Fearn, John Russell

Tagged: Author

(1908-1960) UK author; extremely prolific, he used many pseudonyms. During the 1930s he wrote for magazines, including the US Pulp magazines, but during World War Two he switched to books. He became a central figure in the post-war paperback boom, writing numerous Westerns, crime stories and romances as well as his sf, most of which appeared under the names Vargo Statten and Volsted Gridban (the latter pseudonym being taken over from E C Tubb). In the pulps he wrote many stories as Thornton Ayre and Polton Cross, and also used the names Geoffrey Armstrong, Dennis Clive, John Cotton and Ephriam Winiki; his sf books and crime stories with sf elements include items signed with the personal pseudonyms Mark Denholm, Spike Gordon, Conrad G Holt, Laurence F Rose, John Russell and Earl Titan, and the house names Astron Del Martia, "Griff", Paul Lorraine and Brian Shaw. One pseudonym often wrongly ascribed to Fearn is Vector Magroon.

Fearn's first Genre-SF work was the early Superman story The Intelligence Gigantic (June-July 1933 Amazing; 1943). It was followed by the extravagant Liners of Time (May-August 1935 Amazing; 1947) and its sequel Science Metropolis (December 1937-April 1938 Amazing as "Zagribud" as by Fearn; cut 1952) as by Vargo Statten; he subsequently wrote a good deal for Astounding Science-Fiction while it was edited by F Orlin Tremaine, contributing numerous Thought-Variant stories, some of which he later expanded into Vargo Statten novels, including Nebula X (Fall 1946 Thrilling Wonder as "The Multillionth Chance" as by Fearn; rev 1950), The Sun Makers (January 1937 Astounding as "Metamorphosis" as by Fearn; rev 1950), The Avenging Martian (January 1938 Astounding as "Red Heritage" as by Fearn; rev 1950), The Renegade Star (September 1935 Astounding as "The Blue Infinity" as by Fearn; rev 1951), The Inner Cosmos (March 1937 Astounding as "Worlds Within" as by Fearn; rev 1952), To the Ultimate (February, May 1936 Astounding as "Mathematica" and "Mathematica Plus" as by Fearn; rev 1952) and The Dust Destroyer (March 1934 Astounding as "The Man Who Stopped the Dust" as by Fearn; rev 1953). The rewrites did little to modernize the stories, though The Avenging Martian has its moments and has been cited by some minor UK sf writers as having helped attract them to the genre.

Four Thornton Ayre novelettes which appeared in Fantastic Adventures – "The Golden Amazon" (July 1939 Fantastic Adventures), "The Amazon Fights Again" (June 1940 Fantastic Adventures), "The Golden Amazon Returns" (January 1941 Fantastic Adventures) and "Children of the Golden Amazon" (April 1943 Fantastic Adventures) – introduced the superwoman (see Superman) Violet Ray, known as the Golden Amazon. Fearn abandoned this Pulp material and gave the character an entirely different origin story for the original novel The Golden Amazon (1944), which despite claims in several bibliographies is not a mere reworking of the magazine stories. The early novelettes were eventually assembled by Philip Harbottle as The Golden Amazon of Venus (stories July 1939-April 1943 Fantastic Adventures; coll of linked stories 2006). The 1944 novel was reprinted in The Toronto Star Weekly to such acclaim that twenty-three sequels followed, the last appearing posthumously there in 1961. They began appearing in book form as The Golden Amazon Returns (3 November 1945 The Toronto Star Weekly; 1949; vt The Deathless Amazon 1955), The Golden Amazon's Triumph (27 April 1946 The Toronto Star Weekly; 1953), The Amazon's Diamond Quest (8 February 1947 The Toronto Star Weekly as "Diamond Quest"; 1953), The Amazon Strikes Again (21 December 1948 The Toronto Star Weekly; 1954), Twin of the Amazon (13 November 1948 The Toronto Star Weekly; 1954), Conquest of the Amazon (2 April 1949 The Toronto Star Weekly; 1973 chap) and Lord of Atlantis (8 October 1949 The Toronto Star Weekly; 1991 chap), the last being a typically exuberant Fearn plot involving not only Atlantis but an Atlantean colony on Jupiter, and some heated intimations of Sex; more recently, Philip Harbottle has edited a series of book republications of later tales [see Checklist], including a collection of the magazine stories which established the character (as above).

Two other series are Edgar Rice Burroughs imitations: the Clayton Drew interplanetary romances Emperor of Mars (1950), Warrior of Mars (1950), Red Men of Mars (1950) and Goddess of Mars (1950); and the Anjani sequence of Tarzan imitations signed Earl Titan: The Gold of Akada (1951) and Anjani, the Mighty (1951). Fearn also wrote the book of the notable 1954 schlock-horror film The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) as Vargo Statten; it may be his best-known single title. Scion, publishers of Vargo Statten, created the Vargo Statten Science Fiction Magazine, although Fearn did not become its editor immediately; it underwent several title changes in the course of its short life.

