Looking for title / author. A thin book I read in the early '60s. Maybe 100-125 pages.

Protagonist alone in fog/mist in a featureless place. As the book progresses more people show up and are as confused about how they got there as the protagonist. People spend time trying to explore this "non-place". Near the end of the book an explanation is given about some "field", fixed in space which travels over the surface of the earth as the planet rotates. If you're at the focus, you're transported to this non-place.

Thats about all I can remember. I'd love to find this book again and re-read it. It stuck in my mind all these years.

  • 1
    Does it start out with a group of shipwrecked sailors in a boat in the middle of the ocean? If it's the story I'm thinking off the men manage to jump from the boat through a portal and find themselves in a misty valley with ill defined boundaries. During their time there more and more people arrive drawn through the portal as it sweeps over the Earth. I won't give away the ending, but it ends rather unpleasantly! If this is the story then I'm afraid that even after extensive brain wracking I can't remember the title or author. However it might jog someone else's memory. Commented Nov 19, 2013 at 12:01
  • Not sure, but it does sound familiar. Tnx for your comment. Hope someone will know. --Lenny W
    – user19733
    Commented Nov 20, 2013 at 14:54
  • @JohnRennie: The story you're thinking of is "Fiddler's Green" by Richard McKenna. Commented Nov 20, 2013 at 17:29
  • @TheBeardyMan: That's it, that's it :-) Commented Nov 20, 2013 at 18:36

1 Answer 1


This is really TheBeardyMan's answer because he pinpointed the novella I was thinking of in a comment above. I'm fairly sure you're thinking of the novella Fiddler's Green by Richard McKenna. The length of the story and the publication date match your description.

This novella appears to be hard to get hold of. I'm fairly sure I read it in the collection Casey Agonistes, and Other Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories but this is long out of print. It's decades since I last read it, but I'll do my best to remember the plot.

The story starts with a group of shipwrecked sailors adrift in a lifeboat and dying of hunger and thirst. They've drawn straws to see who will sacrifice their life to feed the rest, and they're about to kill the loser when one of the group, Kruger, stops them and explains how he thinks they can escape through a portal to another world. The sailors allow themselves to be hypnotised by Kruger, and it works! They find themselves in a dark valley surrounded by mist. When they try to walk out of the valley they somehow find themselves turned around and walking back into the valley again.

As time goes on more people turn up, and it turns out there is a portal sweeping over the Earth's surface. If people are far from civilisation, and an area where the real world is thin, they can get swept up by the portal and transported to the valley. As more people arrive the valley grows and pushes back the mist to get bigger.

But there's a problem. It turns out the Kruger, possibly because of his role in opening the portal did not cross properly. His body appears to be dead, and he exists as a sort of ghost or (as it turns out) minor deity. Also Kruger still suffers the same hunger and thirst that he did in the lifeboat. The story takes a dark turn when Kruger discovers how to quench his thirst.

I was a lot younger and more impressionable when I read the story back in the 70s, but the fact I can remember it forty years later shows how big an impression it made on me. In fact I also loved Mckenna's story "Casey Agonistes" from the same anthology. Sadly Mckenna seems a largely forgotten figure these days.

  • 2
    Thanks very much to TheBeardyMan & John Rennie! This exactly the info I was hoping for! The story is almost haunting. I'll be getting a copy of the book in one of the anthologies. Curiously, when I read this book it was a stand-alone book, but I see no reference to it as an individual volume anywhere on the internet. Also a quick comment: I'm not sure if my enjoyment of this type of writing was inherent or it was created by my enjoyment of the story, but since then I've gravitated to stories such as Winters Tale, American Gods and especially stories by Jorge Luis Borges. ANYWAY, TNX AGN LennyW
    – user19733
    Commented Nov 20, 2013 at 21:30

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