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Glossary and Character Taxonomy  Breakdown by Country of Origin   Bibliography   Table of Contents    The Best of the Encyclopedia

Silence, Doctor. Doctor Silence was created by Algernon Blackwood and appeared in six stories, five of which were collected in John Silence (1908).

Doctor Silence is a Superhuman Occult Detective. John Silence is a medical doctor and is quite capable of healing the sick and of operating. But because of his wealth—he is independently wealthy, the source of his riches never being revealed—he chooses to practice medicine only on those who cannot afford to pay. He runs a clinic, but it rarely requires his attendance. He is far more interested in investigating psychic and occult phenomena. Towards this goal he put himself through five years of “long and severe training, at once physical, mental and spiritual.” It gave him psychic abilities, usually undefined but of the sort that allow him to cast off evil mesmeric influences. Among the opponents Silence vanquishes are astral werewolves, fire elementals, and generalized evil fiends. Silence is over 40, on the thin side, with brown eyes and a well-trimmed beard. He is (justifiably) full of self-confidence.

* I'm including the Doctor Silence stories in the Best of the Encyclopedia list because they are enjoyable and historically significant. Algernon Blackwood was a massively talented author capable of doing fine work in any genre he choose to write in. His horror stories are some of the best of the 20th century. The Doctor Silence stories aren't as good as his best ("The Willows," for example) but they're still pretty good, full of chilling descriptions and suitably nasty creatures in need of destruction. History, the Doctor Silence stories are important because they essentially invented the Occult Detective genre. There were certainly predecessors to the Doctor Silence stories, and Thomas Carnacki became the archetypal Occult Detective when he appeared a few years after John Silence, but Blackwood was a far better writer than Hodgson and the other Occult Detective writers before (and since), and his stories are some of the best in the genre. It's no wonder that other writers sought to imitate Blackwood's work. 

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