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Evans, I O

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author, Editor.

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(1894-1977) South-African-born editor and author, in UK from an early age, and a UK civil servant from 1912; he was in active service throughout World War One. His first book of sf relevance was the nonfiction The World of Tomorrow – A Junior Book of Forecasts (1933), focusing on possible future Inventions, partly illustrated with reproductions of artwork from sf magazines, and thus – almost accidentally – the first Anthology of sf Illustration; Anthology of Armageddon (anth 1935) with Bernard Newman assembled stories directly related to World War One, mostly nonfantastic. Tales like Gadget City: A Story of Ancient Alexandria (1944) – which features an ancient Briton enslaved in Alexandria, where he is enthralled by the Inventions in which it glories, including a giant steamship – incorporate some sf anomalies into narratives that are, again, mostly nonfantastic. The Coming of a King; A Story of the Stone Age (1950) is Prehistoric SF.

As editor and translator, Evans specialized in the works of Jules Verne, beginning with Jules Verne – Master of Science Fiction (coll 1956), which assembles extracts from Verne's novels; in 1958 he began to publish the Arco Publications Fitzroy edition of Verne's work in translation; some of these were reprinted by Ace Books. Unfortunately, in editing Verne Evans modified but did not necessarily improve some dubious early translations, sometimes abridging them cruelly, partly in obedience to publisher restrictions on page count, but also preserving an unfortunate English-language tradition of presenting texts of Verne carefully stripped of adult themes and other complications, a distortion intensified by frequent errors both literal and tonal. Many of these books require some research to identify, as Evans often gave them titles of his own manufacture. Jules Verne and his Work (1965) is a useful primer. Evans also edited Science Fiction through the Ages 1 (anth 1966) and Science Fiction through the Ages 2 (anth 1966), the first volume of which is restricted to pre-twentieth-century sf. The Borgo Press series, I O Evans Studies in the Philosophy and Criticism of Literature, was initiated in the 1980s in his honour. [PN/JC]

Idrisyn Oliver Evans

born Bloemfontein, Orange Free State [now part of the Republic of South Africa]: 11 November 1894

died 13 February 1977

works (selected)


works as editor

works as translator/editor


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