"Avalon" was a four-part serial published in Argosy from August 16 to September 6, 1919, concurrent with the publication of "The Heads of Cerberus" in The Thrill Book (Aug. 15-Oct. 15, 1919). According to the Internet Speculative Fiction Database, "Avalon" has never been reprinted. In his introduction to The Nightmare and Other Tales of Dark Fantasy, Gary Hoppenstand called it "undeniably Steven's weakest novel." (p. xv) If that's the case, it's no wonder that "Avalon" has not been reprinted. On the other hand, if Francis Stevens was "the most gifted woman writer of science fiction and science-fantasy between Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and C.L. Moore," as Sam Moskowitz claimed, or if she was "the woman who invented dark fantasy," as Dr. Hoppenstand claimed, shouldn't all of her known works be in print? Everything H.P. Lovecraft ever wrote practically down to his shopping lists ("beans") has been reprinted. How about a little ink for his supposed female counterpart?
Anyway, I have not read "Avalon," but judging from a blog entry by James Reasoner (1), the story is a melodrama, part adventure, part thriller, part fantasy, and part gothic romance. (There is even a old manor called Cliff House.) I suspect that Francis Stevens' themes of love over hatred and spirit over science are in the book. And I'm pretty sure it was not a work of dark fantasy. (Lloyd Arthur Eshbach did not consider it to be a fantasy at all.) Here's hoping that "Avalon" is reprinted sometime soon.
Text copyright 2015 Terence E. Hanley