John Collier (1901-1980) is best remembered for his short stories, although he was also a poet, novelist and screenwriter. He was given the Edgar Award and the International Fantasy Award in 1952 for the collection Fancies and Goodnights, and several of his most memorable tales were adapted for television and film. (One even became a musical by Stephen SondheimEvening Primrose.)
Colliers tales are clever with a light touch, although he often added dark satire to the humour, in the vein of Swift, whom he admired. The twenty-six stories in this collection concentrate on those with a fantastic streak and elements of horror, resulting in a type of story that is very much his own. He would go on to influence writers such as Ray Bradbury and Roald Dahl. Colliers short stories have been compared to those of Lord Dunsany, Ambrose Bierce, W. Somerset Maugham, Evelyn Waugh and James Branch Cabell amongst others. (He disliked being compared to Saki.) But none of them have his sardonic voice, his cynical, mocking humour and playfulness.
The fantastic is skilfully introduced, and elevates stories such as Green Thoughts and Man Overboard to minor classics. It is hoped that this new selection will resuscitate Colliers reputation and make his best work available to a new generation of readers.
Cover illustration by Cedric Laquieze
'Introduction', 'Man Overboard', 'Green Thoughts', 'Special Delivery', 'Thus I Refute Beelzy', 'Evening Primrose', 'Witchs Money', 'Are You Too Late or Was I Too Early', 'De Mortuis', 'Fallen Star', 'Pictures in the Fire', 'Wet Saturday', 'The Lady on the Grey', 'Old Acquaintance', 'The Devil, George, and Rosie', 'Ah, the University!', ''Midnight Blue', 'Gavin OLeary', 'Little Memento', 'The Steel Cat', 'Sleeping Beauty', 'In the Cards','The Invisible Dove Dancer of Strathpheen Island', 'Spring Fever', 'Youth from Vienna', 'A Matter of Taste', 'A Dogs a Dog'.