Fletcher Pratt

Murray Fletcher Pratt (25 April 1897 – 10 June 1956) was an American writer of science fiction, fantasy and history. He is best known for his works on naval history and on the American Civil War and for fiction written with L. Sprague de Camp.

Fletcher Pratt
Fletcher Pratt, as pictured in the June 1929 issue of Science Wonder Stories
Fletcher Pratt, as pictured in the June 1929 issue of Science Wonder Stories
BornApril 25, 1897
Buffalo, New York
DiedJune 10, 1956 (aged 59)
Long Branch, New Jersey, US
Pen nameIrvin Lester, George U. Fletcher
OccupationNovelist, historian
NationalityAmerican
GenreScience fiction, fantasy, history
Notable worksOrdeal by Fire

Life and work

BSI-Pratt-Morley-Stout-1944
Fletcher Pratt (left) with fellow Baker Street Irregulars Christopher Morley and Rex Stout (1944)

According to de Camp, Pratt was born near Tonawanda, New York, and attended Hobart College for one year. During the 1920s he worked for the Buffalo Courier-Express and for a Staten Island newspaper. In 1926, he married Inga Stephens, an artist.[1] In the late 1920s he began selling stories to pulp magazines. Again, according to de Camp's memoir, when a fire gutted his apartment in the 1930s he used the insurance money to study at the Sorbonne for a year. After that he began writing histories.

Amazing stories 192805
Pratt's's novelette "The Octopus Cycle" was the cover story in the May 1928 Amazing Stories

Pratt was a military analyst for Time magazine (whose obituary described him as "bearded, gnome-like" and listed "raising marmosets" among his hobbies),[2] as well as a regular reviewer of historical nonfiction and fantasy and science fiction for the New York Times Book Review.

Pratt was the inventor of a set of rules for naval wargaming, which he created before the Second World War. This was known as the "Fletcher Pratt Naval War Game" and it involved dozens of tiny wooden ships, built on a scale of one inch to 50 feet. These were spread over the floor of Pratt's apartment and their maneuvers were calculated via a complex mathematical formula. Noted author and artist Jack Coggins was a frequent participant in Pratt's Navy Game, and de Camp met him through his wargaming group.[3]

Pratt established the literary dining club known as the Trap Door Spiders in 1944. The name is a reference to the exclusive habits of the trapdoor spider, which when it enters its burrow pulls the hatch shut behind it. The club was later fictionalized as the Black Widowers in a series of mystery stories by Isaac Asimov. Pratt himself was fictionalized in one story, "To the Barest", as the Widowers’ founder, Ralph Ottur.

He was also a charter member of The Civil War Round Table of New York, organized in 1951, and served as its president from 1953-1954. In 1956, after his death, the Round Table's board of directors established the Fletcher Pratt Award in his honor, which is presented every May to the author or editor of the best non-fiction book on the Civil War published during the preceding calendar year.[4]

Aside from his historical writings, Pratt is best known for his fantasy collaborations with de Camp, the most famous of which is the humorous Harold Shea series, was eventually published in full as The Complete Compleat Enchanter (1989, ISBN 0-671-69809-5). His solo fantasy novels The Well of the Unicorn and The Blue Star are also highly regarded.

Pratt wrote in a markedly identifiable prose style, reminiscent of the style of Bernard DeVoto. One of his books is dedicated "To Benny DeVoto, who taught me to write."

Several of Pratt's books were illustrated by Inga Stephens Pratt, his wife.

Bibliography

Novels

Novellas (short novels)

  • "Asylum Satellite" (1951)
  • "The Wanderer's Return" (1951)

Series

Harold Shea

Collections

Fantastic universe 195901
A Pratt-de Camp "Gavagan's Bar" story was cover-featured on the January 1959 issue of Fantastic Universe

Anthologies

Twayne Triplets (edited)

Nonfiction

  • Fletcher Pratt's Naval War Game (1940). A book on the Fletcher Pratt Naval Wargame was printed in 2011. See link
  • A Man and His Meals (1947)
  • World of Wonder : an Introduction to Imaginative Literature (1951)

