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Stables, Gordon

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1840-1910) Scottish medical doctor and author of children's fiction, writing well over a hundred novels, primarily for boys; he served as surgeon on a whaling boat and later with the Royal Navy until 1875; some of his books were signed Dr Gordon Stables, RN, and some others were signed W Gordon-Stables or W Gordon Stables, MD, RN. He wrote extensively for the Boys' Papers, including The Boy's Own Paper, where he published many Fantastic Voyages in competition with the serials of Jules Verne; the most Verne-like were The Cruise of the Crystal Boat: The Wild, the Weird, the Wonderful (1891), a moralistic tale of aerial adventure in an electrically powered Airship, and the Silas Grigg series – An Island Afloat, by Silas Grigg, Master Mariner: With the Stops Put In by Gordon Stables (1903) and, less evidently, The Voyage of the "Blue Vega": A Story of Arctic Adventure (1907) – which are narrated within a Club Story frame by Grigg himself. Lost-World elements appeared in several stories, like Annie O'The Banks O'Dee (1899), which features the usual white queen ruling a native tribe; notably In Quest of the Giant Sloth: A Tale of Adventure in South America (1902; vt The Strange Quest: A Tale of Adventure in South America 1937), in which prehistoric animals and ancient treasure are simultaneously discovered, and In Regions of Perpetual Snow: A Story of Wild Adventures (1904); The Sauciest Boy in the Service: A Story of Pluck and Perseverance (1905), a Future War tale set in 1906 with Britain combating Germany and Russia on the high seas; and perhaps most interestingly in The City at the Pole (1906), in which an expedition in an advanced submarine comes upon a Viking community enjoying a temperate climate in a circumpolar valley, where Eugenics are applied, and a remarkable Power Source makes both aviation and longevity possible, causing the exclusion of those unfit (see Apes as Human; Devolution), who survive Underground.

Stables's only excursion of sf interest beyond this territory was a Future-War novel, The Meteor Flag of England: The Story of a Coming Conflict (1905), set in the distant Near Future, a 1980 world where attack ships known as Narwhals (because of their forward-thrusting spiral screws) can attain a speed of almost 300 knots, and where a resolutely racist and imperialist Britain (Stables refers to "alien scum", and patently approves of the lynching of peace protestors whilst the police stand by) must defend herself against Invasions from Russia, France and Germany (see Imperialism; Race in SF). [JC/JE]

see also: Spaceships.

William Gordon Stables

born Aberchirder, Banffshire, Scotland: 21 May 1840

died Twyford, Berkshire: 10 May 1910




Silas Grigg

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