Friday, July 30, 2021

"By the Time You Read This, I'll Either Have Breached and Bridged the Space-time Continuum to Another Plane, or I'll Be Dead"

"So Many Worlds Away . . ."
By Dwight V. Swain (1915-92).
First appearance: Imagination, July 1952.
Illustration by W. E. Terry (1921-92; HERE).
Short story (20 pages; 17 pages as a PDF).
Online at The Luminist Archives (HERE; original text; 20 pages; go down to page 122), (HERE; original text; 20 pages), and Project Gutenberg (HERE; 17 pages).
     "Horning's married life was unbearable so he sought peace in another dimension. But was his past somehow linked with other worlds? . . ."

They say if you go far enough you'll eventually meet yourself; Raymond has a chance to do that very thing, but he'll soon learn just how unpleasant such an encounter can be . . . .

Main characters:
~ Margaret:
  ". . . smiled up at him as always, so real the sight of her brought a tightness to his throat. When he closed his eyes, he could almost hear her voice, rippling with gay, gentle laughter. He felt her lips on his . . . her dark, silken hair against his cheek."
~ Raymond:
  ". . . sagged back against the workbench—shaken, unable to speak. It was as if, of a sudden, he were seeing his wife through new eyes."
~ Myrtle:
  "That woman—that creature—she could be dead a thousand years and I'd still hate her—!"
~ "Doctor Raymond X. Horning":
  "An ugly, snub-nosed pistol of strange design was in his hand."

References and resources:
- "Parmenides and his theory of the Eternal Now": A 5th century B.C. philosopher; see Wikipedia (HERE) for an article about him.
  "And so for Parmenides, there is no change. The reality/universe is continuous, unchanging and eternal. Now note that this is NOT the testimony of our senses. Our senses (strongly) suggest that things are changing all the time, precisely as Heraclitus claims. Parmenides‘s radical metaphysics (along with the epistemology it implied) lead other philosophers to try to refute Parmenides monism and timeless-ness, especially since change in everyday life seem[s] so much more evident than oneness. Parmenides’s student Zeno famously defended his teacher’s views with his ingenious paradoxes about the space, time and motion (a principal kind of change)" ("Pre-Socratic Epistemology and Metaphysics: Parmenides and Heraclitus" HERE).
From the Class of 475 B.C. yearbook.
- "snatched a Stillson wrench": A handy tool, indeed, but never intended to be used in a fight:
  "The Stillson wrench is an adjustable wrench (spanner) with hardened serrated teeth on its jaws. The hard teeth bite into the softer metal of the round pipe and provide the grip needed to turn a pipe, even against fair resistance. The design of the adjustable jaw, which permits a certain amount of intentional play out of square, allows it to bind on the pipe, with forward pressure on the handle pulling the jaws tighter. Two leaf springs, above and below the knurled adjusting knob, help unlock the jaw when pressure on the handle of the wrench is released" (Wikipedia HERE).
- "dirty white mules": Footwear:
  "Mule is a style of shoe that has no back or constraint around the foot's heel. Mules have a history going as far back as Ancient Rome, even though they were not popularly worn until sixteenth-century Europe. There, mules were bedroom slippers and not worn in public. Through the centuries, mules have changed in style and purpose and are no longer just boudoir shoes but are worn at any time, for any occasion" (Wikipedia HERE).
- We've encountered Dwight V. Swain only once before: "The Transposed Man" (HERE). You'll also find links to other information about him there.
- The multiverse trope has proven to be a handy hook to hang a plot on: Ray Wood's "Schrödinger’s Gun" (HERE), Sam Merwyn's "Third Alternative" (HERE), and J. W. Armstrong's "Reversal of Misfortune" (HERE).

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

"You Didn't Have To Look Hard for Motives"

THE SEMIDOC STYLE of crime fiction really enjoyed a vogue in media, usually the movies, from the '30s to the '60s. It was basically reality-based fiction, more fiction than reality, but with just enough authentic background to make it all seem plausible. The important thing in a semidoc is the way it's told. Character examples of this style would be Sergeant Joe Friday in radio, TV, and films, and today's protagonist, a state police officer who's been given the unenviable assignment of being a . . .

