoyable book - recommended. Ballard wrote as W.T. Ballard, Willis T. Ballard, Toddhunter Ballard, P.D. Ballard and Neil McNeil and penned several novels including The Seven Sisters, Three For The Money, Age of the Junkman, Brothers in Blood, Pretty Miss Murder, Walk In Fear, The Death Brokers and numerous pulp stories.  Always worthwhile reading.

 

Bubba Ho-Tep-MGM 2003, run time 1 hour 32 minutes with special features to include commentary, deleted scenes plus Joe Lansdale reading from his original story, the source for this movie. The great Bruce Campbell stars as an aging Elvis Presley, confined to a Texas old folks home (long, but funny - and even kind of logical - story!) along with John F. Kennedy, played by Ossie Davis - and yes, that’s an interesting bit of backstory as well!  Elvis & JFK combine forces to battle a 3000 year old Egyptian mummy sucking the souls out of old folks at the home.  Good performances by Campbell & Davis, nice supporting cast and an interesting storyline makes for a very enjoyable movie.  Rated R for some language and sexual content & violence; but I say R for “Recommended”!  And if you’re a Bruce Campbell fan, check out his autobiography “If Chins Could Kill-Confessions of A B-Movie Actor” and his excellent work in the current USA hit series “Burn Notice”.  Good stuff!

 

 

Keith Laumer:  From stories of sentient tanks known as Bolos to adventures of the Imperium and to his most popular creation intergalactic diplomat Retief, you can’t go wrong with Keith Laumer.  Incredible imagination, excellent writing and a flare for adventure, Laumer’s body of work stretches from late 1950s thru the 1980s, some of which is currently being reprinted for the current generation of readers in collections from Baen.  In addition to the Retief and Bolo yarns, Laumer wrote some of the better time travel and parallel universe stories of the 1960s and 1970s.  Try Dinosaur Beach or The Great Time Machine Hoax or Worlds of the Imperium.  The Retief books would be a great starting point. Most Laumer books are readily available in used book stores at moderate prices. My personal collection is small; Keith Laumer makes up a large portion of it.

 

Gene Pitney: Anthology 1961-1968

I have this on cassette tape from Rhino and it should be available on CD as well.  Exceptional music from a unique talent.  If you grew up in the 1950s and 1960s you’ll remember Gene Pitney and his great hits, including “(I Wanna) Love My Life Away”, “Town Without Pity”, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”, “Mecca”, the incredible “Half Heaven-Half Heartache” and one that’s been bouncing around my head for a couple of months - “She’s A Heartbreaker”.  Great tunes from an era where true talent counted, most songs were well-written and produced and most of all professionally performed.  What a concept!  And yes, I miss “top 40” and “hot 100” radio of the 1950s-1960s era - which is why I listen to the local oldies and/or classic rock stations these days.  Sock it to me, baby…

 

Frank McAuliffe:

The Commissions of Augustus Mandrell - four exceptional novels - “Of All The Bloody Cheek”, “Rather A Vicious Gentleman”, “For Murder I Charge More” and “The Bagman” -  featuring  assassin for hire Augustus Mandrell.  He has no birth certificate, no passport, no ID, no fixed address - and he’s not even officially alive!  But if you like girls, money, black humor, and great writing, these books are for you!  I’ve had little luck tracking down any information on McAullife but do know he has written one other novel - “Hot Town” under the name “Frank Malachy”.  If you have any further info on McAuliffe - or have any of his work for sale/trade - keep me in mind.   And if by chance you happen across any of the above - don’t hesitate - buy them and enjoy!

 

Old Time Radio: Box 13 - The complete Box 13 mystery/adventure series (52 episodes) starring Alan Ladd from 1948 is available on CD in the MP3 format and is one of my personal favorites. Ladd has the perfect radio voice & the series is well written and produced.  Each episode is approximately 30 minutes in length.  Sylvia Picker is great as the scatter-brained secretary to Alan Ladd’s Dan Holiday, a writer who advertises for adventure to find material for his books.  If you’re new to OTR, this series would be a good starting point - to OTR addiction!

 

Poul Anderson:

The Time Patrol-Baen 1976 - all the Time Patrol stories in one large 750+ page mass market paperback, $7.99 retail and easily worth it to have all the stories under one cover.  I have to admit I’m not a big Poul Anderson fan.  I have sampled his novel & short story work but much of it, while well-written and interesting, just doesn’t float my boat.  The Time Patrol stories do - in spades, and is one of my favorite sf “series”.  Manse Everard is the Time Patrol’s first temporal troubleshooter, tasked with preserving known history and protecting the future from fanatics, terrorists and other nut jobs who would change time to remold reality to suit their own desires. Even when they could stop bloodshed, illness and suffering, the agents must preserve the timeline. This series is nicely and logically set up and the history is well-researched.  Recommended.

