Monday, January 26, 2015

Short Stories by John D MacDonald

This morning I’m launching a new reference tool in the Trap of Solid Gold Resources box on the right hand column of this blog. It is a listing of all of the published short stories and novellas written by John D MacDonald listed in chronological order, from “Conversation on Deck” to “Bimini Kill.” It is, I believe, the most comprehensive, detailed and accurate listing available anywhere.

My primary reference is, of course, Walter and Jean Shine’s 1980 work A Bibliography of the Published Works of John D MacDonald, which was an expansion of Len and June Moffatt’s 1969 The JDM Master Checklist. There was no second edition of the Shine work, so corrections and additions were culled from various issues of the JDM Bibliophile, the bi-annual journal that focused on JDM’s work and where both the Shines and the Moffatts had regular columns. I’ve also used information found in the JDM Collection Finding Guide, but there is an error or two there as well. Finally, 40 years of collecting these works, either in their original magazine form or in subsequent anthologies, has allowed me to eliminate several question marks that were left unanswered by Walter Shine before his death in 1997. I’d like to think that Walter would be happy with this list.

So what exactly does this page contain? It is a listing of every work of short fiction written by John D MacDonald and published in either a periodical or anthology. It contains only the first appearance of each story, although many were reprinted in other magazines. Each entry contains the following:

  • Story title as it appeared in the publication
  • Name and issue date of the publication
  • MacDonald’s original title when it was changed by an editor
  • The name of MacDonald’s pseudonym when one was used
  • The word count of the story, obtained from MacDonald’s original manuscripts
  • A link to a Trap of Solid Gold essay on that particular story when one exists

What I have not included, in addition to reprints, are the novels that appeared in either condensed or serialized form in magazines, with two exceptions: “Wine of the Dreamers” and “My Brother’s Widow” (Area of Suspicion). Both stories originally appeared in magazines as stand-alone novels and were later rewritten and published in book form. Simply put, if it appeared in print and didn’t also appear as a JDM novel (the two examples excepted), it’s on the list.

Most of these are magazines, but in three cases MacDonald short stories appeared for the first and only time in original anthologies edited by others: “The Accomplice” (Who Done It?), “Incubation” (Future Tense) and “The Reference Room” (With Malice Toward All). Then there are the short stories and novellas that first appeared in MacDonald’s own anthologies: “Linda” (Border Town Girl), “The Random Noise of Love,” “The Willow Pool,” and “Woodchuck” (all from S*E*V*E*N). There’s “The Spiralled Myth,” which was published in a writers’ prozine, and the quibble of “Triangle,” which appeared in both MacDonald’s anthology End of the Tiger and Other Stories and in Cavalier the very same month. I’ve listed that story under Cavalier.

Then there are the handful of stories that have never been found, although they were sold and MacDonald received payment for them. When the Bibliography was first written there were eleven of them, but three were subsequently located. That leaves the following, most of them sold to sports pulps, listed under MacDonald’s own title.

  • “Big League Busher,” a sports story sold to Popular Publications in 1951
  • “Crooked Circle,” a sports story sold to Fiction House in 1947
  • “The Gentle Killer,” a mystery story sold to Columbia Publications in 1947
  • “Identification,” sold to Author’s Guild Bulletin in 1952
  • “Spell for a Princess,” details unknown
  • “Successful Season,” a sports story sold to Popular Publications in 1948
  • “That Old Grey Train,” a sports story sold to Columbia Publications in 1947
  • “Death of a Dealer” sold to This Week Magazine in 1956

It is quite possible that some or all of these stories appeared under other titles, but it is unlikely they were published under pseudonyms, if they were published at all. The years 1947 and 1948 were a time when the author and his family were living in Mexico and his recordkeeping was not perfect during this period. It’s possible they never were sold at all.

I’ll take the blame for any errors on this list and will gladly correct them if I can confirm them, but the work of putting this list together in a readable form is, once again, thanks to the hard work of J.J. Walters, a Trap of Solid Gold reader who generously volunteered his time and skill, and who was also responsible for the Books by John D Macdonald webpage. Thank you J.J.

Finally, the careful reader will note that the total number of stories on this list is 391, far short of the 500, or even 600 stories MacDonald is purported to have written and published. For that particular argument, see my posting “How Many Stories Did John D MacDonald Write?” which is also accessible via the Resources box on the right.


  1. Thanks for this latest reference showing the JDM short stories. As a long time fiction magazine collector this list is indispensable.

    1. Thanks Walker. Coming from you, it means a lot.

  2. Thanks to both of you for putting this list together and formatting it; this is much easier to try and use than any other list I've found online. I'm a little fuzzy on why the two novels made it and others didn't; is the key point that book versions were not planned when the magazine versions were released, unlike all the others?

    1. Yes, Eric, that's exactly the reason. I struggled with the decision but eventually came down on the side of including them.

  3. This morning I was poking around your blog again and I ran into the December 2009 post on the number of short stories. Then I see this post and that you have added a list. I am just getting reacquainted with short stories after many years, but it is really nice to have a list. This blog is such a wonderful resource.

    1. Thank you Tracy. There really is nothing quite as wonderful as a well written short story.

  4. The amount of work you put into this blog is jaw-dropping. Thank you for making all this information available. Question: Do you think any publisher out there would ever put together a complete JDM short story collection? You see old-timers like Sturgeon and Zelazny getting that treatment...why not JDM? Again, thanks for your efforts.

    1. Thank you. Like anything one loves doing, it rarely seems like real work.

      Hope for a complete anthology has been one that goes back to the 1970's when JDM was still alive. He only would go as far as the SF collection OTHER TIMES, OTHER WORLDS and the two GOOD OLD STUFF anthologies. In the preface to the second volume he wrote "... there will be no additional versions of MORE GOOD OLD STUFF. This is the end of the mother lode." After he died the fate of his work lay in the hands of his son, who lives in New Zealand and who seemed, prior to the recent spate of eBook releases, disinterested in keeping anything in print besides the McGee books. Or maybe it was the publishers who were disinterested.

      Who knows, perhaps the eBooks are a sign that something else is coming. Or not...

  5. Do you know of any collected short stories volume(s) in the works?