By Karl Detzer (1891-1987).
Illustrations by James Ernst (1916-89; HERE).
First appearance: Blue Book, March 1948.
Short short story (8 pages; 4 illos).
Online at (HERE).
(Note: Text faded but readable.)
     "There, at five minutes before midnight, he was killed."

It's a classic situation, as our protagonist is trapped in "a snowbound country house peopled with suspects" . . . .

Principal characters:
~ Sylvia Silver:
  "I'm scared to death. Does the poor Senator really need a bodyguard? I hope you've got a gun."
~ Senator Frank Maxton:
  "You know, a man in my position gets involved in things against his will."
~ Sergeant Jennison:
  "You're going to keep him alive and hearty for the trials."
~ Smith:
  "He had eyes like a dead rock bass, and looked as if he used bourbon when he shaved."
~ Joe Flasky:
  "He was crooked as a dog's hind leg."
~ Fred Tobias:
  "Anybody snooping around here?"
~ Terry Carsten:
  ". . . this punk who sold groceries . . ."
~ Ruth Hasty:
  "She didn't sound like a very big-time reporter to me—too scared and upset."
~ Corporal Clinton:
    "Look for all kinds of motives, hook the motive to the facts."

Reference and resources:
- "went into dog racing": As with horse racing, the sport has a seamier side thanks to gambling; see (HERE), Wikipedia (HERE), National Geographic Online (HERE), and Grey2K USA Worldwide (HERE).
- Karl William Detzer lived an adventurous life; see his story listings in FictionMags (HERE), background in Pulp Flakes (HERE), and his own mini-bio in Blue Book (HERE).
- Merriam-Webster's definition of semidoc: "semidocumentary: a motion picture that uses many details taken from actual events or situations in presenting a fictional story" (HERE); also see Wikipedia (HERE). Michael Grost has a full page of his megasite devoted to semidoc films; go (HERE) for that.
- Other stories featuring bodyguards that we've highlighted: Carter Critz's "Not According to Doyle" (HERE), Wade Wells's "Murder in Silhouette" (HERE), and Hugh Pentecost's "Bottom Deal" (HERE).

Friday, July 23, 2021

"They're Going To Kill Us, You Know"

"Lady Into Hell-cat."
By Stanley Mullen (1911-74).
Illustrated by Alden McWilliams (1916-93; HERE).
First appearance: Planet Stories, Spring 1949.
Reprints page (HERE).
Short story (11 or 16 pages).
Online at The Luminist Archives (HERE; original text; 11 pages; scroll down to page 66), Project Gutenberg (HERE; 16 pages as a PDF), and (HERE; original text; 11 pages).

   "Tracking her across black space-lanes and slapping magnetic bracelets on her was duck soup for S.P. Agent Heydrick. Only then did he learn what a planet-load of trouble he'd bought."

Transporting a prisoner has its hazards, but our protagonist will find out just how hazardous transporting this particular prisoner can be . . . .

Main characters:
~ The inspector of security police:
  "They ought to give her a medal. I feel sorry for the girl—good-looker, too. Still sounds like a police job."
~ Ria Tarsen:
  "Of course you're sorry. Now shut up. I hate post-mortems."
~ The co-pilot:
  "I thought you were through with the service."
~ Thorsan:
  "They're no use to us, either of them."
~ Tyko:
  "I don't understand."
~ Heydrick:
  "The universe is getting too crowded."

