RARA-AVIS: Howard Browne

From: Moorich2@aol.com
Date: 10 Feb 2001

Although it was expensive and the title hit me as lame, I am very glad I decided to buy Howard Browne's INCREDIBLE INK (McMillan 1997). The memoir portion is the best of several Browne published in his final years, the bibliography is excellent and I've enjoyed reading the never-reprinted stories from the 40s pulps.

So, Mark, I think you are in for a treat. As to your questions, I can fill in some background more than provide answers.

I have the Handi-book reprint of IF YOU HAVE TEARS but I have never gotten around to reading it. One reason is that my copy is not in good shape. It is not an easy novel to find, even though it was reprinted three times after Mystery House published it in 1947. Others have told me that while it has some merit, TEARS is one of Browne's weaker efforts.

The story "Twleve Times Zero" is a short novel that was published in the first issue of the science fiction magazine IF in March 1952. It was written in a hard-boiled style. I don't remember much about it as it was 40 years ago when I picked up a used copy of the magazine. Back in my mid-teens, I was deep into science fiction and not that interested in mysteries. The first editor of IF, which went on to have a long publishing run, was Paul Fairman. As Browne recounts in the INK memoir, Fairman was a janitor in a theater when Browne began buying his stories for the old Ziff Davis chain of pulps. Fairman must have considered that first issue of his magazine as a way to tip his hat to those who gave him a break for it also featured a short story by Ray Palmer, who was Browne's boss at ZD.

Browne was such a good writer, I wish he had left a larger body of work.

Richard Moore

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