Homer Eon Flint is commonly considered one of the early twentieth century American pioneers in science fiction. His popular science fiction books (like The Devolutionist or The Emancipatrix) have remained as pillars of the speculative fiction genre throughout the ninety plus years since their release. Aside from those successes, Flint was a well-known writer of pulp fiction — some of his stories garnering payments of hundreds of dollars in the booming post World War I economy.
But no matter how you approach Homer Eon Flint, somehow you always end up back with his death.
In 1924, Flint was found dead at the bottom of a canyon, pinned beneath an allegedly stolen taxi with a gun beside him. Because he was a writer whose work was gaining popularity, his death was sensationalized by the media. Some sources averred that he’d participated in a bank robbery. Others that he committed suicide because of his interest in the occult. A convicted gangster who died in prison a few years later testified that Flint had hijacked his car at gunpoint and driven away, presumably to die in an accident later — an accusation that followed Flint’s young family and haunted his descendants. But there’s long been a suspicion that Homer Eon Flint was a victim — in the wrong place at the wrong time and killed as a result — and that opinion has created an aura of mystery around his name as convoluted as the stories he wrote for the pulp magazines that bought them.
Fellow writer Ralph Parker Anderson, when asked if Flint had died a criminal, replied, “I do not accept the common view that he was a robber. If he had committed a crime, it would have been a superbly clever one, not the ordinary thievery.”
Modern writers and scholars tend to agree. This writer who envisaged space travel and genetic testing back when the automobile and movies were still new, would most certainly not have committed — and bungled — a carjacking. So there’s always the feeling that there’s more to the story — and a part of the story that the protagonist did not live to tell.
On January 15, 2012, Musa Publishing, an independent digital press, began to release Flint’s entire collection of works — his published works, his unpublished works and his “lost” works as well. His four well-known works, the Dr. Kinney novels, were reprinted multiple times. The Blind Spot, co-written by author Austin Hall, has been reprinted seven times and remains in print today. But many of the pulp fiction stories exist now only in disintegrating ninety-year-old magazines, while the unpublished stories, which were written on fragile paper or news copy rolls, were stored in an old trunk for decades. Not until Flint’s granddaughter and literary heir, novelist Vella Munn, approached Musa Publishing with the idea of publishing his work did most of these stories get scanned or transcribed for posterity.
Each story, ranging in length from short story to novel, is being released separately, with biographical materials, quotes from the copious correspondence Flint maintained with his wife, Mabel, while working to support them from a different city, photographs, anecdotal material and images of sketches, illustrations and cover art. The manuscripts are being presented exactly as Flint left them, with only minor, annotated notes for archaic spellings.
Musa will publish a new offering from Flint’s collection every two weeks, with releases stretching into the winter of 2013. They are also publishing a definitive biography of Flint’s life, written by Munn. Grandfather Lost is scheduled for release in July.
Flint’s contemporaries as well as modern scholars have lauded the writer’s creativity and brilliance. As Anderson pooh-poohed the idea that Homer Eon Flint was a criminal, he added loftily, “Flint was a man of great intellectual powers.”
Those intellectual powers and the flowing ease of Flint’s prose are now prominently on display once more and through a medium the technology-junkie Flint would undoubtedly have appreciated. This project not only highlights the ease and convenience of digital books, but also emphasizes a use many readers might not consider — the archival benefits of an ebook for work of a like age with Flint’s ensures that stories once lost to readers will now survive for this and future generations.
“There is something so amazing about knowing that Musa found these hidden gems, nearly lost for so many years, and is now able to bring the new works and the old to an entirely new generation,” Elspeth McClanahan, the marketing director for Musa Publishing said. “I am awestruck by the history involved in this venture.”
The first release of approximately thirty from the Flint collection is a short murder mystery entitled The Flying Bloodhound. Enhanced by a biographical preface written by his granddaughter, the story centers around an apparently accidental death in the California mining country — until the Sheriff does some investigating from one of those newfangled aeroplanes and brings a murderer to justice. On January 30, Musa will follow up with The Greater Miracle, where a doctor crushed by personal loss must arrive at a reason to keep on living.