Sunday, April 10, 2011

In a Related Story...

Every now and then I get a very interesting email from a reader of this blog who, in lieu of leaving a comment, sends me a personal note. This one I wanted to share with everyone. So I asked the reader (SteveHL) for permission to post it. It's related to the post on Miss Hargreaves back in March and mentions a similar idea as treated in a short story by a different writer.

I would have just posted this on your blog entry for 3/11 but I don't know if you would ever see that. Thanks for the recommendation of Miss Hargreaves. I ordered it and read it this past weekend. I am in total agreement - a really fine book.

There is a rather similar and very good short story, "Presence of Mind", written by a British writer named Martin Armstrong. It was originally published in 1934 in a book titled General Buntop's Miracle and Other Stories. I read the story in Fantastic Stories of Imagination (October 1962) in what was evidently the only other time it appeared. I don't know if your bookselling includes old science fiction magazines, but if you can find this, it's definitely worth seeking out. It's years since I last read this but I can still remember a lot of it. One of the people brought to life in the same way as Miss Hargreaves is named, I believe, Z. Q. Muggleton Spoffin; if you can bring Z. Q. to life, you can pretty much create anything. (That issue of Fantastic also had the first publication of Fritz Leiber's "The Unholy Grail" about the Gray Mouser in pre-Fafhrd days as well as stories by Tom Disch, Roger Zelazny and Ron Goulart. The Disch was his first published story.)
Thanks, Steve. And now...  further info from your intrepid blog host.  I can never resist a literary research challenge.

Martin D. Armstrong was a writer primarily of short stories. My research turned up four collections of his stories all of which include a handful of supernatural, ghost or fantasy stories. They are listed below with the appropriate genre tales noted. All the books listed below are the first UK editions. A few of his books were indeed published in the US, but I didn't bother looking up all of the bibliographic info on those.

The Bazaar and Other Stories
(Jonathan Cape, 1924)
Including: "Mrs Barber's Christmas", "Helm Hall", and "A Dog's Life")

The Fiery Dive and Other Stories
(Gollancz, 1929)
Including: "The Fiery Dive", "In the Wilds", "Portrait of the Misses Harlowe", "Saint Hercules", "Sombrero", "Widow of Ephesus"

General Buntop's Miracle and Other Stories
(Gollancz, 1934)
Including: "Presence of Mind", and "The Pipe Smoker"

A Case of Conscience and Other Tales
(Gollancz, 1937)
Including: "The Phantom Horseman"

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