Probationary Martyr/Heroic Theory/Philip Wylie
From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
Philip Gordon Wylie (May 12, 1902 – October 25, 1971) was an American author. In the MMO City of Heroes, his novel Gladiator has become a pivotal and influential text, being the first novel to explore the creation and deconstruction of a superhuman hero with an alias. It's a mandatory reading in the ficticious school of Heroic Theory.
Philip Wylie is an actual person, though his involvement in the MMO is ficticious. This page was taken from Philip Wylie's actual Wikipedia page.
Born in Beverly, Massachusetts, he was the son of Presbyterian minister Edmund Melville Wylie and the former Edna Edwards, a novelist, who died when he was five years old. His family moved to Montclair, New Jersey and he later attended Princeton University during 1920–1923. Some of his papers, writings, and other possessions are in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections at Princeton University Library. He married Frederica Ballard who was born and raised in Rushford, New York; they are both buried in Rushford.
A writer of fiction and nonfiction, his output included hundreds of short stories, articles, serials, syndicated newspaper columns, novels, and works of social criticism. He also wrote screenplays while in Hollywood, was an editor for Farrar & Rinehart, served on the Dade County, Florida Defense Council, was a director of the Lerner Marine Laboratory, and at one time was a special advisor to the chairman of the Joint Committee for Atomic Energy. Most of his major writings contain critical, though often philosophical, views on man and society as a result of his studies and interest in psychology, biology, ethnology and physics.
While today he would be considered a techno-thriller writer, similar to Tom Clancy, his earliest books exercised great influence in twentieth-century science fiction pulp magazines and comicbooks:
- Gladiator (1930) partially inspired the comic-book character Superman.
- The Savage Gentleman (1932) inspired the pulp-fiction character Doc Savage.
- When Worlds Collide (1933), co-written with Edwin Balmer, inspired Alex Raymond's comic strip Flash Gordon, as well as being adapted as a 1951 film by producer George Pal.
Writing as he did when we had less potent current technology available to us, he applied engineering principles and the scientific method quite broadly in his work. His novel The Disappearance, written in 1951, is about what happens when everyone wakes up one day and finds that anyone of the opposite sex is missing (all the men have to get along without women, and vice versa). Wylie delves into double standard between men and women that existed prior the woman's movement of the 70's; exploring the nature of the relationship between men and women and the issues of women's rights and homosexuality. Many people at the time considered it as relevant to science fiction as his Experiment in Crime.
The novel The Paradise Crater written in 1945 was cause for his house arrest by the federal government, it described a post-WWII 1965 Nazism attempt to rule the world with atomic power.
His nonfiction book of essays, Generation of Vipers (1942), was a best-seller during the 1940s and inspired the term "Momism". Some people have accused Generation of Vipers of being misogynistic. The Disappearance shows his thinking on the subject is very complex. (His only child, Karen Wylie Pryor, is the author of a classic book for breastfeeding mothers, Nursing Your Baby, and has commented that her father was far from a misogynist.) His novel of manners Finnley Wren was also highly regarded in its time.
He wrote over 100 "Crunch and Des" stories for the Saturday Evening Post, about the adventures of Captain Crunch Adams, master of the charter boat Poseidon, (there was even a brief television series). His "Crunch and Des" stories were an apparent influence on John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee books.
He also wrote as Leatrice Homesley.
- "There is no advance without strife." -- Philip Wylie & Edwin Balmer, After Worlds Collide (1934)
- "What egotism, what stupid vanity, to suppose that a thing could not happen because you could not conceive it!" -- Philip Wylie & Edwin Balmer, When Worlds Collide (1933)
- L.A. 2017 (also known as Los Angeles: A.D. 2017), directed by Steven Spielberg and featuring Gene Barry, Barry Sullivan, and Edmond O'Brien; an episode of the television series The Name of the Game. A science-fiction dystopia, based around a psychiatric/fascist government in the underground-sheltered remnants of humanity, the aftermath of an environmental (pollution) catastrophe.
- Crunch and Des was adapted for a syndicated TV series (37 episodes, 1955-1956) starring Forrest Tucker and Sandy Kenyon and filmed in Bermuda.
- Heavy Laden (1928)
- Gladiator (1930) - one of the main inspirations for Superman.
- The Murderer Invisible (1931)
- The Savage Gentleman (1932)
- When Worlds Collide (1933) (with Edwin Balmer) - Earth is destroyed in a collision with the rogue planet Bronson Alpha, with about a year of warning enabling a small group of survivors to build a spacecraft and escape to the rogue planet's moon, Bronson Beta. Filmed, with major changes to the story, as When Worlds Collide (1951).
- After Worlds Collide (1934) (with Edwin Balmer) - Continues the story of When Worlds Collide, with both exploration of Bronson Beta and conflict with other groups of survivors.
- The Golden Hoard (1934)
- Night Unto Night (1944)
- The Paradise Crater (1945)
- Opus 21 (1949)
- The Disappearance (1951) - An unexplained cosmic "blink" splits humanity along gender lines into two divergent timelines: from the men's perspective, all the women disappear and from the women's, all men vanish. The novel explores issues of gender role and sexual identity. Interestingly, it offers an empowered view of liberated women and a depressing dystopia of an all male world. Wylie's setting allows him to investigate the role of homosexuality in situations where no gender alternative exists. Clearly its assumptions are now dated. (Those interested in Frank Herbert's The White Plague (1982) or Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale (1985) may find The Disappearance an interesting early discussion of the similar issues.)
- The Smuggled Atom Bomb (1951)
- Tomorrow! (1954) - Nuclear war story centering around the atomic bombing of two fictional Midwest cities adjacent to each other in the mid-1950s; one has an effective Civil Defense program, the other does not.
- The Answer (1955)
- They Both Were Naked (1962)
- Triumph (1963) - Nuclear war story involving a worst-case USA/USSR "spasm war" where both sides empty their arsenals into each other with extensive use of "dirty" bombs to maximize casualties, resulting in the main characters (in a very deep bomb shelter) being the only survivors in the entire Northern Hemisphere.
- The Spy Who Spoke Porpoise (1969) - the President of the United States learns that there is a category of CIA files, code named Zed, to which he is not allowed access.
- The End of the Dream (1972) - forsees a dark future where America slides into ecological catastrophe.
- "Seeing New York by Kiddie Car" (1926)
- "Jungle Journey" (1945)
- "Blunder" (1946)
- "An Epistle to the Thessalonians" (1950)
- "Philadelphia Phase" (1951)
- "The Answer" (1955)
- A Generation of Vipers (1942)
- An Essay on Morals (1947)
- The Magic Animal (1968)
- "Predictions: 2001 A.D." (1956)
- Extensive bibliography
- Philip Wylie in Internet Movie Database
- Fantastic Fiction's bibliography of his works
- Essay on Wylie's writing by Charlie Courtney
- "Common Women," excerpt from Generation of Vipers (1942, 1955)
- Recources from the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections Princeton University Library
- From Gary Westfahl's Biographical Encyclopedia of Science Fiction Film
- Biography from All Movie Guide
- Critical Article on Generation of Vipers