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Edgar Pangborn Books In Order

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Publication Order of Tales of a Darkening World Books

Davy (1964)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Judgment of Eve (1966)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Company of Glory (1975)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Still I Persist in Wondering (1978)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

West of the Sun (1953)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Mirror for Observers (1954)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Wilderness of Spring (1958)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Trial of Callista Blake (1961)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Short Stories/Novellas

Angel's Egg (1951)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Music Master of Babylon (1954)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Good Neighbors (1960)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Collections

Good Neighbors and Others Strangers (1973)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Anthologies

The Best from Fantasy and Science Fiction Nineteenth Series(1971)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Continuum 1(1974)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Continuum 2(1974)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
More Fantastic Stories(2009)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Edgar Pangborn was an American writer best known for writing mystery, historical, and science fiction. He is perhaps best known for writing Tales of a Darkening World: The Davy series. He is also well known for writing A Mirror for Observers which was the winner of the International Fantasy Award for Best Fiction of 1954.

Pangborn was born in New York City in 1909. His father was an attorney and dictionary editor while he mother, Georgia Wood Pangborn, was a well known writer of supernatural fiction. Edgar and his sister were home-schooled until 1919 when he started attended Brooklyn Friends School. By the age of fifteen, Pangborn began music studies at Harvard University. He would stay there until 1926, but he did not graduate. Edgar would also attend the New England Conservatory of Music, but he did not graduate from that school either.

When he left there, Edgar made the decision to abandon music and shift his creative focus to writing. He published his first novel in 1930 under the pseudonym of Bruce Harrison in 1930. The book was a mystery called A-100: A Mystery Story. It was an inauspicious debut and showed none of the style that he would later become known for.

This was only the beginning for Pangborn of course and over the next twenty years he would write stories for numerous pulp detective and mystery under pseudonyms. He did take a break during this time to serve three years in the U.S. Army Medical Corps during World War II. Langborn referred to this era of his career as writing “literary hackwork” for the pulp magazines. He didn’t consider what he did to be serious until 1951.

In the 1950s, Edgar appeared in the science fiction and mystery magazines of the time, writing high-quality stories under his own name that earned him a lot of praise. His work was considered to be the “humanist” school of science fiction and his work during this time would inspire many writers going forward, including Ursula K. Le Guin and Peter S. Beagle.

He released his second science fiction novel in 1954, A Mirror for Observers which was the winner of the International Fantasy Award. He would then go on to write what would become a classic in 1954 when he wrote the story, “The Music Master of Babylon.” His best known book is probably the Hugo-nominated Davy which is a post-apocalyptic story set in a repressive theocratic society which was born out of the ruins of the destroyed old world. This world would set the backdrop for many of his short fiction and novels going forward.

Pangborn would continue writing in all genres right up until his death in 1976. He passed away on February 1st, just twenty-four days away from his 67th birthday.

Davy is the first of his post-apocalyptic books and is set in the Northeastern United States centuries after an atomic war ended high-technology civilization. The world is now a pseudo-medieval society that is dominated by a church known as the Holy Murcan Church which seeks to control by suppressing technology. They go so far as to ban anything that may contain atoms. The world is no longer a united country, but smaller nations within the former United States. Books are considered evil as the church says they will lead to the sin and destruction of the old times. Davy begins as an indentured servant at the inn who then runs away from his job and gets into numerous adventures while traveling in the wilderness. The story is told from his point of view as if he were writing his own memoirs, the story features constant shifts in time and breaking of the fourth wall by characters who are looking over Davy’s shoulder while he is writing.

Another book by Pangborn is West of the Sun. This is the tale of adventure and war on a distant planet. The planet is called Lucifer and five specially selected and trained passengers of a ship called the Argo have come here. The world reminds them a lot of the Earth that they left behind. They make their home here where they meet a race of friendly white giants and a swarming population of wary pygmy tribes. However, the Earth pioneers soon run into trouble as they try to found a democratic civilization, but instead end up entwined in a brutal war between opposing pygmy forces.

One of Pangborn’s most famous works is A Mirror for Observers. This book is the story of Angelo Pontevecchio who is a child prodigy and “ethical innovator” who finds himself caught between two warring factions on Mars, the Observers and the Abdicators. The Martians have been secretly living on Earth for thousands of years after leaving their dying home world. They have put their efforts towards trying to guide the development of human civilization.

Pangborn was a prolific short story writer during his time and the short story collection, Good Neighbors and Others Strangers, is a good look some of his early stories. The collection is a good example of the humanity within Pangborn’s science fiction as you can tell that he has a genuine love for humanity. The ten stories included are: Angel’s Egg, Good Neighbors, A Better Mousehole, Longtooth, Maxwell’s Monkey, The Ponsoby Case, Pick-up for Olympus, Darius, Wogglebeast, and The Wrens in Grandpa’s Whiskers. “Angel’s Egg” is considered an instant classic. The story invovles an elderly professor who finds an egg that hatches an angelic alien who he forms a relationship with. While “Longtooth” is Pangborn writing a horror story about some New England farmers and a large monster similar to Bigfoot. There is also “Maxwell’s Monkey” which is about a young lawyer who wakes up with a hangover and a monkey in his home. He can’t get rid of the monkey, but it ends up changing his life for the better.

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