April 2019

BOOMTOWN. “Pilot.” NBC, 29 September 2002. Donnie Wahlberg, Neal McDonough, Mykelti Williamson, Gary Basaraba, Lana Parrilla, Jason Gedrick, Nina Garbiras. Creator-screenwriter: Graham Yost. Director: Jon Avnet.

   The movie Pulp Fiction (1994) showed that film audiences could accept movies that were not shown in linear fashion. That audiences could follow stories that curled back, overlapped itself, and jumped ahead again — if done well, and Pulp Fiction most certainly was.

   But TV audiences, apparently, were a harder sell. Despite the approval of critics, ratings for the first season were low and the cast was considerably reshuffled for a quickly aborted second season, which also lost the basic concept of a single crime per episode being investigated from different perspectives and time frames.

   I’ve only seen this, the first episode of season one, and I found it very well done. I had no trouble following the story, but a second time through made it abundantly clear how well the script was written and directed.

   The story is about the drive-by Los Angeles (Boomtown) shooting of two young schoolgirls. On the scene and tackling the case from a wide array of differing angles are the D.A., a female reporter) also the D.A.’s secret girl friend, a female paramedic, and three police officers, of whom Donnie Wahlberg appears to be the primary lead in the rest of the series as well.

   Each one of the above has their own back story, much of which is shown, albeit sometimes briefly, as the investigation unfolds. It makes for a bit of a clutter in this, the opening episode, but making the characters individuals rather than faceless ciphers also makes for very enjoyable watching.


CAROL O’CONNELL – The Man Who Cast Two Shadows. Mallory #2. Putnam, hardcover, 1995; paperback, 1996.

   I was really afraid to read this, after liking O’Connell’s debut with Mallory’s Oracle as much as I did.

   TV news reports policewoman Kathy Mallory dead at 6 o’clock, but she’s not. Someone who resembled her and was wearing one of her castoff coats is, however, and Malory naturally takes an interest in who she was and who saw to it that she wasn’t any more.

   Mallory is technically on suspension because of a shooting incident, but she doesn’t fret about technicalities. She quickly determines by computer-aided deduction that the killer must live in a particular building, and shortly thereafter is ensconced in the same building, determined to smoke him out.

   But there are several suspects, and though Mallory wouldn’t agree, there seems to be some question as to who is the hunter, and who the prey.

   This didn’t have the impact on me that Mallory’s Oracle had. Having said that, I should probably say that there’s a real tendency on my part (and I imagine on that of most of us) to judge the follow-up to a highly regarded book by standards that are perhaps set too high. I should judge it on its own merits, and not by how it compares to its predecessors, but I don’t know if I’m able to do so.

   O’Connell is still a superb prose stylist. There were no passages that “grabbed” me as there were in the previous book, but there was a sustained quality of word-crafting that not too many equal. I felt there were some plot problems here, and some character problems, the latter mostly causing the former.

   It’s impossible to discuss them without giving away the plot, which I almost guarantee will have some surprises for you. Too many, maybe; some mental gear-shifting that O couldn’t easily manage.

   This is the kind of book that I hate to review briefly, as its pluses and minuses call for a critique that I’m probably not qualified, certainly not prepared to do. O’Connell is a vastly talented writer, but I think she needs an editor. And I don’t think she had one here. Still—

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #18, February-March 1995.

      The Kathleen Mallory series —

1. Mallory’s Oracle (1994)
2. The Man Who Cast Two Shadows (1995)
3. Killing Critics (1995)
4. Stone Angel (1997)
5. Shell Game (1999)
6. Crime School (2002)
7. Dead Famous (2003)
8. Winter House (2004)
9. Find Me (2006)
10. The Chalk Girl (2012)
11. It Happens in the Dark (2012)
12. Blind Sight (2016)

Introduction: In my review of Jack Finney’s short story, “It wouldn’t Be Fair,” I noted that it had been adapted for TV as am episode of a series totally unknown to me, one called Rebound.” Michael has done some research on the series, and this is was he has found so far:


REBOUND (COUNTERPOINT). Syndication. TV Film. 30 minutes. Produced by Bing Crosby Productions. Sponsored by Packard automobiles. There were at least 26 episodes (2 seasons – 1952-53) of this suspense/mystery themed anthology series. Produced and Directed by Bernard Girard. Dick Dorso (PERRY MASON) was also involved in the production.

