Blackwood was reflecting another turn-of-the-century obsession here. Supernaturalism was a topic of constant discussion and debate in Victorian England. (One of its most credulous advocates was Doyle himself; but he kept his wilder beliefs out of his Holmes stories.) Controversy raged over the reality of clairvoyance, communication with the dead, séances, hypnotism and other related phenomena. When Blackwood published his first John Silence stories, he drew on these elements, mixing them in with the formulas of the Holmes-oriented detective story, and created a new hybrid genre, comprised in almost equal doses of horror, sci-fi and mystery.
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