Introduction On Racism Epigraphs A History of the Pulps A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Glossary and Character Taxonomy Breakdown by Country of Origin Bibliography Table of Contents The Best of the Encyclopedia
The Major. The Major was created by L. Patrick Greene (Tabu Dick, Dynamite Drury, Sergeant Lancey, Commissioner Sykes, Trooper Useless) and appeared in 106 stories and twenty novels and story collections from 1919 to 1954, beginning with “No Evidence” (Adventure (U.S.), Nov. 1, 1919).
The Major is an Africa Hand. Aubrey St. John Major, known simply as “the Major,” is intimately familiar with the Dark Continent and to those who live and work there. He is a scofflaw, but a well-intentioned one: he breaks the law, but follows a higher moral code. Among other things, he is a diamond smuggler, but he does this as a way to flout the laws unjustly protecting the “diamond-mining monopoly.” (I.e, the de Beers Syndicate).
Because of his hostility toward the monopoly, the Major is well-regarded by diamond miners, and indeed the police themselves view him with admiration, although they would gladly bring him in (if they could catch him with the gems in hand). The Major is a good sport, and everyone likes him. The Major doesn’t use the diamonds he smuggles or the money he steals to get rich. He prefers instead to help others with his money, regardless of how poor that leaves him. He often risks his life for others, most often Jim, his Hottentot servant and friend. Jim is faithful to the Major, and there is genuine friendship between them, although the master/servant dynamic lurks in the background of everything they do. Jim is visually the opposite of the Major; Jim is ugly, squat, heavily muscled, scarred, with an underdeveloped intellect and highly developed senses and wilderness training.
The Major is a tall, muscular, handsome young man, clean-shaven, with greying black hair. He is always well-dressed, usually in crisply pressed white clothing. He usually wears a monocle, speaks in various English affectations (“old chap,” “beastly,” etc), and generally wears a moronic expression. His strength is extraordinary, as is his woodcraft, but he is not a great hand-to-hand fighter, often coming out the worse for it in a fight.
* I'm including the Major in the Best of the Encyclopedia category because he is one of the two archetypal Africa Hands. L. Patrick Greene was a pretty good pulp writer whose stories and novels were generally above-average, and the Major stories are generally seen as his best pulp fiction. The stories' (and the Major's) opposition to the de Beers Syndicate is a refreshing note of anti-multinational corporate capitalism in a medium that's usually friendly to large corporations. (The genre of Africa Hand stories, on the other hand, is suspicious of outsiders entering into the lands overseen by the Africa Hands and exploiting those lands and the Indigenous peoples therein, and that includes multi-national corporations; it's a paternalistic as hell approach, but it at least has the virtue of being anti-capitalist).
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