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Hyne, C J Cutcliffe

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1866-1944) UK author who also wrote as by Aunt Ermyntrude (an advice to the lovelorn column) and as by Weatherby Chesney. He began producing work of sf interest with Beneath Your Very Boots: Being a Few Striking Episodes from the Life of Anthony Merlwood Haltoun, Esq (1889), a Lost-World tale set in caves under England, where a clement Underground quasi-Utopia has been established by refugees from the world above, who defend themselves through advanced Technology. His second novel is a Robinsonade, The New Eden (1892), in the course of which a Scientist secludes a young man and woman (see Adam and Eve) on an isolated Archipelago (see also Islands), creating an embodied Thought Experiment where the precepts of Social Darwinism are tested to the full. In The Recipe for Diamonds (1893) a manuscript by Ramon Llull (circa 1232-1315) may hold the secret of the Transmutation of metals.

In the mid 1890s, Hyne began to utilize his ample though occasionally Munchausean memories of travel in what would be his most popular work, the Captain Kettle series, short story contributions initially appearing in Pearson's Magazine and elsewhere; then in book form beginning with Honour of Thieves (1895 Answers as "The Great Sea Swindle"; 1895; vt The Little Red Captain: An Early Adventure of Captain Kettle 1902); and later in the cinema. Kettle's adventures as a riverboat pilot in the Congo, as confabulated in Further Adventures of Captain Kettle (coll of linked stories 1898 Pearson's Magazine; 1899), may have influenced Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness (February-April 1899 Blackwood's; 1925), though they are in fact both frivolous and racist (see Imperialism; Race in SF); the suggestion that illustrator Stanley L Wood caricatured Conrad in his many depictions of Kettle is plausible. Several later titles in the long sequence variously hint at or contain sf elements, including Captain Kettle on the Warpath (coll of linked stories 1916); The Rev. Captain Kettle (coll of linked stories 1925), which features the capture of a woman from the last Ice Age (see Prehistoric SF; Suspended Animation); President Kettle (1929), in which Kettle becomes the president of Mexico by force, thus ensuring the continued profitability of a mining company he is associated with; Mr Kettle, Third Mate (1931), set in the imaginary south American country of and Ivory Valley: An Adventure of Captain Kettle (1938). Sadly, Hyne's contempt for other races, countries, religions and women, unattractive in the 1890s, has rendered more or less intolerable his interbellum work.

The Adventures of a Solicitor (coll of linked stories 1898) as by Weatherby Chesney includes stories about Invisibility, Robots, Space Flight and Rejuvenation, together with several Gothic and weird fantasies; The Adventures of an Engineer (coll of linked stories 1898) as by Weatherby Chesney also contains tales of interest, including the description of at least one advanced Weapon; stories of the fantastic appear intermittently in his later collections, which include Atoms of Empire (coll 1904) – which reprints "London's Danger" (February 1896 Pearson's Magazine) as "The Fire", a tale in which London is destroyed by a combination of freezing hurricane and holocaust, and with it the British Empire – Red Herrings (coll 1918) and West Highland Spirits (coll 1932), a series of Tall Tales [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below], several of which include Lost Worlds and fabulous beasts, and one of which is Prehistoric SF.

Hyne's best-known novel is The Lost Continent (July-December 1899 Pearson's; rev 1900), set in Atlantis at the time of its destruction, caused as usual by a retributive flood (as usual, the sinfulness that arouses the elements is tinged with Sex, which is to say female sexuality, in the form of an amoral She-figure known as Queen Phorenice) (see Women in SF); the presence of inimical plesiosaurs (see Dinosaurs) and mammoths locates the tales chronologically as an example of Prehistoric SF, and makes plausible the suggestion that Arthur Conan Doyle may have known the story when he wrote The Lost World (1912). Hyne later turned to Future War with Empire of the World (May 1909-April 1910 The London Magazine; 1910; vt Emperor of the World: A Tale of an Anglo-American War 1915), where a disintegrator Ray is used in a typical Scientific Romance climax to enforce world peace; and to the Wandering Jew theme with Abbs, His Story through Many Ages (1928 The Sphere; 1929). This diversity of ideas, noticeable in both his short stories and his novels, signals him as a writer who may have been unfairly forgotten, even though he was one of the most prolific and successful producers of early magazine sf. But the harshly unforgiving racism of much of his work, particularly evident in the Captain Kettle sequence, seriously diminishes any pleasures he might otherwise provide. [JC/JE]

see also: Crime and Punishment.

Charles John Cutcliffe Wright Hyne

born Bibury, Gloucestershire: 11 May 1866

died Craven, near Skipton, Yorkshire: 10 March 1944



Captain Kettle

individual titles (selected)


works as editor


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