Friday, July 26, 2019

"Only One Thing That He Knew of Could Kill a Man Instantly and Painlessly, and That Had Not Yet Been Invented in 2092"

MIRIAM ALLEN deFORD, like more than one science fiction-fantasy (SFF) author we've already encountered if you've been following this weblog for a while, occasionally tried her hand at SFF and "mystery" mashups; whether or not she has succeeded with these two stories with twists in their tales we'll leave up to you to decide . . .

   ". . . he fingered nervously through his pocket what he thought of always, in capitals, as The Weapon."

"The Absolutely Perfect Murder."
By Miriam Allen deFord (1888-1975).
First appearance: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, February 1965.

Reprints page (HERE).
First English collection: Xenogenesis (1969).

Short short story (9 pages).
Online at (HERE).

     ". . . there was nothing left, to avoid the wreckage of his own life, except to murder her."

One of the most annoying things about a lie is how it can force people to go to places they're better off staying away from and to do things they might never otherwise do—like commit murder . . .

Major characters:
~ The scientist:

  "No, you can't go back into the past and kill your grandfather, as people used to fancy . . ."
~ Roger Tatum:
  "I'm expecting no package."
~ Mervin Alspaugh:
  ". . . under his surface perception his constant preoccupation, which was becoming an obsession, dug into him as always."
~ Doreen Alspaugh:
  ". . . was completely, blandly satisfied with what to him was a persistent torture."

Typo: "home all eve-tening to video lectures".

- "Doreen sat there, watching her telecast. Ears plugged, eyes encased, she did not even notice him"—which suggests to us virtual
(or simulated) reality; see Wikipedia (HERE), (HERE), and (HERE).
~ ~ ~
   "How the perpetrator of the Crime of the Century ever got onto the train was never explained."

"Murder in the Transcontinental Tunnel."
By Miriam Allen deFord (1888-1975).
First appearance: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, May 1973.

Reprints page (HERE).
Short story (15 pages).
Online at (HERE).

     "I'm not going to harm anybody in this car except one person. And don't worry whether you're the one . . ."

You've heard of the ugly American? How about the ugly Terran . . .

Typos: "in wpite of having"; "I had know".

- The idea of drilling a tunnel under the Earth and sending trains through it isn't really new; see Wikipedia (HERE).

- In the narrative we have a reference to an actual incident involving "a piece of fiction" which led to an author and his editor being "hauled before the FBI"; that would be "Deadline" writ-ten by Cleve Cartmill and edited by John Campbell (go HERE; scroll down to "Resources"; follow links).
- The dwarf planet Ceres (it was an asteroid when we were a kid) is an important element in the story; see Wikipedia (HERE) and (HERE).

- Red blood or green? TV Tropes has the 411 (HERE).
More resources:
- Miriam Allen deFord enjoyed quite an extensive career in SFF-dom; see Wikipedia (HERE), the SFE (HERE), Tellers of Weird Tales (HERE), the ISFDb (HERE), and the IMDb (HERE), which has her few contributions to television, including a couple of Alfred Hitchcock episodes and the memorable "Death in the Family" segment on Night Gallery.
- Our first encounter with deFord was with her tale of a slippery character called "The Eel" (HERE).

The bottom line:
  "I have a higher and grander standard of principle than George Washington. He could not lie; I can, but I won't."
  ― S. L. Clemens


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