Rocket to the MorguejpgAnthony Boucher was a switch hitter.

One day he’d bat for the sf genre and the next for the mystery genre. There are others who have played in both gardens, Isaac Asimov one of them, but none so complete and successful as William Anthony Parker White, which, after all, was his real moniker. In the mystery world there is the legacy of annual Bouchercon, named after him, and in the SF world, there is the legacy of Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine.

Boucher’s writings were full of wit and whimsy. I always take my humor laying down with a hand holding my belly jiggle steady, sometimes it’s even my own. Take “Rocket to the Morgue” (yes, I know, Please!), a mixed genre piece where you find the thinly disguised likes of Robert A Heinlein, John W Campbell Jr, L Ron Hubbard, Henry Kuttner, Julius Schwartz, Edmond Hamilton and Jack Williamson, and a murder, in a locked room. The novel was written under the nom de plume, H. H. Holmes, a name that will live in infamy as one of America’s first serial killers. Chicago circa 1893. In turn, Holmes was the alias of Herman Webster Mudgett. Ain’t fiction and real crime complicated? which White, ehhr,  Boucher, uhh, Holmes used as a pen name for some of his verse.  For a closer view of Holmes the killer, read Erik Larson’s “The Devil in the White City” or Allan W. Eckert’s “The Scarlet Mansion.”

Boucher is also responsible for, “Join the Science Fiction Book Club for just a dollar and receive,”A Treasury of Great Science Fiction, Volume One and Volume Two.””
Here is a complete list of the stories contained therein:

Volume One

SF vol1Re-Birth by John Wyndham (novel).
The Shape of Things That Came by Richard Deming.
Pillar of Fire by Ray Bradbury.
Waldo by Robert A. Heinlein.
The Father-Thing by Philip K. Dick.
The Children’s Hour by Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore.
Gomez by C. M. Kornbluth.
The [Widget], The [Wadget], and Boff by Theodore Sturgeon.
Sandra by George P. Elliott.
Beyond Space and Time by Joel Townsley Rogers.
The Martian Crown Jewels by Poul Anderson.
The Weapon Shops of Isher by A. E. van Vogt (novel)

Volume Two

SF vol2Brain Wave: Poul Anderson (novel)
Bullard Reflects: Malcolm Jameson
The Lost Years: Oscar Lewis
Dead Center: Judith Merril
Lost Art: George O. Smith
The Other Side of the Sky: Arthur C. Clarke
The Man Who Sold the Moon: Robert A. Heinlein
Magic City: Nelson S. Bond
The Morning of the Day They Did It: E. B. White
Letters from Laura: Mildred Clingerman
The Stars My Destination: Alfred Bester (novel)

I believe this anthology, 1959, may have been my first entry into serious SF. It was a great beginning.  Helped make The Stars My Destination!

But wait, there’s more. Boucher reviewed mysteries for both the San Francisco Chronicle and the New York Times and was also involved in radio drama. He provided hundreds of scripts for “The Adventures of Ellery Queen,” and plots for many of the Sherlock Holmes radio programs. In 1949, he created his own show “The Casebook of Gregory Hood.” All are available for download or audio streaming at the Internet Archive.

In 1948, he, and J. Francis McComas created “The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.” He stayed on as editor until 1958. By all accounts, he was an exacting editor. William F Nolan says, “Tony was a “tough sell” due to the strict, exacting standards of quality he imposed; for me, getting a story into F&SF was akin to cracking The New Yorker.”

Much of Anthony Boucher’s work is extant. Even a collection of his mystery reviews for the San Francisco Chronicle from 1942 -1947. A search on the internet will clue you. If you’re like me, you could, and probably, have done worse. He’s a little bit SF; he’s a little bit Mystery. Who says you can’t step into different rivers at the same time? Some pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, or a Sanskrit guru on the hill, I’ll bet.

Swimming the Lucinda River

The-Swimmer-1968-MovieSeems I have been on a quest, circling the science fiction and fantasy whirlpool in a distant, yet interesting manner. On the periphery, far away from the madding bustle, I’ve been reminded of some quirky works of film and literature that don’t fit into any category. They are moving, deep, wonderful, and, at times, disturbing experiences.

In 1968, Burt Lancaster starred in a film, The Swimmer, directed by Frank Perry from a screenplay by Eleanor Perry adapted from a 1964 short story by John Cheever that appeared in The New Yorker. How’s that for SF? Neddy Merrill, who has been away for a time, appears in a bathing suit at a summer cocktail party in an upper-class suburb of New York City. As he schmoozes with his former friends who are surprised and happy to see him, he talks about his wife and kids, then looks across the well-maintained community landscape, dotted with homes and lawns and swimming pools. He realizes he can swim home, which is miles away, by stroking across the line of his neighbor’s backyard pools that form what he calls the Lucinda River, in honor of his wife. Ned jumps into the pool, energetically swims from one end to the other, and leaves his friends behind. He navigates the River for the rest of the film. I will reveal no more.

