Friday, October 20, 2017

"Two Green Eyes Glowed at Him Out of the Darkness—Then Blinked Shut"

"Black Light."
By Ralph Milne Farley (Roger Sherman Hoar, 1887-1963).
First appearance: Astounding Stories, August 1936.
Short short short story (4 pages).
Online at SFFAudio (HERE) (PDF).

"The dull thud of a falling body. Then silence."
How do you protect someone when the would-be killer can't be seen? With "pigments which, although invisible to unassisted eyesight, nevertheless produce all the different colors of the octave above human vision; also the octave below. . . . Simple, isn't it?"

- The technology employed in our story, relatively new at the time, is discussed in a Wikipedia article (HERE).
- Ralph Milne Farley was the very definition of the early science fiction pulp writer, but

at crime fiction he wasn't anything to write home about; for more go (HERE), (HERE),
and (HERE).
- We've communed with Farley a couple of times already: "Who Killed Gilbert Foster?" (HERE) and "The Time-Traveler" (HERE).

Thursday, October 19, 2017

"No Physicians Ever Attended Frane's Murders, Except at Inquests"

By Winston K. Marks (1915-79).
First appearance: Planet Stories, November 1953.
Reprinted in The Test Colony and Other Stories (2012).
Short short story (5 pages).
Online at SFFAudio (HERE) (PDF).

"They told you space piracy was impossible, didn't they?"
"Clothes make the man," goes the old saying. Lewis doesn't know it yet, but they can also have the opposite effect . . .
- You can read more about our author at the SFE (HERE), which characterizes his style as "mildly hard-bitten and amusing," as well as the usually fine summary bibliography at the ISFDb (HERE).

- People have been running around in spacesuits for a long time; see Wikipedia (HERE) and Atomic Rockets (HERE).

The bottom line: "Dress yourself in heavy fishing waders, put on an overcoat and boxing gloves and a bucket over your head, then have somebody strap two sacks of cement

across your shoulders and you will know what a space suit feels like under one gravity."

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

"Everything the Long Way, the Hard and Devious Way"

"Tydore's Gift."
By Alfred Coppel (Alfredo José de Araña-Marini y Coppel, 1921-2004).
First appearance: Planet Stories, September 1951.
Reprinted in Science Fiction Gems, Volume 7 (2014).
Short short short story (4 pages).
Online at (HERE).

"So unpredictable, these dead-world Tower Dwellers! Take old Tydore, who placed such an inestimably valuable gift in the greed-hands of one he hated."
Too late Marley learns that Earth is Earth and Mars is Mars and never the twain shall meet . . .
Typos: "millenia"; "miniscule."

- The Big Three with the Big Scoop about our author: Wikipedia (HERE), the SFE (HERE), and the ISFDb (HERE).

- There's up-to-date information about Mars in fact (HERE) and fiction (HERE), in addition to The Red Planet's impact on human culture (HERE).
- Maintaining a viable colony on Mars is an iffy proposition at best, as demonstrated in a story we featured a year ago (HERE).

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

"The Bank Note Forger" and "A Warning in Red" (Updates)

WHEN WE INITIALLY posted about these stories, apparently scans of their original magazine appearances weren't online (or, at least, we couldn't find any), but thanks to the Hathi Trust they are now. When first published, these stories were enhanced with illos by some of the finest magazine illustrators of their era, but book publication usually meant most or all of the drawings would be sacrificed. If you've already read them or/and you don't really care about illos, then feel free to skip this post. Additionally, we've included links to both ONTOS and the new scan pages.

"The Bank Note Forger" (1899).
By Cutcliffe Hyne (1866-1944).
Short short story (8 pages; 6 illos by Ernest Prater).
ONTOS (HERE) and Hathi Trust (HERE).

~ ~ ~
"A Warning in Red" (1899).
By Victor L. Whitechurch (1868-1933) and E. Conway (?-?).
Short short story (8 pages; 6 illos by Max Cowper).
ONTOS (HERE) and Hathi Trust (HERE).

Monday, October 16, 2017

Two Criminous Misadventures from H. G.

