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Benson, Stella

Entry updated 15 June 2020. Tagged: Author.

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(1892-1933) UK author whose first three novels, each with some transfigured autobiographical content, are set in a World War One frame. The first, I Pose (1915) is nonfantastical. In the second, This Is the End (1917), a young woman in London creates a fantasy world to retreat to, causing relatives to scour the countryside for her; but the death in combat of her brother ends her defiance. Of greater interest is her third novel, Living Alone (1919) [for fuller description see her entry in The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below], where an aerial dogfight over London involving German bombers and witches evokes a sense of Equipoise; en passant, wartime bureaucracy is treated with a dose of Satire. The Man Who Missed the 'Bus (1928 chap) is a fantasy whose protagonist loses the ability to see faces, until he sees Death's. The Munchausenesque Pull Devil – Pull Baker (1933) as with Count Nicholas de Toulouse Lautre de Savine extracts tall tales from a slender basis in fact (see Rudolf Erich Raspe).

Works of more direct sf interest include the title story of Christmas Formula and Other Stories (coll 1932 chap), whose protagonist is transported in a mysterious ocean liner to a Near Future UK Dystopia occupied by vat-born citizens in a Media Landscape where everything has been monetized; and Mundos: An Unfinished Novel (1935), set on an imaginary Island in the Atlantic, ruled by remote control as a British Crown Colony, and occupied by an array of twentieth-century types who are described Satirically. [JC]

Stella Benson

born Wenlock Edge, Shropshire: 6 January 1892

died Baie d'Along, near Haiphon, French Indo-China [now Vietnam]: 6 December 1933

works (selected)

collections and stories

  • The Man Who Missed the 'Bus (London: Elkin Mathews and Marrot, 1928) [novelette: chap: in the publisher's Woburn Books series: hb/]
  • Christmas Formula and Other Stories (London: William Jackson (Books) Limited, 1932) [coll: chap: in the publisher's Furnival Books series: illus/Clare Leighton: hb/nonpictorial]


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