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MacPherson, John F

Entry updated 29 September 2020. Tagged: Author.

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(1873-1939) Australian-born author, in UK by 1891; in his complex Future War novel, A Yankee Napoleon (1907), two Scientists – one a Mad Scientist who uses his Inventions for evil, the other an ethical Superman figure – oppose one another, as the mad one devises a brain serum that supplies him, vampirically, with mental energy sufficient for him to become the Emperor of America. In the end, after Britain's initial defeat in her attempted Invasion of America, and much warfare Under the Sea, the good scientist is influential in the victory of the good in the open air.

MacPherson's series for children – the Systurthia sequence comprising Children for Ever (1908; rev 1939) and Children Still (1939) – combines fantasy and sf (see Equipoise) in a Planetary Romance frame. A "freak of Gravity" projects the five sibling protagonists of the series from Earth to the planet Systurthia, a vaguely described Counter-Earth whose inhabitants become effectively Immortal at the age of fifteen, after taking an elixir whose Invention has made their playland society possible. The only downside lies in their being unable to breed, so that every accidental death brings closer the end of this paradise. The five children enjoy many adventures in Systurthia, Ruritanian at first; but after the oldest brother becomes the king's trusted general and ultimately king the hue darkens slightly, with experiences Underground, and the attempted creation of a "Republican" Dystopia by an adult American, who has arrived in a kind of Spaceship, an "aero-bird" powered by Antigravity. After his defeat he escapes back to Earth; as the series has not been structured as a dream, the children remain for ever. [JC]

John Fetherstonhaugh MacPherson

born Melbourne, Victoria: 1873

died Harrow, Middlesex [ie London]: 22 January 1939




  • Children for Ever (London: John Long, 1908) [Systurthia: illus/hb/Tony Sarg]
    • Children for Ever (Oxford, Oxfordshire: Shakespeare Head Press, 1939) [rev of the above: Systurthia: illus/hb/H R Millar]
  • Children Still (Oxford, Oxfordshire: Shakespeare Head Press, 1939) [Systurthia: illus/hb/H R Millar]

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