You may never have been exposed to the stories of Mildred Clingerman. If that’s the case, prepare to be delighted.
Mildred Clingerman was an Arizona-based science fiction and fantasy writer who lived from 1918–1997. Between 1952 and 1962, seventeen of her stories appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (two additional tales appeared in 1975). Sixteen of those early stories were compiled in her 1961 collection A Cupful of Space. Clingerman’s stories were very popular and immediately began appearing in anthologies, a process that continued well into this century. Her tales are frequently published in literary collections aimed at the education market.
Clingerman’s grandson, Marc Bradley, has put together this comprehensive collection of her stories. The Clingerman Files contains not just the sixteen stories that appeared in A Cupful of Space and the three that didn’t, but also an unsuspected treasure trove of no fewer than 23 previously unpublished stories Clingerman left behind.
Among long-time readers, Clingerman is often referred to in the same breath as her contemporary, Zenna Henderson . . . but in my opinion, she’s better off in such company as Rod Serling, Charles Beaumont, George Clayton Johnson, and Richard Matheson, The typical Clingerman story takes place in the familiar, contemporary world of the 1950s, then takes that oblique, skewed step into the place Serling talked about. If she’d been writing in the early 1940s, her work would have been a natural fit for our late, lamented sister magazine Unknown.
In “Stair Trick,” that place is an impossible set of stairs in a bar with no basement. In “A Window for Mr. Stevens” (title misprinted here as “A Widow . . .”), it’s the view from a hospital window. “First Lesson” deals with a wife who finds that magic can save her husband’s life . . . but only if she doesn’t believe in it.
You need to read this book. Your friends and neighbors need to read this book. All your relatives need to read this book. It’s well worth the price—but by the time you see this, an e-book edition should be available. Get it and help let the legacy of this remarkable writer live on.