Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Brown, Fredric

(1906-1972) US writer, mostly of crime and mystery fiction and sf. He wrote less Supernatural Fiction, but it is of high quality. FB began by selling humorous stories to the technical trade press in 1936 before graduating to the detective pulps in 1938 and sf and fantasy in 1941, including sales to Unknown and Weird Tales. The best of these early fantasies, some clearly inspired by the works of Charles Fort (1874-1932), were collected in Angels and Spaceships (coll 1954) and show FB's abilities to depict the Universe out of joint as in "The Angelic Angleworm" (1943 Unknown; vt "The Angelic Earthworm" 1954), where an error in the universal linotype machine starts life malfunctioning. The collection included also several very short humorous stories, often no more than extended puns, at which FB became skilled. These were further developed in Honeymoon in Hell (coll 1958) and Nightmares and Geezenstacks (coll 1961) – both assembled as And the Gods Laughed (omni 1987) – and show a particular fascination with Black Magic and Voodoo. "The Geezenstacks" (1943 WT) is about Dolls which preordain events. FB also delighted in twists on Fairytales, particularly involving Metamorphoses, as in "Bear Possibility" (1960 Dude), "Fish Story" (in Nightmares and Geezenstacks) and "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" (1965 F&SF) with Carl Onspaugh, his last completed story. FB's humour makes him comparable to Robert Bloch, though his solipsist view of the Universe, as shown in "Solipsist" (in Angels and Spaceships coll 1954) and "It Didn't Happen" (1963 Playboy), betrays more than a hint of Theodore Sturgeon. [MA]

further reading: Martians and Misplaced Clues: The Life and Work of Fredric Brown (1993) by Jack Seabrook.

Fredric William Brown

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This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.