Science

  • All About Famous Inventors and Their Inventions (1955) illustrated by Rus Anderson
  • All About Rockets and Jets (1955) illustrated by Jack Coggins
  • Rockets, Jets, Guided Missiles and Spaceships (1951) with Jack Coggins
  • By Space Ship to the Moon (1952) with Jack Coggins
  • Rockets, Satellites and Space Travel (1958) with Jack Coggins

History and Biography

  • The Compact History of the United States Navy (1957) OCLC 367782
  • Empire and the Sea (1946) with Inga Stephens
  • Fighting Ships of the U.S. Navy (1941) illustrated by Jack Coggins
  • Fleet Against Japan (1946)
  • The Navy has Wings; the United States Naval Aviation (1943)
  • The Navy, a History; the Story of a Service in Action (1938)
  • The Navy's War (1944)
  • Night Work: the Story of Task force 39 (1946) OCLC 1492544
  • Preble's Boys; Commodore Preble and the Birth of American Sea Power (1950) LCCN 50-10765
  • Sea Power and Today's War (1939) OCLC 1450484
  • Ships, Men - and Bases (1941) with Frank Knox
  • A Short History of the Army and Navy (1944)
  • The Empire and the Glory; Napoleon Bonaparte: 1800-1806 (1948)
  • Road to Empire; the Life and Times of Bonaparte, the General (1939)
  • The Heroic Years; Fourteen Years of the Republic, 1801-1815 (1934)
  • The Civil War (1955)
  • Civil War in Pictures (1955)
  • Civil War on Western Waters (1956)
  • The Military Genius of Abraham Lincoln : an Essay (1951) by Colin R. Ballard; introduction by Pratt
  • The Monitor and the Merrimac (1951)
  • Ordeal by Fire; an Informal History of the Civil War (1935)
  • Stanton, Lincoln's Secretary of War (1953)
  • America and Total War (1941)
  • The U.S. Army : a Guide to its Men and Equipment (1942) with David Pattee
  • What the Citizen Should Know about Modern War (1942)
  • The Marines' War, an Account of the Struggle for the Pacific from Both American and Japanese Sources (1948)
  • War for the World; a Chronicle of Our Fighting Forces in World War II (1950)
Avon Fantasy Reader 2
"The City of the Living Dead" was republished in a 1947 issue of Avon Fantasy Reader
  • The Cunning Mulatto and Other Cases of Ellis Parker, American Detective (1935) with Ellis Parker
  • Hail, Caesar! (1936)
  • The Lost Battalion (1938) with Thomas M. Johnson
  • Muscle-power Artillery (1938)
  • "The City of the Living Dead" (1939) with Laurence Manning.
  • Secret and Urgent; the Story of Codes and Ciphers (1939) OCLC 795019
  • My Life to the Destroyers (1944) with L. A. Abercrombie
  • Eleven Generals; Studies in American Command (1949)
  • The Third King (1950)
  • The Battles that Changed History (1956) ISBN 0-486-41129-X

References

  1. ^ Preface by David Madden to A Short History of the Civil War: Ordeal by Fire by Fletcher Pratt.
  2. ^ ""Milestones", Time, June 18, 1956
  3. ^ For further details about the game, including much previously unpublished material, see the Fletcher Pratt Naval Wargame, published in 2011 by the History of Wargaming Project www.wargaming.co
  4. ^ "The Fletcher Pratt Award". Civil War Round Table. Retrieved December 27, 2017.

External links

Harold Shea

The "Harold Shea" Stories is a name given to a series of five science fantasy stories by the collaborative team of L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt and to its later continuation by de Camp alone, Christopher Stasheff, Holly Lisle, John Maddox Roberts, Roland J. Green, Frieda A. Murray, Tom Wham, and Lawrence Watt-Evans. De Camp and Stasheff collectively oversaw the continuations. The series is also known as the "Enchanter" series, the "Incomplete Enchanter" series (after the first collection of stories) or the "Compleat Enchanter" series.

In the original stories, psychologist Harold Shea and his colleagues Reed Chalmers, Walter Bayard, and Vaclav Polacek (Votsy) travel to various parallel worlds where ancient myths or old literature are reality. In the course of their travels, other characters are added to the main cast, notably Belphebe and Florimel, who become the wives of Shea and Chalmers, respectively, and Pete Brodsky, a policeman who is accidentally swept up into the chaos. In the later continuations, the most notable additions to the cast are the recurring villain, Malambroso, and Voglinda, the young daughter of Shea and Belphebe.

