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Sieveking, Lance

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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Working name of UK poet, radio and television producer and author Lancelot de Giberne Sieveking (1896-1972) for his later work, though his first books were signed with his full name, or with Lancelot reduced to L, or as Capt L de G Sieveking (he reached the rank of Captain during active service in the Royal Naval Air Service through most of World War One). He was with the BBC 1925-1956, producing at least 200 plays for Radio by 1938, including work by Lord Dunsany, Jules Verne and H G Wells; and the first Television play in 1930, an adaptation of Luigi Pirandello's short nonfantastic drama L'uomo dal fiore in bocca ["The Man With the Flower in his Mouth"] (1922); he himself adapted his own novel, A Tomb With a View (1950), a gothic thriller involving Aleister Crowley [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below]. His literary memoir, The Eye of the Beholder (1957), included portraits of figures of sf interest such as George Bernard Shaw and H G Wells.

Sieveking began publishing sf with a Time Viewer tale, "The Prophetic Camera", for The English Review in February 1922; his first novel Stampede! (1924) – dedicated to, illustrated by, and in its side-of-the-mouth fantasticality derivative of, his godfather G K Chesterton – is a Scientific Romance featuring a Thought Machine used by anarchists to convey Telepathic commands. An early draft of this tale as «The Thought Machine» has more than once been listed in error as having been published some time before 1922.

Three further novels are of interest. Set in a Near Future world where commercial trans-Atlantic flights are common, The Ultimate Island: A Strange Adventure (1925) focuses on the discovery of a circular Archipelago concealed in the midst of concealing fog and whirlpools, a maelstrom into which ships have been lured for centuries; at the heart of this hidden Utopia (see Lost Race), Atlantis has survived, the success of this world partly due to the use of mesmerism (see Hypnosis) in the education of children (see Education in SF); the cheap-shot antisemitism displayed here may have been inherited from his godfather. All Children Must Be Paid For (1929), undated though by implication set in the Near Future, is a Satire on Eugenics. His best known work of this sort, A Private Volcano: A Modern Novel of Science and Imagination (1955), depicts the effects of a catalyst (thrown up from a volcano) which turns all dross to gold (see Transmutation); the tale was his contribution to Ward Lock and Company's Modern Novels of Science and Imagination, an sf series he edited in 1955-1956. After outgrowing his borrowed manners, Sieveking became a genuinely literate writer, though sometimes uneasy in his handling of genre effects. [JC]

see also: Islands.

Lancelot de Giberne Sieveking

born Harrow, Middlesex: 19 March 1896

died Foxhall, Suffolk: 6 January 1972


poetry collections (selected)


about the author


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