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Service, Robert W

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1874-1958) UK-born poet and author, in Canada (mostly in the Yukon Territory) between 1896 and 1912, where much of his exceedingly popular verse was set, the most famous of his collections being Songs of a Sourdough (coll 1907) and Rhymes of a Rolling Stone (coll 1912); the not entirely fortunate influence of his poetry – when read aloud, as usual – can still be registered in the sf Poetry of a century later. After 1912, Service lived in Europe. Of his several novels, The Master of the Microbe: A Fantastic Romance (1926) is sf, featuring a deadly "Purple Pest" virus developed by a German Mad Scientist who wishes to wreak vengeance on Europe for the German defeat in World War One by infecting the continent with plague; but it is stolen from him by an Antihero master-criminal before a full Pandemic can be unleashed. The further action involves proto-Superhero behaviour on the part of characters whose costumes disguise their true Identity. Europe is saved in the end. The House of Fear (1927) is a Werewolf tale, with a Devolution subtext. [JC]

Robert William Service

born Preston, Lancashire: 16 January 1874

died Lancieux, Brittany, France: 11 September 1958



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