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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Shorts: Max Carrados & John Silence


A Victim of Higher Space
by Algernon Blackwood
1914


The Tragedy at Brookbend Cottage
by Ernest Bramah
1914


So there I was, skimming through the archives of Project Gutenberg, trying to see what I could see, when I came across some John Silence stories by Algernon Blackwood and some Max Carrados stories by Ernest Bramah. Because my To Be Read pile is rather sizable at the moment and I don't like reading on the PC or printing out reams of text I decided to just select one of each. Coincidentally, the ones I selected seem to be from the same year.

First, the John Silence story, which really didn't do much for me. Obviously, it's not fair to judge by one story so I won't. I'll also point out that I've read some of Blackwood's other fiction, not to mention a great biography by Mike Ashley, which I reviewed a few years back. I liked most of the other Blackwood stories I've read. Most were more in the horror/supernatural vein and his short story The Empty House still stands out for me as one of the creepier tales I've ever read.

As for this John Silence yarn, not so great. Silence, if I've got my story straight, is something of a psychic detective or investigator. In this tale he's visited by a man who keeps slipping in and out of another dimension. This, as you might guess, is causing him a great deal of stress and inconvenience. Silence hears him out and suggests a remedy, which the man later tries, successfully. That is the end of that.

Which isn't much to hang a story on, quite frankly. Not that I mind a tale which is primarily comprised of two guys sitting around talking. I read some of Asimov's Black Widower tales recently and like them quite a bit, even though they're basically a bunch of guys sitting around talking. But I'll need to give Silence another shot before coming to any hard and fast conclusions.

The Carrados story, on the other hand, was quite entertaining, if perhaps just the tiniest bit farfetched. Carrados was a blind detective whose short fictional adventures were collected in several volumes between 1914 and 1934. This story finds him looking into a case in which a man is suspected of planning to bump off his wife. It's a fairly clever yarn and one in which a kite plays a prominent role (enough said), but it has a seriously downbeat ending that I didn't see coming at all. Not one to leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside but it made for entertaining reading even so.

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