Manhunt – August 1954

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Vintage Golden Age Mystery Digest
TBR #102 (62e, 40p)
Date Finished: September 8
, 2019

Volume 2, number 6 of Manhunt presents a “complete novel” by Charlies Williams, “And Share Alike,” which was expended as A Touch of Death. Other stories here include:

“Effective Medicine” by B. Traven
In Mexico a peasant’s wife runs off and he forces the American doctor to use his magic to find her. Kind of racist, or at least insulting, with no suspense.

“Accident ” by John M. Sitan
Tough guy loses girlfriend in accident then torments driver Tasteless.

“I Don’t Fool Around” by Charles Jackson
Boy moons over flapper. No suspense or mystery until end. Interesting character study but strange. Odd that this gets cover promotion but they probably bought it more for the name than the story.

“Frame” by Frank Kane
When Johnny Liddell’s client and operative are both shot to death Johnny doesn’t buy that they killed each other over a botched diamond robbery attempt. Digging deeper among the few who knew of the diamonds, he finds more murder and gets to be a tough guy. Effective and gritty, a much better story than the late John Liddell stories I’ve been reading recently.

“Yard Bull” by Frank Selig
Man hates women. Now a yard bull, he tries to stop a woman in the yard before she can corrupt another young bum. Gay theme but in a negative, harsh way.

Sky Aces – April 1940

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Vintage Pulp Magazine
TBR #100 (60e, 40p)
Date Finished: September 4, 2019

Sky Aces was still fighting World War I at the beginning of World War II, but just in a cartoonish, unrealistic way. Sure, these are standard stories of valor and heroism, but a hero is always a hero, and unconventional tactics always work. Once in a while, a story like this could be fun, but ten in a row is a bit too much.

Astounding Science Fiction, November 1951

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Vintage Science Fiction Pulp
Date Finished: August 27, 2019

Iceworld continues here in the second installment, but also:

“The Hunting Season” by Frank M. Robinson
Totalitarian state sends criminals back in time to be hunted like The Most Dangerous Game. Lots of running but confusing and pointless. Weak.

“Implode and Peddle” by H.B. Fyfe
Capitalism on another planet. Supposed to be humorous, I guess. Overlong.

“To Explain Mrs. Thompson” by Philip Latham
Astronomers find the image of a middle-aged human woman appearing in the vicinity of the Andromeda Galaxy. What does it all mean? Starts out well with scientists in confusion, but ends with little explanation as the image fades away.

Not the strongest issue, but maybe my science fiction patience is wearing thin.

Astounding Science Fiction, October 1951

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Vintage Science Fiction Pulp
Date Finished: August 17, 2019

Obviously this one features the first installment of Iceworld, but also the following:

“Thinking Machine” by H.B. Fyfe
Confusing beginning finally resolves into a space station battle between human and Arcturian crew members. Took too long to get interesting.

“The Years Draw Nigh” by Lester del Rey
Years late, a final exploration rocket returns to Mars to find earth’s hope for finding other races or hospitable planets gone, with evidence that the same revelation had crushed an earlier race on Mars. Interesting themes in a downbeat way.

“Ultima Thule” by Eric Frank Russell
Rocket containing three men goes beyond all space and time with each of the three handling it in their own ways. Well done.

“The Head Hunters” by Ralph Williams
Alien hunter encounters earth hunters in Alaska. Not very complex other than one being an extraterrestrial.

Astounding Science Fiction – December 1951

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Vintage Science Fiction Pulp
TBR #89 (57e, 32p)
Date Finished: July 30
, 2019

Featuring the third installment of “Iceworld” by Hal Clement, this issue also includes the following:

“Dune Roller” by J.C. May
Read this a long time back, but remember it being a good story and entertaining.

“Hell’s Pavement” by Irving E. Cox, Jr.
Warrior empire visits planet, but can’t deal with their unusual peaceful ways. Irony: It turns out to be Earth!

“The Edge of Forever” by Chad Oliver
Humans stationed on alien planet trapped inside by 6-month rainy season. Reads more like a simple mystery as one character goes insane, though in the end not very complicated.

Dime Mystery – May 1944

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Vintage Mystery Pulp
TBR #76 (49e, 27p)
Date Finished: June 29, 2019

An intriguing cover of this issue of Dime Mystery, but that’s probably the best part of the issue.

“Hell’s Scarlet Flower” by Day Keene
A femme fatale due to be executed in the electric chair leaves letter after death predicting several upcoming deaths. Did she really die or is it a elaborate plot to get the stolen money? Spooky aspects logically explained.

“The Cat Woman’s Curse” by Jack Bradley
Two thugs chase another gang member who made off with the stolen payroll. All come to bad ends. The Cat Woman in question is a ring that the leader wears. Not spooky but action packed with good tension.

“The Man Who Would Be Hitler” by Bruno Fischer
A fake death ray scam goes wrong when the victim gets delusions of grandeur and commits murder. The cousin of the scam victim foils the plot. Good thriller.

“I’ll Bury You Deeper” by Russel Gray
When wife disappears husband seems to go crazy, while her lover acts somewhat guilty himself. Culprit tricked by the other in short character study.

“Dr. Cobalt Prescribes Death” by Francis K. Allan
Quirky sleuth Dr. Cobalt investigates death of mother of a girl after they had returned to the New York home after being away for four years. The dead father had something to do with missing mob money and now factions are gathering to find that money. Moderately interesting.

“Corpses Leave Me Cold” by David X. Manners
Convoluted war time story of war plant inventions, old loves, betrayal by friends, murders. Tough to keep straight.

