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Eliott, E C

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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Best-known pseudonym of the prolific UK author Reginald Alec Martin (1908-1971), whose output consisted chiefly of stories for children and whose further pseudonyms include Tex Bancroft, Rafe Bernard (whom see for details, a byline used for adult sf), Brett Cameron, Frank Denver, Rex Dixon, Simon Latter, Hank McCoy, Nicholas Marrat, Robert Martin, Scott Martin, Burt Merrill and Buck Savage.

As Eliott he wrote the Kemlo sequence of Children's SF novels – beginning with Kemlo and the Crazy Planet (1954) and ending fifteen volumes later with Kemlo and the Masters of Space (1963) – which had a powerful emotional impact on many of their youthful UK readers, helping shape the thoughts of a generation towards sf. Kemlo and his friends, living with their parents in Space Habitats, are young adolescents of the first generation to be born in space, and as a result can breathe vacuum although they cannot survive in any atmosphere. Despite this staggering implausibility, the tales of the children's adventures are reasonably enjoyable for their type and vintage. The Space-Station settings, with families and above all children routinely Up There, were innovative, at least for children's sf; the characters seemed real, rather than being grim-jawed adult male heroes or indestructible precocious superbrats; and the books as a whole are comparable in quality with those being produced at about the same time by, for example, Captain W E Johns, or – at a more adult level – by Charles Chilton. As indicated by back-jacket copy, the Kemlo books were intended to form an ongoing Spaceworld series, the first six being issued in pairs to encourage collectors. The initial pair of books were the most emotionally effective, with some strong archetypal imagery of birth and death; thereafter both writing and illustrations changed direction from childlike wonder to slightly more realistic frontier-of-progress material. Vacuum in Eliott's universe is not emptiness but a kind of universal ether containing the Imaginary-Science substance "plasmorgia", which sustains the space children and exhibits "spume-wake" disturbances from passing Spaceships.

A second, much shorter series, the Tas books, stopped after its initial titles Tas and the Space Machine (1955) and Tas and the Postal Rocket (1955), set in the wide open spaces of Australia – a popular venue for much 1950s British sf about Space Flight, owing to the existence since the late 1940s of the aerospace research and testing range at Woomera, South Australia. The Tas series was part of the publisher's short-lived experiment with simpler novella-length books for still younger readers, and despite some reprints died with the rest of the line. A Book of Boys' Stories (coll 1964; cut 1979) with Robert Bateman contains several sf tales. [JC/DRL/DR]

see also: Juvenile Series.

Reginald Alec Martin

born London: 11 January 1908 [often wrongly given as 1900]

died Haywards Heath, Sussex: 27 June 1971




The publisher occasionally re-spelled the Eliott pseudonym as Eliot; we do not register these variations below.


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