From 1944 Fearn diversified into other genres, beginning with better-written hardcover detective novels and then producing routine Westerns (using "pesky varmint" dialogue with Hollywood panache), adventure yarns and romances. However, he seemingly interpreted the belated book appearance of E E Smith's The Skylark of Space (August-October 1928 Amazing; 1946), and the success of his own Golden Amazon series in Canada, as indications of a continuing readership for simple thirties-style sf. His sf paperback originals for Scion, beginning in 1949, created a UK mini-boom in such books; although colourful and inventive, their old-fashioned tone dismayed many experienced sf fans, and over-imitation by cruder writers brought a swift end to the boom. After Fearn's marriage in November 1956 he reduced his writing in favour of other work.

Fearn's writing was unpolished and his use of ideas imaginatively reckless, but his best work is vigorous and occasionally vivid. His works have sometimes proved popular in translation; he enjoyed something of a boom in Italy in the 1970s. In recent decades many of Fearn's estimated 180 books have been republished, mainly benefiting libraries and collectors, his own name often replacing an earlier pseudonym. [BS/JC/DRL/DR]

see also: Boys' Papers; Clones; Time Travel.

John Francis Russell Fearn

born Worlsey, Lancashire: 5 June 1908

died Blackpool, Lancashire: 18 September 1960

works

Given the complexity of Fearn's oeuvre and the large number of stories published in magazines (most often as by Fearn but released in book form under various pseudonyms), all novels known to have been first published in magazines are cited here. Moreover, because pseudonyms were applied seemingly without relation to the nature of the stories told, we list first works written as John Russell Fearn (we follow the same practice with R L Fanthorpe) and then pseudonymous works. Pseudonymous works are arranged under each pseudonym separately; pseudonyms are arrayed according to the first book publication under that particular name.

