19 May 2016

Early SF Tales from the Eaton Collection: The Zeppelin Destroyer by William le Queux

Since last October, I've been writing up the fourteen works of early science fiction I read at the Eaton Collection in January 2015; at last, I've finally wrapped that up with this World War I era work:

Hardcover, 251 pages
Published 1916
Borrowed from the Eaton Collection
Read January 2015
The Zeppelin Destroyer: Being Some Chapters of Secret History by William le Queux

This book came out in 1916, and takes place around then, as well, detailing the development of a weapon that will ignite the gas-bags in Zeppelins-- to my disappointment, the "Zeppelin Destroyer" means a destroyer of Zeppelins, not a Zeppelin that destroys. The protagonists, just like le Queux's later Terror of the Air, are a British aeronaut and his plucky flying fiancée.

It's not as science fictional as many of its contemporary proto-sf stories, nor even as science fictional as le Queux's other works: it's a pretty conventional spy/war story, with some military policy critique in the style of The Battle of Dorking or The Riddle of the Sands, with characters explaining to each other that they have nothing personally against the defence departments, and they're sure they're trying their hardest, but couldn't they institute better airraid warnings? There's also some pretty good scenes of mass destruction when the Zeppelins are attacked.

I was amused that the narrator admires his fiancée for not acquiring any hardness of feature despite her outdoor exploits, and doesn't seem to recognize the dissonance a couple hundred pages later when he complains that too many women wear makeup these days.

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