…for fans of “forgotten” SF authors

Steve Davidson, over on his blog The Crotchety Old Fan, has invented a new organization, Champions of Really Great SF Authors That No One Else Cares About Anymore. CORGSFATNOECAA. Say “korgs-fat-no-eeka” and you have it.

For my post yesterday about Mark Phillips (the pseudonym of writers Randall Garrett & Laurence Mark Janifer), Steve has made me a Charter Member, and I couldn’t be more pleased. Like the ancient mariner, each member has an “albatross” around his neck (the ancient mariner must have been a fan of something, water if nothing else); an author much respected and enjoyed by him but pretty much ignored by the rest of the SF world. Steve’s cause is A. Bertram Chandler.

Steve is Leader for Life of this select group, and he hasn’t set up any tight parameters on things, but you might visit his site and make your bid – by commenting on the post “We Have met the enemy, and he is not Pogo” –  if you have a favorite neglected SF author to add to the list, which now includes Chandler, Garrett (who, you will remember, is Mark Phillips) and Murray Leinster. I would argue the latter isn’t so forgotten, what with a NESFA collection and some recent Baen collections, but at least Keith Graham stood up for him, and that counts for a lot.

George Kelley (George Kelley) is also a Leinster fan, and has Jack Vance as a favorite, and I submit he should be admitted to the group, though again, Vance may not be obscure enough.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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While we’re talking about obscure authors, what about a name I doubt most of today’s younger SF fans have ever heard: P. Schuyler Miller. Not only did he write quite a lot of science fiction in the early days, but he was for more than two decades the genre’s most respected reviewer with his column “The Reference Library” in Astounding Science Fiction.

I was pawing through some old issues of that magazine the other day and decided to glance at the column. The next thing I knew I had read a half dozen of them and was itching to read several of the books he’d reviewed. Miller never sugar coated his reviews, if he liked a book he said so, and said why. Same if he didn’t like a book. In one of the reviews I read he gave a pretty negative review of a book written by the magazine’s editor, John W. Campbell. That takes guts, and a knowledge that telling the truth as you see it will not get you in trouble.

I wish someone would collect Miller’s review columns, just as Anthony Boucher’s mystery reviews have been collected. Maybe some day…

About Richard Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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12 Responses to …for fans of “forgotten” SF authors

  1. Bill Crider says:

    Thanks for the tip on the blog. And I loved Miller’s columns. They were the first thing I read when I bought the magazine.

  2. Patti Abbott says:

    I would like this guy to write about a forgotten book. I will hunt him down.

  3. Jerry House says:

    Chandler was an interesting author who has been unjustly neglected. A sea captain for most of his career, his John Grimes series managed to give a true “nautical” feel to the deep reaches of space. I have never read a bad story by him. Apropos of nothing, I understand he was a devoted nudist. His daughter married someone in the field, Ramsey Campbell, maybe?

    Like Bill, I always read Miller’s reviews first. He’d always tell you which side of the Ace book was worth the price (and which side wasn’t). His stories were too few; his one collection, The Titan, is worth a good look-see.

  4. I may have wanted to read Miller first, but I was too rigid – I read the magazine front to back, though I sometimes skipped the editorial until later. Well, actually, I liked to read the Analytical Lab piece first, to see if the rest of the readership liked the same things I did from the previous issue.

    THEN I read the stories, and finally Miller’s column. That’s when I started making notes for things to try to find at the library (not very often) or book store. I soon found the best bet was to drive to one of the specialty SF-Fantasy stores in L.A.

  5. Drongo says:

    Along with nudity, Chandler seemed to be obsessed with cats, pipes, dirigibles, adultery, and bitchy, duplicitous women. These things recur in novel after novel.

    I imagine that the mean and unfaithful women were caricatures of Chandler’s first wife.

  6. Hey,
    Your site came up in the google alert for my name and I thought I’d check you out.

    I always thought ‘Mark Phillips’ was the pseudonym of the writing team of Lawrence Mark Janifer and Randall Philip Garrett not just Garrett.

    Oddly enough I have a couple old issues of Analog or maybe it’s Astounding (early 60s) with ‘Mark Phillips’ stories in them that a friend just happened to pick up for my birthday once. I write SciFi too but as of now I’m still unpublished. Since Mark Phillips is already a known author(s), I’ve been using the pseudonym Douglas P. Marx. Hopefully I’ll get to see it in print one day.

    Anyway I just thought I’d drop you a note. I’ll check back and see what’s new. I love old SciFi so finding a few new – errrah – old authors would be nice.

  7. George Kelley says:

    Drongo is right about Chandler and women. Some of the treatment of women in his SF novels is disturbing.

  8. Mark – you are right, “Mark Phillips” was the pseudonym of Garrett and Janifer. That was explained in the post two days prior, calling for a reprint of the books.

    I have those issues too, including the one shown in that post. Take a look, just two posts down.

  9. Sorry I didn’t look back through to earlier posts. When I followed the google alert it didn’t send me to the main page just this listing. I’ll check them out.

  10. No problem, Mark. Glad to have you look in. As you’ll see my interests are all over the map, so you’ll find SF, fantasy, mystery, music and plenty of “whatnot”.

  11. Todd Mason says:

    Well, even the promised collection of Algis Budrys’s F&SF book columns hasn’t happened yet…there is plenty of work to be done!

  12. Richard says:

    You’re right about that, Todd. And for every one of these things WE think of, there are lots of people thinking of others.

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