The High Wire (1)

By: William Haggard
November 1, 2014


HiLoBooks is pleased to serialize William Haggard’s 1963 novel The High Wire, the fifth title in his acclaimed Col. Charles Russell espionage adventure series — which, at the time, was considered by critics (if not the general public) superior to Ian Fleming’s Bond series. “Haggard lacked Fleming’s snooty dilettantism, and was better at creating subtle layers of political intrigue,” Christopher Fowler has written. “Haggard treats his women with more respect, too. They are investigators and heroines with lives of their own. As for exoticism, try Haggard’s character Miss Borrodaile, the elegant, black-clad, former French Resistance fighter with a steel foot.” Under the editorship of HILOBROW’s Joshua Glenn, the Save the Adventure book club will reissue The High Wire as an e-book for the first time ever. Enjoy!



Chapter 1

Sir William Banner was a successful industrialist and he was going to bed early. This he did not because his doctor had advised it, far less because he wasn’t feeling well, but because bed was something he looked forward to. Sir William was asleep by eleven o’clock on every evening he could contrive it, and he slept eight and a half hours like a baby. He was sixty-five but didn’t look it.

He climbed into his bath, lighting what he saw must be the last cigarette of the day. He rationed himself, but not too severely, and if he had felt like breaking the twenty-five he would have done so without troubling to excuse himself. He was an eminent industrialist but a very unpompous man.

He was humming a sad little tune which a listener might have misunderstood. For Sir William was in excellent heart. He had, he told himself, very good reason to be so. His firm had Project A — his consortium really, but it was a pretentious word and he didn’t like it. A very important person had finally given him Project A a week ago. There had been negotiations whilst Maldington was being built, and Sir William Banner had considered them unnecessarily protracted. At bottom it had always been between himself and that fat ass Westerham, and Westerham hadn’t got it. Now he, Bill Banner, had. It was as simple as that.

There was money in Project A and something else. He wouldn’t for the moment think about the something else.

Instead he began to think about Rex Hadley. Sir William liked money and, within civilized limits, power; but best of all he liked a sense of purpose, the occasional casual evidence, flatly against the rest of it, that life wasn’t wholly meaningless. For once or twice a year perhaps a piece dropped neatly in, and to Sir William Banner that was acutest pleasure.

Rex Hadley, for instance — he was getting a break at last. Poor bastard, he had had it thin. Sir William stretched in his bath, letting the warmth consume him. Rex Hadley and that awful wife. Irene — what a dreadful name! And what a dreadful woman. She’d been clever no doubt, something called intellectual, but the sharp chip she carried, the compulsion to be different, had hobbled Rex brutally. If there wasn’t a prick to kick against Irene would seek one. Lost causes exhausted, Irene herself was lost. Not that she hadn’t been fertile in invention. That ridiculous tribe in where was it? which somebody was supposed to be destroying….

Sir William chuckled, for he’d had the best of that one. He’d agreed with her at once. He hadn’t the least idea what she had been talking about but he’d agreed with her warmly at once. Her face had dropped a foot.

Naturally she had held Rex back. Rex Hadley was a first-class production engineer, and that wasn’t something so easy to find. A good one, really good, should have been on the Board five years ago. But not with that wife. Sir William snorted, remembering that there were corporations — over-earnest he considered them — which treated wives very seriously indeed; he had heard that they even ran courses for them. Well, if they wanted to waste easy money, let them. To Sir William it was simpler: Rex Hadley had dragged a ball and chain, one wholly private. It wasn’t for his employer to do anything to cut it.

But just the same, that visitor…. He had been a European contact man with a contract in his pocket which was well worth having. Entertainment had been arranged, a very good dinner as its climax. There had been a hint of final formality, for the Lady Banner of that moment had been an admirable hostess. There had been wonderful food and wine, three hand-picked women, Lady Banner aside. Or rather there should have been, for one had been prevented and Irene had stood in. The notice had been minimal and Lady Banner desperate. But she hadn’t been stupid. She had seated Irene where she couldn’t engage the guest of honour short of shouting across the table. But afterwards, in the drawing-room, Lady Banner had been helpless.

