American science fiction author Margaret St. Clair (1911–95) wrote more than 100 short stories as well as eight novels. Many of her stories appeared in such pulp magazines as Fantastic Adventures
and Startling Stories,
some under her own name and some under the pseudonyms Idris Seabright and Wilton Hazard. Introduced and edited by horror fiction great Ramsey Campbell, this newly assembled anthology is the only collection in print featuring short stories by the pioneering science fiction writer.
Seventeen tales showcase St. Clair's ironic sense of humor and explore social and philosophical themes: "The Gardener," a condemnation of careless tree-felling and a seminal example of ecological science fiction; "The Island of the Hands," a voyage to a mysterious place that embodies the peril of wishes come true; "The Little Red Owl," a fable of supernatural horror offering a study of domestic abuse well ahead of its time; "Piety," a reflection of the haphazard nature of scientific progress; and other stories of compelling strangeness.