Entry updated 29 September 2020. Tagged: Author.
(1913-1998) UK journalist and author of adventure novels whose protagonists are usually pitted against the natural elements, which are intensely imagined, as in his most famous title, The "Mary Deare" (1956); his later fiction tends to focus mostly on wildlife and the environment as a whole, in defence of both. He wrote nonfantastic children's adventure tales as by Ralph Hammond. Some of his early works contain fantastic elements, The Doppelganger (1936), his first novel, being a supernatural thriller. Wreckers Must Breathe (1940; vt Trapped 1940), which features U-boats operating out of Cornwall, verges on the fantastic, and The Trojan Horse (1940) is an sf tale clearly in the mode of John Buchan, though in this case the McGuffin is an Invention, a super-alloy whose use in aircraft engines – after German spies and traitors in the British government have been thwarted – should gain Britain victory in World War Two. The inventor of this alloy is an Austrian Jew who has escaped from a Nazi "concentration camp", an early application of the term in this context, certainly in popular fiction. Despite his age, he takes heroic action at the violent climax of the tale, and survives. Levkas Man (1971) features a thriller-like search for the anthropologist who claims to have found proof that Homo sapiens has evolved from a killer ancestor (see Apes as Human; Anthropology), and that modern humanity is devolving back to its dark origins (see Devolution).
Innes's final novel Delta Connection (1996) takes its thriller action into a kind of Ruritanian Lost World, the valley of Nirvana, where secret underground descendants of Vikings who long ago settled this land are encountered and the rightful heir to the throne is restored. He was appointed CBE in 1978. [JC]
Ralph Hammond Innes
born Horsham, Sussex: 13 July 1913
died Kersey, Suffolk: 10 June 1998
works (highly selected)
- The Doppelganger (London: Herbert Jenkins, 1936) [hb/]
- Wreckers Must Breathe (London: Collins, 1940) [in the publisher's Collins Mystery Novels series: hb/uncredited]
- Trapped (New York: G P Putnam's Sons, 1940) [vt of the above: hb/]
- The Trojan Horse (London: Collins, 1940) [in the publisher's Collins Mystery Novels series: hb/uncredited]
- Levkas Man (London: Collins, 1971) [hb/Richard Dalkins]
- Delta Connection (London: Macmillan, 1996) [hb/]
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