Sunday, 17 June 2012

An Obituary for A. Hyatt Verrill


An Obituary for A. Hyatt Verrill
From Astounding Science Fiction magazine, March 1955, column, The Reference Library, S. F. in 3-D by P. Schuyler Miller. Digitized by Doug Frizzle, June, 2012.

Cover of Astounding Science Fiction magazine
New Yorkers may have seen in the New York Times of November 16th the obituary of A. Hyatt Verrill, who died at his home in Chiefland, Florida, on November 14th, aged 83. The Fantasy Press edition of his "Bridge of Light" was about all that science fiction has had from Mr. Verrill in recent years, but in the days of the early Amazing Stories he was one of the giants in the field. The Day "Index to the Science-Fiction Magazines" lists twenty-eight stories published between 1926 and 1939.
A. Hyatt Verrill was one of the most prolific and successful writers of our time. The current "Who's Who"—the British edition, which appreciates such old-line scholarship—lists only a fraction of the one hundred and fifteen books he had written, and I would guess the number to be more like two hundred if new editions and foreign translations are counted. I credit his fascinating lost-race stories, his many books on the colorful aspects of the American Indian civilizations, and his articles in innumerable newspapers and magazines for arousing my own interest in archeology as a scientific hobby.
The son of one noted biologist, Addison Emery Verrill, and named for another, Alpheus Hyatt, A. Hyatt Verrill followed his graduation from Yale by work as a naturalist and illustrator, meanwhile exploring in the West Indies and in South and Central America. He is credited with having discovered many new species of marine shells and having rediscovered the supposedly extinct Solenodon in Santo Domingo, in 1907. In 1951, at the age of eighty, he found what he believed to be the lost "Wari Wilka" of the Aztecs or Warracabra Tiger of the present Indians, in southern Mexico.
If he emphasized the strangeness of the world in his books, it was because he wanted his readers to feel a little of that same wonder that the jungle and the sea bottom, the past and the unknown present gave him. As you know, he was exploring new mysteries when he died, seeking Old World origins for some of the stranger aspects of the American civilizations.
Today's science fiction may be more real and psychologically truer and more plausible than the brightly colored tales of the '20s, but they lack some of the magic that men like A. Hyatt Verrill and A. Merrill and Edgar Rice Burroughs put into their stories. We can use a few more romantics like them in our magazines and books.

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As an armed forces brat, we lived in Rockcliff (Ottawa), Namao (Edmonton), Southport (Portage La Prairie), Manitoba, and Dad retired to St. Margaret's Bay, NS.
Working with the Federal Govenment for 25 years, Canadian Hydrographic Service, mostly. Now married to Gail Kelly, with two grown children, Luke and Denyse. Retired to my woodlot at Stillwater Lake, NS, on the rainy days I study the life and work of A. Hyatt Verrill 1871-1954.