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Science Fiction Authors > L. Taylor Hansen

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message 1: by Dan (last edited Aug 11, 2018 12:00AM) (new)

Dan This week's entry wrote science fiction stories starting in 1929 under the name L. Taylor Hansen (1897-1976). Her full name was Lucile Taylor Hansen, not publicly known until the publication of Eric Leif Davin's book, Partners in Wonder: Women and the Birth of Science Fiction, 1926-1965 He worked very hard to unearth it. She is, according to Davin, "the only early woman author who seems to have deliberately concealed her gender."

To my surprise, for such an obscure author, the Wikipedia page on her is quite good: She wrote a total of eight science fiction short stories during her career, five of them early, in 1929-1930. Six of these eight were published in Amazing Stories, a magazine we know was happy to publish female authors of talent. The editor knew L. Taylor Hansen was female, but did not share this knowledge. One editor, in fact, helped conceal it, even going so far as to print a bogus sketched picture of a male labeled L. Taylor Hansen.

She was much more prolific in the 1940s as a science article writer, publishing fifty-seven of these with titles that included "Did the American Indian Once Invade Europe?" (1942), "Was There a Great Flood?" (1948), "The Mystery of Apache Tradition" (1947), and "The White Race—Does It Exist?" (1942). These sound like they would be fascinating, don't they?

Davin discredits the notion that she concealed her identity and gender because of a hostile science fiction publishing world. He believes it was because her science articles were written as factual by a woman who never completed her undergraduate degree. Having her identity known would therefore have undermined her credibility as a science fact writer. It's odd that the Wikipedia article fails to make this point more clearly.

Her eight stories are as follows:
1) What the Sodium Lines Revealed (Amazing Stories Winter 1929)
2) The Undersea Tube (Amazing Stories Nov. 1929)
3) The Man from Space (Amazing Stories Feb. 1930)
4) The City on the Cloud (Wonder Stories Oct 1930)
5) The Prince of Liars (Amazing Stories Oct 1930)
6) Lords of the Underworld (Amazing Stories Apr. 1941)
7) The Ghost Ship of Aztlan (Startling Stories July 1942)
8) The Fire Trail (Amazing Stories and Fantastic Adventures, 2 sales, Jan. 1948) [by pseudonym Oge-Make]

I look forward to trying to find free copies of as many of these stories as possible and reading them this week. Care to join?

message 2: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4087 comments Mod
Interesting stuff, Dan. I might read some of the stories depending on how much time I have & how they are.

message 3: by Oleksandr (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 813 comments Dan wrote: "I look forward to trying to find free copies of as many of these stories as possible and reading them this week. Care to join? "

Yes if you judge them interesting enough. my experience is that forgotten authors are more likely to be rather mediocre and not hidden gems (which happens but not as often as I'd like)

Cheryl is busier irl atm. (cherylllr) Sure, if you cater to my laziness and post direct links for the ones you find.

message 5: by Dan (last edited Aug 11, 2018 04:59PM) (new)

Dan The first story, "What the Sodium Lines Revealed," I found here:

It was long. It had characters, dialogue, and conflict, all the trappings. But what the protagonist wanted I couldn't bring myself to care much about. Three stars. Oleksandr may have a valid point.

message 6: by Dan (last edited Aug 17, 2018 08:30PM) (new)

Dan “What the Sodium Lines Revealed” The story is about three characters who discuss principles for a reflection telescope. Afterwards, they pull out and decipher a boy’s manuscript in which the boy, named Davie, of no defined time or place accidentally goes off to explore Mars with his Dad in an odd ship that is something like a house, which winds up on Jupiter, or one of Jupiter’s moons. Davie’s Dad dies upon landing, so Davie explores alone. No real motivation is provided for wanting to explore. Some beetle creatures show up. There’s no dialogue because they can’t speak English. They show Davie around. Soon after this part, utterly bored because it took pages to get here, I gave up on this strange failure of a story that’s really about practically nothing. Strike one.

“The Undersea Tube”, also published in 1929, is the one Hansen story available on Gutenberg here: It is about building large tubes (the word we actually use today) under seas, oceans, and other bodies of water as well as under land in order to connect people by railroad. It predicted the rail system between France and England via the Tube would be built in the late 1900s, which is sort of cool since it was. There is barely a story here, just technical specifications for the tunnels, and conjectures on why one failed due to leaks. Boring. Strike Two. Maybe try a later story?

Hansen’s “Lord’s of the Underworld” was the cover story of the April 1941 issue of Amazing Stories and the only story mentioned on that cover by title: Surely this will be a good story. Called a “novel” by the magazine, it starts out with the rookie mistake of the characters telling each other what they should already know for the benefit of the reader. Skimming on in the story shows something about ancient Irish writing being found in the American Southwest. Deserts and man-eating dinosaurs of 20 million years ago, and that’s enough time wastage for me. I have too little confidence in this author’s competence and so stopped reading.

Conclusion: L. Thayer Hansen is not a very good science fiction writer. Her science articles, if not too fanciful in conjecture, may be a good sight better.

message 7: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4087 comments Mod
Thanks for testing the waters for us, Dan. So much to read, so little time.

message 8: by Oleksandr (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 813 comments That was very helpful, Dan. Thanks!

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