THE ORIGINAL STORIES
Brigadier Donald Ffellowes, an enigmatic Englishman now retired to New York after many years in the services, claims to have been in just about every branch of Her Majesty's forces, including British intelligence.
In the course of his career, spanning the years between the two World Wars and beyond, his espionage activities and military actions have transported him around the globe on numerous dangerous missions – enough material in itself for a sizeable biography.
And yet Ffellowes has very little to say on the subject, and even less to say about his private life. For he, uniquely, has other tales to tell – absolutely none of which have anything to do with the everyday world.
In his gentleman's club on a dim and sultry New York evening,
a casual remark or particular topic of conversation may inspire Ffellowes to recall one of his many uncanny experiences.
Unbelievable though his recollections may seem, Ffellowes is such a brilliant raconteur, his stories so finely detailed and impossible to disprove, that even those who scoff at him cannot help but become enthralled by the weird and spine-chilling events he describes.
Perhaps his deadly encounter with a mythic race of bloodthirsty monsters whilst on the trail of a dangerous Axis agent in Kenya, culminating in a terrifying last stand against "the hidden horror behind the beast-headed statues of ancient Egypt". *
Or the time he was summoned to Cornwall at the urging of a titled friend of remarkably long lineage, only to discover that an ancient force has possessed both the friend and his malevolent brother, forcing them to conclude a centuries-old battle as the two principal antagonists of Arthurian legend.
IN PRINT AND BEYOND
Sterling E. Lanier first introduced the world to the remarkable Brigadier Ffellowes in the late 1960s with the novelette Soldier Key, finding an instant fan in no less a literary giant than
Arthur C. Clarke, one of the most important names in science fiction and fantasy literature, inspiring him to comment:
"... when I came upon the Brigadier in the pages of the magazine Fantasy and Science Fiction, I felt again a frisson of wonder and excitement I had missed for a couple of decades." * *
In Ffellowes, Lanier has created a character to rival that of the celebrated Irish fabulist Lord Dunsany, whose Joseph Jorkens yarns are rightly considered to be masterpieces of the 'tall tale' or 'club story' subgenre, in which an unusual individual recounts his bizarre and seemingly improbable experiences to a typically sceptical, but nevertheless spellbound audience.
Between 1968 and 1986 the extraordinary adventures of the eponymous Brigadier and his encounters with the supernatural unfolded in a series of 13 highly intelligent and ingeniously crafted stories.
All but one was published in the renowned Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction – the final episode being written especially for a compendium volume.
A Father's Tale (the 10th Ffellowes story) was nominated in the short fiction category of the 1975 World Fantasy Awards.
The entire sequence was gathered together in two volumes, The Peculiar Exploits of Brigadier Ffellowes (1972) and The Curious Quests of Brigadier Ffellowes (1986).
In 2004, Dead Horse Productions optioned the motion picture rights.
The adapted screenplay, written by Martin Semple, is currently in development.