It is quite an experience to take the journey with Ned. Each step reveals part of the mystery of Ned that grows but is never addressed directly. It is the kind of quest story you find in fantasy stories. In a certain sense, the film reads like an episode of The Twilight Zone. There is a cameo performance by Joan Rivers and an appearance by John Garfield’s son. Sydney Pollack (uncredited) was brought in to direct some of the scenes. You can stream “The Swimmer” as an Amazon rental. It is also available on Blu-ray and standard disc. Or come out to my house and we can have a glass of wine and watch. There once was a single swimming pool in the neighborhood so that we will be landlocked. Unless, of course, we empty a line of vino bottles up to Frankstown Road.

Mary Soon Lee’s poems

Mary Soon Lee has four more poems online:
Inheritance,” a poem about King Xau and the dragon, in Heroic Fantasy Quarterly.
 “Roasted Chicken,” a poem about cooking with Lucy, in Songs of Eretz.
 “Giants,” a poem about my parents, first published in the Atlanta Review, now reprinted in Songs of Eretz
 “Micha,” a short King Xau poem, also in Songs of Eretz:
She also has a poem in Dreams & Nightmares #102, another King-Xau-and-the-dragon poem, titled (imaginatively) “Dragon.” The poem is not available online, but a pdf of the whole issue can be ordered for $1. Ordering information is at: Ordering Dreams & Nightmares

I cut the cable, but I didn’t cut the intertubes, oh no-o

by Joe Coluccio – President, Parsec
Apologies to Bob Marley.
Joe Hollodck
Cable TV is a seductive mate. We pay the exorbitant price not only in hard earned bucks but in some loss of self and a dose of atrophying physical and mental ability.

Newton Minow, then director of the FCC, in a speech in May of 1961 called television a “vast wasteland.” They named the S.S. Minnow of Gilligan’s Island after him. Telling it like it is, is never popular. Continue reading

Man, I Am Harshing My Own Mellow

by Joe Coluccio, President, Parsec

Writing is a chore. Writing is a joy.
Reading is a joy. Reading is a chore.

It is 2016 yet; I have been living my life of the 21st Century smack dab in the middle of the 20th. I have been leading my life in the sphere of my parents. I am aware of the world buzzing around me. I am aware of the growing non-cognitive consumer commercial crassness enveloping the globe, the poor in the thrall of the wealthy. I also know it was always thus. Been, to offer the other side of my titular cliche, down so long, looks like up to me. Continue reading

I can’t even step into the same river once

– by Joe Coluccio, President Parsec
Tarnished Utopia Starling StoriesTurns out you can’t go home again. At least, not often. Kinda like stepping into the same river twice. So, when I revisit books that have been on my shelves for years, I believe it is not an act of nostalgia but a deepening of my life experience. Sometimes the magic does not happen.

From 1950 to 1961 Herbert L. Gold, editor of Galaxy Science Fiction Magazine started a series of forty-one digest sized novels of science fiction. Some of them not too shabby. Many of them abridged. C.L. Moore’s “Shambleau”, L. Sprague de Camp’s “Lest Darkness Fall,” Hal Clement’s  “Mission of Gravity,” Eric Frank Russell’s “Sinister Barrier,”  Arthur C. Clarke’s “Prelude to Space,” and on the list goes. A complete index is available online – Continue reading

We’re captive on the carousel of time


Pinned against the wall by three times the Earth’s gravitational pull. Above me, a boy is beginning to squirm and contort his body so his feet will replace the position of his head. When we slow down his noggin will melt toward the floor. The clown beside him looks like he is running, one knee up, the other behind. His hair plastered against the padded grey wall. End of the school year 1957 on “The Rotor” a quick stroll down and three tickets from the Wild Mouse. Kennywood Park. Continue reading

Book Signing at CopyLeft Gallery, May 13

PARSEC SF/F/H BOOK SIGNING   ♦   May 13, 2016   ♦   6:00-10:00 pm


127 Brownsville Road, Pittsburgh, PA, 15210

starchildDoors into other universes exist in the tales of novels by ten local, science fiction, fantasy and horror authors. Parsec, the premier speculative fiction organization in Pittsburgh, will host this multi-author book signing and party. Come see our world!

The event is free and open to the public. No registration or RSVP necessary.

Venue is wheelchair accessible.

Authors: Stephanie Keyes; Timons Esaias; Heidi Ruby Miller; Jason Jack Miller (more to be announced)