By Bud Webster
It's Not the Length, It's What You Do With It
few years ago as turtles reckon time, it became popular for 'net writers to write
something called "flash" fiction, stories of fewer than a thousand words.
Quick, in-your-face, and sharply pointed — or so flash writers fondly believed.
Most of the time, they were obvious, tepid, overblown and, as Prof. F. Leghorn
would have put it, about as sharp as a bowling ball. Bowling ball, that is.
of course, the practitioners of said literary form considered themselves, quod
erat demonstrandum, sine qua non (and non-compos mentis) absolutely on
the Cutting Edge of Literature. After all, they were doing it online, right?
And again I say, boosh-wah. Not even close. We can set aside for the moment
the Drabble, a curious little literary object consisting of exactly 100
words (title included) created by the members of the sf association of Birmingham,
England. They assembled at least two compilations of said shorties by their professional
writer guests over the years, some of them not too shabby, considering. Hard to
go wrong with names like Brunner, Aldiss and Ballard. I digress, though.
the short-short story has been around a lot longer than that, and has been collected
in no fewer than a half-dozen anthologies over the years by such luminaries as
Isaac Asimov, Groff Conklin, and Marty Greenberg.
What most of the flashistas
don't seem to realize is that however fine they may whet what they consider the
cutting edge, they're just grinding away at the back-strap with a rasp file. That
razor-edge was honed to perfection years before by a master: Fredric Brown.
William Brown was born 102 years ago in Cincinnati. He matriculated at Hanover
College in Indiana, and ended up spending a significant amount of time in Wisconsin
working as a proofreader for the Milwaukee Journal, after the fashion of
any number of genre writers, like Clifford Simak and Abraham Merritt, who learned
how to put words in order as journalists.
Let me be frank. There's nothing
terribly sensational or incredible about Brown, neither his fiction nor his life.
He was born, he wrote some stuff, he died. Exactly the same could be said for
dozens, if not hundreds, of writers, many of whom busted their humps to make a
living as writers and ended up footnotes in a reference book, with little —
if anything — in print after their deaths.
So what makes him different?
Well, if you've read much of anything by him, you'd know the answer to that. For
those of you who haven't, or who didn't get it on the first pass, here's my answer:
he did what he did with an economy of words and an elegance of idea that only
a handful of other writers can approach. Almost certainly, his work as a newspaperman
taught him how, but he took it to the limit and made it not only his trademark,
but he has become so identified with the short-short story that anyone daring
to write that length will inevitably be compared to him — even if they've
never heard of him, the poor dears. If you write about elves and rings, you're
going to be compared to Tolkien; if you write military sf, you get smacked with
Dickson (and more recently, Weber and/or Drake); if you go small at all, Brown
takes the call.
And enough of that. It's true, though. Brown was
capable of refining a story idea down to a couple of sentences, as is the case
(in a way) with what is perhaps his best-known, if least-correctly remembered,
story, "Knock," (originally published in the December 1948 Thrilling
Wonder Stories) which begins:
There is a sweet little horror
story that is only two sentences long: " The last man on Earth sat alone
in a room. There was a knock on the door..."
many people (myself included until I began researching this article) are convinced
that Brown wrote the shortest stand-alone sf/fantasy story ever with those two
Italicized lines, but the reality is that, except for being quoted as such, they
exist solely as part of a longer story. In the preface of The Best Science
Fiction Stories — 1949 (ed. Bleiler & Dikty, Fredrick Fell 1949),
the editors say:
..."Knock" is based on the horror
anecdote attributed to Thomas Bailey Aldrich — the last woman on earth hears
a knock on her door....Well-known authors have dealt with the same theme before...but
we wonder whether they would have had the courage to tell Brown's story of a middle-aged
unromantic professor and an unwilling female.
In a way, it's
a shame that Brown can't be credited with that two-liner. After all, it's the
ultimate word in story-telling elegance, and that's his specialty. But I will
state here and now that those two lines do not now, nor have they ever, constituted
a "story" as I understand and practice it, and I suspect that I'll get
little (if any) argument on the point. They do, however, make a pretty damn fine
hook for a longer, and far more satisfying, yarn.
But how did he
start? Not by writing sf, that's for sure. In fact, his first stories were apparently
written for trade magazines like The Michigan Well Driller and Excavating
Engineer from as early as 1936 (see the extensive biblio at the bottom of
the page, and take a lunch), and he did a proofreaders' column, "The Proofreader's
Page," in American Printer for the better part of a decade, but his
first "real" sale was a mystery, "The Moon for a Nickel,"
in the March 1938 Detective Story. Throughout his career he was at least
as well known (and for most of it, far better known) for his detective stories
and novels. The Fabulous Clipjoint, published in 1947, won the Edgar for
Best First Novel, and he never really turned away from the genre.
sf sale wasn't until 1941, with "Not Yet the End" in the Winter issue
of Captain Future. It was an inauspicious beginning in the field, frankly,
and showed little of the promise and wit of stories that came even a few years
later. It certainly wasn't the confident and assured work that the next year's
"Etaoin Shrdlu" would be, but cut the guy some slack. He made up for
it pretty fast, and I do like it better than "The Moon for a Nickel."
