Pseudonym of US soldier, businessman and author William James Roe (1843-1921) for his sf and fantasy; he also produced some non-fantastic work under his own name and under other pseudonyms, including G I Cervus and Viroe. He was a freethinker – a disposition of mind found with surprising infrequency among nineteenth-century sf writers – and in an sf Satire, Inquirendo Island (1886), he dramatized in unmistakable terms his negative feelings about Christianity. The protagonist, shipwrecked on the eponymous mid-Atlantic Island, discovers that its inhabitants have constructed a topsy-turvy Religion, which they follow with pious zeal, out of their ancestors' bad memories of their own shipwreck and out of idolatry directed towards the arithmetic text which is the only printed book to have survived; they worship at the church of Saint Complex Fraction. The book can also be seen to mock the triumphalist arguments that bolster the typical Robinsonade. The Last Tenet Imposed upon the Khan of Thomathoz (1892), describing the discovery by sixteenth-century missionaries of the Lost World of Thomathoz hidden in the mountains of Asia, also satirizes religion.
Bellona's Husband: A Romance (1887) takes its protagonists via Spaceship – powered by a kind of Antigravity device – to Mars, where they find a humanlike society distinguished from ours partly by the Martians' insistence that the literal truth must always be told, but mainly by the fact that they live backwards in time, growing constantly younger; this may be the earliest example of the Time in Reverse tale presented in full-fledged narrative form. The occasional mistitling of this novel as <Bellona's Bridegroom> arises from William Shakespeare's use in Macbeth (performed circa 1606; 1623) of the phrase "Bellona's bridegroom lapp'd in proof". Genone's novels stand out by virtue of the intermittent but genuine pungency of their thought. [JC]
William James Roe
born Newburgh, New York: 1 September 1843
died New Windsor, New York: 3 April 1921
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