Rousseau, Victor

Tagged: Author

Working name of UK-born writer Avigdor Rousseau Emanuel (1879-1960), who also used the pseudonym H M Egbert on his sf, though not exclusively, and signed as V R Emanuel for other work; born of a Jewish father and a French mother – as Sam Moskowitz writes in Under the Moons of Mars (anth 1970) – he lived more and more in the USA after his first arrival in 1901, with periods back in the UK, and in Canada 1912-1916, when much of his significant work was written. After a non-genre novel, Derwent's Horse (1901), Rousseau began writing sf in Pulp magazines before World War One, stopping in 1941. Much of this material was never collected during his lifetime, including The Surgeon of Souls (coll of linked stories 1909-1910 various magazines; 2006), an Occult Detective tale [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below] and the similar The Tracer of Egos (coll of linked stories 1913-1914 Holland's Magazine plus other material; coll 2007), which assembles the Dr Phileas Immanuel; his first sf novel proper was The Devil Chair (18 January-5 April 1914 The Boston Sunday Globe and elsewhere in syndication as by H M Egbert; 2008), a tale featuring the Invention of a gyroscopic wheel which propels its crippled inventor at great speeds in the eponymous chair.

In his second sf novel, The Sea Demons (1-22 January 1916 All-Story Weekly as V Rousseau; 1924) as by H M Egbert, invisible Hive-Mind sea creatures threaten humanity (> Invisibility), but a submarine finds and destroys the queen. The Messiah of the Cylinder (June-September 1917 Everybody's Magazine; 1917; vt The Apostle of the Cylinder 1918), Rousseau's best known work and told with his usual flamboyance and narrative verve, directly imitates the form of H G Wells's When the Sleeper Wakes (1899), harshly criticizing the Dystopia there depicted, though clearly without understanding Wells's complex vision of a Dystopia in which his socialism has been fatally distorted; Wells's tale is more a pretext for Rousseau's book – which pits a Catholic socialism based in Russia against the atheistic rulers of Britain – than a vision to be refuted. Rousseau's brave protagonist, awoken like Wells's from Suspended Animation, helps the Russians impose a rigidly "moral", "socialist" aristocracy upon Britain. The novel may include the first print instance of the sf term Ray Gun, as "Ray gun" (in the magazine serialization, "ray-gun").

Draught of Eternity (1-22 June 1918 All-Story Weekly as "Draft of Eternity" by V Rousseau; 1924) as by Egbert is a love story set in a ruined New York. Eric of the Strong Heart (16 November 1918-15 January 1919 Railroad Man's Magazine; 1925) as by Egbert is a Lost-Race tale set in a warm polar Island inhabited by at least three conflicting cultures. My Lady of the Nile (7-28 March 1921 Argosy All-Story Weekly; 1923) as by Egbert, locates its Lost World under a volcano in Africa.

In his later career, Rousseau published some less effective work, including at least two Space Opera novellas – "Outlaws of the Sun" (April 1931 Miracle Science and Fantasy Stories) and "Revolt on Inferno" (June 1931 Miracle Science and Fantasy Stories) – billed as complete novels on the magazine covers but not released in book form. Perhaps mainly because of the overheated but compelling style of his earlier work, Rousseau remains of some interest. [JC]

see also: Astounding Science-Fiction; History of SF; Intelligence; Messiahs; Politics.

Avigdor Rousseau Emanuel

born London: 2 January 1879

died 5 April 1960

works

See entry above for details of magazine publications, where available.

about the author

links

Previous versions of this entry

Website design and build: STEEL

Site ©2011 Gollancz, SFE content ©2011 SFE Ltd.