Inga Stephens Pratt Clark

Inga Marie Stephens Pratt Clark (1906–1970) was an American artist and book illustrator, who with her husband Fletcher Pratt was at the center of a circle of New York literary figures during the 20th Century.

Land of Unreason

Land of Unreason is a fantasy novel by American writers Fletcher Pratt and L. Sprague de Camp. It was first published in the fantasy magazine Unknown Worlds for October, 1941 as "The Land of Unreason". Revised and expanded, it was first published in book form by Henry Holt and Company in 1942. It has been reprinted numerous times since by various publishers, including by Ballantine Books in January 1970 as the tenth volume of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series. An E-book edition was published by Gollancz's SF Gateway imprint on September 29, 2011 as part of a general release of de Camp's works in electronic form.

Sir Harold and the Gnome King

"Sir Harold and the Gnome King" is a fantasy novella American writer L. Sprague de Camp, part of the Harold Shea series he originated in collaboration with Fletcher Pratt and later continued with Christopher Stasheff. It was first published in the 1990 World Fantasy Convention Program Book. It first appeared in book form as a limited edition hardcover chapbook issued by Wildside Press in August, 1991, with a paperback edition following from the same publisher in October of the same year. In addition to the title story, the book includes an afterword by de Camp and illustrations by Stephen Fabian; the paperback edition also has a cover by Fabian. The story was afterwards reprinted, slightly revised, in de Camp and Stasheff's shared world anthology The Enchanter Reborn (1992). The original version was later reprinted together with the remainder of the de Camp/Pratt Harold Shea stories in the collection The Mathematics of Magic: The Enchanter Stories of L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt (2007).The Harold Shea stories are parallel world tales in which universes where magic works coexist with our own, and in which those based on the mythologies, legends, and literary fantasies of our world and can be reached by aligning one's mind to them by a system of symbolic logic. In Sir Harold and the Gnome King, Shea visits two such worlds, first (briefly) that of L. Ron Hubbard's setting from The Case of the Friendly Corpse (actually invented by John D. Clark and Mark Baldwin) and second L. Frank Baum's land of Oz.

As originally written, "Sir Harold and the Gnome King" was a direct sequel to de Camp and Pratt's previous Harold Shea story "The Green Magician", and appears to have been intended to tie up the main loose end remaining from that story, in which Shea's colleague Walter Bayard had been left stranded in the world of Irish mythology. Another issue addressed was a long-standing plot complication introduced by L. Ron Hubbard's "borrowing" of Shea for use in his novella The Case of the Friendly Corpse (1941), previously ignored by de Camp and Pratt. While the collaborators' original discussions for a sequel to "The Green Magician" had called for a story set in the world of Persian mythology, de Camp abandoned that plan in the sequel written.

When the story was reprinted in The Enchanter Reborn another tale, "Professor Harold and the Trustees", was interposed between it and "The Green Magician", necessitating some alteration to take into account the events of the new story. This was clumsily done through the insertion of a phrase into one sentence in a way that disturbed the actual sense of the sentence; further, a longer block of text was allowed to remain which should have been excised, as it directly contradicts the account of the new story.

Sir Harold of Zodanga

Sir Harold of Zodanga is a fantasy novella by American writer L. Sprague de Camp, part of the Harold Shea series he originated in collaboration with Fletcher Pratt and later continued with Christopher Stasheff. It was first published in paperback by Baen Books in de Camp and Stasheff's shared world anthology The Exotic Enchanter (1995). It was later reprinted together with the remainder of the de Camp/Pratt Harold Shea stories in the collection The Mathematics of Magic: The Enchanter Stories of L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt (2007).The Harold Shea stories are parallel world tales in which universes where magic works coexist with our own, and in which those based on the mythologies, legends, and literary fantasies of our world and can be reached by aligning one's mind to them by a system of symbolic logic. In "Sir Harold of Zodanga", in a new wrinkle, Shea visits a parallel Mars rather than a parallel Earth, Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom.

