Thursday, September 09, 2004

Sam Merwin Jr.

I didn't even set foot in my studio today, first day this month I didn't work any. But I'll be back at it tomorrow, I'm sure. Ran errands instead, couple of libraries, the post office, Wal-Mart (or as I call it when I'm in a bad mood, Hell-Mart).

I finished Merwin's "House of Many Worlds", which also finished off that issue of STARTLING STORIES. This is a pretty good parallel universe/alternate history novel, written long before such things were as popular as they seem to be now. (Although alternate history seems to have faded a bit in the past year or so.) It's a little slow at times, especially for a pulp novel, but the characters are good and the set-up interesting. There are also a couple of things that are pretty daring for 1951, such as an offhand mention that the heroine is bisexual and an interracial romance. Nothing is done with the former and the latter doesn't go anywhere, but still, just the fact that they're there at all took me a little by surprise. After all these years, Sam Merwin is still one of my favorite editors. He bounced a lot of my early stories when I sent them to MSMM, but he never sent me a printed rejection slip. Instead, he would scrawl a personal note on any scrap of paper he could find or tear off of something else and tell me why he was rejecting the story. I learned a lot from Sam about keeping my stories believable and not letting the plots get away from me. And after he'd bought a few stories from me, he asked me to try my hand at a Mike Shayne novella. That led to my first regular writing job. I wouldn't go so far as to say that if not for Sam Merwin Jr. I wouldn't be a writer today, but he sure helped me get started.

Now I'm reading a Larry and Stretch Western by my old buddy, the late Len Meares, called HOLD 'EM BACK! Very entertaining so far. But then, Len's books nearly always are.

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