   The following information is from various issues of BROADCAST magazine.

   The series was scheduled to start airing the first week of February, 1952. Among the reported 24 stations carrying the syndicated program were the five ABC Owned and Operated stations that scheduled it at Friday at 9pm (Eastern). This lead to the show being called an ABC show, despite ABC having nothing to do with the production of the series.

   On November 21,1952 DuMont agreed to air it on alternate weeks. This added DuMont to the list of 18 stations carrying REBOUND, the stations included KTTV (Hollywood), WABD (New York) and WGN (Chicago). And yes, this is when it is considered a DuMont TV series, despite DuMont having nothing to do with the production of the series.

   REBOUND had three titles. The original title, according to BROADCASTING) was CRY OF THE CITY and it was replaced by REBOUND before the series aired (more about this later). United Television Programs (UTP) had the rerun rights and aired it under the title COUNTERPOINT. The ads for COUNTERPOINT (REBOUND) claimed “a national award winner with tremendous adult appeal.” I don’t know what the award was or what it was for.

   Over at IMDB you can find a few more details. For the episode called “It Wouldn’t Be Fair,” the teleplay was by Jackson Stanley, the story by Jack Finney and was directed by Harve Foster. In the he cast were Frank Ferguson as Lt. Ryan, Jeff Donnell as Annie and Todd Karns as Moss.

   IMDB claims there were 32 episodes, and “It Wouldn’t Be Fair” is one with no known airdate. IMDB also includes an episode called “Cry of the City” without details. CRY OF THE CITY was the series original title and might not have existed as an episode or more likely it could have been the series pilot.

   While UTP syndicated 26 episodes of reruns as COUNTERPOINT, more original REBOUND episodes might have been made. From BROADCASTING – the series was filmed in six episode bunches.

   In the July 21, 1952 issue the sale of Bing Crosby Production to CBS TV-Film (CBS’s syndication company). REBOUND was included.

   United Television Programs that had the distribution rights to REBOUND for the 26 episodes kept the right to sell the second run episodes of REBOUND and renamed the series COUNTERPOINT.

TODHUNTER BALLARD “The Dragon Was a Lady.” Novella. First published in Ranch Romances, July #2, 1949. Collected in Lost Gold: A Western Duo. (Five Star, hardcover, March 2006; Leisure, paperback, April 2007).

   As W. T. Ballard, the author of Lost Gold was a prolific writer of hard-boiled fiction for the detective pulps in the 30s and 40s before switching over to paperback originals in the 50s and 60s. Somewhere along the way he seems to have decided that the kind of mystery and detective fiction he wrote was on the way out, and he switched to writing westerns almost exclusively.

   Which is not to say that he wasn’t writing westerns all along, going back to the mid-30s, at the same time he was writing for Black Mask and other detective magazines. “The Dragon Was a Lady,” the first tale in this western duo was first published in Ranch Romances, and at just over 40 pages is by far the shorter of the two.

   The story is a bit of a trifle, perhaps because it was written for a “love pulp,” but it’s fun to read, nonetheless. In it a young woman comes out West after her father dies and finds a lawyer running the show. Unknown to her but far from a secret from the local townspeople, including a husky fellow who operates the town newspaper, the lawyer is one of those guys who gives lawyers a bad name.

   She goes as far as setting a wedding day, but while clad in her wedding dress, she decides to learn the truth at last, and to fall in love, but for real this time. Just as everyone reading this issue of Ranch Romances when it was fresh on the newsstands knew from the very first page. And exactly how they wanted it.