Brown was equally adept at all the major pulpish genres, although his output
of Westerns was less than that of his other stories. Nothing spectacular about
that, of course, as anyone who wanted to make a living from writing in those days
had to be able to write anything. But his heart wasn't really in sagebrush and
gunfights, and after a while he limited himself to gumshoes, angels, and spaceships.
easy — way too easy — to look at Brown's body of work as "joke
stories." All you have to do is read a half dozen and then assume all the
rest are the same. That would be a huge mistake, though, as well as a slap in
the face of a writer who produced a number of quite serious stories. Oh, there's
plenty to laugh about in just about all of them, don't get me wrong. Fredric Brown
was possessed of a lively wit and a gleeful imagination that could take him (and
his readers) to some pretty bizarre places.
But read him with a little care,
a little attention, and you'll find that although he was perfectly capable of
making you snort milk out your nose (like all good baggy-pants comics), he was
at the same time giving you plenty of Idea to consider and wonder at.
for example, one of his most famous short-shorts, "Answer." In 222 words
— barely one single manuscript page — Brown sets us up and then delivers
a punch line that is so far from rubber chickens and Whoopee cushions that they're
almost in another Einsteinian plane of existence. You might laugh, but it's a
shaky kind of laugh, not a laugh engendered by pig's-bladders and big red noses.
Wit, not slapstick, and yet those 200+ words are as famous — and as misattributed
and misquoted — as anything ever published in the field.
all right, if you want to know what I'm talking about, it's in his collection
Angels and Spaceships, published by Dutton in 1954. Wanna know something
else about this little jewel? It was a toss-off, an after-thought. When he assembled
the book, he decided to write nine vignettes to run alternately with the eight
reprints. So he just whipped them out. Most of them, although nowhere near as
notorious as "Answer," will smack you in the gob just as hard. You know,
if you kids spent as much time hanging out in used bookstores instead of playing
those damn videogames all day long, I wouldn't need to do this.)
reality is that, as is true of very few of his contemporaries (and almost none
of his successors), Brown wrote stories which eventually passed into stfnal legend.
I just asked Mary, my Significant Other, if she knew the story about the Galactic
civilization who hooked up all their computers and asked the question, "Is
there a God?" She thought for a moment, then asked, "Wasn't that 'The
Final Answer' by Asimov?" She was referring to Asimov's "The Last Question,"
of course, which is the story practically everybody mistakes for the Brown. But
not only did the Brown story precede Asimov's by two years, Asimov took more than
4500 words more to tell his tale. I can tell you from my own experience
that over the past 35+ years, I've heard those two stories conflated more than
any other two in the genre (or outside of it, for that matter), and 99% of the
time the last line of the Brown is misattributed to the Asimov. I'm sure that
both gentlemen ground their teeth about that.
Fredric Brown did write a
lot of short-short stories. Nightmares and Geezenstacks is full of them,
and there are more scattered about hither and yon in various other collections.
Don't overlook his longer works, though. His mystery novels are a blast, especially
The Screaming Mimi (filmed in 1958 and starring Anita Ekberg and Gypsy
Rose Lee), Night of the Jabberwock and Mrs. Murphy's Underpants,
the title of which alone is reason enough to own.
His science fiction and
fantasy novels, though...! The crazed (but controlled) madness of Martians,
Go Home!, the recursive satire of What Mad Universe, in which the editor
of a sf magazine is thrust into the bizarre and imaginary world of one of his
readers; these are marvelous and intricately constructed books, filled with Brown's
trademark dry wit, and are ultimately satisfying works that can be read and re-read
for pleasure without effort.
Ah, but the exquisite and prescient The
Lights in the Sky are Stars is where Brown outdoes himself. He managed, at
a time when both the stfnal and mundane worlds were united behind the then-new
Space Program, when those politicians and industrialists who supported it were
seen as visionaries and their pronouncements seen as prophecies, Brown sat back,
grinned and said, "Wanna bet?"
Lights was published in
1953, during Eisenhower's reign. There were plenty of stories out at the time
— not to mention the decades before — in which space exploration was
treated as the Brave New Future, as an epic struggle against all odds, as a heroic
quest carried out by square jaws and snappy patter. And so it was considered by
most of us, frankly (I still see it that way; I cry during the blast-off scene
in Apollo 13 and I still get teary thinking about Grissom, Chaffe and White).
in 1953, Fredric Brown had the courage, the all-out balls to write a novel
about space in which the politicians and industrialists used the space program
to their own ends, with a hero clearly not of the hero type (disabled and middle-aged),
and - brace yourself — dares to show us an Earth in 1997 where the people
are disillusioned with the whole thing. It is a romantic story, one in which its
non-heroic protagonists are, at the end of the day, every bit as Heroic in their
way as anyone Ed Hamilton or Doc Smith ever created.
What of Fredric Brown,
the man, though? Well, I'll be honest. There isn't a whole lot written about him
that I could get access to. A snippet here, a paragraph there, and the odd comment
Brown made himself in this or that introduction. I know that he worked his day
job as a proofer for years after he began selling regularly, just because he needed
that steady paycheck to support his family.
I know from Fredrik Pohl's
intro to Brown's "Hall of Mirrors" in Assignment in Tomorrow
(Hanover House 1954) that he was "...a virtuoso on the Chinese Flute as well
as on the typewriter..."; I know from long-time friend Robert Bloch's introduction
to The Best of Fredric Brown that he was "Diminutive in stature, fine-boned,
with delicate features partially obscured by horn-rimmed glasses and a wispy mustache...";
I know, from reading the various online references that he had a drinking problem
which gave him significant difficulty later in life, that he liked cats, and that
two of his biggest fans were (please sit down for this. No, I really mean it)
Ayn Rand and Mickey Spillane. Don't know about you, but it's hard for me to wrap
my head around that.
