Ahead of His Time

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Title: Ahead of His Time
Publisher: Penguin Press
Editor(s): Susan Garrett
Date(s): May 1990
Medium: print
Genre: gen
Fandom: Q.E.D.
Language: English
External Links:
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Ahead of His Time is a gen Q.E.D. 84-page anthology. The artwork is by Ann Larimer.

front cover by Ann Larimer

Q.E.D. was an eight-episode series filmed in the UK for American television. The topic is the British Secret Service in the early 1900s.

From an Ad

Come back with us to 1912 and enjoy the adventures of Quentin Everhart Deverill and his friends as they try to help a Ragtime combo win a contest despite mysterious accidents ("Trust Me With Your Heart Again"), determine whether or not the premiere portrait artist of the day is also a murderer ("Portrait of Jenny"), and thwart Aleister Crowley and German agents as they try to set up an espionage ring in Pre-WWI England ("The Very Devil of a Spy"). Also includes a detailed episode guide, artwork and cover by Ann Larimer. [1]

From the Press Catalog

From Penguin Press Presents #7:

In 1912, inventor and al-around genius Professor Quentin Everheart Deverill turned his back on the conservative academic world of Harvard and journeyed to England to pursue his experiments in peace.or so he thought. This 1982 CBS series, Q.E.D., chronicled the trials and tribulations of the American professor, as he battled drug addiction in Limehouse, entered an international motor race, pitted his wits against anarchists, saved the world from the results of a deadly experiment, postponed the start of World War I — and in only six episodes!

AHEAD OF TIME is the first of the Penguin Press 'one- shot wonders' and has been prepared for the enjoyment of both old and new friends of Q.E.D. For newcomers, there's a detailed episode guide, which will serve as an introduction to Professor Deverill (Sam Waterston) and his friends—his man servant, Phipps (George Innes); Charlie Andrews, ace reporter (A.C. Weary); and Betsy Stevens (Sarah Berger), later re placed by Jennifer Martin (Caroline Langrishe).

For those of you who remember this show with a certain amount of fondness, the zine contains three stories:

"A Portrait of Jenny" by Susan M. Garrett —Jenny plans to continue a Martin family tradition by having her portrait painted, despite the professor's preference for a photographic portrait. Will their disagreement cost Jenny her life?

"Trust Me With Your Heart Again" by Jane Tesh — Ragtime is all the rage, setting the youth of England against the traditions of their conservative elders. Charlie thinks the professor can protect a ragtime band from threats that have been made against them, but can he?

"The Very Devil of a Spy" by Susan M. Garrett — Aleister Crowley has a reputation for throwing lascivious parties where his guests dabble in occultism. So why has Quentin E. Deverill accepted an invitation to one of those parties, when he's supposed to be working on a secret government project?

There's also a short section of biographies, providing a sampling of the personalities of the Edwardian period, and a brief timetable of inventions and events, all of which should get those creative juices flowing. And all artwork, including our beautiful offset cover, is by Ann Larimer. Keep in mind that this is a limited print run and one of our 'one-shot wonders'—there won't be a second issue! This 80-page extravaganza is 8 1/2 x 11, available for $8.00 1st class (postage included). So, join us for a trip into a civilized past as we celebrate the adventures of a man who was truly AHEAD OF HIS TIME.

From the Editorials

By Susan M. Garrett:
One of the questions I've been asked many times during the past two years is, "What is Q.E.D.? What is it, indeed! It is, according to John Hawkesworth, the only television drama made in Britain by a British Company for U.S. television. It is a spectacular adventure series that lasted for six brief episodes. It is one of the best productions ever to fall victim to a lack of ratings and a premature ending. It's also a show that I and friends of mine remember with fondness and feel shouldn't be forgotten. So we decided to do a zine. But not just any zine. We wanted to do a zine that would do justice to the writing, the acting, and the production values of Q.E.D., all of which excelled far and above the series contemporaries. In other words, we wanted to do it right.... I'd like to thank some people for their help inputting this project together. Sam Waterston (then starring in A Walk In The Woods on Broadway), was kind enough to put us in contact with John Hawkesworth. Most ofthe information included herein has been supplied by John Hawkesworth (writer and producer, most recently of By the Sword Divided and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, the latter shown in the U.S. on Mystery!) and I thank both gentlemen for taking time out of their very busy schedules to assist us. Mary Fall Wardell was kind enough to supply me with an episode missing from my own collection (have you ever tried to do an episode guide and you're missing one episode?). Jane Tesh responded above and beyond the call of duty by providing us with a story very early on and hanging in there as we passed deadline after deadline without finishing the zine...
From Ann Larimer:
Working on Ahead of His Time was like spending time with some old friends who've been away far too long. What a pleasure to spend one's off-hours with Professor Q.E.D. and his good companions Charlie, Jenny, Betsy, and (who could forget?) Phipps once again. They're holdovers, it's true,from another time —perhaps a time that has never really existed anywhere except in our collective memory. Perhaps they no longer have a place in our world. So much the worse for our world, I say. I am happy to report that Ahead ofhis Time isn't quite the first time Q.E.D. has appeared in fan fiction, though sadly, even after nearly 10 years, it's darn close. Syndizine, one of the first (and still one of the best) multi-media zines, printed the story "Brownian Motion," written by Sheryl Adsit and illustrated by J.R. Dunster, in its third issue way back in 1982. Prime Time carried a half-page retrospective on the series in 1988. And... well, that's about it, really, at least that I've been able to turn up. Though Q.E.D. is well loved by all who've been fortunate enough to see it, it takes no small amount of research and effort to write, plus a certain temperament. Which is why, I suppose, Edwardian science-fiction/adventure is not one of your major literary subgenres... The story was written, intermittently, over the course of the next few years. She would only give me vague hints about the actual plot, but I learned a lot about Aleister Crowley by osmosis, which was pretty entertaining in itself. And it proved to be well worth the wait, especially when, somewhere along the line, it was joined by no less than two other Q.E.D. adventures, one from Susan and one from Jane Tesh. Sometimes life is good.