   The second half of the reprint paperback consists of the short novel “Lost Gold.” I’ve temporarily misplaced it, though, so that the moment this is all I call tel you about it.



JUDAS KISS Bandeira Entertainment, 1998. Carla Gugino, Simon Baker-Denny, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Gil Bellows, Til Schweiger, Hal Holbrook, Roscoe Lee Browne. Director: Sebastian Gutierrez.

   Any movie that starts with a blue-skinned alien lesbian getting naked is probably worth a look, and when Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman come on as sho ’nuff Looziana cops, replete with corn pone accents and Wal-Mart wardrobes, you know Judas Kiss is headed into undiscovered territory. But that’s only the beginning, folks, only the beginning…

   This movie offers more genuine flakiness than you’d find in a whole case of Post Toasties, and there’s a surprise inside: a twisty-turny kidnapping plot that develops layer on layer of deception and double-dealing, all very intelligently presented.

   I mentioned Rickman and Thompsoon, and they’re both quite good in off-beat parts, along with Roscoe Lee Browne, and Hal Holbrook as a bereaved and betrayed congressmen, but the real acting honors here go to four unknowns playing a quartet of trailer-trash crooks trying to break out of the small-tie with a high-profile kidnapping.

   And honestly, the names of these actors would mean nothing to you, but the parts are written and performed so skillfully I kept wanting to get back to them, even when the camera was on actors I liked better. Okay, the thespians in question are Carla Gugino, Simon Baker, Gil Bellows and Til Schweiger, and I hope mention in these pages rockets all four of them to stardom.

   Chalk it up to adroit writing and directing by Sebastian Gutierrez, another talent who needs to be much better known.

— Reprinted from The Hound of Dr. Johnson, May 2005.


 MARTIN H. GREENBERG, Editor – Deadly Doings. Ivy, paperback original; 1st printing, 1989.

#3. JACK FINNEY “It Wouldn’t Be Fair.” Short story. First published in Collier’s, 28 August 1948. Reprinted in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, November 1951. Added later (see comments): Also reprinted in The Comfortable Coffin, edited by Richard S. Prather (Gold Medal, 1960). Not known to be collected. Adapted for TV on the series Rebound (1952-53), date unknown.

   This one’s a gem, one I’ve never heard of before. And unless you have a supply of old magazines of your own handy, this paperback anthology put together by Martin Greenberg is probably going to be the least expensive place you’re going to find to be able to read it.

   In it a Homicide detective named Charley has a girl friend named Annie (played by Jeff Donnell in the TV version) who unfortunately thinks he’s a moron. Why? Because he solves his cases by good old-fashioned police work, not by finding clues and and making brilliant deductions from them, the way it’s done in books.

   To settle their differences, Annie asks to be taken on Charley’s next case of murder. She is in her element now, making brilliant deductions on her own, all of which are hilariously wrong — except for one thing. When Charley and his Lieutenant nab the killer, by good old-fashioned police work, guess what? I bet you know.

   A fine, fine forerunner of the Schlock Homes stories, one later set of tales this is prime example of, but without the puns. You can’t have everything!


Previously in this Martin Greenberg anthology: P. D. JAMES “Murder, 1986.”

  LESTER del REY, Editor – Best Science Fiction Stories of the Year: Second Annual Edition. E. P. Dutton, hardcover. 1973. Ace, paperback, December 1975.

   #10. C. N. GLOECKNER “Miscount.” Vignette. First published in Analog SF, November 1972. Never reprinted.

   In his introduction to this story, Lester del Rey states his dislike for stories presented in the form of a diary or a series of communications (letters, emails, and so on) between two or more parties, but he decided to include this particular story as an exception to his rule.

   This one consists of a series of messages back and forth an operative for an alien salvage company and its headquarters, back wherever that may be. It seems that they picked up some discarded vacuum suits on the satellite of a planet of a developing culture in an area which was supposed to off limits.

   To correct their error and to stay out of trouble, they decide to replace them with facsimiles, but this serves only to make things worse. Read the title again, and you can easily figures out what goes wrong.