It had been Africa, inevitably — a diatribe about something called colonialism. The guest had been surprised, then carefully non-committal. Irene had grated on, angry and hideously articulate. He had turned icily polite, finally contemptuous. Irene had been radiant. She’d made her preposterous point, fulfilled herself; she hadn’t compromised.

The contract had gone to that fat ass Westerham.

Sir William began to dry himself. He liked Rex Hadley and respected him. He himself had had more than one wife, but he also had money, and money had meant that an intolerable situation could be ended with dignity. Moreover, he had no children, whereas Hadley had children and not much money. He’d made a mistake — you could see she looked down on him — but he’d stuck it till the children were afloat. That might be old fashioned but it wasn’t despicable. How old was Rex Hadley now? Forty-five? But that was the prime of life. He wasn’t bad-looking either — a medium figure, male. Women would look twice at him and not the Irene Hadleys. There were the years which the locusts had eaten but there was time to repair them still.

Sir William began to laugh. He had a high laugh, almost a giggle, something quite unexpected. But it made people smile and that was an asset Sir William knew an asset when he saw one.

Rex Hadley again — there was an asset at last. Sir William had decided to give him Project A the moment he’d heard of the divorce. The decree absolute would take a month or two, but there wouldn’t be any trouble. He supposed it was some put-up job, something some judge would tolerate. Just so long as the legal forms were decently observed in what he must realize was a public indecency. And there had been something about Irene’s mother too; she’d been mean as hell and that hadn’t helped, but now she was dead and she hadn’t died penniless. Divorce wouldn’t cripple Rex. Besides, he’d have good money now, for Project A was the sort of job worth it.

Six thousand — seven? He’d talk to his fellow directors. And if Project A came off there’d be a seat on the Board quite soon.

Sir William Banner slipped into bed. At the moment it was a single bed, and at sixty-five it was his intention that it should remain so. Sleep stalked him swiftly…. It had been a gratifying week: Project A was in his pocket and he’d given it to Rex Hadley. A good man held down, now up again. There was a pattern sometimes, something almost meaningful. Rex Hadley, forty-five….

Banner envied Rex Hadley but he was happy for him too. He was a successful industrialist but a very nice man. He grunted, stretching opulently.

His housekeeper called him next morning at half-past seven. He hadn’t stirred meanwhile.


With the hour’s difference in Continental time Rex Hadley in Sestriere woke at half-past seven too. He had an arrangement with the hall porter to call him by telephone, and the instrument by his bedside had just done so with the discreet insistence appropriate to a hotel of the Conte’s standing.

‘Good morning, sir. There was fresh snow in the night.’

‘Good news. And thank you.’

Rex Hadley put down the receiver, choosing a bellpush from three on a panel. Over each was a little figure — chambermaid, boots and floor-waiter. Rex rang for the floor-waiter, thinking that the term was formally a misnomer since at the Conte there were no floors. It was built around a fascinating spiral. While he waited he walked to the window. There had been four inches at least, a layer of powder snow on crisp old crust. In those conditions it was possible to persuade yourself that you could really ski.

The waiter came in quietly. He had coffee and milk on a tray, and two fresh pears, for he had been bringing Rex his breakfast for three days. He put the tray on a table, waving at the snow outside. ‘Sestriere,’ he said dramatically, ‘is saved.’

‘Oh, I don’t know. It wasn’t really dangerous yet.’

‘Not for fine skiers.’ The waiter bowed. He knew perfectly well that Rex Hadley wasn’t a fine skier but barely competent, since at the Conte your class in the snow was something known at once. But he was a courteous man and an excellent waiter. ‘Not for good skiers,’ he said again, ‘but for the rest….’ His shrug dismissed the rest. ‘Two broken legs, both foreigners.’

