(1840-1916) US teacher, editor and author of boys' books, popular history, miscellaneous work and a very large number of US dime novels, mainly Westerns, under his own name and many pseudonyms. His enormous bibliography, though studied exhaustively by Denis Rogers (in various issues of Dime Novel Round-Up), remains unsettled. Ellis established the dime novel as a commercial field with Seth Jones (1860), and instigated Dime-Novel SF and the Edisonade through his instant adaptation of the historical Newark Steam Man of 1868 into a Western: The Steam Man of the Prairies (August 1868 Irwin P Beadle's American Novels as "The Huge Hunter, or the Steam Man of the Prairies"; 1868; vt The Huge Hunter, or The Steam Man of the Prairies 1876; vt Baldy's Boy Partner, or Young Brainerd's Steam Man 1888). In this pivotal tale, the young proto-Edison protagonist, already credited with several Inventions, creates a Steam Man (not a Robot, simply a man-shaped 30 mph steam engine with legs which cannot go into reverse), and travels west, where he has adventures on the frontier, conquering Indians and other fauna. Ellis's use of the Steam Man was uninspired, with little recognition of the potential of the device; a projected sequel, featuring an improved machine, seems not to have been published. The Steam Man has been conveniently reprinted in E F Bleiler's Eight Dime Novels (anth 1974) with a full introduction to the field.
Of Ellis's huge body of work, a few others are of some interest: Land of Mystery (1889) as by Lieutenant R H Jayne, a Lost-Race tale; The Monarch of the Air (1907), a fantastic aeronautics story as by Seward D Lisle (an anagram pseudonym); Flying Boys in the Sky (1911) and Flying Boys to the Rescue (1911) comprises a short Airplane Boys sequence; and The Dragon of the Skies (1915). [EFB/JC]
see also: History of SF.
Edward Sylvester Ellis
born Geneva, Ohio: 11 April 1840
died Cliff Island, Maine: 20 June 1916
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