Isaac Asimov (he of that other computer-God
yarn) wrote this about his colleague:
On December 4, 1948,
there was a very pleasant Hydra Club meeting at Fletcher Pratt's place....Also
present was Fredric Brown, a short, thin fellow who looked like a bookkeeper but
who wrote excellent science-fiction short-shorts and amazingly good tough-guy
detective novels....He was a chess buff and wanted badly to play me, even though
I told him it was almost impossible for me to win....I had visited his apartment
one time not long thereafter and he beat me rapidly in two games.
made a number of friends in the field, not the least of whom was Mack Reynolds,
a "red-diaper baby" whose father had run for president on the American
Socialist Labor Party, and with whom Brown collaborated on a number of stories
as well as a pretty damn good anthology, Science Fiction Carnival. Interestingly
enough, he apparently didn't make friends with Damon Knight, seemingly slipping
below the critic's radar; In Search of Wonder contains no mention of him.
I mentioned to a gaggle of colleagues that I was doing a Past Masters bit on Fredric
Brown, several of them admitted to a touch of confusion. Why him? He wasn't anything
special, no innovator or creator of characters who have lived on long after he
died. He didn't write best-sellers, he didn't win Nebulas and Hugos consistently
or generate vast amounts of faanish adulation (although I maintain that he did
his share of all that, just no more). Many of them made it clear that they thought
his writing clumsy, or dated, or just not terribly good. Why him?
glib answer is "It's my party and I'll cry if I want to." That's the
glib answer, but it's not the best one, and it's as much a disservice to Brown
as thinking he was nothing but a jumped-up class clown is.
The word "Master"
isn't monolithic in definition. No, Fredric Brown wasn't the word-artist that,
say, Alfred Bester was (although he clearly influenced Bester). He wasn't as adept
at writing poetic prose as Zelazny or Delany. He didn't send planets crashing
into suns like Hamilton, he didn't write intricately and complexly as Piper or
But Fredric Brown was a Master Craftsman. There are damned
few writers out there who wrote/write with as much facility, with as much economy.
He wasn't flashy, he wasn't loud or showy or ostentatious. He didn't hide his
considerable light under a barrel, mind you, but neither did he flaunt his talents;
of course he didn't, that would have gotten in the way of the story.
never let anything get in the way of the story. I'm convinced that this is one
of the reasons why he wrote fewer novels than many of his contemporaries. Face
it: a whole hell of a lot of novels out there, even the currently popular beach
bricks, are short story ideas padded out to doorstop dimensions. Admit it, you've
said the same thing to yourself more than once.
Fredric Brown, stated simply
and concisely, told the story and then he STOPPED. If it took 7500 words to tell
the story, that was hunky-dory. If it took 222, then that's what it took. And
look at the results: would "Answer" have anywhere near the impact it
does if he'd added more dialogue, exposition, or description? Not on your tintype,
Listen, flashers, assuming any of you are reading this (and props
to you if you are), spend some time in the company of Brown and learn what can
really be done with 1k words or fewer. And remember this: he wasn't trying to
plow new ground, or prove a point, or be hip or any of that. He wasn't making
jokes, or short-changing his readers (God, no!) or taking the easy way. He wrote
the lengths he did not because it was The Newest Thing, but because he instinctively
knew one of the toughest things any writer has to learn — it takes more
skill to use less verbiage and still get the point across.
What follows is a much simplified and abstracted version of the remarkably
complete (and I do mean complete) bibliography of Fredric Brown compiled at great
effort by Phil Stephensen-Payne, a tireless and dedicated bibliographer who makes
my minor attempts look...well, minor. For my purposes here, I've left out
poetry, non-fiction, and pretty much anything that isn't either a novel, collection,
or short-story. Any and all errors you see here are artifacts of my own
unintentional biblio-clumsiness, so don't blame him. If you have any interest
in seeing the complete mishigoss, by all means contact me through HELIX SF and
I'll put you in touch with Phil. Stories marked with an asterisk (*) are
short-shorts. Collect the set.
Munchdriller vacuum vengeance..." - The Michigan Well Driller Sep.
- "Business is Booming..." - Excavating Engineer Jan.
- "We've Tried Everything!" -
Excavating Engineer Feb. 1937
- "Dear Boss..." (Letters
of a Traveling Salesman to His Wife)" - Independent Salesman March
- "The Case of the Flying Cow, or How Did the Critter Get Into
the Silo?" - Feedstuffs March 20, 1937
- "But You Never
Know" - Excavating Engineer April 1937
- "The Case of the
Stuttering Shoat" - Feedstuffs April 4,1937
- "The Case
of the Haunted Haystack" - Feedstuffs May 15, 1937
Case of the Refrigerating Windmill" - Feedstuffs May 8, 1937
Case of Uncountable the Sheep" - Feedstuffs May Jun-1937
Worst is Yet to Come" - Excavating Engineer June 1937
May Happen" - Excavating Engineer Aug. 1937
and the Rescue on the Road, or The Case of the Missing Tacks" - Feedstuffs
Oct. 16, 1937
- "Ernie Catches up with Wily Willie or The Case of the
Vanishing Duck" - Feedstuffs Oct. 9, 1937
- "Ernie, Minister
of Peace and Goodness, or the Case of the Multiplying Eggs" - Feedstuffs
Oct. 2, 1937
- "Wait and Pray" - Excavating Engineer Oct.