References and resources:
- "They can't use scopolomine [sic]": It's supposed to make you tell the truth; however:
  "Although a variety of such substances [known as "truth serums"] have been tested, serious issues have been raised about their use scientifically, ethically and legally. There is currently no drug proven to cause consistent or predictable enhancement of truth-telling. Subjects questioned under the influence of such substances have been found to be suggestible and their memories subject to reconstruction and fabrication. When such drugs have been used in the course of investigating civil and criminal cases, they have not been accepted by Western legal systems and legal experts as genuine investigative tools" (Wikipedia HERE and HERE).
- "she's hiding out on Ganymede": Considering its size that would be a neat trick:
  "Ganymede is the third of the Galilean moons from Jupiter. It is the largest moon in the Solar System, bigger than the planet Mercury (though less massive), almost 52% larger than the diameter of the Moon and with twice its mass. It is 77% the diameter of Mars. Ganymede's size made it a popular location for early science fiction authors looking for locations beyond Mars that might be inhabitable by humans. In reality, Ganymede is a cold, icy, cratered world with a vanishingly thin atmosphere" (Wikipedia HERE and HERE).
- "fungi hunters": Evidently at the time of our story it's big (and possibly illegal) business in the Solar System:
  "The fungus kingdom encompasses an enormous diversity of taxa with varied ecologies, life cycle strategies, and morphologies ranging from unicellular aquatic chytrids to large mushrooms. However, little is known of the true biodiversity of Kingdom Fungi, which has been estimated at 2.2 million to 3.8 million species" (Wikipedia HERE).
- "the Moons of Jupiter": When this story was first published nobody knew just how many natural satellites Jupiter has:
  "There are 79 known moons of Jupiter, not counting a number of moonlets likely shed from the inner moons, and S/2003/J/24" (Wikipedia HERE).
- "felt his head swell as if it were going to explode": Anyone who has experienced explosive decompression will tell you it's not a pleasant experience:
  "The term uncontrolled decompression here refers to the unplanned depressuri-sation of vessels that are occupied by people; for example, a pressurised aircraft cabin at high altitude, a spacecraft, or a hyperbaric chamber" (Wikipedia HERE).
- "some benzedrine": It certainly makes taking a nap less likely:
  "At therapeutic doses, amphetamine causes emotional and cognitive effects such as euphoria, change in desire for sex, increased wakefulness, and improved cognitive control. It induces physical effects such as improved reaction time, fatigue resis-tance, and increased muscle strength. Larger doses of amphetamine may impair cognitive function and induce rapid muscle breakdown" (Wikipedia HERE, HERE, and HERE).
- "a velocity of 89 Martian gravities": A scientific error:
  "The average gravitational acceleration on Mars is 3.72076 ms−2 (about 38% of that of Earth), and it varies" (Wikipedia HERE).
- "the Moons of Saturn": The ringed planet has even more satellites than mighty Jupiter:
  "The moons of Saturn are numerous and diverse, ranging from tiny moonlets only tens of meters across to enormous Titan, which is larger than the planet Mercury. Saturn has 82 moons with confirmed orbits that are not embedded in its rings" (Wikipedia HERE).
- "the northern ice-cap of Mars": Living at Earth's South Pole might be more congenial:
  "Mars has ice caps at its north pole and south pole, which mainly consist of water ice; however, there is frozen carbon dioxide (dry ice) present on their surfaces" (Wikipedia HERE).
- "The fused-quartz pane": Our author has anticipated the useful properties of this material in spacecraft windows and pressure domes:
  "Because of its strength, fused silica was used in deep diving vessels such as the bathysphere and benthoscope. Fused silica is also used to form the windows of crewed spacecraft, including the Space Shuttle and International Space Station" (Wikipedia HERE).
- "in the lighters": It was only natural that SFF authors would transpose Earth's nautical practices to outer space:
  "A lighter is a type of flat-bottomed barge used to transfer goods and passengers to and from moored ships" (Wikipedia HERE).
- Stanley Mullen was a member in good standing of Pulpsters Anonymous; see Wikipedia (HERE), the SFE (HERE), and the ISFDb (HERE).
- We've encountered our author a couple of times already: "Shock Treatment" (HERE) and "S.O.S. Aphrodite!" (HERE).

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

"Heart Stopped—I Can't Feel a Pulse!"

"Right After the Doctor."
By Roy de S. Horn (1894-1973).
First appearance: Detective Novel Magazine, August 1944.
Illustrator unknown.
Reprinted in Top Detective Annual, 1951.
Short story (11 pages).
Online at (HERE).
(Note: Text faded but legible.)

The love of money has been called the root of all evil, a fact an asthmatic sea captain is about to learn the hard way . . . .

