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Sweven, Godfrey

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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Pseudonym of UK-born author and academic John Macmillan Brown (1845-1935), in New Zealand from 1874, Chancellor of the University of New Zealand from 1923 until his death. Both his fiction and his nonfiction deal almost exclusively with New Zealand and the South Pacific. Of sf interest is the two-part Limanora sequence published as Riallaro: The Archipelago of Exiles (1901) and Limanora: The Island of Progress (1903; rev 1931), in which an ethereal man with artificial wings (see Flying) is shot down in the South Pacific but survives to recount his long Fantastic Voyage through the mist-enshrouded Riallaro Archipelago. Each of its outlying Islands supports a society which exemplifies, as depicted in heavily Satirical tones, a different mode of existence, several of the described worlds being deeply Dystopian; his traversal of these societies, which amounts to a portrayal of human vices, occupies the first volume. In the second volume he at last arrives in the great central island of Limanora, home to a scientific Utopia created millennia earlier as an experiment in exalted Eugenics. Those classes of society unfit to undergo the long experiment in controlled Evolution had been exiled, and their descendants still occupy the circumambient archipelago that the protagonist had initially encountered. Sweven then anatomizes in extraordinary detail the central utopia, where medical and Technological advances have joined together in the creation of a calm, efficient economy dependent on a central Power Source, with advanced Computers, Communications, Transportation, Weather Control and so forth, all to the benefit of a long-lived healthy population. Sweven describes this world in very great detail, absorbingly. His protagonist goes through a long period of medical transformation, hence the weird radiance of his being after his forced flight to New Zealand after long-predicted vulcanism has almost certainly destroyed this paradise. [JC]

see also: History of SF.

John Macmillan Brown

born Irvine, Ayrshire, Scotland: 5 May 1845

died Christchurch, New Zealand: 18 January 1935



Antarctic Utopia


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