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Rhodes, W H

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1822-1876) US lawyer, poet and author whose early work, like The Indian Gallows and Other Poems in Two Parts (coll 1846), but who soon began to publish newspaper pieces and stories under the name Caxton, notably The Case of Summerfield (13 May 1871 Sacramento Daily Union; 1907 chap), about a scientist who threatens to use his Invention – a technique for setting the oceans afire using potassium – unless he is paid a huge sum in blackmail. Along with its sequel, four further sf stories and other ephemera, the tale was first published as a memorial by his colleagues in Caxton's Book: A Collection of Essays, Poems, Tales and Sketches (coll 1876). Also of interest in this volume are Phases in the Life of John Pollexfen (previous reported publication not traced; 1999 chap) [for subtitle see Checklist], whose Mad Scientist protagonist extracts living eyes from humans to make lenses for his camera, and "The Telescopic Eye" (1876 The San Francisco Evening Post), about a boy who is blind at normal distances but able to observe the activities of the wheel-shaped denizens of the Moon. The latter is probably the last story he wrote. The hoax-like structure of his work is reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe; its cold curiosity is as oddly prophetic of the Thought Experiment as is similar work by Fitz-James O'Brien. [JC]

William Henry Rhodes

born Windsor, North Carolina: 16 July 1822

died Laurel Hill, California: 14 April 1876



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