RE: RARA-AVIS: Howard Browne and Roy Huggins: Mark DJ

From: Todd Mason (
Date: 06 Jun 2001

Among the post-pulp digests, the fantasy-horror-and-sf magazines, such as THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION and FANTASTIC, have been seen as already so eclectic that, more often than in the "purely" science fiction or even the fairly eclectic Crime Fiction magazines, no one has worried too much that work that can only be considered Speculative Fiction/fantastic fiction by ridiculous stretching has appeared (Algis Budrys remembers that one of his stories, for Z-D's abortive TALES OF THE SEA, was also plopped into FANTASTIC despite no fantastic elements). I remember pretty well that in the '70s, Edward Ferman had little problem running (mildly hb) Edward Wellen and Isaac Asimov "Black Widowers" stories in F&SF that weren't at all sfnal, likewise Ferman's former assistant ed Ted White, then moved on to editing FANTASTIC, ran at least one Jack Dann and a few other stories that were not inherently fantastic.

Meanwhile, back at Ziff-Davis, Browne hated sf, liked fantasy, and loved CF. You can see how his ghost job would be Made to Fit, to get Huggins's name on the cover and because Browne had indeed written the damned thing (this last from the perspective of having to rush a substitute story out, a la the
"Spillane"). I haven't read that one, so don't know why or if the fantasy element is weak, but will check to see if I have the relevant issue. TM

-----Original Message----- From: [mailto:]

I just finished reading Man in the Dark in Browne's Incredible Ink, the story Browne wrote as Roy Huggins. As Browne explains in the Memoirs essay, Huggins had said he would write a story for Fantastic, but had to back out after his name was already on the cover, so Browne wrote a story, but credited it to his friend.

Now I don't know a whole lot about the individual pulp magazines, pretty much all of my reading in that area has been in later anthologies, but I'm not quite sure why this was a "Fantastic" story. When Browne originally approached Huggins to write it, he asked, "if he could do a detective story with fantasy elements in it." So I would guess that when Browne set out to fill the gap he wrote to the same formula. So where was the "fantasy element" in this story?

Now please don't take this as a criticism. I prefer my detective stories without fantasy and this is a pretty good little mystery story about a man trying to convince everyone his wife is not dead as everyone else thinks, but I was wondering if anyone could tell me exactly what
"fantasy" means in this context.

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