   This is short and cute, designed to give the reader a smile for just a moment before he or she moves on, but to include it in a Best of the Year anthology? Lester del Rey should have followed his basic instincts on this and said no.


Previously from the del Rey anthology: VERNOR VINGE “Long Shot.”

by Walker Martin


   Next year will be the 20th anniversary of this great convention, and it seems to just be getting better and better. Everyone looks middle-aged or older, so there has to be a point where attendance declines, but it has not occurred yet. This year there were over 120 dealers, 180 tables, and over 500 in attendance. The dealer’s room was expanded and it was an amazing sight to see almost 200 tables crammed with piles of pulps, vintage paperbacks, slicks, first edition books, DVDs, original artwork, and just about every type of pulp related collectible that you could imagine. A heavenly sight for bibliophiles and art lovers!

   It’s beyond me how Doug, Deb, and John Gunnison manage to organize this show each year. Plus Doug and Deb manage to host a Thursday pre-convention brunch at their home for art lovers. I would like to thank everyone on the convention committee and staff for a job well done as usual.

   The auction this year was even better than usual with hundreds of lots from the Robert Weinberg and Glenn Lord estates. Held on Friday and Saturday the auction started at 8:15 each night and lasted to around midnight. It’s a puzzle to me how John Gunnison manages to handle 400 lots over 8 or so hours. His voice doesn’t fade and he keeps his sense of humor. Somehow his wife, Maureen, and Deb Fulton keep track of each lot and the accounting details. Here are some of highlights:

RAILROAD MAN’S MAGAZINE–two issues from 1918. Despite the title this pulp was a general fiction magazine and is extremely rare. Both issues went for $50 each.

WT letter to author Greye La Spina signed by Farnsworth Wright with his full signature. Due to Parkinson’s disease he soon stopped signing.—$525

Greye La Spina file of excerpts from THRILL BOOK, including a cover to THRILL BOOK from 1919. Too Bad the author didn’t keep the entire magazines because then the lot would have went for thousands of dollars instead of only $100.

WEIRD TALES, Canadian editions—There were several of these interesting issues which had different covers from the American edition. They all went for around $100 each except for one HPL issue which got $700.

ORIENTAL STORIES–nicely bound.—$475

WEIRD TALES–Many issues went for hundreds of dollars but several went for over a thousand, such as 2/24, 3/24, 12/32(first Conan story-$2500), 3/23(first issue–$3750), 9/23, 7/25( Howard’s first story–$1200).

The Case Against The Comics by Gabriel Lynn–Early 1944 pamphlet advocating censorship of comics. Very scarce–$3750

NOT AT NIGHT edited by Herbert Asbury, 1928. Signed by Asbury, Lovecraft, and Derleth—$4500

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM. The only volume in Wright’s Shakespeare Library. 25 illustrations by Finlay.–$425. I wanted this to go along with my WT set but I chickened out too early.

Errata sheet for “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” by HPL–$1500

Daisy Bacon signed letter from 1945. This did not go for much over a hundred but I must have fallen asleep during the bidding. I wanted it as an example that Daisy edited DETECTIVE STORY magazine in the forties and not just LOVE STORY. A tell all book will soon be out titled QUEEN OF THE PULPS by Laurie Powers(who some of us also consider The Queen of the Pulps).

ACTION STORIES, FIGHT STORIES, COWBOY STORIES–all crammed full of stories by Robert Howard. Prices were all over the place but usually over 100.

World Fantasy Award Statue, 1978. This is Glenn Lord’s which was awarded for his work in editing and publishing Robert Howard. A great image of HPL—$2000. I wanted this to go along with my Walter Baumhofer and Elmer Kelton Guest Of Honor Plaques from Pulpcon. But I dropped out at $2000 weeping bitter tears of disappointment.

AMRA bound set of first 20 issues—$1000. I wanted this since I’m lacking these early issues but I couldn’t convince myself that a 20 page fanzine is worth $50 each.

