The Black Widowers’ guest is one Gary Nemerson, a writer of science fiction who has mysteriously lost a pocket umbrella of which he is fond, somewhere in his fiancée’s apartment. Since searching the apartment failed to reveal it, he is forced to conclude that it fell into a space warp about which he freely writes, but in which he firmly disbelieves.

Nemerson is the avatar of Charles Ardai, editor of The Return of the Black Widowers, and the biggest weakness in this story is Asimov’s introduction of himself into the conversation, and having Nemerson voice an opinion of his own work that the real Ardai does not (I’m sure) hold.

(There are some in the field who feel that Asimov is passé, true, but I really don’t think they’re a majority.)

In any event, the puzzle is very much in the “Purloined Letter” tradition and involves an obvious solution to the puzzle which is all too frequently found in real life. Having lost a few items to space warps myself, it brings a smile to my face.

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