Tales from Gavagan's Bar

Tales from Gavagan's Bar is a collection of fantasy short stories by American writers L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt, illustrated by the latter's wife Inga Pratt. It was first published in hardcover by Twayne Publishers in 1953; an expanded edition rearranging the contents and adding pieces not in the first was published in hardcover by Owlswick Press in June 1978. The original illustrations were retained in this edition. It was subsequently issued in paperback (without the illustrations) by Bantam Books in January 1980. An E-book edition was published by Gollancz's SF Gateway imprint on September 29, 2011 as part of a general release of de Camp's works in electronic form. The collection has also been published in German.

Most of the pieces were originally published between 1950 and 1954, twelve in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, three in Weird Tales, and eleven in the first edition of the collection; two additional tales subsequently appeared in Fantastic Universe in 1959, and one more, together with a new afterword, in the expanded edition of the collection in 1978.The Gavagan's Bar stories fall into the genre of barroom tall tales, though in this instance most of the tall tales turn out to be true, or at least possibly true. The authors patterned them after Lord Dunsany's "Jorkens" stories.

The Blue Star (novel)

The Blue Star is a fantasy novel by the American writer Fletcher Pratt, the second of his two major fantasies. It was first published by Twayne Publishers in 1952 in the fantasy anthology Witches Three, a volume that also included Fritz Leiber's Conjure Wife and James Blish's "There Shall Be No Darkness". Its first publication as a stand-alone novel was in paperback by Ballantine Books in May 1969, as the inaugural volume of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series. The Ballantine edition included an introduction by Lin Carter; it was reprinted twice, in 1975 and 1981. It has also been translated into French, German, Italian and Spanish.

The Carnelian Cube

The Carnelian Cube is a fantasy novel by American writers L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt. It was first published in hardcover by Gnome Press in 1948, and in paperback by Lancer Books in 1967. An E-book edition was published by Gollancz's SF Gateway imprint on September 29, 2011 as part of a general release of de Camp's works in electronic form. It has also been translated into Italian and German.

The Castle of Iron

The Castle of Iron is the title of a fantasy novella by American authors L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt, and of the novel into which it was later expanded by the same authors. It was the third story (and afterwards the second volume) in their Harold Shea series. As a 35,000 word novella it was first published in the fantasy magazine Unknown for April, 1941. The revised and expanded novel version was first published in hardcover by Gnome Press in 1950, and in paperback by Pyramid Books in 1962. The book has been reprinted by a number of other publishers since its first appearance. An E-book edition was published by Gollancz's SF Gateway imprint on September 29, 2011 as part of a general release of de Camp's works in electronic form. The novel has been combined with other books in the series in the omnibus editions The Compleat Enchanter (1975), The Complete Compleat Enchanter (1989) and The Mathematics of Magic: The Enchanter Stories of L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt (2007). It has also been translated into Italian.

The Harold Shea stories are parallel world tales in which universes where magic works coexist with our own, and in which those based on the mythologies, legends, and literary fantasies of our world and can be reached by aligning one's mind to them by a system of symbolic logic. In The Castle of Iron, the authors' protagonist Harold Shea visits two such worlds, first (briefly) that of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem Kubla Khan and second that of Ludovico Ariosto's epic, the Orlando Furioso.

The Compleat Enchanter

The Compleat Enchanter: The Magical Misadventures of Harold Shea is an omnibus collection of three fantasy stories by American writers L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt, gathering material previously published in two volumes as The Incomplete Enchanter (1941) and The Castle of Iron (1950), the first two books in their Harold Shea series, with the essay "Fletcher and I", de Camp's paean to his deceased collaborator. The collection was first published in hardcover by Nelson Doubleday in 1975 as an offering for its Science Fiction Book Club, and was reissued in paperback by Del Rey Books in 1976. Minus the essay, it has more recently been combined with Wall of Serpents (1960), the third book of the series in the omnibus edition The Complete Compleat Enchanter (1989). This book had been left out of The Compleat Enchanter due to "considerations of space and …contractual considerations". The stories in the collection were originally published in the magazine Unknown in the issues for May and August 1940 and April 1941.

