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London: Hutchinson & Co., 1892. Octavo, pp. [i-v] vi  2-274, four inserted plates with illustrations by W. Hatherell, original pictorial bevel-edged mustard cloth, front panel stamped in black, white, brown, red, blue and gold, spine panel stamped in black, white and gold. First edition, British issue. The more elaborate of the two known binding variants (priority, if any, unknown) for this British issue. Among the earliest novels to postulate an invasion of earth by malignant aliens. "The two most imaginative and colorful of the early [Australian] romances were THE LAST LEMURIAN: A WESTRALIAN ROMANCE (1898) by G. Firth Scott and THE GERM GROWERS (1892) by Robert Potter ... Potter's THE GERM GROWERS more closely resembles the SF of today. It is probably the world's first story of an alien invasion, produced in Melbourne six years before H. G. Wells's THE WAR OF THE WORLDS. Shape-shifter aliens establish bases in wilderness areas of Earth, including northwest Australia. Unlike the Martians of Wells's book, they do not resort to open warfare with vastly superior technology, but use airships, invisibility, and biological weapons. While exploring the Kimberleys, two English youths stumble upon a plot by the aliens to destroy humanity through the breeding of new forms of plague. At first the conspirators appear merely to be members of some secret society, but it is soon revealed that they are nothing less than devils from outer space (their leader being Signor Niccolo Davelli). The heroes refuse to work for these disease-disseminating devils, and good triumphs over evil when they are rescued by an angel. As in much modern 'aliens among us' SF, the world remains blissfully unaware of the danger by the novel's end because another more benevolent race of aliens steps in to keep the peace." - Blackford, et al., Strange Constellations: A History of Australian Science Fiction, pp. 14-6; 227. "History as an occult battle between two races for humanity." - Suvin, Victorian Science Fiction in the UK, p. 50. "A literate, pre-Wellsian novel with considerable imagination." - Bleiler, The Guide to Supernatural Fiction 1227. The first book and only novel by this Anglican clergyman, sometime Canon of St. Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne. Bleiler, Science-Fiction: The Early Years 646. Locke, A Spectrum of Fantasy, p. 177. Larnach, Materials Towards a Checklist of Australian Fantasy to 1937 (1950), p. 17. Locke, Voyages in Space 164. Sargent, British and American Utopian Literature, 1516-1985, p. 96. Bleiler (1978), p. 160. Reginald 11836. Miller and Macartney, (1956), p. 383.