THE SHUNNED HOUSE by HPL and printed by Paul Cook.$5,500

DUNE by Frank Herbert. First Edition at $1800.

PEOPLE’S FAVORITE MAGAZINE 6/25/19–$950. True HBJ is in this but no way should it bring this price. Ridiculous.

DIME DETECTIVE–30 lots from 1933 through 1935. Most in beautiful condition–Some as low as $80 but many as high as $200 or $300.

   There were many other interesting and high bids but the above will give you an idea of the fun and suspense occurring at the auctions.

   Also of note and almost as interesting as the auction was a talk given on Friday night by Alec Nevala-Lee about his recent excellent book on ASTOUNDING and John W. Campbell. I agree absolutely that Campbell was responsible for The Golden Age of Science Fiction in the forties. Unfortunately he went off the tracks in the fifties with Dianetics, the Dean drive, and the Hieronymus machine. Just my opinion of course but Alfred Bester had a story meeting with Campbell in the early fifties and came away thinking that Campbell was unhinged. I won’t even go into his racial ideas but he was of great influence in magazine SF.

   On Saturday night there was a panel on “Remembering PLANET STORIES“. The funny thing is that the audience thought that we had forgotten Planet Stories since we were late in returning from dinner due to slow service at a restaurant. The panel was made up of Ed Hulse, Garyn Roberts and myself. I concentrated on my collection of PLANET and how I ended up with the world’s best condition set (the Frank Robinson issues) and the world’s worst condition set. It’s a story too strange and horrible to repeat but the audience seemed to enjoy it.

   Despite my respect for John Campbell I also mentioned on this panel that he seemed to have a major blind spot with certain quality writers. Once he made up his mind that you were not on the same wave length, he often would stop publishing your work. Three of the best PLANET STORIES authors suffered from Campbell’s dislike for example. Ray Bradbury had one early story in ASTOUNDING but had 20 appearances in PLANET STORIES. Leigh Brackett had a couple early stories in ASTOUNDING but also had 20 in PLANET. Philip K. Dick, who has claim to being one of the best and most influential SF writers, had one that I know of with Campbell but five with PLANET, including his first sale. As the fifties and sixties continued this trend became more and more obvious with authors who were once popular in ASTOUNDING in the forties. The found new markets in GALAXY and F&SF.

But if you don’t care for auctions, dealer’s room, or panels, then there are other diversions such as the art show, Ed Hulse’s film program, and the hospitality room. I love the hospitality room where I guzzled many a beer. Not to mention the snacks. There are plenty of great restaurants nearby, and I gained 5 pounds.

   The convention also published a book titled WINDY CITY PULP STORIES. This book comes out annually and the 19th edition is 188 pages and edited by Tom Roberts. Tom always does a good job on the book and also is the publisher of Black Dog Books. I hear he had to miss the show this year, and I hope to see him at next year’s event. The best and most interesting article in the book was by Frank Robinson written in 1951 and discussing the likely end of the pulps. Frank shows some interesting circulation figures leading to the decline and end by 1955. (There were a couple of exceptions lasting beyond 1955 like SF QUARTERLY and RANCH ROMANCES.)

   Three excellent books from Altus Press made their debut. Though Matt Moring couldn’t make it due to work, the books made it thanks to Mike Chomko. The books are:

1–OPERATOR 5, The Complete Purple Wars. Two volumes with the illustrations which are excellent. It would cost thousands to get the 14 issues in fine condition, so this limited edition is a bargain at $150. Often called The War and Peace of the pulps. WAR AND PEACE is my favorite all time novel, so I’ll be comparing Tepperman with Tolstoy. I wonder who wrote the better novel?

2—SHIPS AND MEN by H. Bedford Jones. Reprinted from BLUE BOOK for the first time.

3–The 2019 issue of the revived BLACK MASK. Matt Moring is doing a great job reviving this great pulp with new and reprinted stories. I urge you all to support this magazine. Copies are available from Altus Press, Mike Chomko, and Amazon.com.

