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September 2002
 
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The Bright Messenger by Algernon Blackwood (1921)

In 1911, inspired after a visit to the Caucasus, Blackwood was able to finish Julius LeVallon (see F&SF May 2000), the book that described how an elemental spirit became trapped in the body of a human child. That was a precursor to the book Blackwood really wanted to write. Blackwood was fascinated by the concept of the Diva. He believed there was a separate evolution of spiritual beings that had developed alongside human evolution. These Nature spirits have the general name of Diva and within them are a range of beings, which include the sprites and fairies at one end through to planetary entities at the other. These beings control the Laws of Nature. They are, in effect, Nature's policemen. Blackwood wanted to portray the kind of being who was half-human, half-elemental. Unfortunately the First World War intervened and he did not complete that sequel, The Bright Messenger, until 1921.

In The Bright Messenger we discover the child of Julius LeVallon, Julian, now a young man. Trapped within him is this elemental spirit which Blackwood calls N.H. (for Non-Human). Through psychologist Edward Fillery, who looks after LeVallon, we study LeVallon and try and get a glimpse of N.H. It is Fillery's hope that he can release N.H. so that the elemental and human spirits merge creating a new Nature Child, capable of healing the Earth after the War. N.H., though, has other views. It observes mankind, though we learn very little about N.H. Only at the end does It reveal to Fillery it's belief that mankind is not yet ready for this next stage in spiritual evolution. That was eighty years ago. Are we any more ready now?

—Mike Ashley

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