The Harold Shea stories are parallel world tales in which universes where magic works coexist with our own, and in which those based on the mythologies, legends, and literary fantasies of our world and can be reached by aligning one's mind to them by a system of symbolic logic. Psychologist Harold Shea and his colleagues Reed Chalmers, Walter Bayard, and Vaclav Polacek ("Votsy), travel to several such worlds, joined in the course of their adventures by Belphebe and Florimel of Faerie, who become the wives of Shea and Chalmers, and Pete Brodsky, a policeman who is accidentally swept up into the chaos. The three stories collected in The Compleat Enchanter explore the worlds of Norse mythology in "The Roaring Trumpet", Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene in "The Mathematics of Magic", and Ludovico Ariosto's Orlando Furioso (with a brief stop in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Kubla Khan) in "The Castle of Iron".

The Complete Compleat Enchanter

The Complete Compleat Enchanter is an omnibus collection of five fantasy stories by Ametican authors L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt, gathering material previously published in three volumes as The Incomplete Enchanter (1941), The Castle of Iron (1950), and Wall of Serpents (1960), and represents an expansion of the earlier omnibus The Compleat Enchanter, which contained only the material in the first two volumes. The expanded version also differs from the previous omnibus by omitting its afterword, de Camp's essay "Fletcher and I". The omnibus is the first edition of the authors' Harold Shea series to be complete in one volume. It has appeared under three different titles. It was first published in the UK in paperback by Sphere Books in 1988 under the title The Intrepid Enchanter and with a foreword by Catherine Crook de Camp. The first US edition appeared under the title The Complete Compleat Enchanter, and replaces the foreword with a preface by David Drake. That edition was published by Baen Books in 1989, and has been reprinted a number of times since. Orion Books published an edition in the UK under the title The Compleat Enchanter in 2000 as volume 10 of their Fantasy Masterworks series. The stories in the collection were originally published in magazine form in the May 1940, August 1940 and April 1941 issues of Unknown, the June 1953 issue of Beyond Fantasy, and the October 1954 issue of Fantasy.

The Harold Shea stories are parallel world tales in which universes where magic works coexist with our own, and in which those based on the mythologies, legends, and literary fantasies of our world and can be reached by aligning one's mind to them by a system of symbolic logic. Psychologist Harold Shea and his colleagues Reed Chalmers, Walter Bayard and Vaclav Polacek (Votsy), travel to several such worlds, joined in the course of their adventures by Belphebe and Florimel of Faerie, who become the wives of Shea and Chalmers, and Pete Brodsky, a policeman who is accidentally swept up into the chaos. The five stories collected in The Complete Compleat Enchanter explore the worlds of Norse mythology in "The Roaring Trumpet", Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene in "The Mathematics of Magic", Ludovico Ariosto's Orlando Furioso (with a brief stop in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Kubla Khan) in "The Castle of Iron", the Kalevala in "The Wall of Serpents", and Irish mythology in "The Green Magician".

The Green Magician

The Green Magician is a fantasy novella by American writers L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt. The fifth story in their Harold Shea series, it was first published in the November 1954 issue of the fantasy pulp magazine Beyond Fiction. It first appeared in book form, together with "The Wall of Serpents", in the collection Wall of Serpents, issued in hardcover by Avalon Books in 1960; the book has been reissued by a number of other publishers since. It has also been reprinted in various magazines, anthologies and collections, including The Dragon (June–July 1978), The Complete Compleat Enchanter (1989), Masterpieces of Fantasy and Enchantment (1988), and The Mathematics of Magic: The Enchanter Stories of L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt (2007). It has been translated into Italian and German.The Harold Shea stories are parallel world tales in which universes where magic works coexist with our own, and in which those based on the mythologies, legends, and literary fantasies of our world and can be reached by aligning one's mind to them by a system of symbolic logic. In The Green Magician, Shea visits his sixth such world, that of Irish myth.

The Incomplete Enchanter

The Incomplete Enchanter is a collection of two fantasy novellas by American writers L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt, the first volume in their Harold Shea series. The pieces were originally published in the magazine Unknown in the issues for May and August 1940. The collection was first published in hardcover by Henry Holt and Company in 1941 and in paperback by Pyramid Books in 1960.

