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The Menace from the Moon
Bohun Lynch
The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 220 pp.

Bohun Lynch
John Bohun Gilbert Lynch was born May 21, 1884 in England (probably in Devon) of Irish parents. He was educated at the Haileybury School and at University College, Oxford, where he boxed as a middle-weight, captaining the boxing team in his last year. Having to cut short his boxing career on medical grounds, he took up journalism as a career. He wrote 4 books on boxing between 1913 and 1926. Besides writing book reviews and articles on antique furniture, Lynch was also an accomplished caricaturist, and wrote the well regarded A History of Caricature, 1926 and contributed an article on the subject to the Encyclopaedia Brittanica. He also wrote a critical biography of Max Beerbohm, a travel book about the Italian Riviera, as well as 7 novels, of which Menace from the Moon (1924) is the only science fiction title. Towards the end of his life, he lived in his ancestral home in North Devon, with his wife and two children. He died in London on October 2, 1928.

Publisher: Battered Silicon Dispatch Box Publications

John Wilkins
John Wilkins (1614-1672), bishop of Chester, Master of Wadham College, Oxford, and founder of the Philosophical Society (later the Royal Society) in 1662 was a scientist and avid popularizer of science -- the Carl Sagan of his day. In his 1638 work The Discovery of a New World Wilkins discusses the possibility of travel to the moon, while in his Mathematicall Magick (1648), a treatise on technology, he discusses the possibilities for submarines, flying machines, but pronounced himself skeptical of perpetual motion machines.

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Georges T. Dodds

The Menace from the Moon Bohun Lynch's Menace from the Moon (1924) is a literary science fiction novel, with some similarities to H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds (1898), except that the aliens are "shipwrecked" humans and they launch only remote attacks on Earth. Lynch's novel is much more a look at the personal and sociological implications of the discovery and later threat from the moon people, so don't expect a literary version of Independence Day. If you were reading an American science fiction novel of this era, for example Hugo Gernsback's Ralph 124C41+ (1925), you would get all sorts of laser cannons and interplanetary space ships and the nifty gadgets that go with them. In the British tradition of novels where humanity is threatened, much of the action occurs in rural areas, the narrator is much more an observer than an active player in events, and technical issues -- how 17th century scientists manage to get to the moon -- are simply ignored. The latter is similar to what occurs in R.C. Sheriff's The Hopkins Manuscript (1939), where the moon falls into the Atlantic ocean and the majority of humanity survive to start a war over the acquisition of new territory -- the point of such novels is not scientific accuracy, but a comment on contemporary society or humanity in general. In the case of Menace from the Moon, any attempt to explain how 17th century technology could have gotten people to the moon and how they might have survived there, would probably have been simply silly and marred the novel. The one technical explanation, which I won't discuss in specifics as it would give the story away, is gratingly ludicrous. Portions of Lynch's Menace from the Moon develops a mood somewhat reminiscent to J.G. Ballard's early 1960s disaster novels: The Burning World, The Crystal World, The Drowned World, etc. The narrator's role as observer leads to an account of events which is disparate (excursions on the moors, 1920s life in London, pagan worship in the Italian Alps, and family life under a heat wave on the Italian Riviera, amongst others) and leaves a number of open questions, but in being so gives a much more realistic eye-witness kind of feel to the story.

When a man lost on a moor sees strange characters apparently projected -- like a "super-cinema" -- onto the thick fog, he becomes curious. It takes the brilliant scientist Lancelot Downey to eventually decipher a message encoded in a 17th century symbolic script developed by Bishop Wilkins. A group of 17th century scientists had apparently made the trip to the moon and settled there. Now they are dying out, have lost the plans to their space ship and desperately wish to return to Earth. Time goes by and as the people of Earth do not even have the technology to answer the messages, the moon people get angry and threaten humanity with mass destruction by way of a heat ray. Temperatures begin to rise excessively on the Italian Riviera, is mankind doomed? I'll let you read the book.

Lynch's only foray into science-fiction is probably of limited appeal to those amongst you who think Babylon 5 is ancient history, and with no sex, violence or big explosions it isn't likely to be the next Hollywood blockbuster. However, if you enjoy a bit more cerebral fare, without resorting to the likes of Olaf Stapledon, this is something you'll probably appreciate.

Copyright © 2002 Georges T. Dodds

Georges Dodds is a research scientist in vegetable crop physiology, who for close to 25 years has read and collected close to 2000 titles of predominantly pre-1950 science-fiction and fantasy, both in English and French. He writes columns on early imaginative literature for WARP, the newsletter/fanzine of the Montreal Science Fiction and Fantasy Association and maintains a site reflecting his tastes in imaginative literature.

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