By Stephen Smith
An Inkwell of Pen Names tells the tales of a hundred authors' pen names in 100 brief chapters. Many different authors who used pen names are mentioned by the way. gains of the compendium comprise pen names starting with each letter of the alphabet, authors from twenty-five nations, the recipients of the Nobel Prize for literature who used pseudonyms, and a balanced number of women and men authors.
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These novels tell the history of mankind tens of thousands of years into the future. When Asimov was still breaking into the field of sci-fi one of his stories was published in Astounding Science-Fiction magazine under the pen name George E. Dale. “Nightfall” (1941) is one of Asimov’s best liked stories. It tells how humanity would react if the stars shone only once every thousand years. Karel Capek (1890-1938) was the first to use the word robot in his 1920 drama R. U. R. ) In 1941 Asimov took the concept one step further and coined the word robotics, which refers to the technology needed to build a mechanical workforce of robots.
E. (A Lady of England). Mary Abigail Dodge wrote under the name Gail Hamilton (which combines part of her middle name and Hamilton, Massachusetts, her birthplace. Robert H. Newell used Orpheus C. Kerr as his pseudonym (a play on the words “office seeker”). Louise de la Ramé chose Ouida (pronounced weeda) as her nom de plume because that was the way she said her own name as a child. Sydney Dobell wrote under the name Sydney Yendys (spelling his first name backwards). In the spirit of our own time the author of a recently published book about cybercafes used the cognomen Cyberkath.
Together, Bioy and Borges found great enjoyment in writing works full of magic realism. Magic realism is a strange blend of what is real with what can be imagined, akin to surrealism in art. One of Bioy’s most imaginative novels, La invencion de Morel (The Invention of Morel) was published under his real name in 1940. It concerns a man shipwrecked on an island who falls in love with what proves to be the image of a woman produced by a movie projector. “Last Year in Marienbad” (1961), a film directed by Alain Resnais, was adapted from Bioy’s novel, Plan de evasion (Plan for Escape), published in 1945.