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Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Spooky, spooky, spooky

In which I remember I like short stories

Last night I finally got round to reading tube journey from hell story - Confidence Trick by John Wyndham and spookily enough
Nick Cooper - who let me know about the story in the first place - has just made a comment about my Sherlock Holmes post.

Confidence Trick is a brill short story by the guy who wrote Day of The Triffids and tons of other English sci fi. Confidence Trick works as a bit of history on commuting (it was written in 1954 when you could still smoke on the tube - nightmare in itself), also great feeling of the ordinary commute:

" 'Never again', Henry Baider said to himself, once he had been condensed enough for the doors to close, 'never again will I allow myself to be caught up in this'."

Great opening line which will have most commuters nodding in sympathy. Lots more on the feelings of claustrophobia and getting stuck in tunnels between stops, that we still experience now fifty years later.

Confidence Trick in Jizzle by John Wyndham


It's surprising there aren't more horror or sci fi stories about the tube as it's perfect fodder for hysteria, suspicion, claustrophobia, paranoia, frustration, panic, the discomfort of strangers and loss of control that sci fi dreams of.

Check out Confidence Trick if you can - I got my "out of print copy" of Jizzle (the collection it is part of) for 75p plus a couple of quid postage and the other stories might be worth a shot too.

If you like Confidence Trick you might want a shot of Ken Follett's A Midnight Train to Nowhere about a woman falls asleep on the tube, misses her stop (sounds familar) and ends up......well, that would be telling. Part of the brilliant Murder on the Railways collection (edited by Peter Haining) with six underground short stories and many other overground ones.


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