Principal characters:
~ Captain Munroe:
  "Well, when a seventy-five-year-old man has chronic asthma and dies from choking to death, that's generally the diagnosis."
~ Royal:
  "The canary in the corner—did he die of asthma, too, Doctor?"
~ Kerry:
  "Thirty millions—and he ain't got no more use for it now than that canary!"
~ The parrot:
  "Quarr-r-rrk! Quarrk! All hands and the cook! The cook—the cook—to blazes with the cook. Quarr-r-rrk!"
~ Brewster:
  "I thought I told you to take those infernal birds out of here!"
~ Miss Fenner:
  "I did, Doctor. Truly, I did. But he ordered me to bring them back! Said he preferred honest pets to selfish humans!"
~ Cassidy:
  "Who the devil's been burning old rags in here?"
~ Welton and Harriet Munroe:
  "Captain Munroe's nephew" and "the Captain's niece."
~ Mrs. Murphy:
  ". . . a red-faced, middle-aged woman, unmistakably Irish . . ."
~ Meeghan:
  ". . . captain in charge of the precinct station."
~ The bearded man:
  ". . . looked dazed, nodded, and drew out a legal-looking paper."

Typos: "Well tear up the ticket" [We'll]; "desave" [?].

References and resources:
- "enough cyanide in him to kill a cow!": A favorite with many killers, fictional and real life:
  "If hydrogen cyanide is inhaled it can cause a coma with seizures, apnea, and cardiac arrest, with death following in a matter of seconds. At lower doses, loss of consciousness may be preceded by general weakness, dizziness, headaches, vertigo, confusion, and perceived difficulty in breathing. At the first stages of unconscious-ness, breathing is often sufficient or even rapid, although the state of the person progresses towards a deep coma, sometimes accompanied by pulmonary edema, and finally cardiac arrest" (Wikipedia HERE).
- "while I put on the darbies": "British slang: handcuffs; manacles" ( HERE).
- Roy de Saussure Horn wrote in different genres, including sea adventures, Westerns, war stories, and the occasional detective yarn; FictionMags's list of his short fiction begins in 1920 and runs to 1944, ending with today's story. Their thumbnail: "Naval officer, editor, publisher. Born in Boston, Georgia; died in Annapolis, Maryland."

Friday, July 16, 2021

"I Understand You Can Perform a Perfect Murder"

"The Killer."
By J. T. Oliver (1927-88).
First appearance: Imagination, March 1952.

Short short short story (3 pages).
Online at Project Gutenberg (HERE) and The Luminist Archives (HERE; original text; scroll down to page 85).

     "Smith made a profitable business out of murder. It was all quite simple—he killed a man and then disposed of the body—forever!"

They never see it coming . . . .

Main characters:
~ Wilma:
  "'I want you to kill my husband,' she said pleasantly."
~ Smith:
  "Here's to a policeman's nightmare—the perfect murder."
~ Rogers:
  "Who are you?"
~ Graevod:
  "Oh but there is a body."

Typo: "envelope their bodies".

- Sooner or later even lumbering bureaucracy will catch up with the cleverest killers; see John E. Stith's short short short story, "Goodbye, Howard Henning," featured (HERE).
- The ISFDb bibliography lists only five stories for superfan Joseph Tombs Oliver (HERE). There's a photo tribute site (by Bill Plott) to our author (HERE; PDF), with snippets of background information about the SFF scene that Oliver inhabited; also see (HERE).


Monday, July 12, 2021

"A Mummy Can Very Well Be Priceless"

EDGAR ALLAN POE essentially invented the detective fiction motif of the "Watson," the clueless narrator being constantly dazzled by the brilliance of the sleuth; with slight variations Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, and a host of other writers heartily embraced it. Today's author does the same when he has his protagonist investigating the skulduggery going on in the . . .

"Museum of the Dead."
By Curtiss T. Gardner (1898-?).

First appearance: Five-Novels Magazine, May-June 1946.
Novelette (28 pages).
Online at (HERE).
(Note: Text very faded but legible.)

     "If you don't keep the Company from suffering a heavy loss on this claim, you may find yourself back on the street taking orders from some more resourceful Claims Manager."

When a mummy goes missing from a museum display and a recently murdered man is found in its place, after which more murders start turning up, a sharp insurance investigator, with his fire-breathing boss pushing him hard for results, realizes that he might be in over his head and wisely seeks specialized help: "A mummy? Simply a name for a pickled corpse" . . .

