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The Heads of Cerberus
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The Heads of Cerberus

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  33 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews


Published only once in book form a half-century ago in a collector's edition of 1500 copies, this great science-fantasy sells for more than $100 today. Written by the woman whose pseudonym was Francis Stevens, it has been hailed as the first alternate history novel. Fantasy master H. P. Lovecraft hailed Francis Stevens as among "the top gr

Kindle Edition, 186 pages
Published (first published 1984)
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Sep 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Though little read and seldom discussed today, in the late teens and early 1920s, Minneapolis-born Francis Stevens was something of a cause célèbre among discriminating readers. "Francis Stevens" was the pen name of Gertrude Barrows Bennett, who published her first story in 1917 at the age of 33. Her career as a writer only lasted six years, during which time she produced six novels and three short stories, and she only took to writing in the first place after becoming a widow, as a means of sup ...more
Derek Davis
Aug 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Stevens had a surprisingly short career, nearly all his fantastical fiction appearing over a period of about five years in the 1910s-20s. More surprising still, he never existed!
Francis Stevens was the pen name of Gertrude Barrows Bennett, the first major American woman author of fantasy. (Her true name was not released until the late '40s.) Appealing to a largely male audience in magazines such as Argosy, she delivers the expected brawny masculine characters and plotting, plus the usual gorgeou
Oct 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This has to be explicably alternative history [with science fictions and speculative makings] a great character development for fiction in it’s time and drawing us in to see Philadelphia respectively like in 2118 alternatively Francis Stevens work was published between 1919-1920, cool as in cool genre eye opening brain candy from the days back when slang in English usages were norm and science fiction writers were likely new to getting attentive readers pleasing numerous audiences in the flavor ...more
Jul 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a rarely reprinted science fiction novel of the early 20th Century about three people suddenly sent on a wild adventure.

Set in Philadelphia of the early 20th Century, Robert Drayton is a young lawyer in ethical trouble. Terry Trenmore is a big, strapping Irishman, full of muscles, but perhaps a bit lacking in brains. Viola is Terry's teenage sister. Through a busted burglary and a bit of intrigue, they are sitting at a table with a mysterious glass bottle in front of them. The sterling s
Mar 25, 2013 rated it liked it
Odd to say about a fantasy/science fiction dystopia, but this is a lot of fun! Though she often tackled standard genre themes, Stevens always seemed to find a slightly different approach: Here, she creates an "if this goes on..." future world, but instead of a pro-socialism (like H.G. Wells) or anti-socialism (like Zamyatin) message, she extrapolates corruption, fear, willful ignorance and short-sightedness - which, unfortunately, seem present all along the political spectrum - and envisions a d ...more
Jan 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Daughter is reading this for Freshman Studies. SciFi from 1919, anticipating everything from Metropolis, and Princess of Mars, to 1984 and Brave New World to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Phantom Toll Booth, and Hunger Games. Some borrowed from Wizard of Oz. Francis Stevens is a pen name for the female author.

I was charmed by this line:

"There is no known remedy for the loss of a sweetheart who has melted into the circumambient atmosphere."
Francis Stevens, The Heads of Cerberus
M.E. Neidhardt
Interesting book. A little hard to follow at times. I wanted to read it because it was written by Gertrude Barrows Bennett (aka Francis Stevens)who was known as one of the first major female writers of science fiction and fantasy. And the book is said to be the first book written about alternate worlds.
Sep 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this. Will write at length at some point.
Nov 23, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, sci-fi
This book is so badly written it's painful to read. I couldn't get more than a quarter of the way through.
Shawn Gates
May 28, 2014 rated it liked it
Check my blog soon for a short discussion:
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Gertrude Barrows Bennett (1883–1948) was the first major female writer of fantasy and science fiction in the United States, publishing her stories under the pseudonym Francis Stevens. Bennett wrote a number of highly acclaimed fantasies between 1917 and 1923 and has been called "the woman who invented dark fantasy." Among her most famous books are Claimed (which H. P. Lovecraft called "One of the ...more
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