works as John Russell Fearn

series

Golden Amazon

  • The Golden Amazon (London: World's Work, 1944) [#1: in the publisher's Master Thriller series: Golden Amazon: hb/]
  • The Golden Amazon Returns (London: World's Work, 1949) [#2: first appeared 3 November 1945 The Toronto Star Weekly: in the publisher's Master Thriller series: Golden Amazon: hb/]
    • The Deathless Amazon (Toronto, Ontario: Harlequin Books, 1955) [vt of the above: Golden Amazon: pb/Paul Anna Soik]
  • The Golden Amazon's Triumph (London: World's Work, 1953) [#3: first appeared 27 April 1946 The Toronto Star Weekly: in the publisher's Master Thriller series: Golden Amazon: hb/]
  • The Amazon's Diamond Quest (London: World's Work, 1949) [#4: first appeared 8 February 1947 The Toronto Star Weekly as "Diamond Quest": in the publisher's Master Thriller series: Golden Amazon: hb/]
  • The Amazon Strikes Again (London: World's Work, 1954) [#5: first appeared 21 December 1948 The Toronto Star Weekly: in the publisher's Master Thriller series: Golden Amazon: hb/]
  • Twin of the Amazon (London: World's Work, 1954) [#6: first appeared 13 November 1948 The Toronto Star Weekly: in the publisher's Master Science Fiction series: Golden Amazon: hb/]
  • Conquest of the Amazon (London: Futura, 1976) [#7: first appeared 2 April 1949 The Toronto Star Weekly: Golden Amazon: hb/Chris Achilleos]
  • Lord of Atlantis (Marsh, Westbury: Zeon Books, 1991) [chap: #8: first appeared 8 October 1949 The Toronto Star Weekly: Golden Amazon: pb/]
  • Triangle of Power (Brooklyn, New York: Gryphon Books, 1999) [#9: first appeared 13 May 1950 The Toronto Star Weekly: Golden Amazon: pb/Ron Turner]
  • The Amethyst City (Brooklyn, New York: Gryphon Books, 2000) [#10: first appeared 3 March 1951 The Toronto Star Weekly: Golden Amazon: pb/Ron Turner]
  • Daughter of the Golden Amazon (Brooklyn, New York: Gryphon Books, 2001) [#11: first appeared 25 October 1952 The Toronto Star Weekly: Golden Amazon: pb/Ron Turner]
  • Quorne Returns (Brooklyn, New York: Gryphon Books, 2001) [#12: first appeared 25 October 1952 The Toronto Star Weekly: Golden Amazon: pb/Ron Turner]
  • The Central Intelligence (Brooklyn, New York: Gryphon Books, 2001) [#13: first appeared 22 August 1953 The Toronto Star Weekly: Golden Amazon: pb/Ron Turner]
  • The Cosmic Crusaders (Brooklyn, New York: Gryphon Books, 2002) [#14: first appeared 12 February 1955 The Toronto Star Weekly: Golden Amazon: pb/Ron Turner]
  • Parasite Planet (Brooklyn, New York: Gryphon Books, 2002) [#15: first appeared 27 August 1955 The Toronto Star Weekly: Golden Amazon: pb/Ron Turner]
  • World Out of Step (Brooklyn, New York: Gryphon Books, 2003) [coll: #16: first appeared 17 November 1956 The Toronto Star Weekly: with one (non-series) story added: Golden Amazon: pb/Ron Turner]
  • The Shadow People (Brooklyn, New York: Gryphon Books, 2003) [coll: #17: first appeared 6 April 1957 The Toronto Star Weekly: with one (non-series) story added: Golden Amazon: pb/Ron Turner]
  • Kingpin Planet (Brooklyn, New York: Gryphon Books, 2004) [coll: #18: first appeared 6 April 1957 The Toronto Star Weekly: with one (non-series) story added: Golden Amazon: pb/Ron Turner]
  • World in Reverse (Brooklyn, New York: Gryphon Books, 2004) [coll: #19: first appeared 26 April 1958 The Toronto Star Weekly: with one (non-series) story added: Golden Amazon: pb/Ron Turner]
  • Dwellers in Darkness (Brooklyn, New York: Gryphon Books, 2004) [coll: #20: first appeared 29 November 1958 The Toronto Star Weekly: with one (non-series) story added: Golden Amazon: pb/Ron Turner]
  • World in Duplicate (Brooklyn, New York: Gryphon Books, 2004) [coll: #21: first appeared 16 May 1959 The Toronto Star Weekly: with one (non-series) story added: Golden Amazon: pb/Ron Turner]
  • Lords of Creation (Brooklyn, New York: Gryphon Books, 2004) [#22: no prior serialization: Golden Amazon: pb/Ron Turner]
  • Duel with Colossus (Brooklyn, New York: Gryphon Books, 2004) [#23: no prior serialization: Golden Amazon: pb/Ron Turner]
  • Standstill Planet (Brooklyn, New York: Gryphon Books, 2005) [#24: cut version first appeared 26 March 1960 The Toronto Star Weekly: Golden Amazon: pb/Ron Turner]
  • Ghost World (Brooklyn, New York: Gryphon Books, 2005) [coll: #25: cut version first appeared 17 December 1960 The Toronto Star Weekly: with two (non-series) stories added: Golden Amazon: pb/Ron Turner]
  • Earth Divided (Brooklyn, New York: Gryphon Books, 2005) [coll: #26: cut version first appeared 14 June 1961 The Toronto Star Weekly: with one (non-series) story added: Golden Amazon: pb/Ron Turner]
  • The Golden Amazon of Venus (Brooklyn, New York: Gryphon Books, 2005) edited by Philip Harbottle [coll: the original four Golden Amazon stories, first appeared July 1939-April 1943 Fantastic Adventures: not regarded as part of the above numbered sequence: Golden Amazon: pb/Ron Turner]
  • Chameleon Planet (Brooklyn, New York: Gryphon Books, 2006) with Philip Harbottle [coll: Golden Amazon: pb/Ron Turner]

Liners of Time

  • Liners of Time (London: World's Work, 1947) [first appeared May-August 1935 Amazing: in the publisher's Master Thriller series: Liners of Time: hb/]
  • Science Metropolis (London: Scion, 1950) as by Vargo Statten [longer version first appeared December 1937-April 1938 Astounding as "Zagribud" as by John Russell Fearn: Liners of Time: pb/Philip Mendoza]
  • The Dust Destroyers (London: Scion, 1950) as by Vargo Statten [early version first appeared March 1934 Astounding as "The Man Who Stopped the Dust" as by John Russell Fearn: Liners of Time: pb/John Richards]
  • To the Ultimate (London: Scion, 1952) as by Vargo Statten [early version first appeared February and May 1936 Astounding as "Mathematica" and "Mathematica Plus" as by John Russell Fearn: Liners of Time: pb/Gordon C Davies]

Clayton Drew

individual titles

works under various pseudonyms

as Dennis Clive

as Polton Cross

as Astron del Martia

as John Russell

  • Account Settled (London: Paget Publications, 1949) as by John Russell [pb/Oliver Brabbins]

as Vargo Statten

as Hugo Blayn

  • What Happened to Hammond? (London: Scion/Dragon Books, 1951) as by Hugo Blayn [all other titles in series are associational only: Inspector Garth/Dr Carruthers: pb/]

as Earl Titan

as Spike Gordon

  • Don't Touch Me (London: Modern Fiction, 1953) as by Spike Gordon [pb/]

as Volsted Gridban

as "Griff"

as Conrad G Holt

as Paul Lorraine

as Laurence F Rose

as Brian Shaw

about the author

links

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