Wednesday, January 7, 2009

SF authors born 1844-53: 1846

1. Julian Hawthorne
2. Godfrey Sweven


Julian Hawthorne (1846-1934)

Julian is the son of Nathaniel Hawthorne, one of the giants of 19th century literature. He was a journalist, (not particularly talented) writer of sensational fiction, and social studies. After the turn of the century he became entangled in fraudulent ventures and served a prison term.

NB: Nathaniel Hawthorne was a prolific author of supernatural and SF fiction, including such classics as "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment," "The New Adam and Eve," "The Artist of the Beautiful," "Rappaccini's Daughter."

Pre-Radium-Age SF:

* "An Automatic Enigma" (Belgravia, May 1878). Borderline SF, a reworking of "The Headless Horseman." In 1873, in a small American town, local beauty Nellie and visiting Ned are attracted to each other. But Nellie accuses Ned of being too much like an automaton, they quarrel, and he leaves town. Some months later, the famous Dutch Automaton comes to town, and performs human-like feats on stage... including tossing a bouquet to Nellie. Later, when Nellie is out with her new suitor, the automaton assaults him and kidnaps Nellie. We're led to suspect that the automaton was really Ned in disguise.

* "June, 1993" (Cosmopolitan, February 1893). A reworking of "Rip Van Winkle." The narrator, who has been reading accounts of sleepers who have awakened in future utopias, has fallen into a long slumber out of boredom, and does not awaken until 1993. The central fact of future life is the flying machine, which has revolutionized society: the American population commutes from far-flung, mostly self-sufficient homesteads; there are only four major cities, no villages or towns, and various pleasure-centers; national governments and boundaries have ceased to exist, and the races have mixed. Unusual in postulating future social evolution on the basis of technology, rather than evoking politics or economics.

* "The Electrical Engineer's Story," Six Cent Sam's (The Price-McGill Co.: St. Paul, 1893).

* "My Own Story," Six Cent Sam's (The Price-McGill Co.: St. Paul, 1893).


* Hawthorne edited the 10-volume The Lock and Key Library: Classic Mystery and Detective Stories (The Review of Reviews Co.: New York, 1909). Sensational fiction of various sorts, much translated from roughly contemporary Continental sources. The Modern French volume includes Guy de Maupassant's classic SF and horror tale, "The Horla."


* The Cosmic Courtship (All-Story, November 24—15 December, 1917). An example of mixed Fantasy and SF. In 2001, Manhattan has grown enormously, with huge skyscrapers and individual flying machines. Women have equal rights. Miriam Mayne answers a psychic message and meets Mary Faust, an expert in interplanetary communication and matter transmission. Miriam's etheric body (or something like that) is accidentally projected to Saturn, while her unconscious body remains behind; her fiance, Jack Paladin, follows her on the one-way voyage. Adventures ensue.


Godfrey Sweven (1846-1935)

Godfrey Sweven — pseudonym of John Macmillan Brown — was a Scotland-born New Zealand educator, historian, administrator.


* Riallaro: The Archipelago of Exiles (Putnam: New York, 1901). The first part of a long description of ideal societies, in this volume mostly satirical of aspects of modern civilization and humanity in general. Not strongly science fictional — would be considered a utopia, not SF. But needed for full comprehension of the second volume. More TK.

* Limanora: The Island of Progress (Putnam: New York, 1903). Second volume. An extraordinarily detailed survey of an ideal society based on individual and cultural perfectibility, with a total faith in scientific progress and a complete orientation toward the future. Everett Bleiler says: "Limanora is one of the great master-works of science-fiction. It is not easy reading and is very long, but in imagination and profundity (whether one agrees with it or not) it overshadows similar works and is probably the greatest of all early utopian novels."


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