Tales from the White Hart
is a 1957 collection of short stories by Arthur C. Clarke
. Rather different from his standard hard science fiction
is a collection of stories—tall tales
, really, in the English tradition of the "pub tale"—told by the bloviating, impossibly well-connected, and utterly enchanting
Harry Purvis, at The White Hart, a pub at which London's SF fandom
hung out in The Forties
and The Fifties
. It's all told to us by an Expy
of Clarke himself ("Charles Willis", one of his pseudonyms).
Fifteen White Hart stories are included in the collection:
- "Silence Please" - About a student who invents active noise control and uses it to pull a tremendous prank.
- "Big Game Hunt"
- "Patent Pending" - About a man who invents VCR for the brain.
- "Armaments Race"
- "Critical Mass"
- "The Ultimate Melody" - About inventing the ultimate Ear Worm.
- "The Pacifist" - About the invention of a military computer
- "The Next Tenants"
- "Moving Spirit" - About a novel method of distilling and aging whisky.
- "The Man Who Ploughed the Sea"
- "The Reluctant Orchid"
- "Cold War"
- "What Goes Up" - About some Australians who invent Anti Gravity by accident
- "Sleeping Beauty"
- "The Defenestration of Ermintrude Inch" - Wouldn't you like to find out!
- Appeal To Audacity: Pretty much everything that comes out of Harry Purvis' mouth.
- Destination Defenestration: "The Defenestration of Ermintrude Inch."
- During the War: "Moving Spirit" is set during World War II.
- First-Person Peripheral Narrator: "Charles Willis"
- Henpecked Husband: Harry Purvis. His wife's name? Ermintrude.
- The Munchausen: Harry Purvis.
- My Local: The White Hart. And it is local—the pub was chosen for its proximity to Imperial College London and other research institutions, not to mention the location just off Fleet Street that attracted those of a more literary bent, as well.
- Tall Tale: All the stories.
- The Rule of First Adopters: "Patent Pending."
- Smart People Play Chess: Chess seems to be more popular than darts at the White Hart. Given its clientele (writers, editors, scientists, and engineers), it's easy to see why.
- Technology Marches On: As it turns out, active noise reduction will not cause the machinery to explode with extended use.
- Write Who You Know: The White Hart is based on The White Horse, where Science Fiction buffs and writers would gather in 1940s and 1950s London. Furthermore, clear parallels of Samuel Youd (as John Christopher), John Wyndham (as John Benyon), and Clarke himself (as Charles Willis) appear in various stories.