- "This Will Surprise You" - Excavating Engineer Dec.
- *"V.O.N. Munchdriller does it the
otter way!" - The Michigan Well Driller c. 1938-40
Munchdriller drills a portable well..." - The Michigan Well Driller
- *"V.O.N. Munchdriller fights fire with fizz..." -
The Michigan Well Driller c. 1938-40
- *"V.O.N. Munchdriller
finds a cold answer to a hot problem" - The Michigan Well Driller
- *"V.O.N. Munchdriller gets water" - The Michigan
Well Driller c. 1938-40
- *"V.O.N. Munchdriller harnesses a thunderbolt"
- The Michigan Well Driller c. 1938-40
- *"V.O.N. Munchdriller
Saves `Ozzie' From Digging Clear Down to China" - The Michigan Well Driller
- *"V.O.N. Munchdriller Sinks First Horizontal Well Known
to History" - The Michigan Well Driller c. 1938-40
Munchdriller solves a problem" - The Michigan Well Driller c. 1938-40
Case of the Shrinking Stallion" - Feedstuffs Jan. 1, 1938
Case of the Wandering Scarecrow" - Feedstuffs Jan. 16, 1938
With Us" - Excavating Engineer Feb. 38
- "The Case of the
Apocryphal Ark" - Feedstuffs Feb. 19, 1938
- "The Case
of the Bewildering Barn" - Feedstuffs Feb. 5, 1938
Case of the Conjurer's Cat" - Feedstuffs March 26, 1938
Case of the Rebellious Rooster" - Feedstuffs April 2, 1938
Moon for a Nickel" - Street & Smith's Detective Story Magazine
- "Hot Air Rises" - Excavating Engineer April
- "Nothing is Impossible" - Excavating Engineer June
- "Ernie Stops Shivering, or the Case of the Trackless Tractor"
- Feedstuffs Sep. 24, 1938
- "Tit for Tat, or the Case of the
Purple Percheron" - Feedstuffs Sep. 4, 1938
- "You Can't
Get Brodway's Goat, or The Case of the Kidnapped Kid" - Feedstuffs
Oct. 15, 1938
- "The Cheese on Stilts"
- Thrilling Detective Jan.1939
- "Blood of the Dragon"
- Variety Detective Feb.1939
- "There Are Bloodstains in the
Alley" - Detective Yarns Feb.1939
- "Murder at 10:15"
- Clues Detective Stories May1939
and Defect" - The Inventor March 1940
- "The Case of the
Bargain Butter" - Feedstuffs April 13, 1940
- "Hex Marks
the Spot" - Excavating Engineer May 1940
- "Spice of Life!"
- The Coin Machine Review May 1940
- "The Case of the Rattled
Robber" - The Inventor May 1940
- "A Matter of Taste"
- The Layman's Magazine June 1940
- "Murder Draws a Crowd"
- Detective Fiction Weekly July 27, 1940
- "The Prehistoric
Clue" - Ten Detective Aces July 1940
- "Trouble in a Teacup"
- Detective Fiction Weekly July 13, 1940
- "Footprints on the
Ceiling" - Ten Detective Aces Sep. 1940
- "The Little Green
Men" - The Masked Detective Fall 1940
- "Town Wanted"
- Detective Fiction Weekly Sep. 7, 1940
- "Herbie Rides His
Hunch" - Detective Fiction Weekly Oct. 19, 1940
Stranger from Trouble Valley" - Western Short Stories Jan. 1940
Strange Sisters Strange" - Detective Fiction Weekly Dec. 28, 1940
- "Fugitive Imposter" - Ten Detective Aces
- "Miracle on Vine Street" - The Layman's Magazine
- "The King Comes Home" - Thrilling Detective
- "The Sematic Crocodile" - The Layman's Magazine
- "Big-Top Doom" - Ten Detective Aces March 1941
and Fire" - Detective Fiction Weekly Mar 22, 1941
Discontented Cows" - G-Men Detective March 1941
Larceny" - Ten Detective Aces April 1941 (as by Jack Hobart)
Unknown" - The Phantom Detective April 1941
Death Short" - Ten Detective Aces April 1941
- "Your Name
in Gold" - The Phantom Detective June 1941
- "Here Comes
the Hearse" - 10 Story Detective July 1941 (as by Allen Morse)
Song" - 10 Story Detective July 1941
- "Star-Spangled Night"
- Coronet July 1941
- "Wheels Across the Night" - G-Men
Detective July 1941
- "Armageddon" - Unknown Worlds
- "Little Boy Lost" - Detective Fiction Weekly
Aug. 2, 1941
- "Bullet for Bullet" - Western Short Stories
- "Listen to the Mocking Bird" - G-Men Detective
- "You'll End Up Burning!" - Ten Detective Aces
- *"Not Yet the End" - Captain Future Winter
- "Number Bug" - Exciting Detective Winter 1941
Corpses Every Thursday" - Detective Tales Dec. 1941
Comes Double" - Popular Detective Dec. 1941
- "Bloody Murder" - Detective Fiction Jan. 10, 1942
in Blue" - Thrilling Mystery Jan. 1942
- "Death is a White
Rabbit" - Strange Detective Mysteries Jan. 1942
Gets You Plenty" - G-Men Detective Jan. 1942
Shrdlu" - Unknown Worlds Feb. 1942
- "Little Apple Hard
to Peel" - Detective Tales Feb. 1942
- "Death in the Dark"
- Dime Mystery March 1942
- "Everything is Ducky" - Excavating
Engineer March 1942
- "Mad Dog!" - Detective Book Magazine
- "Moon Over Murder" - The Masked Detective
- "Pardon My Ghoulish Laughter" - Strange Detective
Mysteries March 1942
- "The Incredible Bomber" - G-Men
Detective March 1942
- "The Star Mouse" - Planet Stories
- "Twice-Killed Corpse" - Ten Detective Aces
- "Who Did I Murder?" - Detective Short Stories
- "A Cat Walks" - Street & Smith's Detective
Story Magazine April 1942
- "Murder in Furs" - Thrilling
Detective May 1942
- "Suite for Flute and Tommy Gun" - Street
& Smith's Detective Story Magazine June 1942