It was evident it didn’t distress him.

Rex Hadley poured the coffee.

‘Attention lest it scald.’ The waiter bowed again and left.

Rex shaved quickly with a razor Sir William had given him. Now there was a good one to work for. There were chairmen who would have made a song and dance; looked serious; boomed. Sir Bill had been almost casual. He’d told him about Project A and Maldington, and Rex had caught his breath; then he’d tossed him the job of running it…. His salary? Sir Bill hadn’t spoken to his Board yet, but it wouldn’t be less than twice what Rex was getting. When did he start? Well, he didn’t — not yet. For a moment Sir William had been as near to solemn as he allowed himself. Rex mustn’t suppose that the head of a firm was wholly ignorant about his senior staff. Rex was — well, Rex had been under strain, and it wasn’t sensible to start on an important job bang following a time of strain. Sir William lit one of the twenty-five, counting the others, nodding contentedly. So Rex must have a fortnight at least. Unfortunately he couldn’t have a fortnight — not right off. But he could have a week, he must have a week, and then, when Maldington was ticking over — call it a fortnight more — he could go on the rest of it. Hadn’t he once been keen on winter-sports? (Sir William had said snowballing.) Then that was the best bet in the middle of the winter. There’d be exercise at least, sun with a bit of luck, and always a change of food. Sir William had a simple faith in change of food. And he’d been making some inquiries. There wasn’t much snow in Switzerland (‘Which is excellent news. I loathe the Swiss’) but there was plenty at Sestriere. A first class hotel as well. The Conte. Sir William had stayed there.

He had risen decidedly. So that was all fixed. I’ll see you in ten days or so. And by the way, there’s five hundred in your bank account. Advance on the extra, you know. Goodbye for now. Enjoy yourself.

Rex Hadley went out into the cold clear air, conscious that he had lungs and that here are least they functioned. He went down to the ski school and put on his skis, looking at the soft fresh snow, considering a decision. So far he’d been cautious, for he hadn’t ski-ed since boyhood — quick trips, travelling hard and living even harder; he’d been taking the easiest slopes, climbing again to the modest start by a ski-lift called Baby. He’d fallen but never seriously, and confidence was returning. Today he’d try a medium run. There was a chairlift back in case he came to grief on it.

He spent a day of increasing bliss, lunching in a bar at the bottom of the piste off salame and an unlikely salad. When it was dark he left, leaving his skis at the school, walking back to the Conte. He was stiff but not tired, which pleased him, for at first he had been exhausted. He took a bath and read for a while in the admirably heated bedroom, relishing the warmth. Irene had had the passion of her class for open windows at all times, but Continentals saw no virtue in cold bedrooms. He brushed his hair, still black, and a firm square face looked back at him. His skin, he saw, looked a good deal fresher. Then he went down to the bar.

He hadn’t used it before since he hadn’t been in the mood for it, but now he looked around him, enjoying the casual intimacy. There was a brisk little band and three or four couples dancing. The girls wore their trousers still and for once had the figures for them; the men had hairy sweaters of impossible design or, the sophisticates these, utterly plain ones. After dinner it would be a little more formal. There were one or two couples at tables, not dancing.

Rex walked to the bar, ordering Aperol. He was thinking that when nobody else was ordering spirits, then nor did you wish to. Not that he was a drinker anyway. There had been times in the last ten years when the bottle had seriously tempted. A native stubbornness had saved him. Drink wasn’t an escape but only a palliative. If he waited….

Well, he’d waited.

He moved his shoulders unconsciously, shifting a past burden, ordering another Aperol. A man from one of the tables had crossed to the bar, ordering for himself, and as Rex lifted his drink the man moved unexpectedly. He seemed to have lost his balance, tripping against an empty stool. He fell against Rex and the drinks went over.

‘I’m extremely sorry. I was terribly clumsy.’ The English was perfect but it wasn’t quite an Englishman’s.

‘Not at all.’

The stranger looked at Rex’s glass. There was a quarter of an inch of dark pink fluid still, and the stranger observed it. He didn’t hesitate, nor fuss; he turned to the barman.

‘An Aperol, please, and two Camparis.’ The barman was mopping up. ‘And serve the Aperol first. One Campari is for my table. One.’ There were two people at it. ‘The other I’ll drink here.’

‘You’re very kind,’ Rex said.

‘And possibly presumptuous.’ The distinguished-looking stranger smiled. ‘I’ve lived in England and I know that one doesn’t introduce oneself. It’s the sin against the Holy Ghost. Just the same, this isn’t England. It’s a resort and an international one.’ He considered Rex Hadley, entirely serious. ‘I’ll risk it,’ he said finally. ‘I’ll risk a snub. My name’s de Fleury.’

‘And mine’s Rex Hadley.’

‘Indeed?’ de Fleury considered Rex again, at last said carefully: ‘I remember a Mrs Rex Hadley. I met her once at dinner. That was some years ago. I was working in armaments then.’

‘We’ve just divorced.’

‘Ah, so?’
It was exquisitely done. ‘Ah, so?’ was what he said, but he conveyed a great deal more. He suggested a certain sympathy, almost an approval. It was certain that both were men. One needn’t talk.
De Fleury raised his glass. ‘Your very good health.’

‘And yours.’

‘You’re alone here?’


‘I’m with the lady at my table.’ De Fleury nodded across the room. ‘The man I do not know. He is English but he introduced himself. So he cannot be wholly English.’ De Fleury finished his drink, staring across it at his table. ‘Come to that he doesn’t quite look it. I suppose you wouldn’t care to join us?’

‘Of course. With pleasure.’

‘In that case I’ll buy him a drink. He sat down at my table and I didn’t invite him. You will have gathered that the lady isn’t Madame de Fleury. That is mitigated by the fact that there isn’t one, but informality has its limits still. But since there are four of us…’ de Fleury beckoned to the barman. ‘A bottle to my table, please. The one we had last night. The Heidsieck ’fifty-two.’

They walked to de Fleury’s table and he made the introductions:

‘Miss Francom.’

Rex bowed.

‘And Mr — er, Mr…’

The other had stood up. ‘Julian Cohn,’ he said.

‘Ah, yes, of course.’

It had been beautifully done again, but this time it had grated. Rex was certain de Fleury had known Cohn’s name; he’d caught it the first time when Cohn had introduced himself, and he hadn’t forgotten. It had been a tiny insult but precisely calculated.

Rex sat down beside Miss Francom. He put her at thirty plus, though the plus defeated him. She had a fine full figure and competent hands, the high cheekbones of the mid-European. There were the smooth dark hair he liked, humour in the clear grey eyes, and the air that whatever her years were they hadn’t been empty. You wouldn’t have called her pretty but there were other, maturer words. Her English, like de Fleury’s, was almost perfect. She said promptly: ‘Just for the record I’m Mary Francom. I don’t know how I acquired the Mary, and Francom isn’t my real name either. But it’s near enough to the original for the English to get their tongues round.’

‘You’ve lived in England long?’

‘Five or six years. Since the trouble in my country.’

‘You speak wonderful English.’

She laughed. ‘Of course I do — we’re a race of linguists. We have to be. I speak German and French besides my own language. I can even get on in Serbo-Croat.’

‘I envy you. I’m very bad at languages.’

‘I wouldn’t let it worry you, your own is international.’

‘But it makes me feel pretty insular. You had three or four languages anyway, and now you’ve added English. I suppose that was in England.’

‘Not quite. I had a bit of grounding — my father insisted on it. In my country English wasn’t a necessity like the others but a’ — she waved a handsome hand — ‘a sort of class indicator.’

He laughed in turn; he was finding it extraordinarily easy to talk to Mary Francom. ‘So you’re a romantic middle-Europe aristocrat.’

‘Not on your life. My father was a tradesman, a successful one. That’s what got him into trouble. He had two shops, one on each side of the river. They shot him,’ she said coolly, ‘he was lucky.’

‘I’m sorry if I’ve been stupid.’

‘No. It was six years ago and I don’t do too badly. I’m a nurse.’

It surprised him. The hands, he thought, the air of competence. But de Fleury, the Conte, the beautiful fur across the chair back….

It was none of his business.

The champagne had come to the table and the waiter was pouring it. Julian Cohn was rather quiet. He had small sharp eyes and he moved them constantly. He wasn’t a talker but not much missed him. De Fleury didn’t try to engage him; he turned easily to Rex.

‘You’ve been here before, I expect?’

‘No, never. As it happens I haven’t ski-ed since I was a boy. I’ve been taking it pretty easy but today I tried Piste Nine.’

‘I saw you. I think you’re too modest. I’m not at all good myself.’

Cohn said unexpectedly: ‘He’s quite first class.’

It might almost have been a warning.

‘Nonsense. In any case I don’t come here purely to ski. Serious ski-ing is too much like work, and it’s a wonderful place to relax.’

‘I’m doing that too.’

‘Indeed?’ de Fleury smiled. ‘You have the air,’ he said.

‘I don’t know how you spotted it. I didn’t choose to come. My chairman sent me.’

‘Sensible chairman.’

‘He’s a very shrewd man. I start a new job next week.’

De Fleury made a half bow. ‘An important one, naturally.’

‘Yes, it’s important.’ Rex hadn’t meant to say it but he had. And after all, why not? Project A was important and to spare. He’d merely confirmed a statement.

De Fleury beckoned to the waiter, saying something quickly in Italian. Another bottle arrived smoothly and de Fleury poured it himself. Julian Cohn declined and Rex said deprecatorily: ‘I’m not much of a drinker.’

‘Drinker? Two glasses of champagne?’

‘I haven’t drunk champagne for years.’

‘The better to enjoy it now.’

The band had stopped and the room was emptying. Rex noticed that his glass had been refilled. He drank it as a courtesy and rose. He was astonished to discover that he wasn’t quite steady. It was nothing, he told himself — just a hand on the back of his chair. Nevertheless it had been true he wasn’t a drinking man. Four glasses of champagne on an empty stomach, two unaccustomed shorts before them. Not that there was much in Aperol. Just the same….

He said firmly: ‘It’s been delightful. Now I must go and change.’

De Fleury seemed almost shocked. ‘But you can’t break up the evening. The band will be back in an hour, and dinner’s nothing wonderful. It’s eatable but it’s international food. Look, I’ve taken a little liberty again. I spoke to the waiter just now. An omelette, I thought, if that would suit you, and afterwards cheese if we want it. We needn’t leave this table.’

Rex hesitated, standing. He hadn’t been telling the truth, or not quite all of it. He had spoken of changing but he hadn’t been thinking of dinner; he’d been thinking of lying down. An aspirin perhaps…. Finally he shrugged. De Fleury at least had been accurate. Rex Hadley was on holiday. He knew that he’d earned one.

He sat down determinedly.

It was a remarkably pleasant evening. Rex danced with Mary Francom. She danced very well, light and strong, and he held her with pleasure, watching her wide smile. At something around eleven she had left them, but Julian Cohn sat on. His presence had been the evening’s only flaw, for it was obvious that he annoyed de Fleury. De Fleury had tried to shed him; in his worldly way he had even been gently rude. Rex had thought it curious. Cohn didn’t look insensitive, and clearly he wasn’t wanted, but he had sat on stolidly, his bright eyes moving. Always he listened. Rex had talked easily, aware that he was talking well De Fleury had been interested, charming.

There had been more champagne.

They had gone to bed at a little past midnight. Rex, waking at dawn with a headache he wasn’t accustomed to, could remember it perfectly, since it was something he had been obliged to give thought to. He hadn’t been drunk but he had taken wine. He could walk — but with forethought. Once moving it had been wise to move: no sudden stops, no turns. The porter had worked the lift for him.

He forced himself out of bed, finding the aspirin, drinking a pint of water. He was feeling a malaise which wasn’t purely physical, knowing it for a sense of shame, a small shame, but nagging. It wouldn’t let him sleep again, and Rex took his dressing-gown.

…But it was humiliatingly simple: he’d talked too much and about himself. He hadn’t exactly boasted but he’d felt a need to justify. He’d met three strangers, two of them charming, the sort of people he hadn’t met for years. So he’d talked about his important work, implying his own importance. Despicable, of course: no doubt there were frightful words for it.

Rex Hadley grunted. He didn’t blame the drink — he was much too intelligent. Drink released tensions not secrets, something in the man himself. Besides, he had little to hide still. Project A wasn’t one of those melodramatic secrets which you could reduce to some formula; steal; microfilm to Moscow. It was what its name called it, a project. It wasn’t impossible that nothing would emerge from it.

He grunted again. The fact remained that he’d been indiscreet. Ten years he’d lost — held back and frustrated. He’d escaped in the end but the wounds were too recent. He’d wanted reassurance, balm. He’d fished for it, and when it came he’d gobbled it.

He decided he’d learnt a lesson, one mercifully timed. Had it happened three months later, when he’d been in charge at Maldington, perhaps when they’d really got the thing….

He might have dropped something vital. He had once met a Colonel Russell, something big in the Security Executive, and Russell’s talk had fascinated him. He’d been talking about screening people, not its techniques but its basic principles. For instance, a man with a disreputable mistress, even one suspect, wasn’t necessarily a bad risk provided he was living happily with her…. That surprised Mr Hadley? It was apt to surprise most people, but its roots were in sound psychology. A man could be unconventional, even dissolute, and still stay perfectly secure. The man who was dangerous was the man who had something to hide. Not his secret, but about himself. Inside himself. Psychiatrists had their own mumbo-jumbo, words of six syllables. Russell hadn’t thought much of them. He had another and simpler. He looked for a happy man. The happy man kept secrets.

Rex Hadley sent for coffee. Very well, he’d be happy. He’d learnt a cheap lesson and he meant to remember. He wouldn’t avoid de Fleury: that would look odd. De Fleury was an expert skier, the sort of rich playboy you met at the Conte. With girl friend in tow. Except that she’d been extremely nice. No, he wouldn’t avoid de Fleury. If it came to pushing his psyche around he knew that he didn’t want to.


The room was very hot, even for a nation which detested to be cold. The furniture was public property, grand and very ugly. The heat had long since spoiled the marqueterie.

A middle-aged man sat in it, expectant, not yet smoking; he was awaiting his master, and his master had a formidable opinion of his own importance. The middle-aged man called himself Victor, and his surname was never used. He wore his hair en brosse and his face had the stamp of arms. And something as well, an utter dedication. It was an intelligent face but frightening.

Presently the Marshal came in. He was a tall man with a belly which a weakness for wearing uniform did nothing to conceal. Once, twenty years ago, he had fought a small but classic tank action; thereafter he had earned a solid reputation as an international nuisance; now he was Messiah.

Or recently he had been: now he was slipping and knew it. They shook hands formally and both men sat down. Speaking his language a trifle too precisely the tall man said: “The balance of power in Europe…. We’ve got to have this English thing, we’ve got to have it too.’

‘My Marshal, it will be difficult. After all, they’re our nominal allies.’ Victor was putting the difficulties, doing his duty. It was his unspoken opinion that the tall man was half a mystic. And mystics were hell. Talk to one sensibly, nail him on an evident non sequitur, and promptly he slipped away from you.

