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Porges, Arthur

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1915-2006) US author and teacher of mathematics, brother of Irwin Porges; he began publishing sf with "Modeled in Clay" for Man to Man (August/September 1950), and subsequently published about 220 stories – a few as Peter Arthur, Abel Jacobi, Derek Page and Pat Rogers – without releasing any of them in book collections. Over half that output is mystery fiction and the balance fairly evenly divided between fantasy and sf. He was a strong and inventive writer, especially of fantasy; many of his ingenious mystery stories fall into the "impossible crime" category or are Sherlock Holmes parodies featuring Stately Homes. In the sf world, he is probably still best known for "The Fly" (September 1952 F&SF), not to be confused with George Langelaan's twice-filmed tale with the same title, and "The Ruum" (October 1953 F&SF) involving an implacable alien Robot programmed to collect specimens of certain Terran lifeforms, leading to a memorably long and gruelling chase of the protagonist. Most of Porges' best fiction appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and in Amazing Stories and Fantastic under the enlightened editorship of Cele Goldsmith. Porges was fascinated with puzzles resolved by invocation of basic scientific principles. This was the basis of his Ensign de Ruyter series, which began with "Urned Reprieve" (October 1964 Amazing); in "Wheeler Dealer" (March 1965 Amazing), for example, natives of a low-pressure world who devote most of their time to ritual prayer become a useful workforce when the protagonist adapts the Crookes radiometer principle to make their prayer-wheels turn unaided. The series was collected posthumously as Eight Problems in Space (coll of linked stories 2008) edited by Richard Simms.

Porges was content to write and sell stories and did not pursue book collection, so it has been left to others to compile volumes of his best material. Mike Ashley assembled a selection of his best supernatural fiction in The Mirror and Other Strange Reflections (coll 2002), but the majority of his collections have been compiled by Richard Simms, who maintains an Arthur Porges website [see links below]. These include a volume of previously unpublished early writings, The Calabash of Coral Island and Other Early Stories (coll 2008). The essential volume of Porges sf stories is The Ruum and Other Science Fiction Stories (coll 2010). A full list of other volumes is given below. [MA/JC]

Arthur Porges

born Chicago, Illinois: 20 August 1915

died Pacific Grove, California: 12 May 2006


collections and stories


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