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Stribling, T S

Entry updated 16 April 2021. Tagged: Author.

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(1881-1965) US author best known for his realistic novels of the American South, including the Pulitzer-Prize winning The Store (1932), and as the author of the once popular detective stories featuring Professor Poggioli, a psychologist also referred to as Dr or Mr Henry Poggioli; of these tales, "Shadowed" (15 October 1930 Adventure; in Dr. Poggioli: Criminologist, coll 2004) suggests Equipoisally that the elusive persecutor of a seemingly Paranoid victim is either a buried fragment of his own personality or the returned spirit of a three-years-dead enemy.

Stribling is less well remembered for his sf, even though he produced a sufficiently significant body of work, because little of it appeared in book form. His first such work and the most reprinted was "The Green Splotches" (3 January 1920 Adventure), which reveals the gradual discovery of an Alien outpost in South America exploring Earth's flora and fauna. When it was reprinted in Amazing Stories (March 1927) it proved highly popular and influential, not least on the imagination of the young Jack Williamson. The bulk of Stribling's sf output, though, whilst contrasting strikingly with most of his other works, nevertheless shares a common striving to understand the emergence and development of humans and human society. Eugenics and Social Darwinism are concepts that underlie much of his more fantastic output. "The Web of the Sun" (30 January 1922 Adventure), for example, describes a hitherto unknown society (see Lost World) in South America where families are only allowed one child in order to control population, and any further children are sacrificed to a giant spider. In Fombombo (20 August-20 September 1923 Adventure; 1923) an over-zealous Venezuelan general attempts to create a cultural Utopia in a remote South American valley, with limited results. Most striking of all is "Christ in Chicago" (8 April 1926 Adventure), which is set fifty years hence and which considers selective breeding in order to improve society.

Two non-fantastic stories, "The Magnificent Pompalone" (December 1921 Everybody's Magazine) and "The Mating of Pompalone" (February 1925 Adventure) have a Venezuelan traveller searching for the perfect mate in order to establish a healthy, beautiful and sturdy set of descendants. "Mogglesby" (1 June 1930 Adventure) depicts a race of apes that has developed human traits including language (see Apes as Human). Ecology, in particular a natural means of controlling insect pests, is the motivation for a series of adventures in East Is East (22 April-13 May 1922 Argosy; 1928), but the novel also includes a crystal gem that reveals the future (see Prediction; Time Viewer). Stribling's continued interest in Evolution and Darwinian selectivity is evident from an unpublished novel written in the late 1940s, «Design on Darkness», set in prehistory and showing the intellectual and social awakening in humans (see Prehistoric SF).

Stribling also enjoyed incorporating fantastic concepts into his realistic novels. In Teeftallow (1926) we encounter the character of Railroad Jones, something of a mental Superman, who has not only an eidetic Memory but an ultra-Holmesian ratiocinative mind which can use that memory to solve problems. The serial "Railroad" (22 July-2 September 1933 Argosy Weekly) follows a business's dilemma in shifting cargo Transportation from the riverboat to the railroad, and concludes by projecting that dilemma into the future by considering the impact of the aeroplane. [MA/DRL]

see also: Adventure.

Thomas Sigismund Stribling

born Clifton, Tennessee: 4 March 1881

died Florence, Alabama: 8 July 1965

works (highly selected)

  • Fombombo (New York: The Century Company, 1923) [hb/J Clinton Shepherd]
  • East Is East (New York: L Harper Allen Company, 1928) [hb/uncredited]

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