William Hope Hodgson

By: Joshua Glenn
November 15, 2013


“In all literature, there are few works so sheerly remarkable, so purely creative, as The Night Land,” enthused Clark Ashton Smith in 1944. “Only a great poet could have conceived and written this story.” The author to whom Smith refers is WILLIAM HOPE HODGSON (1877–1918), an English sailor, bodybuilder, photographer, and — yes — poet, who’d achieved modest renown (before he was killed at Ypres during WWI) as a pioneer of what is now called “weird” fantasy and science fiction. Carnacki, protagonist of many Hodgson stories, is one of literature’s first serialized occult detectives, forerunner of Kolchak and Hellboy; The House on the Borderland (1908) is supernatural fantasy with cosmic sci-fi moments; and China Miéville has suggested that the “weird tentacle” meme later popularized by H.P. Lovecraft begins with Hodgson’s 1907 novel The Boats of the “Glen-Carrig”. Hodgson’s (flawed) masterpiece is 1912’s The Night Land, a knightly quest set in the far future, when what remains of the human population dwells below the Earth’s frozen surface surrounded by “ab-humans,” enormous slugs and spiders, and malevolent Watching Things from an alien dimension. Brrr! Let us pray, along with Clark Ashton Smith, that “work of such unusual power will eventually win the attention and fame to which it is entitled.”

MORE RADIUM AGE SCI FI ON HILOBROW: HiLoBooks homepage! | What is Radium Age science fiction? |Radium Age 100: 100 Best Science Fiction Novels from 1904–33 | Radium Age Supermen | Radium Age Robots | Radium Age Apocalypses | Radium Age Telepaths | Radium Age Eco-Catastrophes | Radium Age Cover Art (1) | SF’s Best Year Ever: 1912 | Radium Age Science Fiction Poetry | Enter Highbrowism | Bathybius! Primordial ooze in Radium Age sf | War and Peace Games (H.G. Wells’s training manuals for supermen) | Radium Age: Context series | J.D. Beresford | Algernon Blackwood | Edgar Rice Burroughs | Karel Čapek | Buster Crabbe | August Derleth | Arthur Conan Doyle | Hugo Gernsback | Charlotte Perkins Gilman | Cicely Hamilton | Hermann Hesse | William Hope Hodgson | Aldous Huxley | Inez Haynes Irwin | Alfred Jarry | Jack Kirby (Radium Age sf’s influence on) | Murray Leinster | Gustave Le Rouge | Gaston Leroux | David Lindsay | Jack London | H.P. Lovecraft | A. Merritt | Maureen O’Sullivan | Sax Rohmer | Paul Scheerbart | Upton Sinclair | Clark Ashton Smith | E.E. “Doc” Smith | Olaf Stapledon | John Taine | H.G. Wells | Jack Williamson | Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz | S. Fowler Wright | Philip Gordon Wylie | Yevgeny Zamyatin

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On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: J. G. Ballard, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Luke Reinhart.

READ MORE about members of the Psychonaut Generation (1874–1883).