Books, but no movies

As I’m close to completing my Keith Laumer rereading, I figured I’d work through a bunch of his short fiction in one fell swoop—
It turned out I’ve read all the stories in TIME TRACKS in one of my other collections, except for “Time Sweepers,” the novella Laumer later expanded to Dinosaur Beach, so that was the only one I read. The story of a time cop confronted with increasingly bizarre temporarl disruptions works well at both lengths, which isn’t always the case with expanded shorts.
NINE BY LAUMER was a late sixties collection intended (judging from the intro by Harlan Ellison) to show Laumer was capable of more than the humor of the Retief series. It accomplishes the goal nicely with stories include “The Walls” (a TV/consumerism satire), the beat-the-system tale “Placement Test” and several I’ve read elsewhere including the wildly bizarre “A Trip to the City.”
THE BIG SHOW seems to be more heavily slanted to political themes, from bureaucracy (“In the Queue”) to the welfare state (the very heavy-handed “Plague”), “Message to An Alien” (another example of Laumer’s pragmatic-but-fair philosophy) and the pessimistic “Test to Destruction,” in which the protagonist triumphs over everything but himself. With these books read, there’s only the novel Time Trap to go.
THE BIG CON: The Story of the Confidence Man by David W. Maurer is a book that influenced scripts from The Sting to Mission: Impossible with its account of con man methods, notorious cases, fixing the law and confidence-man lifestyle (heavy on gambling, usually to the point they wind up fleeced as much as their marks). Maurer having written the book as an outgrowth of an interest in underworld slang, this is also detailed on con man cant—I was quite surprised to discover “bum rap” actually dated back before WW II, having assumed it to be some kind of sixties phrase. The introduction to this edition says that this was a dying lifestyle when Maurer wrote the book, and presciently speculates that new cons will arrive in the age of the Internet—though con men such as the Yellow Kid and Big Alabama are a lot more entertaining than those damn Nigerian e-mails.
THE PLASTIC MAN ARCHIVES: Vol VII is another fine collection of Jack Cole’s super-elastic crimefighter (though the intro states that at least one of the stories was probably ghosted by someone else) and his nitwit colleague Woozy Winks as they battle master criminals, the world’s ugliest man, the world’s sexiest pirate and Woozy’s own ineptitude. A pleasure, as always.


Filed under Comics, Reading

2 responses to “Books, but no movies

  1. Pingback: Embracing misogyny stunts you and makes you stupider. | Fraser Sherman's Blog

  2. Pingback: Marketing snake oil doesn’t mean you’re cleverer than your customers | Fraser Sherman's Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.