But the tall man was staring at him. ‘Victor,’ he said, ‘dear Victor.’ They had been at military school together, a dozen stricken fields, a hundred beds. Sickening defeats on one, too easy victories to compensate.

Victor didn’t answer.

The tall man was suddenly furious. He rose to his considerable height, talking with dreadful fluency. Country, he said, and honour. The motherland. Glory.

He sat down at last… Somewhere — in London possibly but much more likely Washington — was the most secret of all secret rooms. It would be heavily guarded, by men and by the latest inventions of Anglo-Saxon devilry. The Anglo-Saxons met in it in crisis; they discussed and they bargained; finally they decided, but they never consulted the tall man. On the contrary, in any dilemma they blandly betrayed his interests. Moreover they hogged things, never sharing information on what was established, far less on anything new. And this was new indeed.

Victor sighed quietly. He was head of the special service, a practical man with the fears of his type and training. What he feared most was obsession, the tall man’s in particular. The Marshal’s obsession was that his country was still a Power.

Victor wasn’t obsessive but he was something more effective. He was the Army or an influential part of it.

But the tall man had risen suddenly, stalking from the room. It was his opinion that he had decided something. Victor lit a black cheroot. Far to the East he had lost an arm, but he’d acquired the habit of the black cheroot. Country, he thought, and honour. The motherland. Glory.

Oh God, not that again.

He took a staff car back to his modest office. In it he re-read a telegram. It was a serious telegram — much too serious to show the Marshal. Victor had simply suppressed it. Decoded it read simply.


Victor began to write an answer. Coded it would go to a little town in Piedmont. There a waiter would decode it and take out a tiny car. He’d drive to Sestriere and he’d know where to find de Fleury. Colonel de Fleury he called himself.

Not that he’d always been one.



RADIUM AGE SCIENCE FICTION: “Radium Age” is HILOBROW’s name for the 1904–33 era, which saw the discovery of radioactivity, the revelation that matter itself is constantly in movement — a fitting metaphor for the first decades of the 20th century, during which old scientific, religious, political, and social certainties were shattered. This era also saw the publication of genre-shattering writing by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Sax Rohmer, E.E. “Doc” Smith, Jack London, Arthur Conan Doyle, Aldous Huxley, Olaf Stapledon, Karel Čapek, H.P. Lovecraft, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Yevgeny Zamyatin, Philip Gordon Wylie, and other pioneers of post-Verne/Wells, pre-Golden Age “science fiction.” More info here.

READ GORGEOUS PAPERBACKS: HiLoBooks has reissued the following 10 obscure but amazing Radium Age science fiction novels in beautiful print editions: Jack London’s The Scarlet Plague, Rudyard Kipling’s With the Night Mail (and “As Easy as A.B.C.”), Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Poison Belt, H. Rider Haggard’s When the World Shook, Edward Shanks’ The People of the Ruins, William Hope Hodgson’s The Night Land, J.D. Beresford’s Goslings, E.V. Odle’s The Clockwork Man, Cicely Hamilton’s Theodore Savage, and Muriel Jaeger’s The Man with Six Senses. For more information, visit the HiLoBooks homepage.

