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Arthur Porges (1915-2006) was an author, essayist and poet whose published career spanned over fifty years. Born in Chicago on August 20, 1915, Arthur Porges attained a Masters Degree in Mathematics from the Illinois Institute of Technology. After serving in the U.S. Army as a Maths instructor during the Second World War, Porges moved to California and taught the subject in a number of educational institutions, including Los Angeles City College. Within the field of mathematics he was responsible for a few minor discoveries, including one in cryptology, and had several articles on this subject published in journals. An avid reader of fiction, Porges began writing his own short stories. After a number of false starts, he sold his first short story, a fantasy called "Modeled in Clay," to the magazine Man to Man in 1950. Building on this success, and gaining confidence in the early years of his literary career, he wrote stories as a sideline to his day job of teaching college students. This came to an end in 1957, when Porges retired from teaching to take up freelance writing on a full-time basis. Always an avid reader, with a lifelong interest in science, Porges found inspiration for his plots from the diversity of knowledge and obscure facts he had learned from years of study and reading for pleasure. By the early 1960s, he had become an accomplished writer of short stories, gaining much esteem, particularly in the fields of mystery, detective, fantasy and science fiction. Porges also sold a few mainstream short stories, here and there, as well as a handful of stories for the juvenile market and yarns about wild animals, such as "Eight Legged Monster" -- a story about a garden spider -- and "The Black Tyrant." His animal stories certainly bear the influence of two of Porges' favorite authors, Seton Thompson and Henry Williamson.

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Arthur Porges (1915-2006)

Porges never wrote a novel, much preferring the short story form. He was, in his own words, "always a short-winded writer ... I would like to write a book, but I'm too impatient," and would often fire off one of his short stories in five or six hours. Once he had the plot and background outlined, Porges wrote his stories with a focus and intensity, his mind brimming with ideas. He once remarked to me that his brain "moved faster than his fingers." The ultimate result of this was a massive short story output, with Porges selling over two hundred ingenious and idiosyncratic stories down the years, with his most prolific period being the 1960s, during which decade his stories were published in numerous fiction magazines. His work appeared frequently in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Fantastic, Amazing Stories, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. Other stories were published in such periodicals as Gent, Boys' Life, Man to Man, Escapade, Argosy, Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, Fling, The New York Post, Cavalier, and Galaxy.

Although noted for his many mystery, fantasy and science fiction stories, the book The Miracle of the Bread and Other Stories, published in 2008, collects some of his lesser-known, non-genre work, as well the aforementioned nature tales and a series of World War Two adventure yarns. The stories assembled in this book are drawn from across Porges' published career, but there were many unpublished stories written long before he sold his first story. A selection of these are available to read in the volume The Calabash of Coral Island and Other Early Stories (2008), a fascinating book that includes material dating back to the 1930s, when Porges was still at college.

His best known stories in the genre of imaginative fiction include "The Ruum," "The Devil and Simon Flagg," "The Rescuer" and "The Rats." All of Porges' weird and supernatural tales have now been collected in book form. Twenty-eight of these were assembled in The Mirror and Other Strange Reflections, which appeared in 2002, while the remainder can be found in The Devil and Simon Flagg and Other Fantastic Tales, published in 2009. Eight interconnected science fiction stories by Arthur Porges have been gathered together in the book Eight Problems in Space, published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box in 2008. The Ruum and Other Science Fiction Stories (2010) is a collection of his 1950s science fiction output. A further volume of his 1960s material, The Rescuer and Other Science Fiction Stories, was published in 2014. Porges' Unusual Plants of the Galaxy series of science fiction vignettes, dating from the mid-1990s, was also published in book form in 2014.

Of his numerous mystery stories -- only a few of which have been collected in book form -- a good number feature series characters, such as the sleuths Professor Ulysses Price Middlebie, Dr. Joel Hoffman and the wheelchair-bound criminologist Cyriack Skinner Grey. A complete collection of the detective stories featuring Grey was published in 2009 in the book The Curious Cases of Cyriack Skinner Grey. The six stories featuring Dr. Joel Hoffman were published in 2017 in the collection No Killer Has Wings: The Casebook of Dr. Joel Hoffman. Eleven stories featuring the armchair criminologist Professor Ulysses Price Middlebie were reprinted in 2018 in the collection These Daisies Told: The Casebook of Professor Ulysses Price Middlebie. Porges would often work his knowledge of scientific facts into the plots of his crime stories. He utilised this skill in creating countless "locked room" mysteries. Some of the best of these are "No Killer Has Wings," "Coffee Break," "A Talent to Burn" and "The Scientist and the Two Thieves," to name just a few. Porges also wrote a number of Sherlock Holmes parodies, all of which have been collected in the volume The Adventures of Stately Homes and Sherman Horn, also published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box in 2008. Another side to his crime and mystery writing were those noirish stories written with a harder edge to them than was usual for Porges (although fantasy stories such as "The Mirror" do border on psychological horror). Among his more unsettling mystery stories are  "Heat," an atmospheric tale about the disappearance of a young girl, and "The Emperor's Dogs," a horrific conte cruel story, no doubt influenced in part by the writings of Edgar Allen Poe. Thirteen stories in this vein, dating from the 1960s, have been reprinted in the collection The Price of a Princess: Hardboiled Crime Fiction.

After a spell as a teacher in Los Angeles, and two years as a full-time freelance writer residing in Laguna Beach, Arthur Porges moved north, living for a period in a clifftop house near Hurricane Point on the Big Sur. In the 1960s, he continued to sell dozens of short stories to various periodicals. By the end of the decade, he had made a permanent move to Pacific Grove, Monterey County. In the years that ensued, his stories appeared less frequently, with most of the fiction magazines having ceased publication. Short fiction was out of fashion; the markets had, for the most part, dried up. However, in the late 1980s, Porges became a regular contributor to The Monterey Herald, a local newspaper to which he sold over forty essays, feature articles and numerous poems. A superb collection of his poetry, Spring, 1836: Selected Poems, was published in 2008, and the first book in a two-volume collection of his essays, Collected Essays: Volume One, was published in 2021. Given that his short stories had become few and far between, it was to the great pleasure and surprise of his fans that Arthur Porges began to enjoy something of a renaissance in the early 2000s, with a substantial number of new stories finding their way into the pages of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. With some very clever mystery tales, a selection of fantasy vignettes and several Sherlock Holmes spoofs to add to his already impressive oeuvre, Arthur Porges was still selling his quirky and delightful short stories until shortly before he passed away, in May 2006, at the age of 90.

Arthur Porges passed away on the night of May 12, 2006. Rest in peace, dear friend.




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