   Another excellent book coming out by the end of the year will be QUEEN OF THE PULPS by Laurie Powers. Not only a life of editor Daisy Bacon but a great love story as Daisy carries on a torrid affair while editing LOVE STORY. By the way Daisy also edited DETECTIVE STORY MAGAZINE during the forties, so the book is just not about the romance pulps. McFarland Books has it listed on their website.

   What did I get at the show? Well, I don’t need too many pulps any longer and I managed to control my lust for original art but I did find a nice piece of preliminary cover art by Rosen for TEXAS RANGERS, April 1944. The interesting thing is this art was also used as the cover for a Popular Library paperback titled DRYGULCH TRAIL by William Macleod Raine. So in other words the art appeared on two different formats: pulp magazine and paperback.

   I also bought a stack of interior illustration proofs. We have all seen cover proofs but illustration proofs are a lot rarer. These came from the estate of Ryerson Johnson, who was a long time writer but also an editor for Popular Publications for a couple years in the forties. He told me as he was leaving on his last day of work, he was encouraged to take whatever art he wanted for free. He ended up taking three cover paintings, many interior drawings, advertising posters, and these illustration proofs.

   One of the few auction lots that I was high bidder on turned out to be a nice find. PM #42, dated Feb-March 1938 had a nice article on artist Lee Brown Coye. The cover and many interior illustration are by Coye and give a nice example of his early work,

   As usual, I have nothing but good things to say about the convention and the Westin hotel. But surely something must have gone bad, right? I can only think of three things:

1–On the drive to Chicago, we stayed at an inexpensive motel which was like only $60. I guess you get what you pay for because when I got up to take a hot shower to wake me up and loosen my back spasms, the water almost immediately turned cold. I almost jumped through the wall. How can a motel not have hot water?

2–On the ride back we stayed at another motel this time for $80. Unfortunately they had breakfast sausage that looked and smelled horrible. It probably is not a good idea to eat breakfast at inexpensive motels.

3–As we packed the rental van on Sunday, there seemed to be quite a bit of snow. So much in fact that we held a meeting and almost voted to stay over another night and leave the next day. But we decided to leave anyway despite the snow storm and eventually the snow turned to rain.

   Next up? Pulpfest! August 15 through August 18, 2019. The hotel is first class like the Westin and details are at pulpfest.com. See you there!

         February 2.

FOUL PLAY. Series, ABC. Last week’s opening episode was nicely done, and I was looking forward to more of the same. Based on the movie of the same name, of course. Deborah Raffin and Barry Bostwick play the parts that Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase had. She’s a klutzy librarian, he’s a klutzy cop, and they love each other. She’s not ready for marriage. He is.

   I didn’t see the movie, even though it’s already been on HBO. [My wife] Judy did, and she says the first episode of this new series matched it pretty well. I found it both funny and, well, charming. The plot was mediocre — about some missing plutonium and a kidnapped teenage genius who knows how to put bombs together — but it was the characters who made the show. Raffin was pretty and pert. Bostwick was ingenuously dumb.

   On the talk shows Raffin has been warning people that the first show was not representative of the rest of the series, and that she couldn’t figure out why they were actually going to show it, Lo and behold, she was right. The first show ws Good. Tonight’s show was, to put it mildly, Rotten.

   All of a sudden, Raffin is no longer a librarian. Not enough skullduggery goes on in libraries, I should guess. She now seems to be a local TV personality, doing interviews and such. There was no explanation given for the change.

   The story had to do with a skeleton found in a time capsule. Bostwick falls into a grave trying to dig up, um, clues of some sort. I quit watching after 15 minutes because I hadn’t a clue as to what was going on. There was a lot of shooting happening just before the commercial, though.

   Also, Deborah Raffin’s hair was short, sassy and cute in the first episode. Tonight it was just long.

   Judy says Lou Grant suits her just fine, anyway.

UPDATE.   Only five episodes were ever telecast. There was none the following week, two more the next two weeks after that, then none until August 23rd.

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