- ANONYMOUS SF AUTHORS
- This rubric covers the authors of works which, in their first edition, appeared with no indication of authorship whatsoever, and any in which authorship is indicated only by a row of asterisks or some similar symbol. Works attributed to the author of.. are considered only if the work referred to is itself anonymous. Cases where subsequent editions reveal authorship are not excluded. All other attributions are regarded as PSEUDONYMS. Anonymously edited sf ANTHOLOGIES are not particularly common, unlike the case with ghost and horror stories. Before the 20th century literary anonymity was prevalent. Though this was most notable among the numerous works of Grub-Street fictional journalism of the early 19th century, many novels of a higher status likewise hid their authorship. On some occasions the practice was adopted by well known writers - e.g., Lord LYTTON - when the content of a novel differed radically from their earlier writings; although such works are anonymous in a bibliographic sense (and so within our purview), their authorship was often widely known at the time of publication. Other authors used anonymity because their work was controversial, an attribute common in early sf. Such was the case with UTOPIAN novels, where the depiction of an ideal state highlighted faults the writer saw in his (or, rarely, her) own society. Falling into this category is The Reign of George VI, 1900-1925 (1763), the earliest known example of the future-WAR novel. Showing the forceful George VI becoming master of Europe following his successes in the European War of 1917-20, the anonymous UK author gave no consideration to possible change in society, technology or military strategy, his depicted future being very similar to contemporary reality. Of more importance in the HISTORY OF SF is L'an deux mille quatre cent quarante (1771 France; trans W.Hooper as Memoirs of the Year Two Thousand Five Hundred 1772 UK) (by L.-S. MERCIER), the first futuristic novel to show change as an inevitable process. It was widely translated and reprinted, inspiring many imitators. Also anonymous, but set in an imaginary country, was the first US utopian work, Equality, or A History of Lithconia (1802 The Temple of Reason as Equality: A Political Romance; 1837), which depicted a communal economy in a society where conurbations had been rejected in favour of an equal distribution of houses. Other anonymous utopian works, some of considerable importance, appeared throughout the 19th century. Probably the most influential was Lytton's The Coming Race (1871). Of similar importance is W.H.HUDSON's A Crystal Age (1887), whose Darwinian extrapolation, although obscured by the author's animistic view of the world, shows humankind evolved towards a hive structure (HIVE-MINDS) and living in perfect harmony with Nature. Another noteworthy Darwinian novel was Colymbia (1873) (by Robert Ellis DUDGEON, a friend of and physician to Samuel BUTLER), which describes a remote archipelago where humans have evolved into amphibious beings. Integral to this gentle SATIRE is a scene in which the country's leading philosophers debate their common origins with the seal family. Particular mention should also be made of Ellis James Davis (?1847-1935), author of the highly imaginative and carefully detailed novels Pyrna, a Commune, or Under the Ice (1875) and Etymonia (1875) - both utopias, the first located under a glacier, the second on an ISLAND - and of Coralia: A Plaint of Futurity (1876), a supernatural fantasy. Other anonymous sf authors eschewed the utopian format for a more direct attack on aspects of contemporary society. Following the build-up in power by Germany in the early 1870s there appeared The Battle of Dorking; Reminiscences of a Volunteer (1871 chap) (by Sir George T.CHESNEY), the most socially influential sf novel of all time. Advocating a restructuring of the UK military system to meet a conceived INVASION, it provoked a storm in Parliament and enjoyed numerous reprints and translations throughout the world; it inspired many anonymous refutations. Many other anonymous sf works, by contrast, enjoyed only rapid obscurity, in some case to the detriment of sf's development. Perhaps the three most important of these are: Annals of the Twenty-ninth Century, or The Autobiography of the Tenth President of the World Republic (1874) (by Andrew BLAIR), a massive work describing the step-by-step COLONIZATION of our Solar System; In the Future: A Sketch in Ten Chapters (1875 chap), the story of a struggle for religious tolerance in a future European empire; and Thoth: A Romance (1888) (by J.S.Nicholson 1850-1927), an impressive LOST-WORLD novel set in Hellenic times and depicting a scientifically advanced race using airships in the North African desert. Among the diversity of ideas expressed by anonymous sf authors were the stress inflicted upon an ape (APES AND CAVEMEN) when taught to speak, in The Curse of Intellect (1895), the emancipation of women, in the futuristic satire The Revolt of Man (1882) (by Sir Walter BESANT) and, in Man Abroad: A Yarn of Some Other Century (1887), the notion that humankind will take its international disputes into space. The Checklist of Fantastic Literature (1948) by Everett F.BLEILER lists 127 anonymous works (though many are fantasy rather than sf). A number of anonymous authors whose identities are now known receive entries in this volume, the most famous being Mary SHELLEY, author of Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus (1818). Others are too numerous and their works too slight to merit mention. The Supplemental Checklist of Fantastic Literature (1963) by Bradford M.DAY adds a further 27 titles to Bleiler's total, and there are certainly more waiting to be found - such as The History of Benjamin Kennicott (1932). Anonymous sf authors are still with us today, particularly in the COMICS and in BOYS' PAPERS, often retaining their role as social critics or outrageous prognosticators. However, most modern authors, when seeking to retain their privacy, make use of PSEUDONYMS. Very few anonymous books - except for anthologies (which are often released without crediting the compiler) and erotica - are published today.
Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. Academic. 2011.