Pseudonym of UK lawyer and author Cecil William Mercer (1885-1960), Saki's first cousin; in active service during World War One, 1914-1917, and in World War Two; in France and Africa from the early 1920s. Some short stories in his well-known and once very popular Berry sequence of English social comedies contain fantasy elements, including dowsing (see ESP), dream-portents and Precognition; some titles in the linked Chandos sequence have a Ruritanian air. Both Anthony Lyveden (1921) and Valerie French (1923), which are standalone novels, contain supernatural elements.
The standalone novel The Stolen March (1926) is a Lost World tale whose modest sf element – the Ruritanian kingdom of Etchechuria, between Spain and France, is hidden by compass-jamming magnetic mountains – soon devolves into Fantasy as the place turns out to be a kind of comic fairyland that echoes children's books – in particular the verbal whimsy and logic-chopping of Lewis Carroll's Alice tales – with the traditional panoply of magic devices, including Invisibility, Transmutation of base metals into gold, and unwelcome metamorphoses for those who break the highly arbitrary rules. [JC/DRL]
Cecil William Mercer
born Upper Walmer, Kent: 7 August 1885
died Umtali, Southern Rhodesia: 5 March 1960
works (highly selected)
collections and stories
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