Claimed isn't anything like the greatest fantasy novel ever written that's been lost to time, or anything as melodramatic as that. But it is a nifty little yarn, the kind you'd like to hear told around the fireplace on a cold, dark, rainy night. And it's remarkable how accessible it is to read over eighty years after it first appeared! There are very few aspects of Stevens' prose or dialogue that sound sufficiently antiquated that they'd prove a stumbling block for contemporary readers. Indeed, what little there is of Claimed that does show its age shows it in a way that enhances its charm; you could easily imagine this being an old Hammer film from the late 50's, with Peter Cushing racing around the set in full "I will not rest until this evil is stopped!" mode.
Claimed opens with the recovery of a mysterious artifact — a strange green box bearing an undecipherable inscription — from an uncharted island following an undersea volcanic explosion that nearly dooms the ship that discovers it. Brought back to civilization, the box is purchased by a crochety old millionaire who very quickly comes to regret it. Horrible apparitions of the sea appear at night, and frightening dreams plague the old man as well as his niece and the noble young doctor who's serving him. While the doctor does what he can to learn of the box's origin and the meaning of the strange writing (which always appears on the bottom of the box no matter how you set it down), the nonstop macabre visions (and occasional deaths) that have appeared in the box's wake eventually lead to the abduction of the old man and his niece by persons unknown. In pursuit of his employer across the high seas, the doctor learns of the box's evil origins from the mad sailor who originally found it.
First serialized in Argosy (1920). "...a supernatural artifact summons an ancient and powerful god to 20th century New Jersey. [In a letter to Argosy magazine] Augustus T. Swift called the novel, "One of the strangest and most compelling science fantasy novels you will ever read" - Wikipedia. The author is one of the earliest woman pioneers writing in a male dominated field and to have her genre fiction published widely. "[She is the] ...greatest woman writer of science fiction in the period between Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and C.L. Moore." - Sam Moskowitz statement in Davin, Partners in Wonder: Women and the Birth of Science Fiction.
Francis Stevens: об авторе
Gertrude Barrows Bennett (September 18, 1884 – February 2, 1948), known by the pseudonym Francis Stevens, was a pioneering author of fantasy and science fiction. Bennett wrote a number of fantasies between 1917 and 1923 and has been called "the woman who invented dark fantasy".
Her most famous books include Claimed (which Augustus T. Swift, in a letter to The Argosy called "One of the strangest and most compelling science fantasy novels you will ever read") and the lost world novel The Citadel of Fear.
Bennett also wrote an early dystopian novel, The Heads of Cerberus (1919).
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