Monday, January 5, 2009

SF authors born 1824-33: 1830

1. Fenton Ash


Fenton Ash (pseudonym of Francis Harry Atkins) (1840-1927)

British author, writer of juvenile fiction. Also wrote as Frank Aubrey.

* The Radium Seekers: Or, the Wonderful Black Nugget (Sir Isaac Pitman and Sons: London, 1905). Wilfrid Moray, the adopted son of a noted scientist, demonstrates to his friend Harry a metallic substance that has more lift than any gas. (One wonders: Has he found a chunk of Cavorite?) Supposedly it's a form of radium extracted from a large black nugget from South America; when strips of the metal (Moradium) are placed inside his coat, Wilfrid can fly. With a certain Dr. Vivian, the two attempt to locate more of the substance in Brazil... but they are attacked by submen, gigantic poisonous snakes, tree-climbing wolves, flying serpents (they turn out to be mechanical), and human-headed bird creatures (they turn out to be humans in flying costumes that utilize Moradium). They are befriended by Lyondrah, a mysterious elderly man living in the jungle. They discover a lost world, and futhermore discover that Lyondrah is the king of a city-state there... and Wilfrid is his son.

* A Son of the Stars (Young England, vol. 29, 1907-08, exact date not known). Bruce and Maurice, two young English boys herding sheep in Australia, rescue Prince Milona (Son of the Stars) from drowning. Milona had accompanied his father, King Amando, on an interplanetary flight from Mars. The boys accompany Milona home on his spaceship, the Ramaylia, built of a metal that attracts and repels forces, creating in effect antigravity. (Cavorite? Moradium? No: solaynium.) Mars has an advanced civilization and advanced technology, including individual flying apparatuses and electric rayguns. The boys help foil a plot against Amando by another Martian scientist-king, Faronda; and they prevent another scientist-king, Zandalla, from building a titanic airship of his own. They're sent home with riches, as a reward.

* A Trip to Mars (W. and R. Chambers: London and Edinburgh, 1909). Set on a South Sea island and Mars. While visiting an island with their scientist-guardian, Mr. Armeath, young Jack and Gerald witness an enormous, egg-shaped, semitransparent and luminous object hit the water. They rescue King Ivanta, of Mars, from drowning; and he takes them home with him, as a reward. The spaceship ("Aerostat"), we discover, is a gigantic living-machine, made of metal that allows sunlight to enter and warm the interior, complete with plant and animal life. (Hello, Silent Running and Sunshine.) As in A Son of the Stars, the boys are embroiled in political intrigue on Mars. Peace is restored after a huge air battle.

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