One of the very first speculative fiction books I remember having a significant impact on me was Invisible Scarlet O’Neil by Russell Stamm. It was part of the eclectic menagerie of books that lived on the floor-to-ceiling bookshelf in my grandparents’ house, and I love, love, loved it. I expect it belonged to one of my aunts, but somewhere along the way, I “inherited” it. (If you read that as “took it,” you might not be far off.)
Scarlet O’Neil lived first in a newspaper comic strip. She was a lovely, intrepid gal of the 1940’s and had the ability to go invisible by pressing a “strange nerve in her left wrist.” She wasn’t a “superhero” in the sense of saving the world, but she made people’s lives better on an individual level. She didn’t look for (or usually receive) any recognition, since she dealt with problems…well, invisibly.
After many years of being loved and moving house a couple of times, my copy of Invisible Scarlet O’Neil was in bad shape, falling apart and missing pages. It was no longer readable. Eventually, I honoured the book by making lampshades with the remaining pages, so their beautifully golden glow lights up my living room in the evenings.
And now, thanks to the wonderful network of used bookstores that is AbeBooks, I have an intact copy again. Can’t wait to read it. :)