Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Visiak, E H

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Working name of UK poet, critic and writer Edward Harold Physick (1878-1972), whose best work shadows sf, Horror and fantasy modes, employing speculative metaphysics in a manner similar to the fiction of his friend David Lindsay. In stories of this sort, the consensual world is argued – sometimes in passages of considerable length – as being an expression of the Dream world, or world of Archetypes. Such texts do not easily fit into template definitions of the various genres of the Fantastic. EHV's first novel, The Haunted Island (1910), is clearly fantasy, and engagingly deploys Ghosts and Magic in a tale of Pirates set on a mysterious Island in the 17th century. Medusa: A Story of Mystery, and Ecstasy, & Strange Horror (1929) is as hard to categorize as Lindsay's A Voyage to Arcturus (1920). The tale moves gradually, in a slow crescendo, from its beginnings in a normal-seeming 19th-century England through adventures at sea and finally into a literal pit of fantasy – a vast circular hole occupied by the eponymous Sea Monster which eats sexually aware men alive. The protagonist is a young boy who remains sexually innocent (see Virginity), though haunted by other guilts: he survives while his Companions perish.

None of EHV's remaining work conveys a similar intensity. "The Shadow" – a book-length Flying-Dutchman tale (in Crimes, Creeps and Thrills anth 1936 ed anon John Gawsworth) – is overburdened with Shadows who emblematically represent aspects of a pirate, apparently long-dead but clearly some sort of Revenant in search of redemption. Late in life, EHV wrote an essay for The Strange Genius of David Lindsay (anth 1970). [JC]

Edward Harold Physick


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.