Saturday, December 14, 2013

Two Genres for the Price of One

By Stewart Edward White (1873-1946).
The Bobbs-Merrill Co.
1912. 265 pages. $1.25
First serialized in POPULAR MAGAZINE in 1910.
Text available at Project Gutenberg.
To judge from these two reviews, THE SIGN AT SIX is a hybrid mystery-science fiction story:
To the reader who has always associated Mr. White's name with stories descriptive of nature, and its grandeur and glory, this new departure in choice of plot and method will come as somewhat of a shock. A more radical departure could not be imagined than the present story from the style of its predecessors.
A typical New York political "boss," with the usual faults, is warned to leave the city before a certain date, and when he refuses, things happen—startling, wonderful, hair-raising things, such as local cessation of sound, light, and electricity.
To detect the cause of the antagonism that prompts such revenge and to disclose the source of the terrific force that controls such power, the detective ingenuity of many men is taxed to the utmost and a rivalry in science and love spurs two men to the effort of their lives.
The outcome is satisfactory even if the style of the narrative is not the author's most fascinating one, and it shows keen thinking along the lines of electrical possibilities and has many suggestive ideas for scientific attainment. — "Some Recent Novels," THE LITERARY DIGEST (October 5, 1912)
An entertaining mystery story, in which a whole city is successively deprived, for short periods, first of all sound waves, next of all light vibrations, then of every form of electrical manifestation.
Fortunately the mysterious unknown who is sending these modern plagues to harass the community is discovered before he has applied his wonderful discovery—except on a small scale—to the suppression of the last form of vibration—heat. — "The New Books," THE OUTLOOK (January 18, 1913; scroll to page 142)
- A Wikipedia article ("Stewart Edward White").
- An IMDb listing.
- An SFE listing.
- An ISFDb listing.

Categories: Science fiction, Detective fiction

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