Ganpat

Tagged: Author

Pseudonym of Indian-born soldier and author Martin L Gompertz (1886-1951), probably in UK from infancy. His adventure novels, usually set in remote regions of Asia and show very clearly the influence of H Rider Haggard; several are of sf interest, the best-known being perhaps the two novels making up the Harilek/Sakaeland sequence, Harilek: A Romance of Modern Central Asia (1923) and Wrexham's Romance: Being a Continuation of Harilek (1935), both assembled as Adventures in Sakaland: Comprising Harilek and Wrexham's Romance (omni 1978) – note variant spelling. The protagonists of the series, following hints from an ancient manuscript, trek into regions beyond the mountains of India, where they find a Lost World inhabited by a various races, including one of deepest Aryan (ie Norse) stock with some Telepathic powers; the second volume is mostly a love story.

This general pattern evinces itself variously in Ganpat's subsequent work. In Snow Rubies (1925) the pattern is enriched by the discovery of an Underground tribe of troglodytes (see Apes as Human) who worship a supernaturally huge cave bear; the Lost World featured in The Voice of Dashin: A Romance of Wild Mountains (1926) houses an ancient tribe of Indo-Europeans, the People of the Hand, who are hunted for sport by Tibetans; Mirror of Dreams: A Tale of Oriental Mystery (1928), whose possible influence on James Hilton's Lost Horizon (1933) has been noted more than once, is set in a hidden valley whose inhabitants guard ancient relics against the day, soon to come, when Western civilization will fall, as confirmed by the eponymous mirrors, which allow them to far-see and also serve as Time Viewers; the pre-human Lost Race depicted in The Speakers in Silence (1929), who speak a language inaudible to humans and who plan to conquer the world, are exposed when a Canadian engineer invents (see Invention) a wireless capable of picking up their messages. A few later novels eschew the lost-race topos: Walls Have Eyes (1930) again features a Time Viewer, a camera capable of photographing the past; The Three R's (1930) revolves around a Mad Scientist's Invention of an atomic bomb; Fairy Silver: A Traveller's Tale (1932) returns to a Lost World in Central Asia; and The War Breakers (1939) is a tale of derring-do of a sort very popular before World War Two showed its true nature. By this point the imperialist and racist underpinnings of the Lost Race/Lost World tale had begun to seem fragile, and Ganpat – whose world-view had not changed since the turn of the century – stopped publishing. [JC]

Martin Louis Alan Gompertz

born India: 23 February 1886

died Chagford, Devon: 29 September 1951

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Harilek/Sakaeland

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