Principal characters:
~ Webb:
  "Collecting ancient curiosities is my hobby."
~ Keefe Scanlan:
   "Are you referring, Webb, to that thing in your hand or the company's time you are wasting?"
~ Clifford Ainsworth:
  "Bleed me . . . Vandals . . . the rug."

~ Dr. Franklin O'Connor:
  "I can't sign away the Museum's claim. That would be acceptance of a bribe, betrayal of my trust."
~ Paul Bancroft:
  "I don't follow you."
~ Bruno Steele:
  "I'm just an ordinary guy in the insurance game. But Bruno Steele is a Master Mind."

~ Sara Murcheson:
  "My horoscope says that sudden death for someone close means independence for me."
~ Lt. Lacey:
  "She's been stabbed. And whoever killed her was taking no chances on possible identification."
~ Prince Ronnoco:
  "In fact, at this very moment, you are in trouble through his activities."

References and resources:
- "a genuine fifteenth century chiseled Italian dag": In times past, as much, if not more, effort was put into making a weapon a work of art than engineering; see the related Wikipedia article (HERE).

- "I reached for my panama": It has never gone out of style:
  "Despite their name, Panama hats have never been made in Panama. They originated in Ecuador where they are made to this day. Their designation as Panama hats originated in the 1850s, when Ecuadorian hat makers emigrated to Panama, where they were able to achieve much greater trade volumes" (Wikipedia HERE).

- "Amenhotep IV, the heretic king who changed his name to Aknaton": A reformer whose memory was almost completely erased:
  "As a pharaoh, Akhenaten is noted for abandoning Egypt's traditional polytheism and introducing Atenism, or worship centered around Aten" (Wikipedia HERE).
  "King Amenhotep IV suffered from an illness called Marfan’s Syndrome, which now affects about one in 5,000 people. This illness is a genetic disorder that involves the body’s connective tissue. The depictions of Akhenaten and his family show that they suffered from Marfan’s Syndrome. Some of these symptoms are an elongated head, neck, arms, hands, and feet. They also had a potbelly and heavy thighs, poor muscle tone, and a short torso. This illness makes people taller than they have to be and they even may die in early ages. Surprisingly, Akhenaten insisted that all of his depictions must be real instead of the muscular-looking depictions of pharaohs in the past as he wanted to look as he really was in his depictions" (Trips in Egypt HERE).

  Akhenaten's "son-in-law and successor" was Smenkhkare:
  "Smenkhkare (alternatively romanized Smenkhare, Smenkare, or Smenkhkara; meaning 'Vigorous is the Soul of Re') was an Egyptian pharaoh of unknown background who lived and ruled during the Amarna Period of the 18th Dynasty. Smenkhkare was husband to Meritaten, the daughter of his likely co-regent, Akhenaten. Very little is known of Smenkhkare for certain because later kings sought to erase the Amarna Period from history. Because of this, perhaps no one from the Amarna Interlude has been the subject of so much speculation as Smenkhkare" (Wikipedia HERE).

- "to its peak during the XXIst dynasty and its decline and abandonment after the Ptolemaic period": We wouldn't know much about Egypt's history if people hadn't left things lying around:
  "The history of Egypt has been long and wealthy, due to the flow of the Nile River with its fertile banks and delta, as well as the accomplishments of Egypt's native inhabitants and outside influence. Much of Egypt's ancient history was a mystery until Egyptian hieroglyphs were deciphered with the discovery and help of the Rosetta Stone. Among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World is the Great Pyramid of Giza" (Wikipedia HERE).

- "still crusted with the resinous paste used by the embalmers": They were meticulous because they believed there was a lot at stake:
  "The ancient Egyptians had an elaborate set of funerary practices that they believed were necessary to ensure their immortality after death. These rituals included mummifying the body, casting magic spells, and burials with specific grave goods thought to be needed in the afterlife" (Wikipedia HERE).

