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The Unexpected by Leo Margulies

The Unexpected

by Leo Margulies (Editor)

Other authors: Isaac Asimov (Contributor), Robert Bloch (Contributor), Anthony Boucher (Contributor), Ray Bradbury (Contributor), Frederic Brown (Contributor)7 more, Mary E. Counselman (Contributor), Fritz Leiber (Contributor), Frederik Pohl (Contributor), Eric Frank Russell (Contributor), Margaret St. Clair (Contributor), Theodore Sturgeon (Contributor), Manly Wade Wellman (Contributor)

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This collection of supernatural stories was first published in 1961. What caught my eye was that every one of the 11 stories was first published in the magazine "Weird Tales" between 1939 and 1951. The authors are almost all top notch talent with a couple obscure but excellent ones such as Margaret St. Clair. Overall this was a very good batch of tales. The stories are:

Introduction • (1961) • essay by Leo Margulies
The Professor's Teddy Bear • (1948) • shortstory by Theodore Sturgeon
Legal Rites • (1950) • novelette by Isaac Asimov and Frederik Pohl
The Strange Island of Dr. Nork • (1949) • novelette by Robert Bloch
Mrs. Hawk • (1950) • shortstory by Margaret St. Clair
The Handler • (1947) • shortstory by Ray Bradbury
The Automatic Pistol • (1940) • shortstory by Fritz Leiber
The Unwanted • (1951) • shortstory by Mary Elizabeth Counselman
The Valley Was Still • (1939) • shortstory by Manly Wade Wellman
The Scrawny One • (1949) • shortstory by Anthony Boucher
Come and Go Mad • (1949) • novelette by Fredric Brown
The Big Shot • (1949) • shortstory by Eric Frank Russell

The blurbs on the cover and inside the book promise the unexpected. The stories are over 60 years old and they show their age in the way the stories are told and their settings, but otherwise hold up well to time. One thing they share is a propensity to drop really big and often rather obscure or uncommon words here and there. It must have been an art in it's day. "But this time something made him turn slowly from the window, almost as though he never again expected to see that chiaroscuro of an early afternoon." Ha! "I will give lectures to young things about human destiny and the metempsychosis of Plato."

I thought the first story by Sturgeon "The Professor's Teddy Bear" was genuinely creepy and got this collection off to a good start . Unfortunately the long short story that followed, "Legal Rites" seemed too drawn out and told unevenly as it plodded along to a clever ending. It sort of beat a clever idea to death. The remaining stories varied, with the creepy ones I think holding up the best. Block disappointed. "Mrs. Hawk" by St. Clair is a well done short but disturbing modern retelling of the Circe myth. Bradbury's creepy "The Handler" about a creepy little man who ran a mortuary might make your skin crawl but it suffered from a wonky ending. Leiber's "The Automatic Pistol" set in the days of Prohibition is a nice little piece about a gun having it's revenge. I was reminded of how much I enjoyed Leiber's stories earlier in my life. Of the remaining stories "The Unwanted" was one of my favorite stories in the collection, about a census taker in the Alabama hills. Touching in a nice way, and like most all of these stories, with a little spooky or creepy twist. I also liked Manly Wade Wellman's tale set during the Civil War. My favorite story in the collection was also the longest, "Come and Go Mad" by Fredric Brown. Can't describe it without giving too much away, but it starts with a reporter asked to consider a tough assignment that becomes very personal. ( )
  RBeffa | Mar 14, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Margulies, LeoEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Asimov, IsaacContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bloch, RobertContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boucher, AnthonyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bradbury, RayContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brown, FredericContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Counselman, Mary E.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Leiber, FritzContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pohl, FrederikContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Russell, Eric FrankContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
St. Clair, MargaretContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sturgeon, TheodoreContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wellman, Manly WadeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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