THE LAST OF SIX: TALES OF THE AUSTRAL TROPICS. Sydney: "The Bulletin" Newspaper Company, Ltd., 1893. Octavo, pp. [1-4] 1-141 [142: blank] [143-144: ads], original white wrappers printed in red, stapled. First edition. Issued as "Bulletin" Series, number 3. "Best known for his highly regarded HISTORY OF AUSTRALIAN EXPLORATION 1878-1888 (1888), noted explorer and journalist Ernest Favenc (1845-1908) wrote five books of fiction. 'THE LAST OF THE SIX': TALES OF THE AUSTRAL TROPICS, his first book, collects 17 stories originally published in THE BULLETIN. Many of the stories are criminous, and some are supernatural; all are characterized by Favenc's detailed firsthand knowledge of the Australian outback and the hardships encountered by drovers, prospectors, and explorers who succumb to alcoholism, madness, and violence as they encounter extreme isolation, an unforgiving landscape, and hostile Aborigines. 'A Haunt of the Jinkarras' deals with the discovery of a primordial race that dwells entirely underground. The remarkable 'Spirit-Led' recounts how three men searching for a gold deposit learn that one of them, the victim of an after-death experience from years ago, actually died and is a reanimated corpse unaware that he has been preserved from decay by the return of his soul. Set in Borneo, 'The Spell of the Mas-Hantoo' involves a cursed deposit of gold in a remote jungle. In 'The Track of the Dead,' the ghost of man’s twin leads him to his brother’s remains, and in 'Malchook’s Doom: A Nicholson River Story,' a drover is haunted by the ghost of an Aborigine he tortured and burned to death. Even Favenc’s non-supernatural stories are often grim business. 'The Last of Six' is a horrific tale of cannibalism involving escapees from a penal colony in New Caledonia, and 'The Missing Super' involves the discovery of the decaying corpse of a brutal foreman left tied standing up at an abandoned outstation. Equally effective is 'The Cook and the Cattle-Stealer' in which a cattle thief poses as the ghost of suicide responsible for the brutal massacre of a camp of Aborigines. Filled with a wealth of authentic detail about life in late nineteenth-century Western Australia, THE LAST OF THE SIX': TALES OF THE AUSTRAL TROPICS is a significant work that has been unjustly overlooked. While Favenc’s work certainly displays a distasteful causal racism characteristic of the period, he also is clearly sympathetic to the plight of the Aborigines who suffer at the hands of colonials. Excellent stories." – Boyd White."Arguably the most important Australian colonial writer of Gothic and supernatural fiction … Favenc weaves his tales from the stuff of Australian history and tradition in much the same way that M. R. James drew from his knowledge of British antiquity, or [Sarah Orne] Jewett from the landscapes and traditions of New England … Favenc deserves to be regarded as a pioneer of Australian speculative fiction." – James Doig, Introduction, GHOST STORIES AND MYSTERIES, pp. 9-12. Blackford, et al., Strange Constellations: A History of Australian Science Fiction, pp. 12; 225. Tuck, The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy Though 1968 (1974), p. 166 (listing contents). Larnach, Materials Towards a Checklist of Australian Fantasy to 1937 (1950), p. 11. Australian and New Zealand "Lost Race" Fiction in the Collection of Stuart Teitler (private list), p. 1. Not in Bleiler (1948; 1978) or Reginald (1979; 1992). Not in Hubin (1994). Red lettering faded, 10x70 mm chip from lower fore-edge of rear cover, a very good copy. A major rarity of Australian weird fiction. (#167311).
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