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Wallace, Edgar

Entry updated 29 March 2023. Tagged: Author.

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(1875-1932) UK playwright, editor and author, father of Bryan Edgar Wallace; he is best known for his many thrillers, though he was also variously active as an sf writer from the beginning of his active career: the Just Men thriller sequence features occasional sf or Technothriller elements, such as a vast revolutionary movement's use of an Airship to bomb London in The Council of Justice (1908) – foiled by a Just Man's trained hawks, which are equipped with spurs to puncture the gasbags – and a Mad Scientist who plans to fatally disrupt the world's Ecology in "The Man Who Hated Earthworms" (July 1921 Strand; in The Law of the Four Just Men, coll 1921; vt Again the Three Just Men 1933). Various titles in the extended Sanders of the River sequence specifically invoke the fantastic, as in some of the tales assembled in "Bones": Being Further Adventures in Mr. Commissioner Sanders' Country (coll 1915), and Lost Worlds are discovered in Bones of the River (coll 1925) and elsewhere; the whole series implies, sometimes insistently, that Africa is Dark (see Imperialism; Race in SF).

Wallace utilized his experiences of the Boer War in two Future-War novels, Private Selby (2 March 1909-?? The Sunday Journal as "'O.C.' – A Soldier's Love Story"; 1912) and "1925": The Story of a Fatal Peace (1915). He featured the application of Pavlovian conditioning techniques to human beings (see Psychology) in The Door with Seven Locks (1926) and "Control No. 2" (in The Woman from the East, coll 1934). World catastrophe impends in The Fourth Plague (1913), The Green Rust (1919; vt Green Rust 1920) – the planned release of whose titular blight will destroy most of the world's wheat crop, giving a monopoly to Germany and German-controlled Russia – "The Black Grippe" (March 1920 Strand) and The Day of Uniting (7 October 1921 Popular Magazine; 1926), though usually forestalled at the brink (see Horror in SF). The Counter-Earth device features in Planetoid 127 (4 September-23 October 1924 The Mechanical Boy; as title story of coll 1929; 1986). Much of his fiction combines fantasy and horror, examples being such stories as "The Man of the Night" (15 October 1910 The Weekly Tale-Teller; vt "The Stranger of the Night"), "While the Passengers Slept" (March 1915 Premier Magazine) and Captains of Souls (1922).

While working in Hollywood, Wallace assisted on the screenplay of King Kong (1933) directed by Merian C Cooper and Ernest B Schoedsack, though his actual contribution may have been minimal – the novelization, King Kong: Conceived by Edgar Wallace and Merian C Cooper: Novelization by Delos W Lovelace (1932), was by Delos W Lovelace, though the later magazine serialization King Kong (February-March 1933 Mystery) was as by Edgar Wallace. Wallace also scripted a horror film, The Table, which was novelized as The Table: The Novel of Edgar Wallace's Film Story (1936) by Robert Curtis. A posthumous selection of his sf and supernatural stories – including "The Black Grippe", cited above, and "The Day the World Stopped" (December 1923 The Lyons Mail as "The Sodium Lines") – is The Death Room (stories May 1909-July 1929 var mags; coll 1986). [JE/DRL]

see also: Boys' Papers; Francis Gerard; History of SF; Weapons.

Richard Horatio Edgar Wallace

born Greenwich, Kent [now London]: 1 April 1875

died Hollywood, California: 10 February 1932

works (selected)


Just Men

Sanders of the River

individual titles (selected)


previous versions of this entry

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