Sunday, April 24, 2011

1920's Martian SF occult novel: Yezad: A Romance of the Unknown by George Babcock

Thanks to the Google Books project, you can read or download the obscure interplanetary occult novel Yezad: A Romance of the Unknown, written by George H. Babcock between 1912 and 1915 but not published until late 1922.

A long-winded tale about a deceased aviator who is to be reincarnated after his spiritual instruction on the Red Planet by a ten-foot tall Martian named Marcomet, Yezad: A Romance of the Unknown is, according to Imagining Mars: A Literary History (2011), by scholar Robert Crossley, “an incredible mishmash of a book, drawn out of Lowell’s Mars and Its Canals, Zoroastrian religion, utopianism, Miltonic angelology, feminism, reincarnation, and potted encyclopedia article on everything from Lunar topography to the court jesters of Charles the Bold and Cardinal Wolsey.” The title of the novel, Yezad, is derived from an entity in ancient Persian mythology.


Apparently, the cool cover art for Yezad was painted by Babcock himself. According to Joshua Glenn, a student of pre-Golden Age Sci-Fi, “As for the devil on the dustjacket, the occult point of Babcock's novel is to inform us that we are divided creatures, within whom Bonality and Malality (good and bad aspects) struggle. Moral: Don't let Malality triumph, or it might break Martian-filled eggs with its pitchfork.”

Author George Henry Babcock was born June 11, 1863, in Newport, Rhode Island, the son of Stanton and Sarah (White) Babcock, the older brother of Eva Stanton (Babcock) Browning. He married Minnie G. Clarke in 1886 and they had several children. He was a noted clothier in Westerly, R.I. and wrote a short history of the clothing trade in that community for the History of Washington and Kent Counties, Rhode Island (1889). More than a decade later, when a thick Babcock Genealogy (1903) was published, George was “a clothier, formerly of Westerly, R.I., but now of Bridgeport, Conn.”

Interestingly, a review of Tuskawanta: A Legend of Lake Ronkonkoma, a long poem Babcock had privately published in 1914 in Brooklyn, New York, notes that “The author-publisher evidently has artistic as well as poetic ability, for binding, paper, illustration, and print seem to be conspiring toward a beautiful harmony with the smooth versification and the fertile fancy of the writer.”

The dedication in Yezad: A Romance of the Unknown reads: “To My Sister, Eva Stanton (Babcock) Browning, this story is affectionately inscribed. George Babcock. Brooklyn, N.Y., November, 1922.”

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