Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Monday, June 15, 2015

Robert Service's Bio-Warfare WWI Sci-Fi Novel

After he had parted ways with Dan McGrew, the Lady known as Lou, and Clancy of the Mounted, Robert Service, the poet laureate of the Yukon, found his way to the Western Front as an ambulance driver.  His Rhymes of a Red Crossman has some interesting war pieces, and his postwar Parisian writings include the classic "The Absinthe Drinkers".  He stayed in France, married a French lady, and wrote mediocre novels, including one about werewolves.  He never quite gave up on the war, however.

Of his several novels, The Master of the Microbe: A Fantastic Romance (1926) is science fiction, featuring a deadly "Purple Pest" virus developed by a German mad scientist who wishes to wreak vengeance on Europe for the German defeat in World War One by infecting the continent with plague; but it is stolen from him by an antihero master-criminal. The further action involves proto-superhero behavior on the part of characters whose costumes disguise their true identity. Europe is saved in the end. One reviewer described the work as a "gripping but unlikeable thriller."

1 comment:

  1. Service's lesser known poems, such as "The Mourners" are well worth reading. Here's a link to one I shared on my blog: