Sunday, December 23, 2007

Aaron's Book of the Week :: Inferno! by Vargo Statten

Inferno!The Book of the Week is Inferno! by Vargo Statten, cover art by Ron Turner.

Vargo Statten was a pseudonym of British science fiction author John Russell Fearn. Even though Fearn was perhaps the most prolific British author of Golden Age science fiction and very popular with British SF readers, most of his work was published under various bizarre pseudonyms, most commonly "Vargo Statten" and "Volsted Gridban." The fact that so much of his work was printed pseudonymously may have contributed to Fearn fading from readers' memories over the years despite his vivid and imaginative stories. (Less charitably, his pedestrian prose may also have something to do with it.)

Inferno! was published in 1950 by Scion, Ltd., one of the most successful of several British publishers printing science fiction and fantasy in a digest format in the early to mid-50's. The digest-sized novel never had a comparable heyday in the United States, although a few smaller publishers experimented with the format. Some of those American digests have since become prized collectors' items. Next week's Book of the Week will be the most sought-after of all American digest novels.

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