Allan Stern, the male hero in Darkness & Dawn is a dashing all-American engineer who can turn his hand to anything. He and Beatrice Kendrick wake up hundreds of years in the future, amongst the crumbling ruins of the tower block they used to work in. They don’t know why, but the whole of New York, and presumably the rest of the world, was hit by something that wiped out most of the human population and put them in a state of suspended animation.
In an introduction by Jess Nevins, we are warned that this unabridged republication of the original 1914 novel, reflects racist attitudes towards the degenerate black hordes who must be wiped out by the ‘civilised’ white man. Not long after trying to contact other humans by labouriously rebuilding a telegraph station, Allan and Beatrice catch sight of two tribes of warring masses whom they quickly label as savages. The very sight of them makes them want to go out and shoot the lot of them!
On top of the racism is a good deal of sexism. When they set up a home, Allan goes off foraging for materials whilst ”Beatrice, like the true woman she was, addressed herself eagerly to the fascinating task of making a real home out of the barren desolation of the fifth floor offices.”
Whilst the lady is fixing up the homestead, Allan has ”...a fierce desire to rehabilitate all this wreckage, to set it right, to start the wheels of the world-machinery running once more.” This underlines England’s socialist agenda that science would create an advanced civilisation.
Darkness & Dawn is as vigorous and action-packed as a Hollywood blockbuster. It contains dated ideologies and elements we find repulsive today, yet it is a vivid and entertaining adventure set in a future world where we have to rebuild ‘civilisation’ much like the European pioneers did in the Wild West.
DARKNESS & DAWN: THE COMPLETE DYSTOPIAN SCIENCE FICTION MASTERWORK / AUTHOR: GEORGE ALLAN ENGLAND / PUBLISHER: DOVER PUBLICATIONS INC. / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW