Author Archives: george


The most famous story in The Best From Fantasy and Science Fiction, Fourth Series is Alfred Bester’s classic story of a murderous robot, “Fondly Fahrenheit.” I also liked C. M. Kornbluth’s “I Never Ask No Favors.” Robert Sheckley dabbles in fantasy in “The Accountant” where parents–who want their son to be a wizard–are confronted with the problem that he really wants to be an accountant.

Richard Matheson’s “The Test” can be found in a number of anthologies. Lord Dunsany’s “Misadventure” is one of his Jorken club tales with a chilling conclusion that predicts the dangers of Artificial Intelligence. “The Little Black Train” is one of Manly Wade Wellman’s best Silver John stories. This one concerns a curse on woman with a dark past. This volume features plenty of top-notch stories! GRADE: A-



Women Rock! Girls & Guitars (2000) is one of those custom music CDs that various companies would indulge in a couple decades ago. This one happened to be available “Exclusively at Sears” (Starbucks used to do these types of CDs, too). Whoever assembled these songs loved Heart: there’s “Barracuda” and “Crazy on You” as well as a live version of “Maybe I’m Amazed” with Cyndi Lauper. This CD has a lot of Heart!

Of course there are dozens of other women in Rock whose songs could have been chosen, but this is the line-up that the suits at Sears seemed to prefer. My favorite songs on this CD are Wynonna’s “Only Love” and Cyndi Lauper’s classic “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” What do you think? GRADE: B-


2Sheryl CrowIf It Makes You Happy5:27
3WynonnaOnly Love3:35
4Amy GrantTakes A Little Time4:35
5HeartCrazy On You4:55
6Melissa EtheridgeI’m The Only One4:57
7Cyndi LauperGirls Just Want To Have Fun3:58
8Destiny’s ChildAmazing Grace2:43
Bonus Track
9Cyndi Lauper / HeartMaybe I’m Amazed (Live)3:45


“Houston, Houston Do You Read?” was published as by “Raccoona Sheldon” (another of Alice B. Sheldon’s pseudonyms) in a paperback original SF anthology, Aurora: Beyond Equality edited by Vonda N. McIntyre and Susan J. Anderson. This was 1976 and feminism in Science Fiction was on the rise. “Houston, Houston Do You Read?” went on to win a Nebula Award in 1976 and a Hugo Award in 1977.

A spacecraft with a three man crew on a mission to study the Sun, returns to Earth…but Earth isn’t where it’s supposed to be. The men get radio messages from Luna Central warning that their course is wrong. The men first think this is a joke. Then they realize if their course is wrong, they could run out of fuel, food, and water. The men consider the possibility they’re being contacted by aliens. But, the truth is much stranger than that.

I was a huge “James Tiptree, Jr.” fan. I found those stories artful and original. Later, James Triptree, Jr. was revealed to be a woman and that generated shock waves throughout the SF field. I bought and read everything Alice B. Sheldon published until her tragic death in 1987. “Houston, Houston Do you Read?” is one of her masterpieces. GRADE: A


Miles Malleson had roles in Hitchcock’s Stage Fright and Anthony Asquith’s The Importance of Being Earnest, but he was also a playwright. The Mint Theater specializes in obscure but excellent plays. It put on a production of Yours Unfaithfully on in 2016 and videotaped it in high definition. Now, you can view it for FREE (like I did) at until May 16, 2021.

Yours Unfaithfully (1933) tells the story of an open marriage, one in which Anne (Elisabeth Gray) encourages Stephen (Max von Essen), her unhappy husband, to have an affair with the exceedingly attractive widow, Diana ( Mikaela Izquierdo). As you might suspect, the theory of a three-way relationship rubs up against the practicalities…and costs.

I thought Elisabeth Gray as the wife performed superbly (and I’m not just saying that because she is a redhead). The entire cast is solid and the direction of Jonathan Bank, the company’s producing artistic director, is smooth and sophisticated. Miles Malleson had two open marriages so all of the action on the stage projects credibility. If you’re looking for a serious comedy, Yours Unfaithfully will make you langh…and think. GRADE: A


Martin Edwards, in his canny “Foreword,” praises Joseph Goodrich–playwright and polymath–for the range of his interests and his insights into key mystery writers.

