Fredric Brown is the King. If you possibly can, you readers need to find Brown’s novel “Madball”! Contains some of the best noir dialogue EVER. Mr. Magus, a carney Mindreader, is entertaining Sammy, an escaped mental patient. They’re in Magus’ tent, drinking…
He looked at the bottle and saw that it was different; it had paper on it, a label; the color was darker. He looked at the label again before he passed it back. He asked, “What does it say on there, Mr. Magus?”
Mr. Magus smiled. “What it says is irrelevant, Sammy. What it should say is just two words: DRINK ME, in big type. Have you ever read – had read to you – Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass?”
And Mr. Magus looked genuinely shocked when Sammy said he’d never heard of them. “Have they got pitchers in them?” he asked.
“Yes, they have pictures. Very good drawings. But it’s the stories that really matter. I wish I had one of them here, Sammy; I’m in just the mood to read aloud from Lewis Carroll. But about the label on the bottle. It’s in the first book and Alice finds it just after she gets down the rabbit hole. She finds a bottle with a label that says DRINK ME and a cake with a tag that says EAT ME. But Lewis Carroll, the man who wrote the stories, had the labels mixed because when Alice drank from the bottle it made her smaller and eating the cake made her bigger again.
“But Mr. Carroll got that wrong because he wasn’t really Mr. Carroll at all. He was a minister named Dodgson, and a teetotaler, so he didn’t understand about drinking. Only small men drink, Sammy – but so many of us are small men…”
There are two collections of his stories on Kindle, and they’re a bargain. I had that lovely thing where I read and loved “The Waveries” in an anthology when I was very young, and rediscovered it completely by chance decades later.
There’s five more stories on The Gutenberg Project for Frederic Brown . Also quite a bit of other stuff from the golden age of science fiction. Cory Doctorow also puts some good stuff in there as well.
In my youth I ran across a couple of Frederic Brown short stories in anthologies and was immediately hooked. His books proved really hard to find unfortunately. It was because of him though that I discovered Interlibrary Loan.
A couple of months ago a friend texted me a picture of an anthology of Brown’s short stories he’d picked up at his local library with the question, “Ever heard of this guy?” I just about exploded with joy. Then I was disappointed to learn the anthology did not include “Armageddon”, one of the finest short stories ever written.
thanks! I actually bought this anthology 2 years ago on a whim "
(hardcover of course…those old pb’s bindings fall apart…and now I will actually read it if I can find it). I just bought 2 of 3 of the articles recommended novels too. can anyone else give rec’s for older horror novels? would love to do some ebay/amazon diving…
For those who like the dead tree versions, there are two large collections of Brown’s SF:
Martians and Madness: The Complete SF Novels of Fredric Brown
From These Ashes: The Complete Short SF of Fredric Brown
And if anyone would like to check out his mysteries …
Murder Draws a Crowd: The Fredric Brown Mystery Library, Volume One
Oh, this is a treat. Similarly to several posters above, I chanced upon Brown’s work from Sci Fi book club collections and the rare found paperback 30-some years ago… I’d never even heard about The Mind Thing before. Can’t wait to read it now!
I was also surprised that so much of his work is available on Kindle. Time for a mini shopping-spree!
My elementary school classroom had a copy of Martians Go Home with that exact same illustration on the cover. I loved it.
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