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Fraser, Ronald

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1888-1974) UK soldier, civil servant and author, in active service during World War One until an injury left him permanently disabled. Most of his work, like his first novel, The Flying Draper (1924; rev 1931), utilizes fantasy or sf devices – in this initial case levitation (see Telekinesis) – to create allegorical or philosophical arguments, unmistakably influenced by H G Wells: the draper in this first novel, for instance, finds that the ability to fly enforces almost literally "higher" thoughts. In the concocted China of Landscape with Figures (1925; rev 1952) [for Chinoiserie, Land of Fable and Oriental Fantasy see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below], visitors to the East gain unworldly wisdom, an opening of the gates to Transcendence which also occurs in similar venues in Bell from a Distant Temple (1954) and The Wine of Illusion (1957).

In Flower Phantoms (1926) an orchid responds to the protagonist's hitherto frustrated nubility by showing her the secrets of Sex. The Chymical Wedding that shapes Marriage in Heaven (1932) climaxes in the Andes; and Tropical Waters (1933) features a Fantastic Voyage through South America, a continent to which Fraser returned more than once. The bulk of his work, through its reiterated use of patterns of travel culminating in a literal experience of transformation, can be understood as a softened form of Fantastika; examples include Surprising Results (1935), Bird Under Glass (1938), Circular Tour (1946), Maia (1948) and A Work of Imagination: (The Pen – the Brush – the Well) (1974).

Of more direct sf interest is Beetle's Career (1951), in which a super-Weapon is shown to have beneficial side-effects. The Venus quartet – A Visit from Venus (1958), Jupiter in the Chair (1958), Trout's Testament (1960) and City of the Sun (1961) – convenes various inhabitants of the Solar System to discus symposium-like a number of mildly pressing topics. In an elegant, generally painless manner, Fraser concentrated throughout his career on novels of controlled wit, mild Satire, admissible sentiment and serene Transcendence; only occasionally would these entertainments move into darker regions. Fraser was knighted in 1949 for his work as a diplomat. [JC]

see also: Psychology.

Sir Arthur Ronald Fraser

born London: 3 November 1888

died Chinnor, Oxfordshire: 12 September 1974




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