Coblentz, Stanton A

Tagged: Author

(1896-1982) US author and traditionalist poet who wrote polemics in defence of his rather bad verse, beginning with his MA thesis, privately published as The Poetic Revival in America (1917). He began his career proper in the early 1920s with book reviews for New York papers, a volume of poems, The Thinker and Other Poems (coll 1923), and Modern American Lyrics (anth 1924). Of the many volumes of verse that followed – almost always published through his own firm, The Wings Press, through which he also published and edited Wings: A Quarterly of Verse (1933-1960) – some contain material of thematic interest, including Time's Travelers (coll 1952 chap) and Atlantis and Other Poems (coll 1960 chap). His polemical assaults on twentieth century poets of significance climax with The Rise of the Anti-Poets: Selected Editorials from Wings, a Quarterly of Verse (coll 1955), where his singularly emphatic anti-Modernist stance exaggerates, but does not seriously misrepresent, the general attitude of early Genre SF writers to literary experiments of any sort.

Coblentz began publishing sf with The Sunken World: A Romance of Atlantis (Summer 1928 Amazing Stories Quarterly; 1948), a Utopia set in a glass-domed Atlantis, in which satirical points are made against both the egalitarian Atlanteans and contemporary America, though the obtuse narrator (of the sort found in most utopias) tends to blur some of these issues. Coblentz was never a smooth stylist, nor an imaginative plotter, as all his five novels for Amazing Stories Quarterly tend to show: the others are After 12,000 Years (Spring 1929 Amazing Stories Quarterly; 1950), The Lost Comet (Spring 1930 Amazing Stories Quarterly as "Reclaimers of the Ice"; cut vt 1964), The Blue Barbarians (Summer 1931 Amazing Stories Quarterly; 1958) and The Man from Tomorrow (Spring-Summer 1933 Amazing Stories Quarterly; 2013). At the same time he had a strong gift for the description of ingeniously conceived Alien environments, and was often regarded as one of the writers best capable of conveying the Sense of Wonder so rightly valued by the readers of US Pulp-magazine sf between the two world wars.

Other novels from the same general period, like The Wonder Stick (1929), which is Prehistoric SF; When the Birds Fly South (1945), a Lost Race tale set in Afghanistan, featuring a migratory race which, turning into giant birds, flies south for the winter; and Hidden World (March-May 1935 Wonder Stories as "In Caverns Below"; 1957; vt In Caverns Below 1975) – another Satire, set in an Underground venue, with fascinating descriptions but cardboard characters – share similar virtues and faults. Later novels, like Under the Triple Suns (1955), failed to show much stylistic development, and were not successful. His last novels were weak. [JC/DRL]

see also: Asteroids; Fantastic Voyages; Lost Worlds; Outer Planets; Politics; Sociology; Under the Sea; Venus.

Stanton Arthur Coblentz

born San Francisco, California: 24 August 1896

died Monterey, California: 6 September 1982

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