WEDNESDAY’S SHORT STORIES #16: The Peculiar Exploits of Brigadier Ffellowes By Sterling Lanier

There is a genre loosely termed “Bar Tales.” Lord Dunsany wrote 150 short stories written between 1925 and 1957 of these types of stories in his Jorkens series. Arthur C. Clarke wrote a similar series of stories later published in his Tales From the White Hart collection.

Tales from Gavagan’s Bar is a celebrated collection of fantasy short stories by American writers L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt. Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon series by Spider Robinson is equally popular with readers of this genre.

I’m a fan of Sterling Lanier’s Ffellows tales. Take “Kings of the Sea” for example. Ffellows tells the listeners in the bar about an adventure he experienced in his youth that nearly cost him his life. The unusual events in “Soldier Key” produces another hair-raising adventure.

If you’re in the mood for some Tall Tales and incredible happenings, I highly recommend The Peculiar Exploits of Brigadier Ffellowes. GRADE: A


  • “Introduction” (Arthur C. Clarke) (English edition and later American edition only) — v
  • “His Only Safari” (1970) — 1
  • “The Kings of the Sea” (1968) –25
  • “His Coat So Gay” (1965) — 47
  • “The Leftovers” (1969) — 77
  • “A Feminine Jurisdiction” (1969) — 87
  • “Fraternity Brother” (1969) — 113
  • “Soldier Key” (1968) — 129

23 thoughts on “WEDNESDAY’S SHORT STORIES #16: The Peculiar Exploits of Brigadier Ffellowes By Sterling Lanier

  1. Steve Oerkfitz

    I read and enjoyed some of these when they first appeared in F&SF. I am also a big fan of his novel Hiero’s Journey which unfortunately is largely forgotten today.

  2. Rick Robinson

    I like the sub-genre, and have read several, including the Clarke, de Camp and Robinson. I have others in the TBR, which never seems to shrink. I may try these when there is time (!).

  3. Jeff Meyerson

    Have never read any of his, but since I’m a big fan of the Clarke and Dunsany and Robinson and de Camp & Pratt stories, I’m sure I’d like these too.

    Patti, what George said. A bunch of people – usually sitting around a bar, though the Jorkens stories were in a traditional London men’s club – and someone tells a shaggy dog tale. The Robinson and Clarke and de Camp stories are set on a far away planet.

    Sadly, my library has nothing by Lanier other than HIERO’S JOURNEY.

  4. Todd Mason

    Club stories, as well…Robert Arthur, Gerald Kersh, and not a few others wrote similarly. Asimov’s Black Widowers stories were a variant, really.

    I haven’t enjoyed any of the Ffellowes stories I read in F&SF, but, fwiw, I believe he was the editor at Chilton Books, the car manual people, who convinced his bosses to take a flyer on this odd, huge novel from Frank Herbert, DUNE. That led to a minor sf line that included the hardcover of HIERO’S JOURNEY and Robert Silverberg’s anthology INFINITE JESTS, which I reviewed some years back.

    1. george Post author

      Todd, yes those CHILTON BOOKS guys struck gold when they published DUNE. I think the First Edition of HIERO’S JOURNEY was a paperback (edited by Frederick Pohl).

      1. Todd Mason

        My response to this was put in suspension, perhaps because I gave an ISFDB link…

        FWIW, I noted that Chilton’s first edition of HIERO’S JOURNEY was in ’73, probably didn’t do too much business but probably also didn’t dim Lanier’s star too much as Chilton editor, and Frederik Pohl picked it up for Bantam in ’74.

        Chilton’s offices were around the corner from TV GUIDE’s Radnor offices, but Lanier was gone by the time I started working at TVG in ’97. (Earlier, the two publishers were neighbors.)

      2. Todd Mason

        I was wrong…Lanier apparently left Chilton as early as ’67, though might’ve picked up some freelance work from them as editor…shall Go Look for who was editing Chilton’s sf line in the ’70s. (He had been the one to get them to do DUNE.)

    1. george Post author

      Bob, the only French Foreign Legion novel I can think of is P. C. Wren’s 1924 Beau Geste tells the story of three brothers who run away to the French Foreign Legion. Of course, the movie version is even more famous.

      1. george Post author

        Todd, I’ll root around and find the second Brigadier Ffellowes’s collection of stories for a future WEDNESDAY’S SHORT STORIES post.

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