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(1892-1953) UK editor, poet and author in various genres whose Scientific Romance, The People of the Ruins: A Story of the English Revolution and After (16 October 1919-12 February 1920 Land and Water; 1920), seems clearly to reflect World War One (Shanks, who was invalided from front line combat in 1915, was a war poet). The novel applies Suspended Animation to take a man 150 years onwards from a strife-torn 1924 into a depopulated, seemingly pastoral London, but he soon discovers that the rest of Britain has become a Ruined Earth, balkanized into small principalities and fast sinking into what he sees as further Decadence, though in fact much of the land has become Pastoral and clement. His reintroduction of twentieth-century Weapons gives the barbarous industrial South a chance to reconquer the North; he commits suicide. Coming so soon after the War, this novel is among the first – along with Owen Gregory's Meccania, The Super State (1918) and Rose Macaulay's seemingly mild-mannered What Not: A Prophetic Comedy (1918) – to express an aftermath pessimism that soon became common; and almost certainly the first in which any recuperation from the War ends in outright barbarism, an outcome that effectively expressed the early 1920s Zeitgeist, and was soon followed by stories with a similar bent, among them Cicely Hamilton's Theodor Savage: A Story of the Past or the Future (1922) and P Anderson Graham's The Collapse of Homo Sapiens (1923).
Of marginal sf interest is Old King Cole (1936; vt The Dark Green Circle 1936), a mystery story involving an archaeological enigma, and featuring the use of an advanced autogyro. The Fairy Hill (December 1931 The London Mercury; 1931 chap) is a Christmas tale; Elizabeth Goes Home (coll of linked stories 1942) assembles fables told by a dog [for Christmas and for Talking Animals, see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below].
In Wikipedia and elsewhere, Shanks was for some time wrongly identified as the translator of The Jewish Peril: Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion (1920 chap), the first appearance in English of this infamous anti-Semitic forgery; the translator was in fact George Shanks (1895-? ), who inscribed at least one copy of the book. The Wikipedia assertion (abandoned by 2012) that Edward Shanks's real name was Taylor Bryan Shank was also false. [JC]
see also: End of the World; Future War; History in SF; Sleeper Awakes.
born London: 11 June 1892
died London: 4 May 1953
Entry from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (2011-current) edited by John Clute and David Langford.
Accessed 20:48 pm on 16 May 2022.