Thursday, December 06, 2007

Lovecraftiana: David H Keller

From time to time, David Keller is mentioned in Lovecraft's later life. After HPL passed, Keller had a vigorous professional life. I found this interesting bit of biography.


Keller was the first psychiatrist to write Science Fiction, or more exactly in Keller's case, Science Fantasy. Descended from a Louisiana family, Dr Keller was born and remained in the Pennsylvania area for the duration of his life after graduating from Medical School at Philadelphia in the early 1900s. His medical expertise was psychoanalysis and thereby had advanced sexual studies and wrote many books on that subject. Keller's two main areas of recreational (even therapeudic) writing were in genealogy and the newly developing Science Fiction. Writing served as escape from the daily chores of working in a mental hospital. During the two World Wars, Keller studied and worked on treatment for shell shock and battle related disturbances. Hugo Gernsback always considered Keller to be one of his best writers and praised his editorial cooperation. Breaking into the pulps in the late 20s, Keller was already a matured individual, nearing 50. His work as often as not dealt with psychological themes or twisted possibilities gathered from patient paranoia. But because SF was in its formulative stages, a lot of directions Keller probed were dead ends and appear extremely dated at this point in time. Which is the case with all of the pulp authors. But occasionally, Keller was near perfect and some of his collected best stories still sing, even if the tune is familiar. Keller was always fan-friendly and enjoyed donating material to the fanzines and was a lifelong member of the NFFF, an amateur SF publishing group. In 1947, Keller donated his novel, The Sign of the Burning Hart to the NFFF for publication. "Many of my best friends were fanzine editors. The constant contact with youth has served to lessen the ravages of time.".

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