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Philip Wylie

Philip Wylie (1902–1971) wrote several classic works of speculative fiction, including Gladiator and The Disappearance, as well as a popular work of nonfiction, A Generation of Vipers.

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Gladiator: Of Hugo, Doc and Supes

Gladiator by Philip Wylie

In a recent review here on FanLit, for J.D. Beresford’s seminal 1911 classic The Wonder, I mentioned that the novel was an early example of one of Radium Age sci-fi’s favorite themes, that of the “superman” or “wunderkind.” In that book, we had encountered a young British lad, Victor Stott, who was born with superhuman mental abilities that had made him an object of both fear and hatred among most of his fellows. Well, now I am here to share some thoughts on still another Radium Age wonder that tells the tale of a superman, but in this case our lead character’s marvelous abilities are physical ones rather than mental, and brought about by artificial means rather than being a mere freak of nature. And it seems that this man of remarkable physic... Read More

When Worlds Collide: More than mere spectacle

When Worlds Collide by Philip Wylie & Edwin Balmer

To look at the astronomical statistics, you would think that planet Earth is a sitting duck. In our teensy immediate neighborhood of the galaxy alone, there are over 14,000 asteroids zipping about, not to mention over 100 near-Earth comets. Asteroids of over one kilometer in diameter have hit the Earth, it is approximated, twice every million years during the planet’s history; those of five kilometers, every 20 million years. Every 2,000 years, it has been said, a chunk of space matter collides with or explodes over the Earth causing a 10-megaton blast, such as the one (size unknown) that fell over Siberia on June 30, 1908 – the so-called Tunguska event – which flattened almost 800 square miles of forest. And these are all relatively small pieces of whizzing space rock, mind you; comparative pebbles. What if another PLANET were to bring good ol’ Earth into its crosshairs? Worse still... Read More

After Worlds Collide: A near-perfect sequel that’s in need of a sequel itself

After Worlds Collide by Philip Wylie & Edwin Balmer

At the conclusion of Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer’s classic sci-fi novel When Worlds Collide (1933), the Earth is spectacularly destroyed in a collision with the rogue planet that had been dubbed Bronson Alpha. Only 103 people, it would seem, managed to get off our world safely, aboard American scientist Cole Hendron’s rocket ship, and land on the rogue planet’s sister world, Bronson Beta. It is a marvelous cliffhanger of an ending, leaving the reader wondering just what might have happened to Hendron’s other, larger rocket ship, carrying around 400 more prospective colonists; whether any other ships from other countries managed to get away safely; how the 103 are possibly going to... Read More