On This Day: Fredric Brown

On this day in 1906, Fredric William Brown was born.

Fredric Brown was an Edgar-winning crime writer who was also, to quote the indispensible Encyclopedia of Science Fiction:

highly regarded for his sf, which is noted for its elegance and Humour, and for a polished slickness not generally found in the field in 1941, the year he published his first sf story, “Not Yet the End”

Many modern readers assume that humorous Fantasy began with Terry Pratchett, and humorous SF with Douglas Adams. While both those worthy gentlemen were unequivocally giants in their respective fields, the truth is that humorous SF, particularly, has a long and distinguished history going back well over one hundred years, and Fredric Brown is an important figure in that history.

In support of this contention, the Defence calls What Mad Universe:


Pulp SF magazine editor Keith Winton was answering a letter from a teenage fan when the first moon rocket fell back to Earth and blew him away.

But where to? Greenville, New York, looked the same, but Bems (Bug-Eyed Monsters) just like the ones on the cover of Startling Stories walked the streets without attracting undue comment.

And when he brought out a half-dollar coin in a drugstore, the cops wanted to shoot him on sight as an Arcturian spy.

Wait a minute. Seven-foot purple moon-monsters? Earth at war with Arcturus? General Dwight D. Eisenhower in command of Venus Sector?

What mad universe was this?

One thing was for sure: Keith Winton had to find out fast – or he’d be good and dead, in this universe or any other.

You can find What Mad Universe and Fredric Brown’s SF works via his Author page on the Gateway website and read about him in his entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

The Defence rests, m’lud.