(1883-1959) US author and editor, trained as an engineer, who wrote in a variety of genres and edited (1927-1949) the magazine Red Book, which occasionally published sf; his first novel, Waylaid by Wireless: A Suspicion, a Warning, a Sporting Proposition, and a Transatlantic Pursuit (1909), verges on sf; more interestingly, with his brother-in-law William MacHarg, he soon published The Achievements of Luther Trant (coll 1910), a series of nine detective stories with borderline sf elements, notably the accurate forecasting of the Lie Detector. Some of these tales were reprinted in Hugo Gernsback's Amazing Stories. He also published one solo sf novel, Flying Death (1927), in which Robot planes threaten to lead to the overthrow of American democracy; this reversal of Pax Aeronautica assumptions was not uncommon.
Balmer remains best known for his later collaborations with Philip Wylie, When Worlds Collide (September 1932-February 1933 Blue Book; 1933), filmed as When Worlds Collide (1951), and the inferior After Worlds Collide (November 1933-April 1934 Blue Book; 1934), both assembled as When Worlds Collide/After Worlds Collide (omni 1961). In the first, highlighted by scenes of mayhem in New York, Earth is destroyed in a collision with the planet Bronson Beta; in the second, escapees settle on the new planet, fight off some Asiatic communists, and prosper. [JC]
see also: Comics; Crime and Punishment; Disaster; End of the World; Post-Holocaust; Prediction; Spaceships.
born Chicago, Illinois: 26 July 1883
died Chicago, Illinois: 21 March 1959
- Waylaid by Wireless: A Suspicion, a Warning, a Sporting Proposition, and a Transatlantic Pursuit (Boston, Massachusetts: Small, Maynard, 1909) [hb/]
- The Achievements of Luther Trant (Boston, Massachusetts: Small, Maynard, 1910) with William MacHarg [coll of linked stories: hb/]
- Resurrection Rock (Boston, Massachusetts: Little, Brown, 1927) [hb/]
- Flying Death (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1927) [hb/]
Previous versions of this entry