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Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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Pseudonym of UK author John W Wall (1910-1989), a career diplomat for the UK from 1933 until his retirement in 1966. Most of the short stories assembled in Ringstones, and Other Curious Tales (coll 1951) and The Doll Maker, and Other Tales of the Uncanny (coll 1953) [for vts see Checklist] are fantasy, but the haunting and nightmarish The Sound of His Horn (1952) has often been conscripted to the sf ranks by sf critics, for it is partially set in an Alternate History, a Germany 100 years after the Nazis have triumphed in World War Two (see Hitler Wins); the evocation of this timeless Ruritanian enclave, however, is as a pure fantasy land, ruled over by a charismatic Master Forester (an avatar of Herne the Hunter), where untermensch dissidents are hunted down for sport; the dark, flamboyant imagery of erotic chastisement is startlingly fetishistic. Recent research has unearthed previously unpublished material by Wall and resulted in a reissue of his works augmented by new material. Of these "The King of the Lake" in The Sound of His Horn and The King of the Lake (coll 1999) has a Lost World setting in the Sahara but is ostensibly an erotic Arabian fantasy. "The Sea-Things" (in The Sacrifice and Other Stories, coll 2002) reveals a new merman-like race of Supernatural Creatures. Of most interest is «The Gynarchs», as yet unpublished complete although extracts appear in Discovery of Heretics: Unseen Writings (coll 2011) about a Post-Holocaust matriarchal Utopia. The availability of this previously unpublished material, alongside the earlier books, allows a better understanding and assessment of Wall's work, and particularly the roles of dominance and subservience in alternate societies. [PN/JC/MA]

see also: Games and Sports.

John William Wall

born Mexborough, Yorkshire: 6 November 1910

died Pen-y-Fan, Monmouth: 11 April 1989



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