Category Archives: Fiction

Novel Insights

I refer not to contemporary observations (which are usually of dubious value), but insights found in some vintage novels. Not long ago I mentioned R. Austin Freeman’s Mystery of 31, New Inn (1912), with its sense of old-fashioned congeniality. In one passage the narrator … Continue reading

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H. G. Wells: Facts and Fictions

H. G. Wells’ short novel The Time Machine is one of the great stories of all time, and a work that I’ve commented on previously.  Thus I was delighted to listen to a recent lecture on the subject by Theodore Dalrymple arranged by Ralston College. We … Continue reading

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August Derleth, In re: Sherlock Holmes

“London was lost in a fog, a heavy autumnal curtain shutting the city away from our lodgings in Praed Street….”—from “The Adventure of the Frightened Baronet” It seems I am guilty of the same bait and switch employed by August … Continue reading

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A Tale of All Saints and the Sussex Countryside

“I woke the next morning to the noise, the pleasant noise, of water boiling in a kettle. May God bless that noise and grant it to be the most sacred noise in the world. For it is the noise that … Continue reading

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John Gill and the Nazi Planet

There are few episodes from the original Star Trek series (1966-69) that I do not enjoy. But one that contains a thoughtful message beneath the thriller storyline is “Patterns of Force” from the show’s second season. Following on the popularity of the … Continue reading

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Fictional Comforts

Some of my favorite pieces of fiction are masterpieces of ambiance. Older English literature, in particular, often presents a contrast of gloom and comfort that is so oddly pleasing. It can be found in tales of suspense like those of … Continue reading

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A Philosophical Detective

“Thorndyke was not a newspaper reader. He viewed with extreme disfavour all scrappy and miscellaneous forms of literature, which, by presenting a disorderly series of unrelated items of information, tended, as he considered, to destroy the habit of consecutive mental … Continue reading

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Atmospheric Tales of the Supernatural

Starting last fall I ventured into the supernatural tales of Algernon Blackwood (1869-1951), beginning, appropriately enough, with Blackwood’s first volume, The Empty House and Other Stories (1906). What is unusual, in comparison to later horror fiction, is that the stories … Continue reading

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The Ultimate Computer?

“There is a doctrine which holds that the story of Frankenstein is a parable of all human history; that man, with his restless ingenuity, invents only to find himself the slave of his invention.”—Msgr. Ronald Knox (Broadcast Minds, 1932) The … Continue reading

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Martians, Marxists and Monks

H. G. Wells’ story “The Crystal Egg” is far and away his best short work of imaginative fiction. It is the tale of Mr. Cave, a meek and unsuccessful (yet curious) man who is constantly harassed by his wife and … Continue reading

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