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Frederick Brown’s Humor and Unpredictability

An American science fiction writer, a short story master, distinguished by a non-standard sense of humor, who wrote in a variety of genres and on a variety of topics.
Briefly about the writer
His works are distinguished by a healthy share of humor, sometimes quite unexpected, and even more unexpected plot twists. Brown loved to start the story in such a way that it was impossible for the reader to understand how it could end at all – for example, the Screaming Mimi novel begins with the words: “You never know what a drunken Irishman is capable of”. His work was so popular that one of his stories – “Arena” – was adapted for television as one of the series “Star Trek”.
Interesting Facts
In the teaser for the third season of the series “The Man in the High Castle” by Philip C. Dick, there is a reference to Brown’s work. One of the heroes, Oberstgruppenführer Smith, hearing about the theoretical possibility of traveling between worlds, observes that “it’s like something from Friedrich Brown,” meaning that in the series’s universe, Brown’s works are known in German-occupied areas of the former United States (according to the plot, the Germans won the Second World War and divided the planet with its axis allies).

Movie frame
Shot from the movie “The Man in the High Castle”
Fredrick Brown was born on October 29, 1906, died on March 11, 1972. The author of detective, humorous and fantastic stories.

Childhood and youth
Brown was born in Cincinnati. After graduating from school in 1921, he worked as a messenger in the office of a commercial company (memories of this work became the basis of the novel “Office”). The marriage and birth of children forced the writer to seek additional work. He moonlighted as a conductor, dishwasher and detective.

Creative activity and the path to fame
At some point, he decided to try his hand at writing. Brown began selling his first stories back in 1936, but the first time it was published was only in 1941 – the story “Not Yet the End” was published in the magazine Captain Future.

Brown immediately declared himself as a satirist. His first novels, “What a Crazy Universe” of 1949 and “Martians, Return Home” of 1955, are a parody of both science fiction stamps and a satire on the subject of human weaknesses.

The first masterfully plays out and ridicules all the stupidities and conventions of the then-mass fantastic stories, the second is a genuine farce on the already battered topic of alien invasion, but not with the goal of conquering, but with the goal of driving everyone crazy.

At the same time, Brown is talking about serious things. The novel, “Light in heaven is stars,” published in 1953, tells the story of an aging astronaut trying to get the space program back after Congress cut funding for it.

Nevertheless, despite its growing popularity, Brown was deprived of awards and prizes during his lifetime. The only one was the Edgar Allan Poe Prize, which he received in 1948 for the novel “The Most Ordinary Murder,” in which he tried himself in the detective genre. This story was the first of a whole series in which Ed and Ambrose Hunters – nephew and uncle – investigate a variety of crimes.

The last years of life and death
All his life, Fredrick had health problems, because of which, even in his youth, he could not work long. In 1965, he publishes the last story, after which his life begins to naturally slide downhill – he can no longer write, his health is getting worse, old stories are forgotten and the glory is leaving. Against this background, Fredrick begins to drink. In 1972, he moved to a hospital and soon died.

Photos of the writer
Science fiction writer
Science fiction writer
In thought
In thought
Titles, awards and prizes

Edgar Allan Poe Award / 1948 // Best Debut Novel
The Fabulous Clipjoint (1947)


The Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award, 2012 // Merit for the genre


Hugo / Hugo Award, 1943, retrospective // ​​Short story
The Star Mouse (1942)


Hugo / Hugo Award, 1946, retrospective // ​​Story
The Waveries (1945)


Interzone Reader Poll Readers Poll, 1989 // Best author of the NF at all times. 41st place


SFinks / Nagroda SFinks Award, 2003 // Foreign story of the year. 8th place
The Planet – Crazy Planet / Placet Is a Crazy Place (1946)

What I wrote about, features
According to his wife, Fredrick hated writing. Therefore, he did everything he could to avoid this – he played the flute, chess or teased his Siamese cat. If Brown couldn’t finish the story, he could get on the first bus and just ride on it, thinking. And on his return for a typewriter, Brown could give out anything – from science fiction to a detective story, from fantasy to a comedy of situations, and sometimes all at once.

He himself said this:

There are no rules; you can write so that there is no conflict, suspense, middle, beginning or end in the plot.

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