  • Editorial by Susan Garrett (2)
  • Editorial by Ann Larimer (4)
  • Episode Guide (6)
  • A Portrait of Jenny by Susan M. Garrett (22)
  • Items of Interest (41)
  • Trust Me With Your Heart Again by Jane Tesh (42)
  • The Very Devil of a Spy by Susan M. Garrett (52)
  • Edwardian Biographies (77)
  • Bibliography (83)


Reactions and Reviews

... First off, I read the zine before I saw the programs—but did not find that to be a problem at all, which tells me you know your stuff as a writer. As a complete presentation, the 'zine is a trend-setting tour-de-force: from the "period" cover to the episode guide to the historical snacks scattered throughout the 'zine and that clever bookmark, definitely geared toward service to the fans, and absolutely worth the money! It's a must-have that I'm glad I have. The art is lovely, in period, as is the writing—thank goodness you've done your homework. Some of your dialogue is better than Jeremy Paul's and your narrative much more revealing of the period. The details—particularly the occasional references to Jenny and others of the "fair sex" are excellent. "Portrait of Jenny" is a ripping good mystery—you really had me going there with the poison business. Well hidden clues, good unwrapping—plus we get some of that great Deverill foot-in-mouth with Antoine and classic Phipps. Jenny's insistence on going on with the sitting seems a bit odd, but then you set that up well with return references to Aunt Effie and Jenny's own infatuation with the artist. "Trust Me With Your Heart Again" is a little weaker in terms of plot (as Deverill puts it "sabotaged? A musical group?") but strong on lots of good-flowing, in character dialogue and excellent description. The ending (like mine tend to be) is a little pat, but altogether, an entertaining outing. "The Very Devil of a Spy" shows the Garrett propensities in full blossom: another well-crafted mystery, right down to multiple suspects (who done what to whom and why?) and the proposed duplicity of our beloved Professor D. Good of you to get inside his head in that very first scene, Susan, and betray his fears to us. Historically spot-on, I particularly enjoyed seeing Crowley's shenanigans in their original element, rather than presented in the dry light of modem-day historical analysis. (Folks today look at him as a kook, but he may have been one of the century's earliest "performance artists"—even if his goal was to boost his own occult godhood, and not art.) Everything was explained logically and there was tension-right up until the big below-ground confrontation (still hooked on those Doctor Who settings, I see). The only difficulties I had were with those big confrontations—you seemed to have difficulty writing the action, and after a few paragraphs I was rather confused about what was happening, and how the many characters were interrelating. A careful re-reading brought the picture more in focus, but. . . well, you understand. Once again, tight and accurate dialogue. I enjoyed Charlie's run-in with Mary Sturges and Phipps' with Bellows. All were quite delightful. [2]
Individually, Ann Larimer and Susan Garrett are two of fandom's finest talents, not to mention voices of sanity in an often turbulent subculture. Together, they are one high-class act, bringing style, beauty and good, solid prose to their joint publications.

Ahead of His Time is a small zine, from a series that was unfortunately short-lived (a pilot and five episodes)....

Always thorough, Susan has given the uninitiated a wonderfully informative background on the show in her editorial, carrying it through the production of her publication with none of the over-aggrandizing that occurs with many editors. (You know what I mean--the kind of pretentious narrative to which just about any of us can succumb when faced with a blank page and the necessity ofThe Editorial.) I really enj'oyedhcaring about the evolution of the zine, and Ann Larimer's editorial which follows gives us the rest of the story in a wonderful bantering style that shows how well these two creative people work together, even through the adversity of fanzine production. (As an artist, I fervently agreed with her thanks to Susan regarding the purple ink, but more on that later.)