 

L. Sprague de Camp: 

The Fallible Fiend: My “to be read” stack has been whittled down to 7 boxes of books, paperbacks, comics and pulps. Now and then a nice little gem jumps out at me.  A surprising number of those gems are written by L. Sprague de Camp.   The Fallible Fiend is fun de Camp, humorous and well-written, involving Zdim, an enlightened demon from the Twelfth Plane, sent to The Prime Plane as an indentured servant - and there the fun and adventure begins.  The cover blurb sums it up best: “Prime Planers were certainly illogical, but at least they made a tasty snack” - several times in this novel!  134 pages of de Camp magic.

The Best of L. Sprague de Camp: Classic science fiction by one of the Golden Age greats. This volume offers 18 stories, many from Astounding and Unknown, all highly imaginative and expertly written.  Includes “The Inspector’s Teeth” (alien wants to join a college fraternity); “The Hardwood Pile” (haunted lumber stack) and my two favorites: “A Gun For Dinosaur” (dinosaur hunting expeditions in the Cretaceous) and “The Gnarly Man” (immortal Neanderthal man). Fun reading!

Rivers of Time:  This Baen volume collects the Reginald Rivers time travel stories involving dinosaur hunts from the Paleocene to the Pleistocene eras, starting with the first story also reprinted in “The Best of L. Sprague de Camp” (noted above), “A Gun For Dinosaur”. Oftentimes the clients are as dangerous, or more so, than the dinosaurs!  Fundamentalists intent on proving evolution a fraud, animal rights fanatics, plus two scientists who’d like to watch the asteroid impact that wiped out dinosaurs.  Well written, enjoyable series of stories from a gifted writer.

 

The Best of C.M. Kornbluth:  More classic sf from the Ballantine “Best of….” Series.  Kornbluth died young but his legacy of imaginative and humorous stories remains.  This volume includes one of my all-time favorite stories “The Little Black Bag”  (medical instruments from the future-also filmed as an excellent episode of The Twilight Zone); “The Silly Season” (newsmen inventing news-how could that ever happen?); “Gomez”, and another personal favorite “The Marching Morons”.  Exceptional!

 

The Adventures of Superman DVD:

The Complete First Season:  26 episodes, special features and commentary plus the full length feature film “Superman and The Mole Men” all on 5 discs - superb collection, excellent packaging and presentation and best of all the shows themselves are incredible.  For those of us who grew up in the 1950s, George Reeves is Superman, no matter who else takes the part or how many fancy special effects are used.  Also starring Jack Larson as Jimmy Olsen, Phyllis Coates as Lois Lane (babe!...and one of the best on-screen screamers in tv or movies…), the great John Hamilton as Perry White plus Robert Shayne as Inspector Henderson.  Black & white, total time for all 5 discs is a whopping 662 minutes!  I had a smile on my face from the first episode thru the last special feature.  Highly recommended.  My daughter gifted me with this set - I knew I raised her right!

The Complete Second Season:  My daughter comes thru for Father’s Day. The joy of parenthood!  Here’s 26 episodes plus special features and commentary - like the first season set, all on 5 discs and just as cool!  George Reeves really hits stride in the 2nd season and Noel Neill takes over as Lois Lane, bringing even more charm, beauty and enthusiasm to the role and series. Jack Larson, John Hamilton and Robert Shayne round out the great cast.  Classic episodes include “Superman in Exile”, “The Dog Who Knew Superman”, “Jungle Devil”, and one of my favorites, “Panic in the Sky” wherein Superman saves Metropolis from an asteroid and loses his memory in the process. And don’t miss “Around The World With Superman”.  Superman aids a blind girl and then carries her on a flight around the world.  This episode is what the character is all about and George Reeves gives a superb performance as both Clark Kent and Superman. Exceptional packaging, 683 minutes of black & white fun.  I’m dropping hints for the next set already!

The Complete Third & Fourth Seasons:  13 episodes each for seasons 3 and 4 - in color now - on 5 discs, again with the same great cast plus special features and commentary.  George Reeves gets better with each episode, likewise Jack Larson, especially with the “Jimmy The Kid” episode where he plays Olsen and a tough-talking lookalike gangster.  And Noell Neill - I fell in love with her at the tender age of 5 ( and it never wore off)!  She’s prettier by the minute.  Other memorable episodes include “Topsy Turvy”, “Flight To The North” (with guest-star Chuck Connors, aka The Rifleman - did I mention I had a lever-action 30-30 just like his..?), “The Wedding of Superman”  (Lois Lane’s dream!) and the Robert Leslie Bellem scripted “Dagger Island”.   Of course there’s that goofball Professor Pepperwinkle!  So Cool.  To be honest there is one clunker installment here - episode 10 of Season 3 titled “The Bully of Dry Gulch”.  It’s still fun to see the actors work but the quality is so low it appears it was shot - and written - on lunch break!  I’d still take this episode over 5 seasons of any current “reality” show!  I’m just sayin’…