Parlay" - Popular Detective June 1942
- "You'll Die Before
Dawn" - Mystery Magazine July 1942
- "A Date to Die"
- Strange Detective Mysteries July 1942
- "Red is the Hue of
Hell" - Strange Detective Mysteries July 1942 (as by Felix Graham)
Biers for Two" - Clues Detective Stories July 1942
Little White Lye" - Ten Detective Aces Sep. 1942
Out of Town" - Thrilling Detective Sep. 1942
Sinister" - Mystery Magazine Sep. 1942
- Astounding Sep. 1942 (as Starvation)
- "Satan's Search Warrant"
- 10 Story Detective Sep. 1942
- "The Men Who Went Nowhere"
- Dime Mystery Sep. 1942
- "The Numberless Shadows" - Street
& Smith's Detective Story Magazine Sep. 1942
- "Where There's
Smoke" - Black Book Detective Sep. 1942
- Popular Detective Oct. 1942
- "Legacy of Murder" - Exciting
Mystery Oct. 1942
- "Murder Can Be Fun" - Street &
Smith Detective Story Magazine Oct. 1942 (condensed, as "The Santa Clause
- "The New One" - Unknown Worlds Oct. 1942
Fine Night for Murder" - Detective Tales Jan. 1942
Murder" - Thrilling Detective Jan. 1942 (as by John S. Endicott)
Werewolf!" - Dime Mystery Jan. 1942 (as by Felix Graham)
See You at Midnight" - Clues Detective Stories Jan. 1942
One-and-a-Half" - Dime Mystery Jan. 1942
- "The Monkey
Angle" - Thrilling Detective Jan. 1942
- "A Lock of Satan's Hair" - Dime Mystery Jan. 1943
Spherical Ghoul" - Thrilling Mystery Jan. 1943
- "The Wicked
Flea" - Ten Detective Aces Jan. 1943
- "Beware of the Dog"
- Ten Detective Aces Feb. 1943 (as Hound of Hell)
- "Death is
a Noise" - Popular Detective Feb. 1943
- "The Angelic Angleworm"
- Unknown Worlds Feb. 1943
- "The Hat Trick" - Unknown
Worlds Feb. 1943 (as by Felix Graham)
- "The Sleuth from Mars"
- Detective Tales Feb. 1943
- "A Change for the Hearse"
- New Detective Magazine March 1943
- "Encore for a Killer"
- Mystery Magazine March 1943
- "Handbook for Homicide"
- Detective Tales March 1943
- "Trial by Darkness" - Clues
Detective Stories March 1943
- "Cadavers Don't Make a Fifth Column"
- Detective Short Stories April 1943
- "Death of a Vampire"
- Strange Detective Mysteries May 1943
- "Death's Dark Angel"
- Thrilling Detective May 1943
- "Market for Murder" -
The Shadow May 1943
- "The Freak Show Murders" - Mystery
Magazine May 1943
- "Madman's Holiday" - Street & Smith's
Detective Story Magazine July 1943
- "The Corpse and the Candle"
- Dime Mystery July 1943
- "Tell 'Em, Pagliaccio!" -
Street & Smith's Detective Story Magazine Sep. 1943
Murder" - The Shadow Sep. 1943
- "Daymare" - Thrilling
Wonder Stories Fall 1943
- "The Geezenstacks" - Weird
Tales Sep. 1943
- "Whispering Death" - Dime Mystery
- "Death Insurance Payment" - Ten Detective Aces
- "Paradox Lost" - Astounding Oct. 1943
Motive Goes Round and Round" - Thrilling Detective Oct. 1943
- "Murder in Miniature" - Street & Smith's
Detective Story Magazine Jan. 1944
- "The Djinn Murder" -
Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine Jan. 1944
- "The Ghost of Riley"
- Detective Tales Feb. 1944
- "And the Gods Laughed" -
Planet Stories Spring 1944
- "Nothing Sirius" - Captain
Future Spring 1944
- "The Devil's Woodwinds" - Dime Mystery
- "Homicide Sanitarium" - Thrilling Detective
- "The Yehudi Principle" - Astounding May 1944
- Astounding June 1944
- "The Jabberwocky Murders" - Thrilling
Mystery Summer 1944
- "Murder While You Wait" - Ellery
Queen's Mystery Magazine July 1944
- "The Ghost Breakers"
- Thrilling Detective July 1944
- "The Gibbering Night"
- Detective Tales July 1944
- "Mr. Smith Kicks the Bucket"
- Street & Smith's Detective Story Magazine Aug. 1944 (as "The
Bucket of Gems Case)
- "To Slay a Man About a Dog!" - Detective
Tales Sep. 1944
- "A Matter of Death" - Thrilling Detective
- "The Night the World Ended"
- Dime Mystery Jan. 1945
- "The Waveries" - Astounding
- "The Dangerous People" - Dime Mystery March
1945 (as "No Sanctuary")
- "Compliments of a Fiend"
- Thrilling Detective May 1945
- "Murder in Ten Easy Lessons"
- Ten Detective Aces May 1945 (as "Ten Tickets to Hades")
(with Bob Woehlke) - Thrilling Detective June 1945 (as by Bob Woehlke)
in the Sky" - Thrilling Wonder Stories Winter 1945
- "Dead Man's Indemnity" - Mystery Book Magazine April 1946
Is a Crazy Place" - Astounding May 1946
- "The Song of
the Dead" - New Detective Magazine July 1946
- "Obit for
Obie" - Mystery Book Magazine Oct. 1946
- "Whistler's Murder"
- Street & Smith's Detective Story Magazine Dec. 1946
- "Miss Darkness" - Avon Detective Mysteries
- "A Voice Behind Him" - Mystery Book Magazine
- "Don't Look Behind You" - Ellery Queen's Mystery
Magazine May 1947
- "I'll Cut Your Throat Again, Kathleen"
- Mystery Book Magazine Winter 1947
Dead Ringer" - Mystery Book Magazine Spring 1948
Word" - Adventure April 1948
- "The Four Blind Men"
- Adventure Sep. 1948
- "The Laughing Butcher" - Mystery
Book Magazine Fall 1948
- "What Mad Universe" - Startling
Stories Sep. 1948
- "The Joke" - Detective Tales Oct.
