Tag Archives: William Tenn

William Tenn and Hallock’s Madness

TennStories from Marvel Science Stories May 1951

The following passage from William Tenn’s “Hallock’s Madness” sparked my interest in his story right from the start:

“Wells W. Hallock in a straitjacket! Huge, fearless Hallock who had shot his way out of the under- ground temple in northern India where the original, primitive Thugee was practiced, who penetrated to the vampire cult of Lengluana and took flashbulb photographs!”

Hallock’s madness is all in his head, and unable to get out, his only course of action is to enlist Ransom Morrow to go in after him. Not a simple task from a straitjacket. But the man is persuasive and has forbidden fruit in his favor. The same sweet gift of the palm that started his troubles.

With imaginative characters, setting, and plot Tenn delivers a memorable story, told in beautiful prose, with his distinctive dry wit. The story was reprinted in Here Comes Civilization: The Complete SF of William Tenn, Volume 2 (NESFA Press 2001).

“The Quick and the Bomb” by William Tenn

Stories from Suspense Magazine #1 Spring 1951

Tenn was the pseudonym writer Phillip Klass used for most of his science fiction stories, reserving his own name for his nonfiction work. Born in London, Klass grew up in Brooklyn, New York. After marriage, the couple moved to Pennsylvania, where he taught comparative literature at Penn State University. Among his students who became writers themselves were David Morrell and Ray Ring.

Tenn’s stories appeared in Astounding, Galaxy, F&SF and many other magazines and collections. In “The Quick and the Bomb” a man rejects city life to build a self-sustaining bomb shelter under his farm to protect his family from the impending nuclear war. It’s a fascinating glimpse into post-WWII anxieties, told with Tenn’s trademark sarcastic wit.