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Great Science-Fiction & Fantasy Works

Science-fiction & fantasy literature: a critical list with discussions.

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James Thurber


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Standard Disclaimer:

This is a brief discussion of James Thurber and, of course, of some speculative-fiction books by Thurber.

This discussion and list does not necessarily include every book by Thurber: it includes only those books that I both know and like. Just as with the author list itself, omission of a particular item may mean I didn’t think highly enough of the omitted item, or it may simply mean that I have not yet sufficient familiarity with it. (In a very few cases, I have listed some books merely on the strength of my opinion of the author: all such books are clearly marked below, as throughout these lists, with a hash mark (#) before the title so you know what’s what.)

I don’t pretend that this discussion is a deep analysis. My intent is no more than to give you a rough idea of what kinds of tales Thurber tells, how those tales are usually told, and what makes them and Thurber worthy; in sum, to help you rank James Thurber (and the works by Thurber listed here) on your personal literary “to do” list.


Secondary Disclaimer:
This page has not been updated in a long while; consequently, external links (if any) may lead to dead or moribund pages. I am now cleaning up these pages as fast as I can, but I am one man and it may take me a while to get to every page needing link checking (or even the “Other Resources” section added). Sorry. Please be patient.

A Few Words About James Thurber

Regrettably, I have not yet had an opportunity to write an essay on this author, but the "Other Resources" section below will lead you to some information about the "Notable Books" listed farther down this page.

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Other James Thurber Resources

James Thurber Resources on the Web

Thurber was a famed cartoonist and all-round wit--best known for his work in the renowned New Yorker magazine--who also wrote some humorous books, among them a few fantastic books nominally for children, but obviously written (like many of that sort) with adults firmly in mind (and tongue firmly in cheek). There is a fine set of Thurber references already assembled at the James Thurber Pathfinder links page. The always useful Authors Calendar site has a nice Thurber page; eNotes also has a useful Thurber information page. And there is a Thurber interview by George Plimpton from the Paris Review.

There are some individual appreciations of his books, notably of The Thirteen Clocks (which Neil Gaiman has called "probably the best book in the world") available, one from The Chicago Tribune, another from Russ Allberry.

James Thurber Resources in Print


Notable Science-Fiction and Fantasy Books by James Thurber *


(For more possible titles by this author, see the “Unrated Books by Rated Authors” page.)

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  • Tinniswood, Peter # **

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  • Tolkien, J. R. R. *****

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  • Tournier, Michel **

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  • Travers, P. L. *
    (For more possible titles by this author, see the “Unrated Books by Rated Authors” page.)

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  • Vance, Jack *****
    (Vance has been writing literally wonderful tales for over half a century; naturally the list is long. But, while they are, of course, not equally fine, there is scarcely a dud in the lot, even in his earliest work.
    Note: the titles in [brackets] after some books are the titles Vance intended for them, as opposed to those under which editors—many of whom were jackasses—published them.)

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  • Wangerin Jr., Walter # ****

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  • Warner, Sylvia Townsend # **

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  • Wellman, Manly Wade *

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  • Wells, Martha **
    (For more possible titles by this author, see the “Unrated Books by Rated Authors” page.)

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  • Werfel, Franz # **

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  • White, E. B. # *
    (For more possible titles by this author, see the “Unrated Books by Rated Authors” page.)

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  • White, T. H. **
    (For more possible titles by this author, see the “Unrated Books by Rated Authors” page.)

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  • Whitehead, Colson # **
    (For more possible titles by this author, see the “Unrated Books by Rated Authors” page.)

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  • Whittemore, Edward ****
    (These books are on the borderline between mainstream and fantasy, but I judge them to have sufficient qualities of unreality to be justifed in these lists.)

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  • Wilde, Oscar **
    (Considering that one can get a preferred edition of all of Wilde’s works for a modest amount, it seems silly to link any individual works. In the omnibus volume listed below, I have called out only those component works that would be, by themselves, listed on this site—but all of Wilde is worth reading.)

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  • Wilhelm, Kate *
    (For more possible titles by this author, see the “Unrated Books by Rated Authors” page.)

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  • Willey, Elizabeth *

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  • Williams, Charles ***

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  • Williams, Michael **
    (For more possible titles by this author, see the “Unrated Books by Rated Authors” page.)
    (One more place for an extra half-star.)

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  • Williams, Tad *
    (For more possible titles by this author, see the “Unrated Books by Rated Authors” page.)

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  • Williams, Walter Jon *
    (For more possible titles by this author, see the “Unrated Books by Rated Authors” page.)

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  • Wolf, Gary K. # *
    (For more possible titles by this author, see the “Unrated Books by Rated Authors” page.)

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  • Wolfe, Gene ****

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  • Woolf, Virginia # ****

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  • Wrede, Patricia C. *
    (Wrede’s work is marketed as YA.)

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  • Wright, Austin Tappan # **

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  • Wright, Grahame # ****

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  • Wyndham, John *
    (For more possible titles by this author, see the “Unrated Books by Rated Authors” page.)

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  • Zelazny, Roger *

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  • Zindell, David **
    (For more possible titles by this author, see the “Unrated Books by Rated Authors” page.)

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