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The Heads of Cerberus

Francis Stevens

Introduction by Darrell Schweitzer

ISBN: 978-1-61720-939-0

174 pages, $12.99

       

   

"Those who yearn for the Good Old Days are bound to like it.… Those who insist on the close reasoning and satirical wit of modern science fiction will find surprising amounts of both here; and if, like myself, you have a foot in both camps, you’re sure to be delighted by this connoisseur’s blend of the quaint and the ageless… not dated writing and is never likely to be; it's lucid, didactic, analytical, and above all, zestful." —Damon Knight, In Search of Wonder

First published in the fabulously rare pulp magazine The Thrill Book in 1919, this masterful blend of time-travel fantasy, alternate realities, and social satire propels early 20th century characters into the Philadelphia of the year 2118, in which the city is an isolated dystopia run by a corrupt oligarchy, the Liberty Bell has been transformed into a disintegration machine, and William Penn is worshiped as a god. For readers actually familiar with the Quaker City, there is the added pleasure of seeing an eerily recognizable rendition of the past (1918) projected into a strange future. For anyone, it is still an exciting melodrama filled with striking images and vivid characters.

One of the genuine classics of early pulp science fiction.

Francis Stevens was a pseudonym of Gertrude Barrows Bennett (1883-1948), the first woman to be a major contributor of fantastic fiction to the pulp magazines. She wrote primarily for The Argosy and All-Story, but also appeared in Weird Tales and elsewhere. Her other novels include The Citadel of Fear and Claimed. Her shorter works have been collected as The Nightmare and Other Tales of Dark Fantasy.

Reviews:

"This novel should be much more available than it has been. It does stereotype its characters, but the author stayss away from insulting stereotypes. It certainly works as a dystopian novel, and is very much worth the reader's time." —Paul Lappen, Midwest Book Review, "Reviewer's Bookwatch" (August 2015)