Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"Come, a glass to our captain—the destined destroyer of civilization!"

While searching for hollow earth narratives (a curiously political genre, as it happens), I came across Hartmann the Anarchist, an 1893 science fiction/adventure novel, by Edward Douglas Fawcett (the brother of the "Lost City of Z" explorer.) Fawcett also wrote Swallowed by an Earthquake, which I haven't tracked down, but Hartmann is a lot of fun.

It's an anti-anarchist novel, but don't let that worry you too much. The plot is a tragedy, with a more-or-less byronic hero, whose motivation could be straight out of Emma Goldman's "The Psychology of Political Violence." The narrator is an "evolutionary" socialist, and the political debates will be old-hat to anyone who has been through any recent discussion on "diversity of tactics." Hartman is half Emile Henry and half Robur the Conqueror: it's not going to end well, but that's not the point. There's a lot in the novel that is predictable, particularly in retrospect, but there are a lot of interesting moments.

I like it enough that I'll be doing an edition for the Corvus "Responses to Anarchism" library.

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