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Perce, Elbert

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1831-1869) US translator and author whose Proto SF novel, Gulliver Joi: His Three Voyages; Being an Account of his Marvelous Adventures in Kailoo, Hydrogenia and Ejario (1851), intriguingly utilizes the convention of the Fantastic Voyage to shift his tale back and forth among several narrative categories: genuinely speculative sf; mild-mannered Bildungsroman leading to marriage; interplanetary romance; the Lost Race tale; and a Myth of Origin story which foretells the narrator's magical restoration of a lost kingdom. Young Gulliver Joi, a descendant of Jonathan Swift's Lemuel Gulliver, leaves America on a sailing ship, which sinks; he is cast upon a mysterious Island whose only human inhabitant, a combination of magus and kindly Mad Scientist, constructs a Spaceship – powered by what may be the first plausibly described Rocket in the Proto SF literature – in which Joi travels to the planet of Kailoo, whose inhabitants to his eyes suffer Time Distortion: their time-sense is enormously accelerated, the vehicles they travel in (see Transportation) move at an astonishing rate. In accordance with the exceedingly rapid rotation of the planet (twenty-four times faster than Earth), their days pass by in minutes, and they die quickly. The plot thickens into romance. Joi falls in love with the human daughter of a family mysteriously transported to Kailoo, but she is soon transported instantly, by a means resembling Matter Transmission, to the upper atmosphere. Attempting to follow her, Joi finds himself returning to Earth in his rocketship.

The old scientist then devises a new system of space travel, a jet-propelled Balloon, and Joi returns to Hydrogenia, the land in the sky, where he finds himself in a bell jar, which serves his balloon-shaped but humanoid captors for a Zoo, for they plan to display him for profit; the Satire of American business practices at this point is sharp. Joi finds his love, and they negotiate a return to Earth, where they marry. But Joi soon finds himself lost at sea again, this time landing on another Island where a gynocratic Lost Race flourishes. Women are physically stronger than men, who are oppressed. But the Myth of Origin of Ejario makes it clear that, with the aid of a dragon, Joi is destined to rectify men's wrongs, whom he magically restores to physical vigour so they may become the dominant sex again, as is right.

Gulliver Joi is told in a sprightly and lucid manner. A later volume, Old Karl, the Cooper; And his Wonderful Book (coll 1855), contains some fantasies. Perce himself died young. [JC]

see also: Gulliver.

Elbert Perce

born New York: 17 August 1831

died New York: 18 January 1869


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