From the first essay on Dashiell Hammett to Goodrich’s takes on Ellery Queen, this book presents a series of thought-provoking analyses. After reading these essays, I wanted to drop everything and read the writers Goodrich discusses: Hammett, Daly, Meyer, Gifford, Goodis, Lucille Fletcher, Rex Stout, and Ellery Queen. Fun, entertaining, and enlightening! GRADE: A


Foreword by Martin Edwards — 1

INTRODUCTION by Joseph Goodrich — 3


Dashiell Hammett: Beyond Thursday — 7

Elizabeth Daly: East Side Stories — 11

Nicholas Meyer: An Appreciation — 14

Frederick Irving Anderson: Infallible –18

Barry Gifford: You Want It Darker — 20

Ashley Weaver: A New Golden Age — 24

David Goodis: Drugstore Dostoevsky — 28

Peter Quinn: Man About Town — 33

Dilys Winn: Magical Mystery Tour — 37

Gordon McAlpine: Untangling Holmes Entangled — 41


William Link: “Just One More Thing…” — 47

Anthony Shaffer: Grand Artificer of Mystery — 50

Lucille Fletcher: She Has Our Number — 54

Amnon Kabatchnik: Life Upon the Wicked Stage — 58

Stephen Sondheim: A Way Through the Maze — 63

Foyle’s War: Television’s Finest Hour — 68

Pushing the “Panic” Button, Or: How Plays Get Written — 73

Hearing Voices — 82

Nero Wolfe: From Page to State — 84

Flummery, Flapdoodle, and Balderdash: Nero Wolfe in the Age of Alternative Facts — 86

Killer Tunes: Music for Mystery Writers — 91


A Challenge to the Viewer — 99

A Kind of Triumph — 102

Adventures in Radioland: Ellery Queen On (and Off) the Air — 104

Confessions of a Literary Safecracker — 113

On the Road with Manfred B. Lee, Part One: “We Could’nt Even Give Tickets Away” — 116

On the Road with Manfred B. Lee, Part Two: “The Most Profound Mysteries…” — 120

On the Road with Manfred B. Lee, Part Three: “The Same Bloody Imagination…” — 124


Remembering Derek Marlowe — 131




“It was the purpose of God to employ this nation in the glorious work of renovating the earth”. (p. 275) Lyman Beecher (the father of Harriet Beecher Stowe) wrote these words and preached about it for years. Other religious figures linked religion and capitalism. William Lawrence, the Episcopal bishop of Massachusetts, wrote “In the long run, it is only to the man of morality that wealth comes.” (p. 298). Baptist minister Russell Conwell went ever further preaching that 98 out of a 100 of the rich men of America were honest; that was why they were rich (p. 298).

Benjamin M. Friedman’s Religion and the Rise of Capitalism (2020) traces the relationship between various religions and the rise of capitalism in America from the founding of our country to the present day. Friedman deftly shows how religion and money come together over time.

I particularly enjoyed how the ideas of the historical figures in economics were “interpreted” by religious theologians. This explains why Evangelical Christians support free markets which can result in income inequality. Baptist pastor Francis Wayland advocated for free trade because of his religious beliefs in universal harmony.

If you want to learn how religions embraced capitalism, this book holds all the answers. GRADE: A


Introduction — ix

  1. Economic, Politics, and Religion — 3
  2. The Road to Adam Smith — 29
  3. Philosophical Underpinnings — 63
  4. The Competitive Market Mechanism — 86
  5. Predestination and Depravity — 109
  6. Assault on Orthodox Calvinism — 131
  7. The Calvinist Controversy in Colonial America — 169
  8. Vision of Human Progress — 197
  9. Political Economy in the New Republic — 228
  10. The Clerical Economists — 252
  11. Competing Gospels — 284
  12. Economics for Social Improvement — 311
  13. Conflict and Crisis — 334
  14. Uniting Religious and Economic Conservatism — 359
  15. Economics in the Public Conversation — 387

Acknowledgments — 417

Notes — 419

Bibliography — 475

Index — 509


I’ve read a fair amount of Ernest Hemingway’s work over the years and a couple Hemingway biographies to boot, but Ken Burns’ Hemingway on PBS captures the essence of the man and shows many of his vulnerabilities.

What surprised me was the number of head injuries Hemingway sustained over his life. He was concussed during his war years as well as being injured by shrapnel which may have affected his circulation in later years. Hemingway was concussed again in Paris while trying to install a lamp. Some of Hemingway’s erratic behavior might have been caused by brain damage from these head injuries, like the Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) many National Football League players suffer from.

In my opinion, Hemingway did his best work in the 1920s with In Our Time, The Sun Also Rises, and A Farewell to Arms. In 1954, Hemingway won the Nobel Prize for Literature, but books like The Old Man and the Sea lack the scope and power of his early books. Are you a Hemingway fan? Do you have a favorite book of his? Did you watch Ken Burns’ Hemingway? GRADE: A

FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOKS #635: The Lover / The Mistress / The Passionate By Carter Brown

Stark House continues to publish their omnibus reprints of Carter Brown’s (aka, Alan Geoffrey Yates) Al Wheeler mysteries. There are 54 Al Wheeler mysteries and this omnibus volume includes #13, #14, and #15.

The Lover (1958) involves Lieutenant Al Wheeler of the Pine City police force investigating a cult of sun worshipers and the subsequent murder of one of the followers. Led by The Prophet, a grand fund-raising scheme generates a lot of cash which plays a key role in the plot. GRADE: B

The Mistress (1958) starts with one of the more shocking beginnings of any of the Al Wheeler books: the murder of Sheriff Lavers’ niece, Linda Scott. Scott had been working in Las Vegas but suddenly appeared in Pine City. Shortly thereafter, Linda Scott’s body was dumped at the Sheriff’s doorstep. Lavers’ suspects Scott was murdered by Howard Fletcher, a Vegas tycoon who was forced out by The Syndicate. Fletcher had offered Sheriff Lavers a lucrative deal to allow him to open a casino in Pine City, but Lavers turned him down. Fletcher then threatened Lavers with “one final warning”–which Lavers interpreted as the murder of his niece. Al Wheeler isn’t so sure. GRADE: B

My favorite Al Wheeler novel in this collection is The Passionate (1959). Corpses appear and disappear forcing Al Wheeler to apply his canny analytical powers to solve a very twisty mystery. The Calthorpe sisters, two eccentric women with oodles of money and seduction on their minds, send Wheeler into a whirlwind of plots where death and greed and danger blend together. Don’t miss this one! GRADE: A

In his excellent Introduction, Nicholas Litchfield notes that Anthony Boucher was a fan of Carter Brown and wrote positive reviews of his work. Litchfield also says that Marlene Dietrich and John F. Kennedy were avid readers of Carter Brown novels. With humor, smart dialogue, sexy women, and mysteries with a Python’s grip, these Al Wheeler novels deliver unique entertainment!


There are plenty of One-Hit Wonders on this CD from 2001. Have you heard from the Butthole Surfers lately? Or Dog’s Eye View? I do hear Eagle-Eye Cherry’s “Save Tonight” on our local rock radio station from time to time.

How many of these “hits” from the 1990s do you remember? Any favorites? GRADE: B


1Counting CrowsMr. Jones Written-By – Adam Frederic Duritz*, Charles Thomas Gillingham*, David Lynn Bryson*, Matthew Mark Malley*, Steve BowmanWritten-By – Adam Frederic Duritz*, Charles Thomas Gillingham*, David Lynn Bryson*, Matthew Mark Malley*, Steve Bowman4:34
2Gin BlossomsHey Jealousy Written-By – Doug HopkinsWritten-By – Doug Hopkins3:58
3Marcy PlaygroundSex And Candy Written-By – John K. Wozniak*Written-By – John K. Wozniak*2:55
4Deep Blue SomethingBreakfast At Tiffany’s Written-By – Todd PipesWritten-By – Todd Pipes4:20
5Soul Asylum (2)Runaway Train Written-By – David PirnerWritten-By – David Pirner4:29
6Toad The Wet SprocketAll I Want Written-By – Dean DinningGlen PhillipsRandel Guss*, Todd NicholsWritten-By – Dean DinningGlen PhillipsRandel Guss*, Todd Nichols3:19
7Spin DoctorsLittle Miss Can’t Be Wrong Written-By – Aaron ComessChris BarronEric SchenkmanMark White (2)Written-By – Aaron ComessChris BarronEric SchenkmanMark White (2)3:57
8Ben Folds FiveBrick Written-By – Ben FoldsDarren JesseeWritten-By – Ben FoldsDarren Jessee4:35
9Dog’s Eye ViewEverything Falls Apart Written-By – P. Stuart*Written-By – P. Stuart*3:56
10The Presidents Of The United States Of AmericaLump Written-By – Chris BallewDavid Dederer*, Jason FinnWritten-By – Chris BallewDavid Dederer*, Jason Finn2:16
11Verve Pipe*–The Freshmen Written-By – Brian Vander ArkWritten-By – Brian Vander Ark4:32
12Blind MelonNo Rain Written-By – Eric Smith*, Chris Thorn*, Glen GrahamThomas Stevens*, Richard Hoon*Written-By – Eric Smith*, Chris Thorn*, Glen GrahamThomas Stevens*, Richard Hoon*3:38
13Porno For PyrosPets Written-By – Martyn LeNoblePerry FarrellPeter DiStefanoStephen PerkinsWritten-By – Martyn LeNoblePerry FarrellPeter DiStefanoStephen Perkins3:39
14Butthole SurfersPepper Written-By – G. Haynes*, K. Coffey*, P. Leary*Written-By – G. Haynes*, K. Coffey*, P. Leary*4:58
15LenSteal My Sunshine Written-By – Gregg DiamondMarc CostanzoWritten-By – Gregg DiamondMarc Costanzo4:29
16Mazzy StarFade Into You Written-By – David RobackHope SandovalWritten-By – David RobackHope Sandoval4:54
17Tracy BonhamMother Mother Written-By – Tracy BonhamWritten-By – Tracy Bonham3:03
18Eagle-Eye CherrySave Tonight Written-By – Eagle-Eye CherryWritten-By – Eagle-Eye Cherry3:59


I’ve been reading these NEBULA AWARD volumes for…54 years. Yes, I started at the beginning and kept track of the best of SF for decades. However, I would have to say that Nebula Awards Showcase #54 is one of the oddest anthologies in the series. The oddity comes from a big chunk of the book being “EXCERPTS” from Nebula nominees for the Novel Category. I’ve read the entire ARTIFICIAL CONDITION: THE MURDERBOT DIARIES by Martha Wells. Loved it! But you only get a small sample here. The same for the excerpt for “The Tea Master and the Detective” by Aliette de  Bodard. Loved it! But a little sample isn’t as satisfying as reading the entire novel like I did.

My favorite story in this collection is “The Court Magician” by Sarah Pinsker  where a magician makes a Faustian bargain with dire consequences.

I was disappointed by Nebula Awards Showcase #54 but maybe you’ll like it better than I did. GRADE: B-


  • Introduction by Nibedita Sen — vii
  • “It’s Dangerous to Go Alone” by Kate Dollarhyde  — 1
  • “Into the Spider-verse: A Classic Origin Story in Bold New Color” by Brandon O’Brien  — 5
  • “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington” by P. Djèlí Clark*  –9
  • “Interview for the End of the World” by Rhett C. Bruno — 21
  • “And Yet” by A. T. Greenblatt — 45
  • “A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of  Portal Fantasies” by Alix E. Harrow — 63
  • “The Court Magician” by Sarah Pinsker — 81
  • “The Only Harmless Great Thing” by Brooke Bolander* — 91
  • “The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections” by Tina Connolly — 149
  • “An Agent of Utopia” by Andy Duncan — 175
  • “The Substance of My Lives, The Accidents of Our Births” by José Pablo Iriarte — 211
  • “The Rule of Three” by Lawrence M. Schoen — 237
  • “Messenger” by R.R. Virdi & Yudhanjaya Wijeratne — 287
  • Excerpt: “The Tea Master and the Detective” by Aliette de  Bodard* — 313
  • Excerpt: “Fire Ant” by Jonathan P. Brazee — 331
  • Excerpt: “The Black God’s Drums” by P. Djèlí Clark — 353
  • Excerpt: “Alice Payne Arrives” by Kate Heartfield — 377
  • Excerpt: “Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach” by Kelly Robson — 401
  • Excerpt: “Artificial Condition: The Murderbot Diaries” by  Martha Wells — 429
  • Excerpt: The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal* — 447
  • Biographies — 457
  • About the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America — 467
  • About the Nebula Awards — 469