Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.
(1879-1957) US journalist (for the New York Herald) and author, principally of nonfiction on Masonic themes, photography and popular science; for some years he was the Washington correspondent of Scientific American, and he served as Executive Secretary of the Masonic Service Association from 1929 until his death. His first story was "Wanted – An Explanation" (14 May 1899 Washington Post), a ghost story. He became highly active in the Magazines from 1900 or 1901, and over the next few decades published thousands of pieces, including many short stories in various genres; only a small percentage of his large output was fiction. By his own count he wrote for 170 periodicals; he was editor of eight publications and on the editorial staff of several others. His Tell-Me-Why series – almost entirely comprising essays and stories, the latter lightly fictionalized – almost exclusively describes the natural and human world for younger readers; in the first volume in the sequence, "Tell Me Why" Stories (coll 1912), however, "The First Steam-Engine" is an sf tale set in the third century BCE, where the historical Ctesibius (circa 285-222 BCE) and his friend Hero use the former's Invention of a working steam engine to bamboozle the priests of Baal. (Centuries later, the historical Hero of Alexandria (10-70 CE), drawing on Ctesibius, described an "aeolipile" on very similar lines.)
Claudy began to publish sf regularly with "The Land of No Shadow" for American Boy (which see) in February 1931; eighteen of his sf stories eventually appeared there. "The Land of No Shadow" was the basis for the third volume in his Adventures in the Unknown sequence (see below); the magazine story was somewhat recast, the death of one of the protagonists in the original being switched to a more ambiguous "missing believed dead" status. Other stories needed less recasting but were expanded and reworked for the sake of continuity.
In book form the series – featuring the exploits of young Alan Kane and Ted Dolliver, who grow up very suddenly into adult professionals between the third and fourth episode – comprises four volumes: The Mystery Men of Mars (November 1931-February 1932 American Boy as "The Master Minds of Mars" with John C Page; exp 1933), in which the lads travel to Mars via an Antigravity device; A Thousand Years a Minute (May 1932 American Boy as "A Million Years Ago"; exp rev 1933), an Apes as Human tale set in the time of the Dinosaurs, which Alan and Ted reach via Time Travel; The Land of No Shadow (February 1931 American Boy; exp rev 1933), in which a bleakly constrictive new planet, a kind of Pocket Universe accessible via the fourth Dimension, turns out to be an environment Allan and Ted can only understand through frequent horror-stricken analogies to Flatland as unseeable observers manipulate them; and The Blue Grotto Terror (October 1934 American Boy as "The X Mystery"; exp 1934), in which Alan's Discovery of an explosive new Power Source leads to the exploration of an Underground world; hints here of what seems to be a Hollow Earth are expanded into a fully Symmesian inner world in "Doom Tocsin" (December 1937-March 1938 American Boy). This last serialized novel – along with "The Infra-Red Destroyers" (February-May 1936 American Boy), about an Invasion from Venus, and "Return to Mars" (September 1939-December 1939 American Boy), which directly sequels The Mystery Men of Mars, plus some shorter tales – was published only in magazine form.
As with "The Land of No Shadow", the original American Boy version of "A Million Years Ago" had other protagonists who were changed to Kane and Dolliver for A Thousand Years a Minute. Further magazine adventures, "Wings of Lucifer" (March 1933 American Boy) and "The Helmet of Pluto" (February 1934 American Boy), had lone heroes and could not be converted for the team series.
Late in his career, Claudy also wrote for Comics – mainly DC Comics's All-American Comics between 1939 and 1941, though it has not been established if these adaptations from the Adventures in the Unknown sequence, beginning with "Mystery Men of Mars" (April-September 1939 All-American Comics), were by Claudy himself. The Adventures in the Unknown sequence was serialized in All-American Comics (issues 1-18; 20-25); this version of the series was based on its earlier iterations in magazine and book form.
Claudy's Adventures in the Unknown tales made up probably the most vigorous and imaginative Juvenile Series up to that time; it is unfortunate that only the first four tales were revised for book publication. Versions of "The Land of No Shadow" and "The Master Minds of Mars", plus "Tongue of Beast" (May 1939 American Boy), appeared in The Year after Tomorrow (anth 1954) edited by Lester del Rey, Carl Carmer (1893-1976) and Cécile Matschat (?1895-1976); but this restricted revival did little to revive Claudy's name. [JC/JE]
Carl Harry Claudy
born Washington, District of Columbia: 13 January 1879
died Washington, District of Columbia: 27 May 1957
Tell-Me-Why Series (highly selected)
- "Tell Me Why" Stories (New York: McBride, Nast and Company, 1912) [fiction/nonfiction: coll: Tell-Me-Why Series: illus/hb/Norman Rockwell]
Adventures in the Unknown/Alan Kane and Ted Dolliver
- The Mystery Men of Mars (New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1933) [first version appeared November 1931-February 1932 American Boy as "The Master Minds of Mars" with John C Page: Adventures in the Unknown: hb/A C Valentine]
- A Thousand Years a Minute (New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1933) [first version appeared May 1932 American Boy as "A Million Years Ago": retrofitted from an independent story for series: Adventures in the Unknown: hb/A C Valentine]
- The Land of No Shadow (New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1933) [first version appeared February 1931 American Boy: retrofitted for series: Adventures in the Unknown: hb/A C Valentine]
- The Blue Grotto Terror (New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1934) [first version appeared October 1934 American Boy as "The X Mystery": Adventures in the Unknown: hb/A C Valentine]
- Sam Moskowitz. Strange Horizons: The Spectrum of Science Fiction (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1976) [nonfiction: coll: pp174-175: hb/Greta Franzen]
- James Wade. "On being Scared Out of One's Knickers: Carl Claudy's Kane-Dolliver Juveniles" (March 1980 Riverside Quarterly) [mag/]
- Fred Erisman. Boys' Books, Boys' Dreams, and the Mystique of Flight (Fort Worth, Texas: Texas Christian University Press, 2006) [nonfiction: pp278-280: hb/Bill Maize]
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