1948 (as "If Looks Could Kill")
- "Cry Silence" - Black
Mask Jan. 1948
- "Red, Hot and Hunted!" - Detective Tales
- *"Knock" - Thrilling Wonder Stories Dec.
- "The Bloody Moonlight" - 2
Detective Mystery Novels Winter 1949 (condensed)
- "The Screaming
Mimi" - Mystery Book Magazine Fall 1949 (condensed, as "The Deadly
- "This Way Out" - Dime Mystery Feb. 1949
Good Bems" - Thrilling Wonder Stories April 1949
- Thrilling Wonder Stories June 1949
- "Murder and Matilda"
- Mystery Book Magazine Summer 1949
- "Come and Go Mad"
- Weird Tales July 1949
- "Last Curtain" - New Detective
Magazine July 1949
- "Crisis, 1999" - Ellery Queen's Mystery
Magazine Aug. 1949
- "Each Night He Died" - Dime Mystery
- "Letter to a Phoenix" - Astounding Aug. 1949
- "The Cat from Siam" - Popular Detective Sep. 1949
House of Fear" - New Detective Magazine Sep. 1949
to Darkness" - Super Science Stories Jan. 1949
- "Death and Nine Lives" - Black Book Detective Spring 1950
Case of the Dancing Sandwiches" - Mystery Book Magazine Summer 1950
Last Train" - Weird Tales Jan. 1950
- "Blind Lead"
- Detective Tales June 1950
- "The Nose of Don Aristide"
- 2 Detective Mystery Novels Summer 1950
- *"Vengeance Fleet"
- Super Science Stories July 1950 (as "Vengeance, Unlimited")
Trap" - Amazing Stories Aug. 1950 (as "From These Ashes")
- Super Science Stories Sep. 1950 (as "The Undying Ones")
in the Shadows" - Giant Detective Fall 1950
to Glory" - Amazing Stories Oct. 1950
- "The Frownzly
Florgels" - Other Worlds Oct. 1950
- "The Last Martian"
- Galaxy Oct. 1950
- "Honeymoon in Hell" - Galaxy
- "Mitkey Rides Again" - Planet Stories Jan.
- "Six-Legged Svengali" (with Mack Reynolds) - Worlds
Beyond Dec. 1950
Green" – Space On My Hands, 1951
- "Dark Interlude
(with Mack Reynolds)" - Galaxy Jan. 1951
- "Man of Distinction"
- Thrilling Wonder Stories Feb. 1951
- "The Switcheroo"
(with Mack Reynolds) - Other Worlds March 1951
- "The Weapon"
- Astounding April 1951
- "Cartoonist (with Mack Reynolds)"
- Planet Stories May 1951 (as "Garrigan's Bems")
Dome" - Thrilling Wonder Stories Aug. 1951
- "A Word from
Our Sponsor" - Other Worlds Sep. 1951
- "The Gamblers (with
Mack Reynolds)" - Startling Stories Jan. 1951
- "The Hatchetman
(with Mack Reynolds)" - Amazing Stories Dec. 1951
- "Me and Flapjack and the Martians" (with Mack
Reynolds) - Astounding Dec. 1952
- "Madball" - The Saint Detective Magazine June-July 1953 (condensed,
as "The Pickled Punks")
- "Witness in the Dark" - New
Detective Magazine June 1953 (as "See No Murder")
Wench is Dead" - Manhunt Detective Story Monthly July 1953
of Wings" - The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction Aug. 1953
- "The Little Lamb" - Manhunt Aug.1953
of Mirrors" - Galaxy Dec. 1953
- Angels and Spaceships
- *"Daisies" - Angels and Spaceships
- Angels and Spaceships
- *"Politeness" - Angels and
- *"Preposterous" - Angels and Spaceships
- Angels and Spaceships
- *"Search" - Angels and Spaceships
- Angels and Spaceships
- *"Solipsist" - Angels and
- *"Experiment" - Galaxy Feb. 1954 (as part
of "Two Timer")
- *"Sentry" - Galaxy Feb. 1954
(as part of "Two Timer")
- "Keep Out" - Amazing Stories
- "Martians, Go Home!" - Astounding Sep. 1954
- *"Naturally" - Beyond Fantasy Fiction Sep. 1954 (as
part of "Double Whammy")
- *"Voodoo" - Beyond Fantasy
Fiction Sep. 1954 (as part of "Double Whammy")
- *"Blood" - The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction
- *"Millennium" - The Magazine of Fantasy & Science
Fiction March 1955
- "Premiere of Murder" - The Saint Detective
Magazine May 1955
- *"Fatal Error" - Ellery Queen's Mystery
Magazine June 1955 (as part of "Killers Three: the Perfect Crime")
