Friday, January 23, 2015

And More Rod Serling and Gerald Kersh Reissues

     A year ago, I posted some comments on ebook reissues of titles by the late great Rod Serling; collections of his Twilight Zone and Night Gallery adaptations were available and so was his collection of novellas The Season to Be Wary.  In closing I wrote:

     "If we're lucky, these volumes will be followed by ebooks gathering some of Serling's other work for television.  In the late 50s, a collection was published that included "Patterns," "Old MacDonald Had a Curve," "The Rack," and "Requiem for a Heavyweight," and Serling's comments on each -- it would be nice to see that one available again.  Ditto some of his other scripts, such as "A Storm in Summer" and "Slow Fade to Black."  (And I for one would pop instantly for an ebook containing both the television and the feature film scripts of "Requiem for a Heavyweight" with any available notes from Serling.)  Contemporary audiences know Serling mostly through Twilight Zone and Night Gallery, but there's a lot of terrific work by Rod Serling that doesn't get as much air time these days as it should; here's hoping that we'll see some of those scripts restored to print as well."

     And that's happening.  Patterns, that collection of four plays for television, has been reissued.  So has Requiem for a Heavyweight.  The original television script for "Requiem" is included in both these volumes, but anyone interested in Serling's work will want to pick up both of these in spite of that duplication.  The ebook Requiem for a Heavyweight is a reissue of the Bantam paperback movie tie-in and it includes not only the original script but a "reading version" blending the original and the feature film scripts; Mark Olshaker notes in his introduction that the reading version is something of a hybrid between a novel and a screen treatment, and that's true.  Further, in his blending of the original teleplay and the feature film script, Serling included material that (to my knowledge) didn't make it into the final cut of the film version, and it's dynamite material.  Even if you've read the teleplay and seen the movie version often enough to be able to quote scenes from memory, you'll want to check out this reissue.
     Another nice thing about the reissues of Patterns and Requiem for a Heavyweight -- their Amazon listings note that these are books one and two of the early works.  Which implies that more are coming, and that is welcome news indeed.

     Valancourt Books has released two more collections of Gerald Kersh stories: On an Odd Note, and Clock Without Hands.  If you've not yet read Kersh, you're missing the work of one of the great 20th century storytellers.  Unavailable for years, a number of his books have been brought back into print (Valancourt's done some and Faber has reissued others).  The newest reissue, Clock Without Hands, contains in the title story an amazing bit of description that I first saw more than 40 years ago in Harlan Ellison's introduction to Kersh's Nightshade and Damnations (also available now from Valancourt).  Look at this:

     "A man has a shape; a crowd has no shape and no color. The massed faces of a hundred thousand men make one blank pallor; their clothes add up to a shadow; they have no words. This man might have been one hundred-thousandth part of the featureless whiteness, the dull grayness, and the toneless murmuring of a docile multitude. He was something less than non-descript —he was blurred, without identity, like a smudged fingerprint. His suit was of some dim shade between brown and gray. His shirt had gray-blue stripes, his tie was patterned with dots like confetti trodden into the dust, and his oddment of limp brownish mustache resembled a cigarette butt, disintegrating shred by shred in a tea-saucer."

     And the rest of that story is every bit as good as that description.  Trust me on this.

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