The Mathematics of Magic

"The Mathematics of Magic" is a fantasy novella by American writers L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt, the second story in their Harold Shea series. It was first published in the August 1940 issue of the fantasy pulp magazine Unknown. It first appeared in book form, together with the preceding novella, "The Roaring Trumpet", in the collection The Incomplete Enchanter, issued in hardcover by Henry Holt and Company in 1941, and in paperback by Pyramid Books in 1960. It has since been reprinted in various collections by numerous other publishers, including The Compleat Enchanter (1975), The Incompleat Enchanter (1979), The Complete Compleat Enchanter (1989), and The Mathematics of Magic: The Enchanter Stories of L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt (2007). It has been translated into Dutch and Italian. In 2016, the story was shortlisted for the Retro Hugo Award for Best Novella.

The Harold Shea stories are parallel world tales in which universes where magic works coexist with our own, and in which those based on the mythologies, legends, and literary fantasies of our world and can be reached by aligning one's mind to them by a system of symbolic logic. In "The Mathematics of Magic", Shea visits his second such world, that of Edmund Spenser's epic poem The Faerie Queene.

The Roaring Trumpet

"The Roaring Trumpet" is a fantasy novella by American writers L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt. The initial story in their Harold Shea series, it was first published in the May 1940 issue of the fantasy pulp magazine Unknown. It first appeared in book form, together with its sequel, "The Mathematics of Magic", in the collection The Incomplete Enchanter, issued in hardcover by Henry Holt and Company in 1941, and in paperback by Pyramid Books in 1960. It has since been reprinted in various collections by numerous other publishers, including The Compleat Enchanter (1975), The Incompleat Enchanter (1979), The Complete Compleat Enchanter (1989), and The Mathematics of Magic: The Enchanter Stories of L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt (2007). It has been translated into Dutch and Italian. In 2016, the story was shortlisted for the Retro Hugo Award for Best Novella.

The Harold Shea stories are parallel world tales in which universes where magic works coexist with our own, and in which those based on the mythologies, legends, and literary fantasies of our world and can be reached by aligning one's mind to them by a system of symbolic logic. In "The Roaring Trumpet", Shea visits his first such world, that of Norse mythology.

The Wall of Serpents

The Wall of Serpents is a fantasy novella by American science fiction and fantasy authors L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt. The fourth story in their Harold Shea series, it was first published in the June 1953 issue of the fantasy pulp magazine Fantasy Fiction. It first appeared in book form, together with its sequel, "The Green Magician", in the collection Wall of Serpents, issued in hardcover by Avalon Books in 1960; the book has been reissued by a number of other publishers since. It has also been reprinted in various anthologies and collections, including Great Short Novels of Adult Fantasy I (1972), The Complete Compleat Enchanter (1989), and The Mathematics of Magic: The Enchanter Stories of L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt (2007). It has been translated into Italian and German.

The Harold Shea stories are parallel world tales in which universes where magic works coexist with our own, and in which those based on the mythologies, legends, and literary fantasies of our world and can be reached by aligning one's mind to them by a system of symbolic logic. In The Wall of Serpents, Shea visits his fifth such world, that of the Finnish mythological epic poem the Kalevala.

Wall of Serpents

Wall of Serpents is a collection of two fantasy short stories by American science fiction and fantasy authors L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt, the third volume in their Harold Shea series. The pieces were originally published in the magazines Fantasy Fiction and Beyond Fantasy Fiction in the issues for June, 1953 and October, 1954. The collection was first published in hardcover by Avalon Books in 1960, with a new edition from Phantasia Press in 1978. The first paperback edition was published by Dell Books in 1979. A 1980 edition published by Sphere Books was retitled The Enchanter Compleated. An E-book edition was published by Gollancz's SF Gateway imprint on September 29, 2011 as part of a general release of de Camp's works in electronic form.The book has also been combined with the earlier books in the series in the omnibus edition The Complete Compleat Enchanter (1989), and with the earlier books and later stories in the omnibus edition The Mathematics of Magic: The Enchanter Stories of L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt (2007). It has also been published in Italian and German.

The Harold Shea stories are parallel world tales in which universes where magic works coexist with our own, and in which those based on the mythologies, legends, and literary fantasies of our world and can be reached by aligning one's mind to them by a system of symbolic logic. In the stories collected as Wall of Serpents, the authors' protagonist Harold Shea visits two such worlds, those of Finnish and Irish mythology.

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