Letter" - Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine July 1955 (as part of "Killers
Three: the Perfect Crime")
- *"The First Time Machine" -
Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine Sep. 1955 (as part of "Killers Three:
the Perfect Crime")
- *"Too Far" - The Magazine of Fantasy
& Science Fiction Sep. 1955
Lenient Beast" - Manhunt April 1956 (condensed, as "Line of Duty")
- "Murder Set to Music" - The Saint Detective
Magazine Jan. 1957
- *"Expedition" - The Magazine of Fantasy
& Science Fiction Feb. 1957
- "Happy Ending" (with Mack
Reynolds) - Fantastic Universe Sep. 1957
- "One for the Road" - The Saint Detective Magazine Feb. 1958
(condensed, as "The Amy Waggoner Murder Case")
- The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction Oct. 1958
- "The Late Lamented" - The Saint Mystery Magazine
Feb. 1959 (condensed)
- *"Nasty" - Playboy April 1959
Trick" - Adam May 1959
- "Knock Three-One-Two" - High
Adventure June 1959 (condensed, as "Night of the Psycho")
- *"Abominable" - Dude March 1960 (as part
- *"Bear Possibility" - Dude March 1960 (as
part of Portfolio)
- *"Recessional" - Dude March 1960 (as
part of Portfolio)
- "The Mind Thing (N)" - Fantastic Universe
March 1960 (part 1 only; final issue of FU)
- Galaxy April 1960 (as "The Power")
- "Earthmen Bearing
Gifts" - Galaxy June 1960
- *"Granny's Birthday" -
Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine June 1960
- *"The House"
- Fantastic Aug. 1960
She Kills" - Ed McBains Mystery Book #3, 1961
Beard" – Nightmares and Geezenstacks (1961)
Burglar" - Nightmares and Geezenstacks (1961)
on the Mountain" - Nightmares and Geezenstacks (1961)
Story" - Nightmares and Geezenstacks (1961)
- *"Horse Race"
- Nightmares and Geezenstacks (1961)
- *"Jaycee" - Nightmares
and Geezenstacks (1961)
- *"Nightmare in Green" - Nightmares
and Geezenstacks (1961)
- *"Nightmare in White" - Nightmares
and Geezenstacks (1961)
- *"Second Chance" - Nightmares
and Geezenstacks (1961)
- *"The Ring of Hans Carvel" (retold
and somewhat modernized from the works of Rabelais) - Nightmares and Geezenstacks
- *"Three Little Owls (A Fable)" - Nightmares and Geezenstacks
- *"Great Lost Discoveries I" - Invisibility" - Gent
Feb. 1961 (as part of "Three Part Invention")
- *"Great Lost
Discoveries II" - Invulnerability" - Gent Feb. 1961 (as part
of "Three Part Invention")
- *"Great Lost Discoveries III"
- Immortality" - Gent Feb. 1961 (as part of "Three Part Invention")
- Playboy May 1961 (as "The Hobbyist")
in Blue" - Dude May 1961 (as part of "Five Nightmares")
in Gray" - Dude May 1961 (as part of "Five Nightmares")
in Red" - Dude May 1961 (as part of "Five Nightmares")
in Yellow" - Dude May 1961 (as part of "Five Nightmares")
End" - Dude May 1961 (as "Nightmare in Time", part of "Five
- "The Short Happy Lives of Eustace Weaver I, II,
& III" - Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine June 1961 (as "Of
Time and Eustace Weaver")
- Dude Sep. 1962 (as Cattin' on the Couch)
- "Puppet Show"
- Playboy Jan. 1962
- "Double Standard"
- Playboy April 1963
- *"untitled ("At thirty, a woman...")"
- Rogue April 1963
- *"untitled ("Little Red Riding Hood...")"
- Rogue April 1963
- *"untitled ("Padriac jumped...")"
- Rogue April 1963
- *"untitled ("When, after a long...")"
- Rogue April 1963
- *"Mistake" - Rogue May 1963
- *"untitled ("Awaiting electrocution, Clyde...")"
- Rogue May 1963
- *"untitled ("In a dream, Robert...")"
- Rogue May 1963
- *"untitled ("The tall homely man...")"
- Rogue May 1963
- *"untitled ("Ferdinand, because he had...")"
- Rogue June 1963
- *"untitled ("Gretchen took home...")"
