Monday, August 22, 2016

Bill Crider

Bill Crider is the winner of two Anthony Awards and an Edgar Award finalist. An English college professor for many years, he’s published more than seventy-five crime, Western, and horror novels, as well as a number of children’s books.

Crider's newly released 23rd Dan Rhodes Mystery is Survivors Will Be Shot Again.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. His reply:
What am I reading? I’m glad you asked. I’m reading the January 1958 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Why am I reading it? Because I was looking through a stack of paperbacks, and there it was. It’s a digest magazine, so I don’t know what it was doing in the stack.

The fact that it was there is not the only reason I’m reading it, though, or even the main one. The real reason is that I read the entire issue back in 1958 when I bought it off the rack in The Corner Book Store in Mexia, Texas, and I wanted to see if I remembered any of the stories and to see how they held up for me.

Let me tell you about two of them. The first is “Remembrance and Reflection” by Mark Clifton. I didn’t remember the story, but what I did remember is that it’s the fourth and final story in a group based on a couplet from Alexander Pope’s Essay on Man: “Remembrance and reflection how allied! / What thin partitions sense from thought divide!” The three previous stories had appeared in a different magazine, Astounding Science Fiction, and I don’t know why the fourth one turned up in F&SF. I’m sure that would be a good story in itself. What I do know is that while I wasn’t at all familiar with Alexander Pope when I started reading the stories, I did like the couplet. I memorized it at the time, and I’ve thought of it often in the years since. The story, like the others in the series, is about a personnel director who works for a company called Computer Research and who finds himself hiring people with psychic powers. In this final story he discovers that he can’t quite sort out his thinking about those powers and about science and fit his thoughts into new framework. His life is changed, and he suffers some considerable loss. He has two things left, however: remembrance and reflection, the things that can’t be taken away.

The other story is by Theodore Sturgeon. It’s “A Touch of Strange,” and it’s a somewhat famous story if only for the title, which fits so much of Sturgeon’s work and which became the title of one collection of his stories. It’s about love, a theme that’s typical of Sturgeon, too. And there are mer-people. Or maybe not. There’s never any doubt about where the story’s going, but the telling of it is sweet and evocative and more complicated than you might expect. It’s no wonder that the magazine’s editor, Anthony Boucher, says in his introduction that Sturgeon’s work is “about the best science-fantasy being written today.”

There are a good many other stories in the magazine, all of them of interest for various reasons. “The 24,000 Mile Field Goal,” for example, is about an interplanetary football bowl game between universities on Earth and Mars in which one of the coaches is a giant computer that’s fed information on punched tape. And the teams are running the single wing. I love stuff like that. I’m really glad I ran across this old magazine and decided to take a nostalgic trip back to my past.
Visit Bill Crider's website and blog.

Read the Page 69 Test entries for Crider's A Mammoth Murder, Murder Among the OWLS, Of All Sad Words, Murder in Four Parts, Murder in the Air, The Wild Hog Murders, Murder of a Beauty Shop Queen, Compound Murder, Half in Love with Artful Death, and Between the Living and the Dead.

Learn about Crider's choice of actors to portray Dan Rhodes and Seepy Benton on the big screen.

The Page 69 Test: Survivors Will Be Shot Again.

--Marshal Zeringue