Imaginary Book Reviews

The Bridge on the River Time and Other Stories by Latimer F. Jones, Phantom Press, 1972, 168 pages.

This is a reprint of the 1923 World Press edition, and contains the ten original color plates by George Birdwell.

Jones was a writer who dabbled in many areas, including history, politics, and natural history, but this was apparently his only venture into fantasy fiction. The stories in this volume are rather surrealistic glimpses of life that employ science-fictional and fantasy elements in novel ways. The title story, for example, involves a man who has a type of time machine that slows down his own passage through time while allowing events to speed by him at their normal pace. The scenes in the time machine are alternated with scenes of his doppelganger on a raft in the metaphorical “river of time,” fighting the current.

Other stories include “The Living Flame,” which involves, literally, a living form of fire; “The City of Crystal,” an interesting parable about beauty set on a remote island,; and “Night and Day,” a bizarre allegory set in a land half in eternal daylight and half in eternal night.

All are written in a colorful, flowing prose that touches at times on poetry. Although this particular edition has been out of print for several years, it is to be hoped that it will be reprinted again in the near future.

This first appeared in the fanzine Brain Candy #1, October, 1978.

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The Laughing Sphinx by Hope Mirdath, Hartley & Fraser, 1922, 308 pages.

Hope Mirdath was the wife of the underrated writer of weird fantasy fiction, William Mirdath. Mrs. Mirdath specialized mainly in mystery and gothic-type novels. This book is probably her closest approach to fantasy, in that it is partially based on mesmerism and on occult theories of the persistence of thought-forms, but I don’t want to give away too much of the plot.

Basically, it centers around a statue of a sphinx stolen from a museum. The search for the statue leads the protagonist on a tortuous trail involving a series sof bizarre murders and ingenious death-traps. And always, along the way, he is haunted by the sound of ghostly laughter.

The book is a bit dated, perhaps, but it still manages to create a fair degree of suspense, and the ending is a shocker.

This first appeared in the fanzine Brain Candy #2, February, 1979.

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