Friday, September 21, 2018

"Dead Men Don't Start Walking Without a Reason"

"The Mental Gangster."
By Thornton Ayre (John Russell Fearn, 1908-60).
First appearance: Fantastic Adventures, August 1942.
Reprinted in Fantastic Adventures Quarterly (Reissue), Spring 1943.
Short story (14 pages, 1 illo).
Online at UNZ (HERE) and (HERE).

(Note: The illo doesn't have any relation to the story.)
     "Murder took place on this ship in space over a treasure—a perfect crime. But then the dead man came to life to confront his killer!"

When you're stuck in a four-point sink hole, even conversations with the Great Beyond don't seem as unlikely as they used to . . .

Comment: A Jimmy Cagney prison break flick, complete with 1930s tough guy slang, translated to the far future—and yet another British writer struggling with American 
criminal patois.
Typos: "cold gray eyes scowled at the electric clock "; "The scrambled and struggled"; 
"that Blackie well know".

~ Blackie Melrose and his "associates":
  "'Get this!' Blackie snapped suddenly, swinging round. 'This dame means nothing to us, see? Nothing! Just a free passenger. Because she's a woman doesn't mean any of you 
mugs can get funny ideas. One pass at her and I'll plaster you all over the wall. Okay?'"
~ Dorothy Wilson:
  "Looking at you I was thinking there might be something to the recessive unit theory, after all. However, I'm not scared of any of you—least of all Dead Pan over at the controls there. I'm a girl who's been around, see. . . . And now, if you gallants have no objection, I'll find me a bunk."

~ Conroy:
  ". . . stopped speaking, his knees gave way and he thudded to the floor."

- John Francis Russell Fearn, dead though he be, seems to being enjoying a revival (so to speak), to judge from how the Interweb is practically bulging with information about him: FictionMags (HERE), Wikipedia (HERE), the SFE (HERE), DarkFantasy (HERE), and the 
- We've featured some other stories by Fearn; see the collection (HERE).

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