I had never heard of this book until I read David R. Langford’s “World War One” entry in the Science Fiction Encyclopedia:
Frøis Frøisland’s Fortaellinger fra fronten: Solidt halvlaeder (coll 1928; trans Nils Flaten as The Man With X-Ray Eyes and Other Stories from the Front 1930) includes sf and horror among its wartime tales.
There is surprisingly little information about this book on the Web of a Million Lies.
John Clute, in his “Froisland, Frois” entry in the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, says:
More correctly given as Frøis Frøisland (1885-1930). Norwegian journalist and writer whose Fortaellinger fra fronten: Solidt halvlaeder (coll 1928; trans Nils Flaten as The Man With X-Ray Eyes and Other Stories from the Front 1930) is a volume of tales about World War One, several being sf or Horror, including the title tale, about an American soldier whose war wound activates his x-ray vision.
A Google search for the collection’s English title turns up a couple of bookseller descriptions and two brief contemporary reviews.
I’m somewhat skeptical that either Langford or Clute has read this collection or any of the booksellers listing it. (Though I wouldn’t actually bet on it with Clute. He’s not generally in the habit of speaking about books he hasn’t read.) The reason? There really isn’t much of what we call horror (in the literary genre sense) or science fiction in this book. There are eight fiction pieces with only the titular one being obviously fantastical and one borderline case.
Which, I guess, means pretty much anything I say will be quoted in term papers for decades.
Actually, I hope people go out of their way to contradict me. That might mean this book would be reprinted, and I could actually own it because the lowest price I’ve found for it now is $168. I don’t even spend that much on big reference books. As it is, I had it from the library for a brief time.
The dust jacket for the English language edition of this book has a quote from O. E. Rolvaag: “The first work of art to shed a ray of romance on the War.” (Rolvaag was a Norwegian immigrant at one time famous for his novel Giants in the Earth. These days I suspect he’s probably forgotten outside of the Dakotas and Minnesota — areas he lived and set his novels.)
“A ray of romance on the War”? I think I know what Rolvaag met. There is an element of that in the sense of exotic settings and events. There is an air of the travelogue about Froisland’s book.
The book’s core is eight stories, but they are introduced by a four part and fully realistic (and, from what I could determine, almost completely verifiable) history of “The Front”.
Froisland voices the book as if he is speaking to us and begins “They talk about the front, oh yes, the front — “. Continue reading “The Man With the X-Ray Eyes & Other Stories From the Front”