Monday, June 4, 2018

"Beware Lest You Open This Box"

"The Episode of the Perilous Talisman."
By Jeremiah Phelan (C. Daly King, 1895-1963).
First appearance: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, February 1951.
Reprinted in The Curious Mr. Tarrant (1935) and The Complete Curious Mr. Tarrant (2003).
Novelette (21 pages, 1 illo).
Online at (HERE).

"You will never survive."
Gazing into the Mirror of Truth isn't for the faint of heart; there are reports of people dying because of it. Trevis Tarrant knows it's a risk, but he feels it's a necessary one if he's going 
to prevent a murder . . .
- Because of confusing title changes and other instances of editorial switcheroo, here is a by-no-means completely accurate list of Trevis Tarrant stories [data from FictionMags]:
  (1) "The Episode of 'Torment IV,'" 1934; Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, April 1990.
  (2) "Invisible Terror," Mystery, February 1935; also published as “The Tangible Illusion.”
  (3) "The Affair on the Roof," Mystery, March 1935; also published as “The Nail and the Requiem.”
  (4) "The Vanishing Harp," The Curious Mr. Tarrant (1935); AHMM, August 1987; also published as “The Episode of the Vanishing Harp.”

  (5) "The Episode of the Man with Three Eyes," The Curious Mr. Tarrant (1935).
  (6) "The Episode of the Final Bargain," The Curious Mr. Tarrant (1935).
  (7) "Lost Star," Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, September 1944; EQMM Overseas Edition for the Armed Forces, September 1944; and EQMM (Australia), May 1948.
  (8) "The Episode of the Sinister Inventor," Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, December 1946; EQMM (Australia), August 1948.
  (9) "The Episode of the Perilous Talisman," The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, February 1951 [above].
  (10) "The Episode of the Absent Fish," Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, April 1979.

- And here is WorldCat's TOC for The Complete Curious Mr. Tarrant, a few of which tally with the previous list, remarkably enough:
  (1) "The Episode of the Codex' Curse"
  (2) "The Episode of the Tangible Illusion" [Mystery, February 1935 as "Invisible Terror"; EQMM, November 1947 and EQMM (Australia), August 1949]
  (3) "The Episode of the Nail and the Requiem" [Mystery, March 1935 as "The Affair on the Roof"; EQMM, May 1944; EQMM Overseas Edition for the Armed Forces, May 1944; and EQMM (Australia), March 1948]
  (4) "The Episode of 'Torment IV'"
  (5) "The Episode of the Headless Horrors"
  (6) "The Episode of the Vanishing Harp" [a.k.a. "The Vanishing Harp"]

  (7) "The Episode of the Man with Three Eyes"
  (8) "The Episode of the Final Bargain"
  (9) "The Episode of the Little Girl Who Wasn't There"
  (10) "The Episode of the Sinister Invention"
  (11) "The Episode of the Absent Fish" [EQMM, April 1979]
  (12) "The Episode of the Perilous Talisman" [above].

- Concerning our story, "The Episode of the Perilous Talisman," others have written:

   ". . . it can in some ways be considered to be either a fantasy or science fiction story, or a horror story. Or a detective story. It concerns an ancient Egyptian artifact that possesses certain very surprising powers. Not quite occult powers though. Perhaps scientific rather than magical, depending on how one defines science and magic. The story also involves a shady politician. Now why would a shady politician want to posses such an artifact? Tarrant 
has a fair idea of the answer to that question."
     — Vintage Pop Fictions
   ". . . a hitherto unpublished lesser thunderbolt concerning an Egyptian talisman with uncanny powers."
     — Kirkus Reviews
   "I wasn't enamoured with this story. It felt a bit slight, and again there is the paucity of characters which makes it a bit too obvious what happened."
     — Mysteries, Short and Sweet
   ". . . a combination fantasy and mystery story. Such hybrid works are fairly common in the sf world. This tale is nicely done, with some clever ideas, and King's patented ability to create suspense. This seems to be King's final work of fiction published during his lifetime."
     — Mike Grost

- It's hard not to find something about Charles Daly King on the Worldwide Webbie; consult the GAD Wiki (HERE and HERE), the ISFDb (HERE), Vintage Pop Fictions (HERE), Kirkus Reviews (HERE), Mysteries, Short and Sweet (HERE), and Mike Grost (HERE).

No comments:

Post a Comment