Senarens, Luis Philip

Tagged: Author

(1863-1939) US editor, publishing aide and author. Under at least twenty-seven pseudonyms he wrote perhaps 2000 stories, mostly boys' fiction, beginning in his teens. In later life, when that market declined, he served as managing editor for the Tousey publications, edited the weekly Moving Picture Stories and wrote motion-picture scenarios. He remains best known for his early work. In 1879, under the House Name "Noname", he took over the Frank Reade series of dime novels (see Dime-Novel SF; Frank Reade Library), introducing Frank Reade Jr with Frank Reade Jr and his Steam Wonder (4 February 1879 Boys of New York; 1893 chap). His claim to have written "most" of the 179 Frank Reade titles seems not at all exaggerated; Jess Nevins's findings (see about the author below) are convincing. The first four Noname titles, all dealing with Frank Reade Jr's father, were by Harry Enton (1854-1927); the 174 Noname titles about Frank Reade Jr, all published between 1879 and 1899, are by Senarens, and all appear in The Frank Reade Library (omni 1979-1986 10 vols) edited by E F Bleiler. As a whole, the sequence hints at the worst in the dime-novel tradition: very bad writing, sadism, a rancorous disparaging of all races with the exception of WASPS, factual ignorance, coarse Imperialist Clichés about Manifest Destiny and the right of the White Man to rule the world. But the Frank Reade tales are, in the end, are also of interest for more positive reasons. They comprise a central set of examples of the development of the Edisonade, and were therefore central to the evolution of the dime novel from isolated Inventions toward Pulp sf, and were one of the central elements in the eventual creation of modern Children's SF.

Everything that can be said about the series applies more radically to the later and more violent Jack Wright sequence, This was entirely written by Senarens, who seems to have been more comfortable with his own creation than with the earlier boy hero, as evidenced in Jack Wright and Frank Reade, Jr, the Two Young Inventors; Or, Brains against Brains: A Thrilling Story of a Race around the World for $10,000 (1896 chap) as by Noname: Jack wins the race. With few exceptions, each tale begins with a new Invention, almost always a form of Transportation, including a variety of heavier-than air dreadnoughts, and even a Rocket that takes Wright into space; Lost Races are discovered with very considerable frequency, and given short shrift; the racism of the earlier sequence is rendered in more virulent terms before (see Race in SF), and the Imperialist assumptions that shape the classic Edisonade are more nakedly offensive here than before or after. The extraordinary if ill-couched energy that infuses the series remains mechanically attractive. [EFB/JE/JC]

Luis Philip Senarens

born New York: 24 April 1863

died New York: 26 December 1939

works

Ongoing research into the vast jungle of the American Dime Novel has progressed rapidly in the twenty-first century; in particular, the Edward T LeBlanc Memorial Dime Novel Bibliography [see under links below] has put much of this material into searchable form, the Checklist below draws upon it heavily, particularly in the presentation of a short-form list of the Jack Wright tales. Although the Frank Reade Jr stories are of at least equal sf interest, a reliable full bibliography, on which a short-form Checklist could be based, has not yet been completed; a suitably condensed Checklist will appear here in due course. Fortunately, E F Bleiler's ten-volume compilation, The Frank Reader Library (see below), reprints the entire series in omnibus form.

series

Frank Reade Jr (one separate title only; further titles to come)

  • Frank Reade Jr and his Steam Wonder (New York: Frank Tousey, 1884) [chap: first appeared 4 February 1879 Boys of New York: Five Cent Awake Library: vol 1, no 625: pb/uncredited]
    • Frank Reade Jr and his Steam Wonder (New York: Frank Tousey, 1893) [chap: first appeared 4 February 1879 Boys of New York: relationship between this and the above version undetermined: Frank Reade Library: vol 1, no 20: pb/uncredited]
  • The Frank Reade Library (New York: Garland, 1979-1986) edited by E F Bleiler [omni: published in ten volumes: reprinting the complete Frank Reade: hb/]

Jack Wright

about the author

links

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