Chadwick, Philip George
Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.
(1893-1955) UK author, an insurance broker's clerk at the time of World War One, during which he served with the 2nd Artists Rifles. His only novel, The Death Guard (1939), made little impact at the time of publication: almost certainly most of the first edition was blitzed during the destruction of Paternoster Row around midnight 29-30 December 1940 in what came to be known as the Second Great Fire of London, and the book was therefore virtually forgotten until its 1992 reissue, glowingly introduced by Brian W Aldiss.
Its initial obscurity may also be explained not so much by its failure to anticipate the actual course of World War Two, but in its creation of a Near Future scenario unlikely to win readers in the midst of that conflict. The novel instead describes the development by a British scientist of the "Flesh Guard", a race of emotionless laboratory-created Androids designed to serve as soldiery; but after a squad of Guards goes berserk in Africa, the countries of Europe band together in a self-protective Invasion of England. This Future War soon becomes nightmarish: the Guards, which are indestructible, mutate (see Mutants) in the course of defending the homeland into grotesquely nightmarish unstoppable killing machines (see Berserkers). In 1970, Britain, still plagued by rogue Guards, continues to suffer under Fascist rule. The book, parts of which may have been drafted soon after the Great War, contains several themes later developed by L Ron Hubbard and James Blish; though it is at times reminiscent of William Hope Hodgson, it also powerfully evokes the cultural pessimism of another Scientific Romance composed at about the same time, Katharine Burdekin's Swastika Night (1937) as by Murray Constantine. [JE/SH/JC]
see also: Politics.
Philip George Chadwick
born Batley, Yorkshire: 17 August 1893
died Brighton, Sussex: 1955
- The Death Guard (London: Hutchinson and Company, 1939) [in the publisher's First Novel Library series: hb/uncredited]
- The Death Guard (London: Roc, 1992) [reprint of the above: introduction by Brian W Aldiss: pb/Peter Garriock]
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