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Reeve, Arthur B

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1880-1936) US author almost exclusively remembered for his Craig Kennedy, Scientific Detective sequence, the most significant titles being the eighty-two short stories first published 1910-1918 in monthly instalments beginning with "The Case of the Helen Bond" (December 1910 Cosmopolitan) – the subsequent stories all appearing in the same journal – and in various magazines 1919-1935, and then assembled variously in book form; later titles in the overall sequence – mostly novels – are not usually felt to have sustained the considerable drive of the early work. Almost every volume of the series contains one of more sf device, sometimes trivial, sometimes central to the tale. Kennedy himself, a professor of chemistry headquartered in New York, is an Edisonade figure: incessantly responsible for developing new forms of weaponry and Transportation, making breakthroughs in Medicine, forging super-metals and chemicals, and so forth. Though many individual stories show only minimal displacement into an sf frame, the overall framework is clearly generic, and individual titles are variously of genuine interest; the sequence begins with The Silent Bullet: The Adventures of Craig Kennedy, Scientific Detective (coll 1910; vt The Black Hand 1912; vt Craig Kennedy, Scientific Detective, Volume 1: The Silent Bullet 2000) and ends with The Stars Scream Murder (1936). The most remarkable novel in sf terms is perhaps Pandora (1926), in which the evil land of Centrania successfully seduces America from her former power by (as E F Bleiler remarks) "subsidizing jazz musicians" (a sharp contemporary analysis of the stupidity of this kind of cultural judgment can be found in Gilbert Seldes's The Seven Lively Arts [1924]), inventing a synthetic fuel, and causing a stock-market crash. The quick development of a tiny atomic bomb leads to the utter defeat of Centrania. Reeves was editorial consultant to Scientific Detective Monthly (1930), which printed one new Craig Kennedy story and reprinted nine old ones.

Reeve wrote several screenplays, in particular co-scripting the 14-episode Craig Kennedy Serial Film The Exploits of Elaine (1914). This was novelized by Reeve as The Exploits of Elaine: A Detective Novel (1915), versions of whose chapters had appeared in newspapers as "photo play serials" concurrently with showings of the film, accompanied by occasional stills. Also of sf interest is his work for The Master Mystery (1920), which features a criminal Robot; the novel version is The Master Mystery (1919) with John Grey. [JC]

see also: Crime and Punishment.

Arthur Benjamin Reeve

born Patchogue, New York: 15 October 1880

died Trenton, New Jersey: 9 August 1936



Craig Kennedy: Scientific Detective

individual titles

works as editor


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