Amazing Stories – December 1936

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Vintage Science Fiction Pulp
TBR #73 (46e, 27p)
Date Finished: June 25, 2019

This issue finishes the second part of John W. Campbell, Jr.’s “Uncertainty.” The rest of the issue includes the following:

“Time Control” by Philip Jacques Bartel
Time traveling Soviets dealing with bureaucracy. Confusing.

“The Space Marines and the Slavers” by Bob Olsen
Good setting of space marines on secret mission to Mars to rescue slaves marred mainly by dialogue explaining basic stuff of Mars, such as the moons and their names, to junior officer who should know this by now.

“Devolution” by Edmond Hamilton
Men discover aliens who are seeking descendants of the original interstellar settlers of earth, finding all has devolved. Human can’t take it. Much lecturing, little action.

“Death Creeps the Moon” by Wede
Humorously crotchety professor participates with discovery of prehistoric termite civilization. Their writings are easily translated into English with the vast majority of the story then relating boring bug history from the point of view of moon men they defeated.

“When the Earth Stood Still” by Arlyn H. Vance
Odd story of renegade scientist exiled for warning world of impending doom. When the earth stops rotating, gravity, sound, and light inexplicably also stop working. Scientist works to save world  then quits and they live happily ever after on stationary planet, despite all previous reason why that wouldn’t work. Strange, almost if intended ending was cut and all wrapped up differently in a page.

Science fiction remains not my thing, other than Fredric Brown, but perhaps that is because I’m reading 1936 science fiction.

Thrilling Wonder Stories – October 1936

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Vintage Science Fiction Pulp
TBR #63 (41e, 22p)
Date Finished: May 27, 2019

I’m operating outside of my comfort zone with science fiction, but am slowly working my way through some of these pulps. This issue, volume 8, no. 3, of Thrilling Wonder Stories, contains a John W. Campbell story, “The Brain Stealers of Mars” that was included in The Planeteers. Finishing out the rest of the issue were:

“Trapped in Eternity” by Ray Cummings
Time traveling horndog abducts 17-year-old girl and her boyfriend but fizzles out.

“Static” by Eando Binder
Scientist defeats spies by talking.

“The Lanson Screen” by Leo Arthur Zagat
Confusingly terrible story of New York City being cut off from the world in some sort of bubble. New characters being constantly introduced. A mess.

“The Brink of Infinity” by Stanley Weinbaum
A crazy man holds a mathematician prisoner, forcing him to solve a mathematical riddle in order to go free. Challenging but fun.

“Mutiny on Europa” by Edmond Hamilton
Unjustly convicted of treason, a former space officer imprisoned on Jupiter’s moon Europa plots an escape but then faces a uprising of the natives that he must put down to save his captors. Exciting but no consideration given to natives as deserving to control their own world.

“Saturn’s Ringmaster” by Raymond Z. Gallun
Stranded by space pirates, a pair figure out how to outwit them. Meh.

“The Island of Doctor X” by Allan K. Echols
Good scientist fights bad scientist who is going to ruin world economy by manufacturing gold. Poor.

“Earth-Venus 12” by Gabriel Wilson
Man fights political intrigue and mutiny on space liner to Venus. Physics problems distract from narrative.

Detective Tales, May 1950

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Vintage Detective Pulp
TBR #55 (37e, 18p)
Date Finished: May 4, 2019

This May 1950 issue, volume 45, number 2, features three stories by John D. MacDonald, two under pseudonyms, and two of which (“Breathe No More, My Lovely!” and “Night Watch”) were republished in Good Old Stuff. Those two were very good and show signs of the great writer he was to become. The rest of the issue doesn’t meet those standards, but is still fun. Eventually, I got organized and started making notes:

“Smith vs the Scandal Syndicate” by Donn Mullally
Good movieland paternity suit swindle story. Holds interest and written well.

“By the Skin of His Teeth” by Richard Brister
Fixed fight story that doesn’t reveal anything new.

“The Long, Red Night” by John Lane (John D. MacDonald)
Prospective groom is kidnapped and tortured by girl’s father only to defend him as crooks fall apart. Not much plot but good turn of phrase here and there.

“Now you See Me…” by Lawrence Lariar
A small-time skip tracer private detective gets a big case of a missing husband involved with a jewel heist. Mystery not that great and police show up to save the day, but still.

“Killer Unleashed” by Stuart Friedman
A man turns against sister and best friend. Just family conflict. Meh.

“Here Come the Muscles!” by Francis K. Allan
A kidnapping plot goes wrong when other thugs force their way in. One of the original gang goes straighter as a result. Not bad

Amazing Stories – October 1936

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Vintage Science Fiction Pulp
TBR #49 (32e, 17p)
Date Finished: April 20, 2019

Volume 10, number 12 of Amazing Stories features the first part of the John W. Campbell, Jr. serial “Uncertainty,” which was reviewed under its paperback title The Ultimate Weapon.

As for the remaining stories:

“Council of Drones” by W.K. Sonnemann
Man exchanges bodies with a queen bee and plots revenge against humans. Unusual.

“Six Who Were Masked” by Henry J. Kostkos
A doctor uses a blood transfusion from five upstanding men to cure a degenerate murderer but could it also work in reverse? Somewhat dull mystery story with little sf appeal.

“The Human Pets of Mars” by Leslie F. Stone
Humans taken back to Mars to be pets eventually escape in an exciting story marred by casual racism.

“The Outpost on Ceres” by L.A. Eshbach
Good story of solitary man stationed on asteroid refueling station overcoming addiction and rescuing stranded travelers.

I’m not the biggest science fiction fan, but this issue was adequate, though somewhat creaky in its 1930s style.