Pseudonym of UK author David Storr Unwin (1918-2010), a member of the Unwin publishing family; most of his work was for older children, beginning with Rick Afire! (1942), the first of several nonfantastic titles – the rick here in question being in fact a mundane hayrick – in the Crusoe sequence, which was followed by the Warners series, similarly nonfantastic, perhaps so designed to comfort readers living through World War Two and its aftermath. Severn's later fantasy and sf tales, on the other hand, are considerably more taxing. They include two Timeslip dramas: Dream Gold (1949) features two boys whose shared dreams (see ESP) provide the engine that sends them back 300 years to a time of piracy and adventure, one of them being killed there; Drumbeats! (1953) carries its protagonists back to 1935 Africa, where their adventures generate a dangerous conflagration in the present.
The Future Took Us (1957), which is a Scientific Romance, shifts its young protagonists into the year 3000 by Time Machine, long after a planetary War – not dissimilar in its nature and duration to H G Wells's rendering of a nearly interminable World War Two in The Shape of Things to Come (1933) – has been succeeded by a rule-bound Dystopia run by a priestly caste according to "instructions" extracted from an ancient Mathematics primer (see Memes). The rulers occupy an Underground fastness beneath London which also houses an ancient nuclear reactor; those not of the elite are forbidden anything but the most elementary tools. The protagonists are incarcerated with two other involuntary time travellers: an ingenious human from the twenty-second century, and an Apes-As-Human creature variously described as Caliban or a Neanderthaler (neither descriptor is appropriate). After a successful revolt, the young narrator of the tale (typical of the scientific romance, he is fundamentally an onlooker) is sent back to his own time; his friend, having fallen in love with the future and a young girl, elects to remain.
Foxy-Boy (1959) deals with a feral child raised by foxes and hunted by men for sport. The ghost in The Girl in the Grove (1974) serves as a kind of Time Viewer through whom the protagonist learns a saving lesson about the savage past of his family. The Wishing Bone (1977) is a Three Wishes fantasy [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below]. Severn's two adult novels, written under his real name, were unsuccessful. [JC]
David Storr Unwin
born London: 3 December 1918
died London: 11 February 2010
works (highly selected)
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