Thursday, October 13, 2005


Sexton Blake

I've always had an abiding affecting for things Victorian, but it's only through the good graces of Jess Nevins that my familiarity with the literature of the period extends much beyond Doyle and Wells and Stevenson. I spent much of the last few months editing and doing the layout for his forthcoming Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana, which was an education in itself--four hundred thousand words of survey and analysis of novels, stories, and serials, many of which have gone largely (or completely) unread in more than a century.

Probably the largest debt I owe to Jess was my introduction to the character of Sexton Blake, years ago, when I first started reading his Fantastic Victoriana site (the seed from which the towering oak of his encyclopedia grew). Well, it looks like I owe Jess another debt, since this morning I came across a recent post of his on a mailing list, pointing out Mark Hodder's updated Sexton Blake site. Previously consisting primarily of a bibliography, the site has since been expanded to include story summaries, illustrations, and--best of all--dozens of complete stories in downloadable PDF format (including the installment that introduced Zenith the Albino, the amoral Blake nemesis who was the inspiration for Michael Moorcock's own amoral albino, Elric).

This is tremendous good fortune for me. I'll be finished with Fire Star in another week or two, and then will spend the rest of the year finishing some other projects I've had on the back burner for some long while. Then, in the new year, I plan to start working on End of the Century, the next installment in the ongoing Bonaventure-Carmody sequence. One of the principal characters in the novel is Sandford Blank, the Victorian-era consulting detective introduced in the pages of Here, There & Everywhere (who is inspired by Blake, among others), and another is Monsieur Void, the Ivory Mandarin, who is a kind of mash-up of Zenith and a few other villains. When I start in on End of the Century in earnest, Hodder's site is going to come in very handy.

So thanks, Jess. Again!

My pleasure, Chris!
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