The Complete Fifth & Sixth Seasons:  The last 26 episodes of the series, 13 each for seasons 5 and 6, color, 5 discs with special features & commentary and just as enjoyable as the first 3 sets!  The writing picks up in Seasons 5 and 6 with more mature scripts for episodes including “Peril in Paris”, “The Town That Wasn’t”, “The Big Forget” and “Superman’s Wife”.  Robert Leslie Bellem and Whitney Ellsworth contribute scripts and George Reeves directs the last three episodes.  More of that goofy Professor Pepperwinkle too!  Pay particular attention to “The Phony Alibi” episode where an inventor’s new creation enables crooks to transmit themselves over telephone lines - a neat trick used in the Julie Schwartz edited Silver Age comic book series The Atom.  Special note: one of my all-time favorite episodes is “The Tomb of Zaharan”  featuring a kidnapped Lois as a cult’s ancient queen come to life - and Noell Neill is gorgeous in that skimpy costume! The only bad thing about this set is coming to that final episode of Season Six.  On a brighter note, with these DVD sets I’m now able to watch the entire series all over again from Season One - anytime!  There’s always a silver lining…!  Special thanks to my daughter Michele who gifted me (again!) with Seasons 3/4 and 5/6.  Now I’m dropping hints about how cool a Jaguar XK8 would look in the driveway….my driveway!

 

“Black Alley” by Mickey Spillane:  Another gem from my numerous boxes of unread books-paperbacks-pulps and comics.  Very entertaining Mike Hammer novel involving the Mafia, a whole lot of money (“b” as in billions!), a wounded Hammer and his ever loyal and lovely secretary (and now fiancée) Velda.  Recommended.  After you’ve read this Mike Hammer tale you’ll want to read the rest.  Dive In!

 

Jack Vance: 

Everything Vance has written is a pleasure to read.  I’ve recently read his Tschai: Planet of Adventure series consisting of 4 novels that stand alone fairly well:  #1-City of the Chasch, #2-Servants of the Wankh, #3-The Dirdir, and #4-The Pnume.  Best when read in order.  Vance is imaginative and inventive, an excellent author with an exceptional command of the language.  My yardstick for top flight authors:  when you read a novel and become so engrossed that you look up and realized you’ve read 150 to 200 pages - and it seems as though you’ve just begun!  Jack Vance delivers that every time. Also check out his Magnus Ridolph (intergalactic troubleshooter) stories in The Many Worlds of Magnus Ridolph or The Complete Magnus Ridolph.  Or just grab the first thing you see with the Jack Vance byline.  Always interesting, worthwhile reading.

Vance penned another great series titled “The Demon Princes”, 5 novels, in order - The Star King, The Killing Machine, The Palace of Love, The Face, and The Book of  Dreams.  These stand up well as single novels but are much better read in order.  Kirth Gersen spends his life and considerable fortune seeking revenge and the deaths of the five Demon Princes who killed his family when he was young. Suspenseful galactic manhunt, nicely written, with interesting characters and incredible worlds intricately described by Vance.  Well worth the effort to find at your local library or bookshop.

The Languages of Pao is another excellent novel from Jack Vance, featuring a rather unusual villain - one who wishes to dominate a planet by over-running it with his children - all male, of course!  There’s much more to the novel than this and as usual, Vance delivers another superb story you’ll want to read at one sitting.  Good Stuff!

 

“Masterpiece in Murder” (aka “False Colors”) by Richard Powell:  Excellent crime/mystery novel featuring unlikely hero Peter Meadows, art store/small gallery owner, involving forged paintings, a blonde, a brunette, a tough luck kid boxer, an obnoxious uppercrust villain, plus a neat romance.  Powell is a superb writer and has a nice way with a phrase.  His dialogue is smooth and rings true.  Good plotting and a neat honest ending make for an enjoyable novel. Check out other books by Powell including “Say It With Bullets”, currently in print from Hard Case Crime (www.HardCaseCrime.com).  If you’re like me, Powell will wind up on your favorite author reading list.

 

“Of Missing Persons” by Jack Finney:  This short story is available in several reprint volumes including the 12 story collection “The Third Level” and is one of my all-time favorites.  Finney has a gift for spinning intriguing time-travel yarns but this tale doesn’t involve time-travel - but does involve travel to another place.  Difficult to describe without revealing key plot points, so let’s just say that if you’re tired of the rat race and would like to get away from it all this story presents an interesting possibility.  If by chance you find The Acme Travel Bureau and are offered a validated ticket to Verna - take it and don’t change your mind!  You’ll be glad you did.  In the meantime, check out Jack Finney.  His work is available at moderate prices in book stores and readily available in most libraries.