- Rogue June 1963
- *"untitled ("Howard thought the perfect
crime...")" - Rogue June 1963
- *"untitled ("Madeleine
woke in the night...")" - Rogue June 1963
("A duke, jostled...")" - Rogue July 1963
("Enraged by the failure...")" - Rogue July 1963
("In Czarist Russia,...")" - Rogue July 1963
("The once popular wishing well...")" - Rogue July 1963
Didn't Happen" - Playboy Oct. 1963
- "Ten Percenter"
- Gent Oct. 1963 (as "Tale of the Flesh Monger")
Missing Actor" - The Saint Mystery Magazine Jan. 1963
- "Why, Benny, Why?" - Ellery Queen's Mystery
Magazine Jan. 1964
- "Eine Kleine
Nachtmusik (with Carl Onspaugh)" - The Magazine of Fantasy & Science
Fiction June 1965
- "How Tagrid Got
There" – Sex Life on the Planet Mars (1986)
- "Brother Monster" (unfinished novel) – Brother Monster
- "Mirror" – Nightmare in Darkness (1987)
in Darkness" - Nightmare in Darkness (1987)
- "The Screaming
Mimi" (original ending) - Nightmare in Darkness (1987)
- "The Case of the Languid Lamb" – The
- "The Case of the Rambling Rocks" - The
- "The Water-Walker" - The Water-Walker
- "Callisto Deadline"
- "Coming, Georgia"
- "Day of the Ogre"
- "Greengoods Hideout"
- "Headstone for a Grave"
- "Klepto Trouble"
- "Long Term
- "Mr. Tayama's Box"
- "Murder Wears
- "Murder, or Something"
- "Old Judge Lynch"
- "On the Dotted Lion"
- "Printers and the Flag"
- "Raw Magic"
- "Sing While You're Able"
- "The Case of Joseph Clark"
- "The Clutch
- "The Earring Gods"
- "The Eyes
- "The Lights"
- "The Magic Lamp"
- "The Phantom and the Flying Death"
- "The Phantom
- "The Sheriff Lays an Egg"
Sinister Mr. Dexter"
- "The Thought Bomb"
is the Forest Primeval"
- "Three Days of Coro-roth"
Fill a Grave"
Novels and Collections
Fabulous Clipjoint – Dutton, 1947
- The Dead Ringer –
- Murder Can Be Fun – Dutton, 1948
The Bloody Moonlight – Dutton, 1949
- The Screaming Mimi
– Dutton, 1949
- What Mad Universe – Dutton, 1949
Compliments of a Fiend – Dutton, 1950
- Here Comes a Candle
– Dutton, 1950
- Night of the Jabberwock – Dutton,
- The Case of the Dancing Sandwiches – Dell, 1951
Death Has Many Doors – Dutton, 1951
- The Far Cry
– Dutton, 1951
- Space on my Hands – Shasta, 1951
The Deep End – Dutton, 1952
- The Five-Day Nightmare
– Dutton, 1952
- We All Killed Grandma – Duton, 1952
- Madball – Dell, 1953
- Mostly Murder –
- The Lights in the Sky are Stars – Dutton,
- Angels and Spaceships – Dutton, 1954
Name was Death – Dutton, 1954
- Martians, Go Home –
- The Wench is Dead – Dutton, 1955
The Lenient Beast – Dutton, 1956
- Rogue in Space
– Dutton, 1957
- Honeymoon In Hell – Bantam, 1958
The Office – Dutton, 1958
- One for the Road –
- Knock Three-One-Two – Dutton, 1959
The Late, Lamented – Dutton, 1959
- The Mind Thing
– Bantam, 1961
- The Murderers – Dutton, 1961
Nightmares and Geezenstacks – Bantam, 1961
- Mrs. Murphy's
Underpants – Dutton, 1963
- The Shaggy Dog and Other Murders
– Dutton, 1963
- Daymares – Lancer, 1968
Paradox Lost and Twelve Other Great Science Fiction Stories – Random,
- The Best of Fredric Brown – Nelson Doubleday (SFBC),
- The Best Short Stories of Fredric Brown – NEL, 1982
- 4 Novels – Zomba, 1983
- Before She Kills
- Dennis McMillan, 1984
- Homicide Sanitarium - Dennis McMillan,
- Carnival of Crime: The Best Mystery Stories of Fredric Brown
- Southern Illinois University Press, 1985
- The Freak Show Murders
- Dennis McMillan, 1985
- Madman's Holiday - Dennis McMillan, 1985
- Pardon My Ghoulish Laughter - Dennis McMillan, 1986
Red is the Hue of Hell - Dennis McMillan, 1986
- Sex Life on
the Planet Mars - Dennis McMillan, 1986
- Thirty Corpses Every
Thursday - Dennis McMillan, 1986
- And the Gods Laughed –
Phantasia Press, 1987
- Brother Monster - Dennis McMillan, 1987
- Nightmare In Darkness - Dennis McMillan, 1987
Death Short - Dennis McMillan, 1988
- Three-Corpse Parlay -
Dennis McMillan, 1988
- Who Was That Blonde I Saw You Kill Last Night?
- Dennis McMillan, 1988
- Whispering Death - Dennis McMillan, 1989
- Happy Ending - Dennis McMillan, 1990
- The Water-Walker
- Dennis McMillan, 1990
- The Gibbering Night - Dennis McMillan,
- The Pickled Punks - Dennis McMillan, 1991
These Ashes: The Complete Short Fiction of Fredric Brown – NESFA Press,
- Hunter and Hunted: The Ed and Am Hunter Novels, Pt. 1 -
Stewart Masters Publishing, 2002
- Martians and Madness: The Complete
Novels of Fredric Brown – NESFA Press, 2002
- Mitkey Astromouse
- Harlan Quist, 2003
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