Eric Frank Russell
(Did you mean the Australian fan?)
(January 6, 1905 – February 29, 1978)
Eric Frank Russell was a British fan and pro. Much of his work was first published in the United States, in Astounding and other pulp magazines. Russell also wrote horror fiction for Weird Tales. Several of his stories were published under the pseudonyms of Webster Craig, Brad Kent, Duncan H. Munroe, and Niall Wilde.
Russell was born in 1905 near Sandhurst in Berkshire, where his father was an instructor at the Royal Military Academy. Russell became a fan of science fiction in 1934. While living near Liverpool, he saw a letter in Amazing from Leslie J. Johnson, another reader from the same area. Russell contacted Johnson, who encouraged him to embark on a writing career. Together, the two men wrote an SF story, "Seeker of Tomorrow," that was published in the July, 1937, issue of Astounding.
Russell's first novel was Sinister Barrier, cover story for the inaugural, May, 1939, issue of Unknown, Astounding's sister magazine. His second novel, Dreadful Sanctuary (serialized in Astounding during 1948) is an early example of conspiracy fiction. He took up writing full-time in the late 1940s and was the British representative of the Fortean Society. His 1951 novelette "And Then There Were None" gave fandom the concept of the "ob" and the initialism "MYOB".
Awards, Honors and GoHships:
- 1955 -- 1955 Best Short Story Hugo for “Allamagoosa”
- 1956 -- 1956 Best Novel Hugo nominee for Call Him Dead, Best Novelette Hugo nominee
- 1985 -- Prometheus Hall of Fame Award for The Great Explosion
- 2000 -- Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame
- 2001 -- 1951 Best Novelette Retro Hugo nominee for "Dear Devil"
Russell’s classic novel, first published in Unknown in 1939, is a Fortean tale, with the Vitons based on on Charles Fort's idea, "I think we're property" of some unknown advanced race. The main character, Bill Graham, investigates the suicide of a series of famous scientists and slowly discovers that they all had treated themselves with an odd combination of chemicals, and that something they saw after the treatment drove them to insanity or suicide. (Another victim: Benjamin Bathurst.)
Graham treats himself, and discovers that he can now see gaseous blobs — Vitons — which appear to be feeding off human emotion. Apparently intelligent, they seem to be milking humanity and controlling it to produce the maximum of emotion, causing wars and other evils.
He starts spreading the word and is immediately chased by the Vitons. As more and more people become aware of them, the Vitons switch from herding to extermination.
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