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
Smith, Aurelius. Aurelius Smith was created by the Canadian author R.T.M. Scott (Spider (II)) and appeared in twenty-four stories and seven collections of stories and novels from 1920 to 1947, beginning with “Such Bluff as Dreams are Made Of” (Adventure, Apr. 1, 1920).
For several years Aurelius Smith is “Secret Service Smith,” a tough, cool American spy primarily active in India. (In the early stories it is made clear that “Smith” is a pseudonym). Before World War One he was an American Secret Service agent who went to India in search of a man who had plotted to overthrow the U.S. government. Smith temporarily joined the British Criminal Intelligence Department and caught the man. Once that was done Smith stayed with the C.I.D. as an Afghani Fighter, reporting to Sir Oliver Haultain, the C.I.D. head, and accepting assignments from him.
These assignments bring Smith across India, from the foothills of the Himalayas to the depths of Calcutta and Simla to the shores of Ceylon. Later on Smith moves to New York City and becomes an amateur detective. He works from an apartment near Washington Square, and is aided by Langa Doonh and by Smith's beautiful secretary, Bernice Asterly. Many of his cases have psychic elements.
Smith is a good shot and quick with his gun, he's tough in a fight and has excellent reflexes, he can be as hard and ruthless as necessary, he's good at disguise and general spy tradecraft, he thinks quickly and calmly and cleverly whether under pressure or not, and he is served by Langa Doonh, a Sikh whose life he once saved from a crocodile and who is devoted to his service.
* I'm including the Aurelius Smith stories and novels in the Best of the Encyclopedia list because they are fun reads. Fun, that is, if you can get by the implicit racism of the Afghani Fighter character type and genre. Later, when Smith becomes "Secret Service Smith," he operates in America and the reader isn't exposed to anti-Afghani racist propaganda, the stories lose something but are still mostly enjoyable. I think the Aurelius Smith novels are sterling examples of the Afghani Fighter subgenre, but often I have to hold my nose while reading them.
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