New York: S.W. Greene's Son, Publisher. 1894. First Edition, First Printing. Hardcover. First Edition. Octavo, original brown cloth bordered in black on front & rear panels, titled in gilt on front panel & spine. 301 pp. Name in pencil on front free endpaper, dated 1887, cloth somewhat worn & rubbed and with a few stray marks; generally a very good copy. Very Good. Item #303366
¶ Science Fiction. Starr Cross is a child with paranormal abilities who can hypnotize animals and other children. As he grows up he learns to graft rabbit ears & a horse's tail onto a dog. A cross between a paranormal novel and a superman novel. Weird, and rare. "Occult romance and science fiction. Orphaned at birth, Starr Cross is raised in New York City by the kindly Dr. Hendon. Seemingly incapable of human emotion, as a child Starr demonstrates incredible mesmeric powers and a keen intellect, performing macabre surgical experiments on his pets, such as grafting rabbit ears and a horse's tail onto one of his dogs. After learning of Starr's existence when the boy is a teenager, John Barlow, Starr's biological father, takes him under his care. A powerful mesmerist and gifted scientist, Barlow has fashioned a number of remarkable creations, including an electric 'life-belt' that has prevented him from aging, antigravity straps that make heavy objects light as a feather, and statues constructed from human corpses in which he has arrested all decay. Barlow also keeps his servants in mesmeric trances in order to exert complete control over them; one, Zeno, functions not only as an assassin but also as a human closed-circuit camera via induced clairvoyance that allows Barlow to spy on his enemies. Obsessed with discovering immortality and with Starr at his side, Barlow plans to reanimate a criminal's corpse using electricity and blood transfusions, but he is killed when an experiment involving unstable gases mortally wounds him. Hoping to restore Barlow to life, Starr preserves his father's body and continues their experiments, occasionally using human subjects, until he successfully revives the dead criminal who unfortunately is nothing more than a mindless automaton. Starr also succeeds in constructing an electronic device using wires, lenses, and mirrors so he can watch his own mind-controlled servants' clairvoyant impressions of people and places on a large screen, similar to a television. Tragedy strikes when Starr unexpectedly learns he has been subject to intense periods of somnambulism during which he lives for weeks at a time as a humble country laborer who is happily married and has a young daughter. Prefiguring not only weird menace pulps but also the superman theme found in much early twentieth-century science fiction, A DOUBLE LIFE OR STARR CROSS AN HYPNOTIC ROMANCE is both remarkable and ridiculous, marred by unnecessary sermonizing about spiritualism, social reform, the nature of electricity, and the redeeming power of a good woman's love. There are aspects of this book that are as imaginative as Bodkin's A MODERN MIRACLE (1902), but the book itself is very mediocre despite having some great ideas. Even so, it has some fine chapters. If Chase had edited this work into a novella, he might have had a minor genre classic on his hands instead of a curiosity." - Boyd White.
Price (USD): $150.00