THE NORTH SEA BUBBLE by Ernest Oldmeadow, p. Grant Richards, 1906.

Rather a funny type of book to try and classify. Obviously it starts off as a "warning" yarn as it deals with an England conquered by Kaiser Wilhelm's Germany. As we open England (& presumably Scotland and Wales) is prostrate under the heel of the Prussian conquerer, but Ireland remains untouched. Apparently part of the British Army did a Dunkirk from Morecambe to the Emerald Isle which, as soon as England is down, discovers her inalienable loyalty. Now all we want is the intrepid aristocratic family to escape from England, place themselves at the head of the Irish, English and some Empire forces and the Germans are as good as finished. And that is what happens. Wonderful isn't it! Plus a noble and chivalrous love that made me, at least, want to give the hero a good hearty kick! The whole book is stilted and the style of writing out of date; not to mention various unbelievable episodes--particularly the rallying of some thousands of German waiters, barbers and so forth, who had been living in England "to escape military service", as a military body who defy and declare war on the Kaiser.

SUBSTITUTE FOR LIVING by Gideon Clark, p. Ivor Nicholson & Watson, 1937.

I'd had this title on my wants-list for quite a while but on discovering a copy in one of my favorite bookshop haunts, was told by the proprietor that there was nothing fantastic about the book. Well, the bookseller was wrong--but only just. Primarily it is the tale of a shy and rather stupid young man of 22--a failure in everything he undertakes, and the love for him of two absolutely different young females, both of whom want to look after him. But, all the while the young fellow is obsessed with one haunting idea, to create a machine which will reproduce the sights and scenes of the past. In fact the well-known recapture-lightwaves which have been in existence for many years theme. All through the book he potters with this contraption, having varied success. Our author doesn't make any serious attempt to make the thing scientifically logical and I for one was getting rather annoyed with him, when, hey presto, the device is half-proved to be actually making visible the scenes thought of by its creator. This is failure and the machine is worthless, except for "psychic research". Why, I can't see! So our hero smashes it and goes off to marry the faithful young woman. Make up your mind whether it is supposed to be a tragedy, but to a scientifictionist it definitely is.

THE SECOND LEOPARD by John Lambourne, p. John Murray, 1932.

A sequel to the author's "The Kingdom That Was". Another tale of the wonderful "civilization" John Lambourne has visualized, wherein all the animals dwell together in an organized society and man is the lowest of the low. In the previous tale an Englishman hunting elephants in central Africa was transferred back to these times to discover a wife and a happy home. In this book he is followed by a savant, the absent-minded professor of literature, a biologist who was accompanying the hunter on his expedition. Must, of course, be taken with a large grain of salt, but very enjoyable as pure fantasy, although somewhat horrific scenes of carnage appear to be indispensable to the authors writing. It is impossible to describe the happenings and background of the work in anything less than a moderate essay length.

THREE MEN MAKE A WORLD by Andrew Marvell, p. Victor Gollanz, 1938.

A bacteriologist in an obscure South American country discovers a bacterium which not only lives in petroleum and practically all of its derivatives; but solidifies its habitant, thus causing it to be useless as a fuel. Even worse, oils of every type cease to be able to be used for lubrication. This is an obvious threat to our present form of civilization and the international oil interest in particular. These latter are out to destroy the discovery and silence the bacteriologist and his two assistants by murdering the former, one of the latter, and bribing the other. But the one assistant passes on some salient facts to one of our heroes; and the other is thoughtfully attempting a double-cross. However, our three heroes come on the scene, (a) a London biologist, (b) the communist son of a Midlands millionaire, and (c) a writer of detective stories--the narrator. With the best of motives this trio investigates the discovery and the murky syndicate attempting to throttle it. Whilst in the throes of an attempt to decide whether to loose this scourge on the world, during which they are persued by all and sundry--World War II commences with a heavy aerial bombardment of London. Ironically this sets the bacterium loose; civilization crashes and the book ends with a new small-scale agrarian culture beginning to emerge from almost peimeval chaos. One could call the book "A clamming indictment of our current civilization" but its primary value to me seemed to be as a thriller pure and simple; and it was as such it was classed in the shop from which it was purchased. Good enough in itself, but I fear a sad comedown after the same authors magnificent story "Minimum Man", which I reviewed in Spaceways quite a while back.

SAVARAN AND THE GREAT SAND by Douglas Danton, p. Cassell, 1939.