SERIALIZED BY HILOBOOKS: Jack London’s The Scarlet Plague | Rudyard Kipling’s With the Night Mail (and “As Easy as A.B.C.”) | Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Poison Belt | H. Rider Haggard’s When the World Shook | Edward Shanks’ The People of the Ruins | William Hope Hodgson’s The Night Land | J.D. Beresford’s Goslings | E.V. Odle’s The Clockwork Man | Cicely Hamilton’s Theodore Savage | Muriel Jaeger’s The Man With Six Senses | Jack London’s “The Red One” | Philip Francis Nowlan’s Armageddon 2419 A.D. | Homer Eon Flint’s The Devolutionist | W.E.B. DuBois’s “The Comet” | Edgar Rice Burroughs’s The Moon Men | Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland | Sax Rohmer’s “The Zayat Kiss” | Eimar O’Duffy’s King Goshawk and the Birds | Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Lost Prince | Morley Roberts’s The Fugitives | Helen MacInnes’s The Unconquerable | Geoffrey Household’s Watcher in the Shadows | William Haggard’s The High Wire | Hammond Innes’s Air Bridge | James Branch Cabell’s Jurgen | John Buchan’s “No Man’s Land” | John Russell’s “The Fourth Man” | E.M. Forster’s “The Machine Stops” | John Buchan’s Huntingtower | Arthur Conan Doyle’s When the World Screamed | Victor Bridges’ A Rogue By Compulsion | Jack London’s The Iron Heel | H. De Vere Stacpoole’s The Man Who Lost Himself | P.G. Wodehouse’s Leave It to Psmith | Richard Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game” | Houdini and Lovecraft’s “Imprisoned with the Pharaohs” | Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Sussex Vampire”.

ORIGINAL FICTION: HILOBROW has serialized three novels: James Parker’s The Ballad of Cocky The Fox (“a proof-of-concept that serialization can work on the Internet” — The Atlantic); Karinne Keithley Syers’s Linda Linda Linda (which includes original music); and Robert Waldron’s roman à clef The School on the Fens. We also publish original stories and comics. These include: Matthew Battles’s stories “Gita Nova“, “Makes the Man,” “Imago,” “Camera Lucida,” “A Simple Message”, “Children of the Volcano”, “The Gnomon”, “Billable Memories”, “For Provisional Description of Superficial Features”, “The Dogs in the Trees”, “The Sovereignties of Invention”, and “Survivor: The Island of Dr. Moreau”; several of these later appeared in the collection The Sovereignties of Invention | Peggy Nelson’s “Mood Indigo“, “Top Kill Fail“, and “Mercerism” | Annalee Newitz’s “The Great Oxygen Race” | Flourish Klink’s Star Trek fanfic “Conference Comms” | Charlie Mitchell’s “A Fantasy Land” | Charlie Mitchell’s “Sentinels” | Joshua Glenn’s “The Lawless One”, and the mashup story “Zarathustra vs. Swamp Thing” | Adam McGovern and Paolo Leandri’s Idoru Jones comics | John Holbo’s “Sugarplum Squeampunk” | “Another Corporate Death” (1) and “Another Corporate Death” (2) by Mike Fleisch | Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer and Frank Fiorentino’s graphic novel “The Song of Otto” (excerpt) | John Holbo’s graphic novel On Beyond Zarathustra (excerpt) | “Manoj” and “Josh” by Vijay Balakrishnan | “Verge” by Chris Rossi, and his audio novel Low Priority Hero | EPIC WINS: THE ILIAD (1.408-415) by Flourish Klink | EPIC WINS: THE KALEVALA (3.1-278) by James Parker | EPIC WINS: THE ARGONAUTICA (2.815-834) by Joshua Glenn | EPIC WINS: THE MYTH OF THE ELK by Matthew Battles | TROUBLED SUPERHUMAN CONTEST: Charles Pappas, “The Law” | CATASTROPHE CONTEST: Timothy Raymond, “Hem and the Flood” | TELEPATHY CONTEST: Rachel Ellis Adams, “Fatima, Can You Hear Me?” | OIL SPILL CONTEST: A.E. Smith, “Sound Thinking | LITTLE NEMO CAPTION CONTEST: Joe Lyons, “Necronomicon” | SPOOKY-KOOKY CONTEST: Tucker Cummings, “Well Marbled” | INVENT-A-HERO CONTEST: TG Gibbon, “The Firefly” | FANFICTION CONTEST: Lyette Mercier’s “Sex and the Single Superhero”