Much as once a week I like to take time off to cover warships (Wednesdays), on Sundays (when I feel like working), I like to cover military art and the painters, illustrators, sculptors, photographers and the like that produced them.
Combat Gallery Sunday: The Forward-looking submarine Ops of Luis Philip Senarens
Along with Tom Swift, Frank Reade Jr., and others, Jack Write was one of the host of fictitious “Edisonade” series of brilliant young inventors from the 1880s-1914 who graced the pre-Great War dime novels of the era. These were young men whose adventures were full of pluck and included the high tech forward thinking science of the era including radios, electric weapons, electrical land vehicles, steam powered robots, airships, rockets and submarines.
Speaking of which, Brooklynite Cuban-American Luis Philip Senarens, who was so busy that he wrote under a series of at least a half-dozen pseudonyms and has been described as both “the first prolific writer of science fiction” and “the American Jules Verne” crafted no less than 300 dime novels, inventing first Frank Reade Jr. and later Jack Wright. Most of these he wrote as “Noname.”
While written almost exclusively in the 1890s, they were republished several times through about 1920 and while Senarens himself was not the illustrator, the detailed descriptions he embedded in his work helped craft the images seen on the cover.
Many of these involved complex submarine operations long before they were practical including:
Jack Wright’s Submarine Catamaran (1891)
Jack Wright And His Electric Turtle (1891)
Jack Wright And His Submarine Yacht (1892)
Jack Wright And His Deep Sea Monitor (1892)
Jack Wright And His Ocean Sleuth-Hound (1892)
Jack Wright And His Dandy Of The Deep (1892)
Jack Wright And His Submarine Torpedo-Tug (1893)
Jack Wright And His Submarine Explorer (1894)
Jack Wright And His Submarine Warship (1894)
Jack Wright And His Submarine Destroyer (1894)
Jack Wright And His Electric Submarine Ranger (1895)
Senarens also gave Reade his own U-boat from time to time, such as in this arctic submarine adventure from 1892 and in The Search for the Silver Whale.
It should be realized while looking at this work that the U.S. Navy’s first modern commissioned submarine, the dynamite gun armed USS Holland, was not commissioned until 12 October 1900 while the Royal Navy’s first submarine, HMS Holland 1 (guess who the inventor was), was not accepted until the following year. Russia’s first working submersible, Delfin was adopted in 1903, and the German’s kerosene powered SM U-1 was not commissioned until 1906. It could be argued the submariners of these early craft may have had a copy of a Noname attributed submarine dime novel stashed among their sea bags.
Other than the works of Swedish industrialist and arms dealer Thorsten Nordenfelt (who will be spoken about in a coming Warship Wednesday), Spain’s Peral, and the experimental French submarine Gymnote, which were afloat during Jack Wright’s heyday, there were few workable submersibles on the seas.
As for Senarens, he died in 1939 though his Reade and Wright adventures had peaked long before then.
Thank you for your work, sir.