|Some personal highlights, chosen because... I like them|
|1. Gems from the letters page|
|From the readers' letters page of SBL no. 429, May 1959|
And now a
letter from Jack Story, one of our most highly esteemed contributors to
the Blake saga: -
As an author I find the readers’
letters feature most diverting. It must surely
Sometimes encouraging, sometimes
chastening—and sometimes an hilarious experience.
In any other field of fiction but the S.B,L. one writes
for an inarticulate and anonymous public whose opinion can only be
guessed at by falling sales or the odd rude word chalked on his front
door. But when dealing with Blake and Co. I find myself continuously
aware that I am treading on sacred ground.
Indeed it is sometimes necessary to
pause in the climactic middle of some turgid situation with the awful
thought: “Heavens! This will never do for Mrs. Newton of Liverpool! Or
Miss Cooke of Manchester.”
Just how far this integration of
author/readership can go might be judged from the fact that in my last
story, Invitation To A Murder, inadvertently
included amongst the protagonists were three of our regular readers ! (Editor’s
note: I took them out !)
But still—and seriously—a writer
is lucky to find himself in such good company and with the assured
feeling that somebody is waiting to read his stories. Brickbats and
bouquets are all welcome, especially when it becomes apparent that for
every critic there is a champion ready to take up the pen and defend the
integrity and the sanity of the Blake author.
I have been a science-fiction fan for quite a few years
now and would very much like to see a Sexton Blake story on this theme.
There’s no need to send our hero out into space, or
have him travelling through time. Many excellent and logical stories
have been set in the present-day world. New discoveries are being made
almost every day, in the fields of nuclear physics, medicine and the
mind. There seems to be a certain amount of prejudice against
science-fiction in some circles—a prejudice generally baseless
because the people involved have never bothered to read an adult S .F.
Some Sexton Blake followers tend, I feel, to live
permanently in the past—scoffing at and rejecting anything which is
new. But I feel sure that the bigoted few are in a very small minority
and that their negative approach to any new innovation does not
represent a large percentage of the S.B.L. readers.
The popularity of authors like Ray Bradbury, John
Wyndham, John Christopher or even H. G. Wells and Jules Verne speaks for
itself. The viewing figures for the recent Quatermass TV serial were, by
all accounts, fantastic.
So why not get into the trend—let’s have Sexton
Blake dealing with the Unknown. If there’s anyone capable of handling
a peril from Outer Space or
anything else along these lines it’s certainly Sexton Blake.