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Household, Geoffrey

Entry updated 31 July 2023. Tagged: Author.

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(1900-1988) UK author whose life abroad between about 1920 and 1945 was exceedingly catch-as-catch-can, though he left the army after World War Two as a Lieutenant-Colonel. He remains best known for Rogue Male (1939), filmed as Man Hunt (1941) directed by Fritz Lang, a dark and solitudinous updating of the thrillers of John Buchan, whose protagonist misses a chance to assassinate Hitler (unnamed in the text; only the spine image of the original dustjacket points to Nazi Germany); he goes to ground in England and returns to the surface almost supernaturally transfigured and ready to do the job properly. The tale has a Slingshot Ending whose outcome hovers just on the wrong side of the Jonbar Point: he leaves for Europe, and we will soon know if he has succeeded this time around.

Before publishing this paradigmatic tale, Household had released a Young Adult novel, The Terror of Villadonga (1936; rev vt The Spanish Cave 1936), about the discovery of a prehistoric Dinosaur-like sea-beast; The Third Hour (1937), which sends its protagonist to South America in search of Utopia, but where he finds "The Third Hour", a group planning world conquest; and The Salvation of Pisco Gabar and Other Stories (coll 1938), which contains several fantasies. Later novels with fantastic content include Thing to Love (1953), a Near Future tale of civil war in an imaginary Latin American country; The Dance of the Dwarfs (1968), where feral prehistoric survivals (see Devolution) cause some horrific damage in the Amazon basin; and The Cats to Come (1975), a fantasy about a future Earth ruled by Cats. Hostage: London; The Diary of Julian Despard (1977) is genuine sf, a Near-Future chase thriller set in a beleaguered London; The Sending (1980) is a dark fantasy; Summon the Bright Water (1981) is a Science-Fantasy tale invoking Atlantis; and Arrows of Desire (1985), set in a crumbling Post-Holocaust UK, expresses once again, and for the final time, Household's profound doubt that humanity could ever govern itself with dignity. [JC]

Geoffrey Edward West Household

born Bristol, England: 30 November 1900

died Banbury, Oxfordshire: 4 October 1988



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