RE: RARA-AVIS: Fredric Brown and the amphibians: Harbin

From: Todd Mason (
Date: 11 Oct 2002

Brown quotes an old joke story at the beginning of "Knock," which had been folklorically retold from a very brief vignette/anecdote titled "A Woman Alone With Her Soul" when reprinted in Jorge Luis Borges (another, nonpulpster excellent amphibian between fantastic and crime fiction), A. Bioy-Casares (another), and Silvina Ocampo (don't know if she wrote cf)'s anthology THE BOOK OF FANTASY (as it's published in English), which in Thomas Aldrich's original read very like: "The last woman on Earth sat alone in a room; there wasn't another person left alive. There was a knock on the door."

As for fantastic fiction and cf amphibians in the pulps, I'll nominate Robert Bloch, Cornell Woolrich, Jack/John Holbrook Vance (though he rolled in toward the end of the pulps), Miriam Allen DeFord (ditto, I think, for her), Anthony Boucher, and no doubt a slew I'm foolishly letting slip by...though you did specify science fiction, which leaves out Woolrich as far as I know, but not the other folk (even if Bloch's sf may've been the least of his talents, he did some excellent work in that field). Excelling and being best known for something are not congruent enough.

-----Original Message----- From: [mailto:]

In a message dated 10/11/2002 10:16:41 AM Eastern Standard Time, writes:

> He also wrote, aside from sf (NOT sci-fi) and hb cf, not a little horror
> fiction and some lighter fantasies. NIGHTMARES AND
> GEEZENSTACKS collects a
> number of his vignettes, and some longer stories...

A lot of his fantasy has also been recently reprinted in FROM THESE ASHES: THE COMPLETE SHORT SF OF FREDRIC BROWN also. Probably the most famous of these stories is ARENA, which a popular STAR TREK episode was based on. Another favorite is the story that begins, "The last man on earth heard a knock on the door..." or something to that effect.

Among the pulp writers, Brown and Leigh Brackett seem to me to be the only two who were really excellent in both the mystery and the science fiction genres. Most of the others who come to mind were primarily well known in either one or the other area.

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