Gull, Cyril Ranger

Tagged: Author

Working name of UK journalist and author Arthur Edward Ranger Gull (1875-1923) who added Cyril to his name at the beginning of his career; moderately prolific under his own name, though he was also well-known under his pseudonym Guy Thorne; he began to publish sf with "The Automaton" in The Ludgate for January 1900 with Reginald Bacchus (1874-1945), one of whose later romans à clef features an identifiable Gull in scandalous situations. It may be because he did indeed lead an amused and unconventional life – as signalled in some of his own nonfantastic tales – he eventually began to use a pseudonym as a cover for more pious productions. But works signed Ranger Gull continued to appear, including three fairly conventional thrillers – The Soul-Stealer (1906), The Enemies of England (1915) and The Air Pirate (1919) – as well as the most ambitious of his sf novels, The City in the Clouds (1921), about an airborne pleasure-palace afloat over London. The detective novel Black Honey (1913), signed C Ranger-Gull, has some borderline-sf elements. Other novels with fantasy elements include the detective story Doris Moore (1919), the mesmeric fantasy The House of Danger (1920), The Love Hater (1921) and The Dark Dominion (1923). Gull's translations from the French include Charles Baudelaire: His Life (1868; trans 1915) by Théophile Gautier (1811-1872), with added material.

As the religiously conservative Thorne, his most successful work was the alarmist and antisemitic When It Was Dark: The Story of a Great Conspiracy (1903), in which a Jewish villain fakes "scientific evidence" that Christ's resurrection never took place and sends the Christian world into a catastrophic crisis of demoralization. His later fantasies, stridently championing Christianity, include several with borderline-sf elements. In Made in His Image (1906) a bleak futuristic world is redeemed by Christian belief, and in The Angel (1908) and And it Came to Pass (1915) miracle-working emissaries from God help show modern mortals the error of their ways. Other tales of some borderline interest include two Future War stories depicting slightly futuristic Near Future episodes set in World War One, The Secret Service Submarine: A Story of the Present War (1915) and The Secret Sea-Plane (1915), and a story of artificially induced Disasters, When the World Reeled (1924). Marked by the Macabre (coll 2002), edited with an introduction by George Locke, assembles a range of stories.

Part of Gull's later life was spent in a remote seaside cottage later rented by Neil Bell, where, Bell learned, Gull's behaviour – for he did not live a life befitting Thorne – had apparently scandalized the local population. [JC/BS]

Arthur Edward Ranger Gull

born Little Hulton, Lancashire: 18 November 1875

died London: 9 January 1923

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as by Guy Thorne

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