Bearing a copyright notice of November 1954 is “The Seeing Knife” by Crawley Fenton. This book has the distinction of being the last scientific novel published by Curtis Warren Ltd., and is given to be the sequel to Miles Casson’s “The Time Drug,” issued months earlier. It is unclear whether both books were written by the same author or not, as the identity of each novel’s authorship has never been solidified.
“The Seeing Knife” is a medical soap-opera that unrolls the fragile re-entry of Dr. Alan Heritage, after his time-traveling exploits in the prior novel. He is mentally wrought with regret after having left two others in the medical profession on the wrong side of Time. He vows with himself to continue researching the drug he created and find a way to return the Russian doctor Credij and Marilyn to his timeline.
However, that is all background material, which remotely reminds readers that this book is a sequel, and perhaps in a clever way, indicating that if you have not done so, perhaps you ought to contact your local book dealer and purchase a copy of “The Time Drug,” too.
Here, we have Dr. Michael Armoury have succeeded in constructing an electronic device that permits him to–with the use of knobs and various visual controls–electronically execute surgery from a remote position via non-physical human interaction. This machine may even be the “cure” to cancer! As it turns out, his medical marvel is accidentally released to the Press and the newspapers globally go mad with the exciting details. Newsmen hound him at the hospital. However, there is one hiccup.
He refuses to use the device.
Remarkably, refusing to succumb to greed, Michael Armoury maintains a good level head, desiring to research the full ramifications before using the machine for the good of humanity. However, when a fellow practitioner brings news that his father has terminal cancer, he finds himself in a deep quandary.
In the end, his father asks to be his first patient (which, in fact, makes him literally the “guinea pig” trial that Michael requires after working on a dog in the opening novel’s pages). Further, in the closing final page of the novel, Dr. Alan Heritage has succeeded in narrowing down the scope of his time-travel serum and we are briefly re-introduced to the lost-in-time Dr. Credij and Marilyn.
The novel has many more social relationships of a soap opera nature in the background, too. However, there is one noteworthy item to the author’s credit: the author assaults social stereotypes regarding foreigners.
Many postwar novels feature a foreigner, the central figure to intrigue, deceit, and the focal point for our hatred. Our author introduces us to the sultry Spaniard lady doctor-in-training Margherita Maravilla, and uses her as a platform for debunking all these postwar preconceived notions.
When Margherita is introduced to another nurse, she instantly dislikes the woman. As readers, we know (or believe) that something sinister is afoot. What guise shall this villain assume? She appears to be a spy of sorts, perhaps, trying to seductively insert herself into the lives of various single doctors, learn secrets, etc. However, more than three-quarters into the novel, the author rationalizes her aloof interactions: a brutal earlier life experience has led her into the medical field. It ends with Margherita falling in love with another embittered doctor that is equally misunderstood, and their union frees their innermost tensions.
In all, this excursion relays the message that not all foreigners are evil, that they may simply not be understood in our own life-sphere, and that science, if properly handled, while it may be do harm, can also be used for the good of humanity.
It is a noble sentiment.