Have you ever had a beeootiful dream in which you were second only in conquering warriors, to conquering women? In which your daring figure braved all odds, you foresaw everything as you took part in adventure after adventure whilst beautiful women flung themselves at you. Well, here is such a story, with a hero who can do anything, apparently, and do it better single handed then a normal army corps. Such is Savaran--an adventurer in Africa. However the plot in which this prodigy struts; tis a tale of an expidition to discover a lost city in the African desert, with a tradition of a tremendous treasure of gold and jewelry. One English girl, her brother and her fiance-a cavalry captain, form the original party, but numerous nondescripts and our wonderful little friend Savaran become attached during vicissitudes before the trek proper commences. Hue and cry in an African town, muting and murder on board ship; battle after battle with canabal impi, all come as grist to the Savaran mill. But at long last we reach our city, only to be taken prisoner by the Amazon inhabitants. Does this deter Savaran--you've said it--NO! He jumps up to the beautiful virgin queen, she falls in love with him, he overthrows the court executioner and all is well. Or is it, for there is a wicked scheming priestess in the background. Yet, she too is eventually overthrown and as our original travellers file slowly and deeply laden with loot, out of the hitherto hidden city, we leave Savaran, monarch of all he surveys, with fabulous riches and a kingdom of females to "revitalize". Now to dream again--it's such a waste of time to be awake!

GHOST STORIES by H. Russell Wakefield, p. Jonothan Cape.

A selection of 21 stories, each verging on the occult, and not one of them formula or hack ghost story as the modest title might imply. Nor are they unrestrained horror stories so often shot at one under the guise of ghostly visitations. In fact, on the strength of this volume alone, I should say that Wakefield deserves the reputation as a master of this genre of literature; and this isn't his only volume! Some of the stories conntain spectral wraiths, but most depend on sensibility of feeling. One tale is particularly horrible--the visit of a sensitive and his ghost-haunting friend to a "killer" of a haunted house; wherein the medium opens the door with his key, explains the layout and story to the person following only to find when he turns that it is not his friend. Whilst on the doorstep the sceptic friend gets impatient at the door not being opened, tries to find out what is the matter only in his turn to recoil from the figure he thought was his medium guide exclaiming "who the devil are you?" On the other hand there is the tale of the ancient house, whose occupant lived in and loved the structure, which collapses from old age as prophesied, only in the process to fling out its beloved owner, showering sticks and stone around him, without harming a hair of his head. The writing is good; quiet and restrained, with a good choice of descriptive epithets; and its very mildness is the finest offset to the psychic queerness with which it deals; and the author does not, I am pleased to say, fall into the pitfalls of trying to "explain" his phenomena. A special palm for the adequate characterization, which makes all the main figures quite believable. Heartily recommended.

THE COOL OF THE EVENING by Horace Horsnell, p. Harnish Hamilton, 1942.

Have you ever wondered what life was like to the dispossesed Adam and Eve in the twilight of their days? Well, that is the theme of this pleasant unsophisticated little work. "Adam was an old man now and full of dreams" say the first few words of the book, and glancing back through the past we learn how all the well known incidents of the Garden of Eden and its aftermath appeared to the principal actor. Eve survives too, the very embodiment of the busy managing housewife even yet and besides the past, Adam looks forward to the future as well in the person, presence and visions of his little grandson Raphael. Even yet the drama between the powers of light and darkness continues. Satan and his imps endeavor to mislead Raphael, whilst the lads heavenly namesake keeps a watchful eye on the yourhs behavior. And an echo from the sad past comes when Cain comes back to the place where he was brought up, drawn by that nostalgia for the places we have known, which is so potent a force in human relationships. It isn't deeply serious, it's hardly devout enough to please the potently religious, yet it doesn't fall into the alternative of scoffing at the simple Biblical narrative; but one might accurately describe it as a pleasing tale which doesn't blow any trumpets.

GO HOME UNICORN & MEN ARE LIKE ANIMALS by Donald MacPherson, p. Faber & Faber.

Two fine stories which are really one in continuation. The story of a quartet of people in Montreal-a young physics professor, a journalist, & two up-to-date intelligent women. But the grand part is the way the author develops the theme of scientific investigation of extra-sensory perception. Ectoplasm and mindforce create the plot of "Go Home Unicorn" whilst a marvellous mind affecting machine does the same office for its sequel. Heartily recommended.

Data entry by Judy Bemis

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