 

The Best of Henry Kuttner:  Yet another volume in the great Ballantine “Best of….” series.  Here are 17 memorable tales of science fiction including “Mimsy Were The Borogoves” (source for the current “The Mimsy” movie), “The Proud Robot”, “Or Else” and one of my personal favorites “Exit The Professor” (the hillbilly - and mutant! - Hogben family).  Memorable stories by a master storyteller, largely overlooked these days save for us old geezers.  Check out Kuttner if you haven’t yet done so - very entertaining writer of sf, fantasy and detective/crime fiction.  Highly recommended!

 

“The Kiss-and-Tell Murders” by Stewart Sterling (pseudonym of Prentice Winchell):  Popular Detective 5/53, reprinted in Action Adventure Stories #76 (Fading Shadows 2000), and available as free download on the pulpgen website (http://pulpgen.com). Enjoyable yarn featuring department store detective Don Marko and a credit token scam.  Well written, some neat lines and only 28 pages.  Keep an eye open for other Stewart Sterling stories - always worthwhile reading.

 

DC Archives:  If you haven’t heard of these by now you’ve been circling Neptune too long!  Great Gold and Silver Age comics reprinted in quality hardcover editions, with biographical data on creators,  at a fraction of the cost of the original comics.  Retail is $49.95 with most readily available for less.  My favorites:  Plastic Man, Sgt Rock, silver age Flash, Green Lantern, Justice League & Hawkman, plus the non-DC material being reprinted:  Spirit Archives and  Thunder Agents.  Don’t overlook Marvel Masterworks or Dark Horse Archives, but for my money DC does it best.

 

Richard S. Prather:  The Shell Scott series is so much fun it must be illegal - or fattening, or bad for your blood pressure and/or posture!  Shell Scott bobs and weaves thru babes, bullets and bad guys in fast-paced, fun adventures that leave you asking for more.  These novels are like eating potato chips-hard to stop at just one!  Sadly, Prather passed away recently, which brings an end to rumors that he was working on a new Shell Scott novel.

 

The Best of Edmond Hamilton:  Another volume in the Ballantine “The Best of…” series of classic science fiction reprints from the pulps.  Known for his epic galactic adventures, Hamilton also excelled at shorter fiction and comic book scripting.  My favorites in this volume-“The Man Who Evolved”, “Exile”, “Requiem”, “What’s It Like Out There” and the unforgettable “He That Hath Wings”.  Any one of these tales should get you hooked on Hamilton.

 

Raymond Chandler:  If you haven’t sampled Chandler’s work yet, hit your local library and check out anything available - you’ll thank me later.  Some of the finest detective fiction ever written by anyone, anywhere.  Period.

 

Ron Goulart:  If humourous, irreverent sf or detective stories are your cup of tea, Goulart can fill it up and then some!  The Ben Jolson Chameleon Corps stories are fun, as are his Adman and Scrib Merlin yarns, not to mention Odd Jobs stories or Max Kearny tales - and we’re only scratching the surface!  Goulart’s series of novels featuring Groucho Marx (Elementary My Dear Groucho, Groucho Marx and the Broadway Murders, Groucho Marx Master Detective, Groucho Marx Private Eye, Groucho Marx Secret Agent) are excellent, and highly recommended.  And if that’s not enough to keep your reading glasses busy, there’s always his Star Hawks comic strip work plus a ton and a half of informative writing on comics and pulps in such books as The Adventurous Decade: Comic Strips in the Thirties;  Cheap Thrills: An Informal History of the Pulp Magazines; Comic Book Culture; The Comic Book Reader's Companion; The Dime Detectives; The Encyclopedia of American Comics;  Focus on Jack Cole…..and there’s more, but you get the picture.

 

At The Stroke of Midnight by John K. Butler -  This collection reprints all 9 Steve Midnight late-night cabbie adventures from Dime Detective: as follows:  The Dead Ride Free - 5/40;  The Man From Alcatraz - 7/40;  Hacker’s Holiday - 10/40;

The Saint in Silver - 1/41; The Killer Was A Gentleman - 3/41; Dead Man’s Alibi - 7/41; The Hearse From Red Owl - 9/41

Death and Taxis - 1/42 and The Corpse That Couldn’t Keep Cool from 3/42.  I don’t keep many books for my personal collection but this one qualified and is well worth reading and re-reading.  Published by Adventure House, edited by John Wooley. Highly recommended and still available from the publisher. While you’re at it, check out the following from Adventure House: Footprints On A Brain by D.L. Champion and Roscoes In The Night (Dan Turner stories) by Robert Leslie Bellem. Great stuff!

 

 

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Mike Robertson Books

PO Box 772

Ravensdale, WA  98051

E-Mail: MRobert722@aol.com