Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

Order [book in series=yearoffirstbook.book# (eg 2014.01), stand-alone or one-author collection=3333.pubyear, multi-author anthology=5555.pubyear, SFM/MM=5000, interview=1111]: 1911


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Widdershins: An outstanding collection of spooky stories

Widdershins by Oliver Onions

I originally picked up this hard-to-find book after reading of it in Newman & Jones’ excellent overview volume, Horror: The 100 Best Books. Widdershins is a collection of Oliver Onions‘ short stories, and was first published in 1911. Onions was supposedly a meticulous writer, writing and rewriting and rerewriting, changing words repeatedly until he felt that things were just right. And his attention to detail does indeed show. All the stories in this volume are impeccably written,


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The Centaur: Another masterwork from Algernon Blackwood

The Centaur by Algernon Blackwood

English author Algernon Blackwood was always one to make good use of his wide-ranging travels in the 14 novels and over 180 short stories and novellas that he would ultimately give to the world. For example, his early 1890s sojourn in Canada, where he worked as a dairy farmer and hotel operator, would, upon his return to England, provide the inspirational setting for one of his greatest novellas, “The Wendigo” (1910). Canoeing trips down the Danube during the summers of 1900 and 1901 would compel him to pen one of his most famous tales,


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The Wonder: Too cool for school

The Wonder by J.D. Beresford

As I believe I’ve mentioned elsewhere, one of the pet themes of both Radium Age and Golden Age sci-fi was that of the ubermensch (superman) or the wunderkind (child prodigy), as the case may be; individuals who, as a result of a mutation or genetic engineering, and whether deliberately or accidentally created, came to possess mental and/or physical abilities that separate them from the ruck of humanity. I have already written here of such ubermensch novels as Seeds of Life (1931) by John Taine,


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The Second Deluge: Rain, rain, go away….

The Second Deluge by Garrett P. Serviss

It is the Indian state of Meghalaya, just north of Bangladesh, the holds the record for being “The Wettest Spot on Earth,” getting, on average, a whopping total of 467” of rain a year. (Do bring an umbrella if you’re planning a visit!) But while this 38-foot tally, 13 times what Seattle might expect annually, is certainly impressive, it pales to insignificance compared to what descends from the heavens in Garrett P. Serviss’ 1911 novel The Second Deluge,


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Red Eve: A red-blooded historical adventure

Red Eve by H. Rider Haggard

For his 37th work of fiction, H. Rider Haggard, the so-called “father of the lost-race novel” and an expert at writing historical adventure tales as well, decided to go back to the Dark Ages. Red Eve, which Haggard wrote in a six-month period from 1908-1909, was ultimately published in 1911, and turns out to be yet another winner from this wonderful storyteller.

In it, we meet Hugh de Cressi, a merchant’s son who is in love with “Red Eve” Clavering,


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The Master of the World: One of Jules Verne’s last novels

The Master of the World by Jules Verne

First published in French in 1904 and in English in 1911, The Master of the World is another of Jules Verne’s adventure novels with an SFF twist. It’s a sequel to Robur the Conqueror, though it’s not necessary to have read that book first (I didn’t). The story is set in 1903 and, as so many of Verne’s novels do, features fantastical machines and gadgetry. It should be of particular interest to those who love steampunk and to Verne’s fans who want to read one of the author’s last novels.


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The Mahatma and the Hare: A real charmer

The Mahatma and the Hare by H. Rider Haggard

The Mahatma and the Hare was first published in book form in 1911, and is one of H. Rider Haggard‘s rarer titles. The idea for this short novel came to Haggard, he states in the book’s preface, after he had read a newspaper account of a hare that had swum out to sea to avoid being captured by pursuing hounds. In Haggard’s story, the self-called mahatma — a spiritual man who is able, when asleep, to view “The Great White Road”


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Peter Pan: Do you really know him?

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

Most people think they’ve read — or at least know — the story of Peter Pan. The figure of the boy who refuses to grow up has become so infused in Western culture that he’s taken on a life beyond his literary beginnings, starring in countless theatrical productions, movies, television series, prequels and sequels, his image used in merchandise (everything from records to peanut butter), and on several famous statues around the world (the most famous being the one in Kensington Gardens) and even providing the namesake behind a psychological condition (we’ve all heard of people with a “Peter Pan syndrome,” referring to those who refuse to accept the responsibilities of adult life).


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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