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Miller, Joaquin

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

Pseudonym of US poet and author Cincinnatus Hiner Miller (1837-1913). Various birth dates have been suggested, but Miller was notoriously unreliable; we give here a current consensus. His adopted name (he said) was taken from Joaquin Murieta (?1829-1853), a famously legendary California desperado (who may have never in fact existed). Miller's poetry, which was nonfantastic, wears surprisingly well; he was active as a journalist from about 1862, making use – as did Ambrose Bierce at the same time – of his experiences in California, and fabulating those experiences after about 1870 in London, as did Bierce. The West he created was apocalyptic, mythopoeic, grandiose, bogus; his influence upon the creation of the Western was significant. Two of his novels are of sf interest: in The Destruction of Gotham (1888), an irretrievably corrupt Near Future Manhattan (see New York) burns to the ground, skyscrapers in their fall coating the island (and its prostitutes) in a "vast sheet of flame"; The Building of the City Beautiful (1893; rev 1905) pits a failed California Utopia near San Francisco against a successful one – founded in Mexico by a Jewish girl with some connection to the Jerusalem of old – where electric trains (see Transportation) flourish. [JC]

Cincinnatus Hiner Miller

born near Liberty, Union County, Indiana: 8 September 1837

died Oakland, California: 17 February 1913

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