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Vivian, E Charles

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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Working name of UK editor and author of popular fiction (1882-1947), born Charles Henry Cannell but apparently changing his name legally to Evelyn Charles Henry Vivian on joining the army at the age of 18, though he wrote some non-genre novels as Charles Cannell, and some short fiction as by Sydney Barrie Lynd, Galbraith Nicolson and A K Walton. Some of that short fiction – including "The Fourth Arm (War in the Clouds): a Strange Story" (August 1915 Pearson's Magazine), "The Multiple Cube" (13 June 1917 Flying) and "The Upper Levels: a Fantasy of Tomorrow" (31 July 1918 Flying) – was sf, with hints of the Pax Aeronautica, especially his stories in Flying, which he edited 1916-1919. A prolific author, with nearly 100 identified titles between 1907 and his death, he is now best remembered for the Gees sequence of novels (see listing below), all written as by Jack Mann, about a psychic detective (Gregory George Gordon Green) whose cases sometimes involve sf-like phenomena – e.g., travel through other Dimensions – but are essentially fantasies, the most famous of them being Grey Shapes (1937), a Werewolf tale; Maker of Shadows (1938), featuring a She figure (see Immortality), is also of interest.

Much of Vivian's prolific output had a mystical (even at times mystagogical) tinge. Some of his individual novels, like Passion-Fruit (1912), had fantasy elements, and several were Lost-World tales, including: City of Wonder (1922), which features Asian survivors from Lemuria in a land called Kir Asa; the Aia sequence, comprising Fields of Sleep (1923), in which Babylonian survivors are trapped in a Malaysian valley by a strange plant within range of whose aroma, a kind of Basilisk – as, once it is inhaled, one must remain in range or die – and People of the Darkness (1924), set in an Underground world inhabited by a tentacled species who were originally slaves in Atlantis; The Lady of the Terraces (1925) and its sequel A King There Was (1926), which feature pre-Incan survivals and further hints of Atlantis; and Woman Dominant (1929), set in Asia, where an aged woman rules a land through the agency of a Drug which turns men into halfwitted slaves.

Vivian's most straightforward sf tale, Star Dust (1925), describes an inventor/scientist's attempts to make the world better by indiscriminately transmuting dross into gold (see Transmutation); this (he thinks) will make some sort of Utopia inevitable. Not one of Vivian's books is as fully satisfying as his obvious competence might lead the reader to expect; but hardly any are without interest. [JC]

see also: History of SF; Machines.

Evelyn Charles Henry Vivian, born Charles Henry Cannell

born Bedingham, Norfolk: 21 October 1882

died London: 21 May 1947




  • Fields of Sleep (London: Hutchinson and Company, 1923) [Aia: hb/]
  • People of the Darkness (London: Hutchinson and Company, 1924) [Aia: hb/]
    • Aia (New York: Arno Press, 1978) [omni of the above two: Aia: hb/nonpictorial]



individual titles

about the author


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