1922


The Girl in the Golden Atom: “One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small…”

The Girl in the Golden Atom by Ray Cummings

In Irish author Fitz James O’Brien’s classic novella of 1858, entitled “The Diamond Lens,” a scientist, employing his newly invented supermicroscope, is able to observe a beautiful young woman who lives in the impossibly small world of a droplet of water. Flash forward 77 years, and we find British author Festus Pragnell, in the novel The Green Man of Graypec (1935), giving us the tale of a man who is accidentally sucked, via his scientist brother’s new supermicroscope, into the subatomic world of Kilsona, where he is forced to abide for some time. Sandwiched between these two works, however, is a book that has, over the decades, managed to achieve for itself pride of place in these kind of microverse affairs, in... Read More

The City of Wonder: Location, location, location?

The City of Wonder by E. Charles Vivian

Just recently, this reader had some words to say about a lost-race novel written by an Englishman; no, not H. Rider Haggard, the Norfolk-born writer who would go on to become “The Father of the Lost-Race Novel,” but rather Victor Rousseau, who had impressed me with his 1916 offering The Sea Demons. Well, now I am here to tell you of another lost-race affair, written some six years later by still another Englishman. The book in question this time is called The City of Wonder and was written by one E. Charles Vivian. A more impressively penned novel than Rousseau’s, the book combines the standard lost-world/... Read More

Theodore Savage: An absolutely splendid post-apocalyptic work

Theodore Savage by Cicely Hamilton

By the time WW1 ended in 1918, London-born Cicely Hamilton had already earned a name for herself as an advocate for both women’s rights and marriage equality. As one of Britain’s most vocal suffragettes, she’d campaigned for the right of women to vote; as a renowned playwright, she’d written socially biting works for the stage, and indeed, her suffrage dramas How the Vote Was Won (1909) and A Pageant of Great Women (1910) were both highly successful. But during the Great War, Hamilton also served in France, both in a nursing unit and in a revue for the entertainment of the troops, and her wartime experiences soon resulted in her penning her one and only science fiction novel, entitled Theodore Savage.

A wonderfully well written and emotionally affecting w... Read More

The Clockwork Man: Sci-Fi’s first cyborg novel

The Clockwork Man by E.V. Odle

Just recently, I had some words to say about an English dystopian novel from 1920, The People of the Ruins by Edward Shanks. This book had been brought back into print in 2012 by HiLo Books as part of its wonderful Radium Age Science Fiction Series, the goal of which was to unearth neglected works from the period 1904 - 1933 for the modern generation. Now, I am here to tell you of another novel from this same series that I have just enjoyed. The book in question is The Clockwork Man, which was the creation of another British author, E.V. (Edwin Vincent) Odle. This novel was originally ... Read More

The Silver God of the Orang Hutan: Sladangs and leeches and crocs, oh, my!

The Silver God of the Orang Hutan by David Douglas

As many of you here at FanLit may have already discerned, this reader is a huge fan of English author H. Rider Haggard, and at this point I have read 45 of the man’s 58 novels. Haggard, for good reason, has been called “The Father of the Lost Race Novel,” and his influence on that genre has been enormous, casting a very long shadow across the decades since he came out with the triple whammy of King Solomon’s Mines, its sequel Allan Quatermain, and the seminal fantasy She, all in the mid-1880s. Haggard has had many imitators, many of whom have been forgotten over the intervening decades. Happily, a new series from the Medford, Oregon-based publisher Armchair Fiction is now available t... Read More

Claimed: 3 for 3

Claimed by Francis Stevens

At the tail end of my review of Francis Stevens’ 1919 novel The Heads of Cerberus, I mentioned that the author was now a very solid 2 for 2 with me, having loved that book as well as 1918’s The Citadel of Fear, and that I had a feeling that once I took in her 1920 novel, Claimed, that she would be an even more solid 3 for 3. Well, as I predicted, such is indeed the case, now that I have finally read her most impressive third novel. While Citadel had dealt with the discovery of a lost Aztec city and battling gods (Quetzalcoatl and Nacoc-Yaotl), and the dystopian Cerberus with a totalitarian Philadelphia in an alternate-reality future, Claimed has, at its center, a mysteriou... Read More

The Undying Monster: Film vs. Book

The Undying Monster by Jessie Douglas Kerruish
It was around five years ago that I had the pleasure of watching the 1942 horror thriller The Undying Monster on DVD. I was moderately impressed with the film, enough to write the following:

"B material given A execution" is how film historian Drew Casper describes 20th Century Fox's first horror movie, 1942's The Undying Monster, in one of the DVD's extras, and dang if the man hasn't described this movie to a T. The film, a unique melding of the detective, Gothic and monster genres, though uniformly well acted by its relatively no-name cast, features a trio of first-rate artists behind the camera who really manage to put this one over. And the film's script isn't half bad either. Here, Scotland Yard scientist Robert Curtis (James Ellison) comes to eerie Hammond Hall, a brooding pile on the English coast, sometime around 1900, to investigate some recent attacks ascribed to t... Read More

The Worm Ouroboros: Larger than life adventure in exquisite prose

The Worm Ouroboros by E.R. Eddison

The Worm Ouroboros is a love-it-or-hate-it book. Mannered in its language, weird in so many ways, and chock-full of larger than life characters acting in ways that most people just don't get. If you have a problem with something written in an archaic style, then you probably won't get much out of The Worm Ouroboros, but if you like that kind of thing I think the book repays reading and is definitely worth it.

First off a caveat: it took me two reads of The Worm Ouroboros to appreciate it and a third to decide that I thought it was genius.

The Worm Ouroboros is definitely unlike almost anything else out there and is a throw-back to much older works. The first sign, as mentioned above, is the prose itself. E.R. Eddison uses a faux-Elizabethan style that is certainly foreign to most... Read More