   "He ran away with it to poison the water of London."

"The Stolen Bacillus: A Tale of Anarchy."
By H. G. Wells (1866-1946).
First appearance: Pall Mall Budget, June 21, 1894.
Reprinted many times since (HERE).
Short short story (5 pages).
Online at (HERE), Online
(HERE), and Roy Glashan's Library (HERE).
"The sense of imminent death gave him a certain dignity."
 It isn't every day that a little white lie could save millions of lives . . .

- Wikipedia has a couple of articles that relate to our story's theme (HERE) and (HERE).
- There are also references to a pair of French Anarchists, noted in Wikipedia (HERE) and (HERE).

~ ~ ~

   "This is burgling in style!"

"The Hammerpond Park Burglary."
By H. G. Wells (1866-1946).
First appearance: Pall Mall Budget, July 5, 1894.
Short short story (8 pages).
Online at Roy Glashan's Library (HERE) and Project Gutenberg, Australia (HERE).

"It was lucky he had escaped these snares. And they showed him the jewels."
Art, they tell us, is a high calling, so why is a lowlife like Teddy Watkins stumbling around in the dark in Sussex encumbered with two virgin canvases, a brand-new easel, a paint-box,
and a portmanteau, grimly determined, he tells one and all, to capture the essence of Lady Aveling's charming country estate? If you've guessed he's up to no good, then congratula-tions, you know your Teddy Watkinses.

Typo: "Person" or "Porson"?

- Two real-life personages get mentioned in the story, one an artist (HERE) and the other a criminal (HERE).

- As one critic has noted in retrospect, H. G. Wells's skills as an author were vastly superior to his abilities as a prophet; see Wikipedia (HERE) and the ISFDb (HERE) and a complete bibliography (HERE; as a PDF, 105 pages) at Roy Glashan's deluxe website.

The bottom line: "A burglar who respects his art always takes his time before taking anything else."
William Sidney Porter

Friday, October 13, 2017

"All the Lust, the Greed, the Insane Ambition, the Cruelty, the Ignorance; the Fiend-Spawned Secrets of His Soul"

"The Suicide in the Study."
By Robert Bloch (1917-94).
First appearance: Weird Tales, June 1935.
Reprintings list (HERE).
Short short short story (4 pages).
Online at SFFAudio (HERE) (PDF) and (HERE).
"A short story of dual personality"
If your other, hidden self kills you, is it suicide or murder?

Comment: Clearly inspired by Stevenson and Poe, the author gets to revel in Lovecraftian purple prose—much more effectively than his preceptor, we think.

Charming phrases: "worm-demolished scrolls of primal dread"; "the sable silence of the locked room"; "tentacles of terror"; "The reflection from the surface of the knife stabbed through his retina like the fiery ray of a burning sun."

- Being a member in good standing with the Lovecraft circle (HERE), (HERE), and (HERE), Robert Bloch couldn't resist introducing "the 'Mad Arab' Abdul Alhazred's" Necronomicon (HERE) into our story.
- ONTOS's previous encounters with Bloch are (HERE), (HERE), and (HERE).

The bottom line:

Thursday, October 12, 2017

"Perhaps You Mistake Our Intention"

"The Watchers."
By Roger Dee (Roger D. Aycock, 1914-2004).
First appearance: Planet Stories, September 1951.
Short short short story (4 pages).
Online at SFFAudio (HERE) (PDF).

"It had taken him ten years to find them—to even convince himself that they existed. Now Manson was ready to kill!"
He thinks he knows why things go wrong in the world and he has the cure, but in reality he doesn't have a clue . . .

Comment: Would-be reformers, take note.
Typo: "faning his anger"

- Roger Dee is well represented on the World Wide Wobblie: Wikipedia (HERE), the SFE (HERE), the ISFDb (HERE), and with a collection of his stories at Project Gutenberg (HERE).

- Wikipedia has the latest data about Pluto in fact (HERE) and fiction (HERE).
- Last year we featured another story involving what used to be called The Ninth Planet (HERE).