- "a sculptured figure of the Assyrian King, Tiglath-Pileser III": He was an important figure in ancient Middle Eastern history:
  ". . . a prominent king of Assyria in the eighth century BCE (ruled 745–727 BCE) who introduced advanced civil, military, and political systems into the Neo-Assyrian Empire. He made sweeping changes to the Assyrian government, considerably improving its efficiency and security. He created Assyria's first professional standing army" (Wikipedia HERE).

- "zdravtze" [sic]: Misspelled in the text:
  ". . . Zdravetz, also known as Bulgarian Geranium, is steam distilled from Geranium macrorrhizum, a perennial flowering plant with aromatic leaves. The oil possesses a beautifully complex green, woody, herbaceous and slightly floral aroma" (From Nature with Love HERE).

- "hyssop": A very useful plant:
  "Hyssopus officinalis or hyssop is a shrub in the Lamiaceae or mint family native to Southern Europe, the Middle East, and the region surrounding the Caspian Sea. Due to its purported properties as an antiseptic, cough reliever, and expectorant, it has been used in traditional herbal medicine" (Wikipedia HERE).

- "stratigraphy": A heavy subject of study—or the study of a heavy subject:
  "Stratigraphy is a branch of geology concerned with the study of rock layers (strata) and layering (stratification). It is primarily used in the study of sedimentary and layered volcanic rocks" (Wikipedia HERE).

- "Hissarlik [sic] . . . ancient Troy": It's traditional to assume Homer wrote about it:
  "After many decades of scientific and literary study by specialists, the site is generally accepted by most as the location of ancient Troy, the city mentioned in ancient documents of many countries in several ancient languages, especially ancient Greek, where it appears as Ilion in the earliest literary work of Europe, the Iliad" (Wikipedia HERE).

- "Kreisler, Heifetz and Menuhin": Three well-known violinists in their day:
  "Fritz Kreisler (1875–1962) was an Austrian-born American violinist and composer. One of the most noted violin masters of his day, and regarded as one of the greatest violinists of all time, he was known for his sweet tone and expressive phrasing" (Wikipedia HERE).
  "Jascha Heifetz (1901–87) was a Russian-American violinist. Born in Vilna (Vilnius), he moved as a teenager to the United States, where his Carnegie Hall debut was rapturously received. He was a virtuoso since childhood . . ." (Wikipedia HERE).

  "Yehudi Menuhin, Baron Menuhin, OM KBE (1916–99) was an American-born violinist and conductor who spent most of his performing career in Britain. He is widely considered one of the great violinists of the 20th century" (Wikipedia HERE).
- "the Egyptian god, Horus": Being a god of the sky, he was often associated with the falcon:
  "Horus or Her, Heru, Hor, Har in Ancient Egyptian, is one of the most significant ancient Egyptian deities who served many functions, most notably god of kingship and the sky. He was worshipped from at least the late prehistoric Egypt until the Ptolemaic Kingdom and Roman Egypt" (Wikipedia HERE).

- "a carboy of embalming fluids": That could be anything up to 16 gallons:
  "The word carboy is from the Persian qarābah (قرابه), from Middle Persian Karāvah. Arabic also borrowed it as qarrāba, meaning 'big jug'" (Wikipedia HERE).
- "a devil's tattoo": "A drumming with the fingers or feet" (Wiktionary HERE).
- "Stalin's real handle of Djugashvili": At the time of our story he had seven years left to live, and nobody missed him when he was gone:

  "Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin (born Ioseb Besarionis dzе Jughashvili, 1878–1953) was a Georgian revolutionary and political leader who ruled the Soviet Union from 1927 until his death in 1953" (Wikipedia HERE).
- "a child of the intense fiery sign of Scorpio": Don't confuse it with the astronomical constellation of Scorpius:
  ". . . the Sun transits this sign on average from October 23 to November 22" (Wikipedia HERE).
- "the flail": A nasty thing that can be as dangerous to its user as it is to its target:

  "A flail is a weapon consisting of a striking head attached to a handle by a flexible rope, strap, or chain. The chief tactical virtue of the flail was its capacity to strike around a defender's shield or parry. Its chief liability was a lack of precision and the difficulty of using it in close combat, or closely ranked formations" (Wikipedia HERE).
- "a Pearl Harbor attack": Of all of the air raids in history this one seems to be most remembered:
  "The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service upon the United States (a neutral country at the time) against the naval base at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii, just before 08:00, on Sunday morning, December 7, 1941. The attack led to the United States' formal entry into World War II the next day" (Wikipedia HERE).

- "read Gray's Elegy": You've never heard of it?
  "It embodies a meditation on death, and remembrance after death. Claimed as 'probably still today the best-known and best-loved poem in English,' the Elegy quickly became popular. It was printed many times and in a variety of formats, translated into many languages, and praised by critics even after Gray's other poetry had fallen out of favour" (Wikipedia HERE).
- Curtis Tarring Gardner's FictionMags thumbnail: "Born in Maryland; graduate of MIT; lived in Tice, Florida."

- Our author evolved a series character which the editors of G-Men Detective seem to have been fond of: Bill “Munchausen” Tolliver, steadily appearing in 15 stories from 1943 to 1948. Gardner's other series characters: Charles Mallory (2 stories, 1944 and 1946) and Val Vickers (3 stories, 1943-44). (FictionMags data.) The rest of his short tales, like today's narrative, seem to have been one-offs.
- Another story about an insurance investigator that you might enjoy is Ronald Knox's novel The Three Taps (1927), which we highlighted (HERE).

- With her enthusiasm for archaeology, it's not surprising that Agatha Christie would center one of her Hercule Poirot adventures on a mummy, "The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb" (1923), which is online at Wikisource (HERE).
- The producers of the Ellery Queen TV series (1975-76), with Jim Hutton as EQ, couldn't resist working a plot around an Egyptian mummy; see "The Adventure of the Pharaoh's Curse" in the Wikipedia article (WARNING! SPOILERS! HERE) and the IMDb (HERE; WARNING! SPOILERS! in comments).
- Philip Wylie also dealt with foul murder in a museum in his story, "Ten Thousand Blunt Instruments" (1944), part of a collection that we highlighted (HERE); to read it, though, you'll have to buy the Crippen & Landru book (HERE).
- We have featured visually impaired detectives in the past: Thomas McMorrow's John Dyce (HERE) and Max Carrados in Ernest Bramah's "The Knight's Cross Signal Problem" (HERE).


Thursday, July 1, 2021

"A Man Tumbled Out the Window, Bounced Off the Awning in Front of the Building, and Dropped Heavily to the Ground"

"The Time Snatcher."
By Randall Garrett (1927-87).
Illustrator unknown.
First appearance: Imagination, February 1957.
Reprints page (HERE).
Short story (12 pages).
Online at Project Gutenberg (HERE) and (HERE).
So what's so serious that a Time Patrolman has to get involved with it? Building a dam, obviously:

  "Time travel, he knew, was possible only so long as the traveller into the past did nothing that would change history significantly; the time-stream itself would straighten out little changes in the past so that overall history would remain the same. But a big change was something else again. If you stick your finger in a river, there are a few ripples around it, but the flow of the river remains the same. If you build a dam, though . . . ."

And a wanted criminal is determined to build that dam . . . .

Principal characters:
~ The Councillor:
  "I'm afraid I don't understand what you mean."
~ Brek Halliday:
  ". . . felt a sudden blow on the back of his neck, and his knees sagged."
~ Joe Sagginer:
  ". . . had been convicted once for illegal use of a time machine, and had been sentenced to ten years . . ."
~ Dori Clayton:
  ". . . stared at him, no recognition in her eyes."
~ The sheriff:
  "You've got trouble, stranger."
~ Chuck:
  "Ed, it really ain't none of my business, but I thought you ought to know that Cactus is gunnin' for you."
~ Sam:
  "No noise from the house."

Reference and resource:
- "a very ordinary-looking cayuse": Without horses there would have been no Wild West to write about:
  ". . . in full, Cayuse Indian pony, North American wild or tame horse, descended from horses taken to the New World by the Spanish in the 16th century. The small and stocky horse had become a distinct breed by the 19th century. It was named for the Cayuse people of eastern Washington and Oregon" (Britannica HERE).
- As we said long ago, we'll be returning to Randall Garrett's pulp fiction quite often; our latest contact with him was his "Heist Job on Thizar" (HERE).