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Swayne, Martin

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

Pseudonym of Scottish-born UK psychiatrist and author Henry Maurice Dunlop Nicoll (1884-1953), who otherwise wrote as Maurice Nicoll; he served through World War One as a Captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps at Gallipoli and elsewhere. Some of his stories – like "The Sleep Beam" (March 1918 Strand), in which the eponymous Ray stops the Germans from sleeping and thereby they surrender, and "The Whistling" (October 1918 Lloyd's Magazine), in which it may be something like Gaia making the sound that stops war in its tracks – directly respond to his war experiences. In The Blue Germ (1918) well-wishing Scientists infect the world with a virus that turns folk immortal, lethargic and blue; they also almost universally resent being locked into their current lives without much hope of change. After the Psychological effects of Immortality have played direly upon the cast, the virus proves ultimately to cause a lethargy in its victims which deepens into coma. They then awaken, rejuvenated. The novel ends before the protagonists are able to work out if immortality has survived this trauma, or if Homo sapiens is doomed to the old mortal treadmill. In his later career, Nicoll became involved with and espoused the "Fourth Way" metaphysical psychology of P D Ouspensky (1878-1947). [JC/MA]

Henry Maurice Dunlop Nicoll

born Kelso, Scotland: 19 July 1884

died Great Amwell, Hertfordshire: 30 August 1953


  • The Blue Germ (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1918) [hb/uncredited]


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