Adeler, Max

Tagged: Author

Principal pseudonym of US author and businessman Charles Heber Clark (1841-1915), who wrote also as John Quill, under which name he published "The Women's Millennium" (26 April 1867 Philadelphia Daily Evening Bulletin), possibly the first sex-role-reversal Dystopia. Set in an indeterminate future, and told from the perspective of an even later period when some balance has been achieved, it is a remarkably cutting demonstration of the foolishness of male claims to natural superiority. Adeler's work as a whole was dominated by the conventions of American humour [for Tall Tales see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below], and he often had recourse to the tiresome revelation that all was a dream. Some of the Inventions he describes jokingly, however, are of some sf interest: like the stepladder/folding couch with volition in Out of the Hurly-Burly; Or, Life in an Odd Corner (1874); or the perpetual motion machine in Captain Bluitt (coll of linked stories 1901; vt Captain Bluitt: A Tale of Old Turley 1901), which also includes a dubious Time Viewer in "Captain Bluitt Attempts to Peer into the Future" (2 November 1901 Saturday Evening Post); and the healing skills displayed by the doctor who narrates The Great Natural Healer (25 January 1902 Saturday Evening Post; 1910 chap).

Of greater sf interest is "Professor Baffin's Adventures" (in Beeton's Christmas Annual, anth 1880), a long Lost Race tale set on an Island severed from Britain in Arthurian times; its first appearance in the 1880 Beeton's volume [for Christmas Books see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below] was as centrepiece to "The Fortunate Island" – a linked assemblage of stories and sketches by various authors which made up the bulk of the issue. As "Professor Baffin's Adventures" the tale was assembled in An Old Fogey and Other Stories (coll 1881; cut vt The Fortunate Island and Other Stories coll 1882); its appearance in the US edition vt "The Fortunate Island" may have been motivated by a sense that the latter title was more to the point. It is Adeler's story that almost certainly supplied Mark Twain with the basic premise and some of the actual plot of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889). When accused of plagiarism, Twain responded evasively. [JC]

see also: Shared Worlds.

Charles Heber Clark

born Berlin, Maryland: 11 July 1841

died Eagles Mere, Pennsylvania: 10 August 1915

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