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Potter, Robert

Entry updated 12 August 2018. Tagged: Author.

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(1831-1908) Irish-born author and clergyman, in Australia from early manhood; his sf novel The Germ Growers: An Australian Story of Adventure and Mystery (1892; vt The Germ Growers: The Strange Adventures of Robert Easterley and John Wilbraham 1892) was published in Australia as by Robert Easterley and John Wilbraham, the names of the protagonists, but in the UK as "edited by" Potter. A race of discarnate beings, denizens of the interplanetary "ether" capable of assuming human form, mind-controlling humans, and able to Teleport, invades Earth and sets up beachheads where they cultivate plague germs to be used on humanity; one beachhead is discovered in the Australian outback, with an Alien who calls himself Davelli in charge, and the adventures begin. At the end another space dweller called Leafar (i.e., Rafael) saves the day. Though preceded by J-H Rosny aîné's Les Xipéhuz (in L'Immolation ["The Sacrifice"] coll 1887; 1888; trans as "The Shapes" in One Hundred Years of Science Fiction, anth 1968, ed Damon Knight), Potter's alien-Invasion story antedates H G Wells's The War of the Worlds (April-December 1897 Pearson's; 1898) by five years, but the element of Christian allegory (fallen angels confronted by a good angel) leaves its sf potential not fully realized. Nonetheless, the evil experiments in the chemical mutation of bacteria and the electric flying machines are early Genre SF in style. [PN]

Robert Potter

born Louisburg, Co Mayo, Ireland: 31 October 1831

died South Yarra, near Melbourne, Victoria: 12 July 1908

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