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Sunday, May 26, 2019

Brian Holloway

Brian Holloway was an author whose known work is a cluster of novels from the years 1952-53, twenty-one known titles under an array of pen-names in a range of genres. His fame, if, given his use of pen-names, he has any, stems from a handful of science fiction novels which have survived sixty-five years to become collectable. His work in other genres (westerns, foreign legion and romance) is all but lost.

Holloway is one of a small number of prolific authors who we still know nothing about. Of all the Curtis Warren SF authors, he is probably the most curious, because his genre-hopping makes him a likely survivor of the post-war decade paperback boom. When the boom collapsed in 1954, only a few authors survived. I can imagine Holloway switching to writing hardback westerns, like his contemporaries Denis Hughes and James Henderson, or children's fiction like John W. Jennison. However, no trace of any further work has been found.

I've traced only one earlier story, 'High Dive for a Stiff' in Police Detective, a faux pulp magazine published by Hamilton & Co. in 1949, which raises the intriguing question, what was Holloway writing between 1949 and 1952. Hamilton & Co. and Curtis Warren were related publishers, sharing a company director named Joseph Pacey, and it is possible that Holloway was writing for Hamiltons, Curtis or Grant Hughes, a third related company, during the interim between known stories.

With this in mind, I was digging through my collection and found a couple of books that might – and I emphasise might – be by Holloway. These were two novels, one each by Glen Allen and Ken Ford, that appeared in Curtis Warren's 'Aero Fiction' series. This was a short-lived experiment that ran for ten titles in 1951, five each under the Allen and Ford bylines. Holloway, who published 18 known novels between March 1952 and March 1953, would have been more than capable of writing all ten.

Unfortunately, I have no further examples of the Allen or Ford novels, so I can't say for certain that they are all by Holloway, or even if any of them are by Holloway – I need a bigger test sample.

What we do know is that Holloway was an uninspired science fiction writer, his early novels set within the solar system (The Moon, Venus, Mercury, Titan, the Asteroid Belt) and mostly involving alien invasions. The aliens need to evacuate their own worlds for various reasons of space, diminishing resources or war, and cast their eyes on Earth.

After writing half a dozen SF novels, Holloway switched to Westerns and Foreign Legion adventures, with a couple of romances thrown in along the way, none of which I have read. He returned briefly to SF in the latter half of 1953 with a trio of yarns in which he strove to write something rather better than his early titles. Beyond Geo (by Arn Romilus) featured a kind of Star Trek-ian space exploration team, with the crew of the Terra I on a mission to visit three very different planets beyond the orbit of Pluto. In The Mortals of Reni (by Von Gruen), a peaceful alien race is plunged into a new Ice Age and a handful of Earthmen who have been ordered to evacuate the planet remain to help them. Finally, in Lost World (by Brian Shaw), a scientiific expedition to Cassio finds the planet no longer exists.

In passing, Holloway tried to explore such themes as war, violence and the ethics of cracking a planet in two. "Basically morals and ethics cannot be allowed to interfere with the progress of science," is the conclusion of a scientist in Lost World. In the earlier Planet Tha (by Neil Charles), an Earthman argues with the ruler of Tha, "So to save fifty million creatures whose evolution is but one stage above that of animals, you will risk the destruction of your own race and your own cultured civilisation ... Is that logical?" The satellite with these creatures is eventually destroyed after the concept of the Seven Cardinal Sins is introduced to the formerly peaceful race.

Lost World was the last of Holloway's known novels, published in July 1953. Curtis Warren kept up a busy schedule, diversifying into adventure and historical novels when hardboiled gangster novels fell foul of the law. In late 1954 they introduced the smaller, numbered Curtis Books series, but it was a last ditch effort, and the company went into liquidation in November 1954. Was Holloway contributing right to the end? Perhaps we will never know.

And what happened to him after the demise of Curtis Warren? Did he continue to write or did the fall of Curtis also mark the demise of Holloway as a writer?

It's a mystery that continues to have me mystified.

PUBLICATIONS

Red Storm by Brian Storm
Curtis Warren, Mar 1952.

Trans-Mercurian by King Lang
Curtis Warren, Mar 1952.

Titan’s Moon by Neil Charles
Curtis Warren, Mar 1952.

Planet Tha by Neil Charles
Curtis Warren, Mar 1952.

Destination Alpha by Berl Cameron
Curtis Warren, Apr 1952.

"A" Men by Rand LePage
Curtis Warren, Apr 1952.

North to Danger by Allan Carson
Curtis Warren, Aug 1952.

Mexicani by Bentley Jerrold
Curtis Warren, Aug 1952.

Border Mission by Cal Scott
Curtis Warren, Sep 1952.

The Mohican by Lee Benson
Curtis Warren, Oct 1952.

High Waters by Anna Boron
Curtis Warren, Nov 1952.

Black Sands by Adam Dale
Curtis Warren, Nov 1952.

Desert March by John Karn
Curtis Warren, Nov 1952.

You Can Believe by Freda Ross
Curtis Warren, Nov 1952.

Yankee Riders by Brad Collins
Curtis Warren, Jan 1953.

Lost Battalion by Adam Dale
Curtis Warren, Jan 1953.

Soldiers of the Night by Adam Dale
Curtis Warren, Mar 1953.

Riders of Ghost by John Gordon
Curtis Warren, Mar 1953.

Beyond Geo by Arn Romilus
Curtis Warren, May 1953.

The Mortals of Reni by Von Gruen
Curtis Warren, Jun 1953.

Lost World by Brian Shaw
Curtis Warren, Sep 1953.


POSSIBLY BY HOLLOWAY

Operation Jet by Glen Allen
Curtis Warren, Mar 1951.

Sky Fighters by Ken Ford
Curtis Warren, Mar 1951.

Red Flight by Glen Allen
Curtis Warren, Apr 1951.

Winged Guns by Ken Ford
Curtis Warren, Apr 1951.

Night Raiders by Glen Allen
Curtis Warren, Jul 1951.

Hell Divers by Ken Ford
Curtis Warren, Jul 1951.

Ace Squadron by Glen Allen
Curtis Warren, Oct 1951.

Dawn Patrol by Ken Ford
Curtis Warren, Oct 1951.

Test Flight No.8 by Glen Allen
Curtis Warren, Nov 1951.

Prototype PZ.642 by Ken Ford
Curtis Warren, Nov 1951.

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