Right off the bat, Ahead of His Time provides a comprehensive synopsis of the pilot and subsequent five episodes, using a clean, concise narrative that serves to spark the reader's interest. I want to see these episodes! Susan has a real knack for this sort of thing. I can't think of anything less exciting, myself, than describing episodes of a series without actual novelization, but Susan has accomplished it with her usual competence, and I for oneam grateful for her pcrscvcrcnce at a task that had to be Herculean in its tedium. Because the tedium doesn't show-there isn't the merest glimpse of it. And the inclusion of the synopses here gives even those woefully ignorant of the scries a basis from which to understand and enjoy the stories that follow. (The synopsis of each episode also includes the air date and creative credits. Like I said, she's thorough.)

Of course, the worst thing about Ahead of His Time is its brevity. Only three well-written tales. Take my word for it--you'll want more. But those stories are preceded and followed by pertinent notes of interest regarding the tales' subjects and how they related to turn-of-the-century society, and the zine concludes with some thoroughly appropriate and charming surprises that point up Ann and Susan's flair for the unique. Rather than detail them for you here. I urge you to discover these small and wonderfully apt extras for yourself.

Oh, let's face it. I loved this fanzine. I loved its way of immersing one in the Edwardian era. I loved the fiction-tales whose adventurous natures never overwhelm the camaraderie of the characters (and, one suspects, unfolding affection between Professor Deverill and Jenny), nor are overwhelmed by it. I loved the plots that hold up a mirror not only to the times, but to the fiction of the times. I loved the care and craftsmanship that went into every page.

I loved the look of this zine. If I may indulge a little longer, I'd like to wax rhapsodic over the cover.

It is a work of Art. It is a perfectly-meshed blend of talent and painstaking work, of composition and magic. Ann's abilities with pen and ink positively floor me. 1 was awed when I saw this cover. It is beautiful. Stunning. Even as I write this, my eye is continually drawn to its flawless merging of bold design elements and delicate portraits...and our first glimpse of the period setting, evident in the costumes and the banners, is mixed with the feel of adventure in the lettering and the background ina way that is utterly seamless. And.iflmaysaysohere, Ann's way of rendering hair in pen and ink is the most touchable I'veeverseen. Take a look at the Professor on this cover... if you don't want to get your fingers into that silky, tousled mop and rumple it up nice and slow and leisurely-like, you have no soul. (Guys, you're excused from this exercise, unless you'd rather.)

This is where the purple ink comes in. The cover artwork is printed on a sort of mauve-colored textured paper, and the ink used is a subdued tone of purple in the Pantone color-matching system of inks that gives a truly elegant result--ink and paper complement one another with subtle style and give this zine a unique look that sets it off from the run-of-the-mill black-on-white covers. Very impressive...and very pretty.

No less impressive is the interior decoration. Ann's pen gives us scenes from the episodes themselves in the capsule descriptions, and full-page illustrations(one per story) bring the fiction to visual life and enhance what are already very good, well-crafted reads. Not content to simply pull scenes from the stories, each piece virtually encapsulates the story it illustratcs--the elements, the mood. And Ann's illustrations are supplemented by some well-placed clip art of Gibson girls and other period drawings, locomplete the overall feel of the zine-art that is always used to compositional advantage. Layout is elegant, uncrowded--and I've got a serious crush on the cream-colored paper.

Did I say I love this zine yet? I really love this zine... And if I've seemed to neglect the fiction for the visuals, it's only because this is fiction meant to bediscovered and enjoyed by the reader, not told in bits and pieces secondhand in a review. The stories are wonderful extensions of the series itself, and my descriptions of these adventure yarnscouldn't really convey the evocation of times past, and the sheer charmof them, so I'll leave them to be read by the reader.

Now, here's the kicker. Beautiful art, excellent fiction, outstanding production values, and it's only six bucks. If you've seen Q.E.D., buy Ahead of His Time, and enjoy. If you haven't, treat yourself to a good read on a rainy day. You won't be disappointed.

In her editorial, Susan says: "We wanted to do a zine that would do justice to the writing, the acting, and the production values of Q.E.D., all of which excelled far and above the series' contemporaries. In other words, we wanted to do it right"

They did. [3]


  1. from Media Monitor
  2. from Penguin Press LOC Booklet 1992
  3. from Psst... Hey Kid, Wanna Buy a Fanzine? #3. The reviewer gives it "5 trees." The reviewers in "Psst... Hey Kid, Wanna Buy a Fanzine?" rated zines on a 1-5 tree/star scale.