Franklin, H. Bruce. Future Perfect. 2d ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1978. Franklin, in his introduction to “The Diamond Lens,” stresses O’Brien’s great inventiveness as his major quality in becoming one of the seminal figures in the early era of science-fiction writing. He also discusses “How I Overcame My Gravity” and “What Was It?,” which he argues influenced later stories by Ambrose Bierce, Guy de Maupassant, and H. P. Lovecraft’s “The Color Out of Space.”
Hoppenstand, Gary. “Robots of the Past: Fitz-James O’Brien’s ‘The Wondersmith.’” Journal of Popular Culture 27 (Spring, 1994): 13-30. Discussion of the way O’Brien blends realistic immigrant fiction with nineteenth century German fairy tale; notes how O’Brien parodies romantic conventions; suggests that O’Brien helped to establish the robot as an important literary motif.
Moskowitz, Sam. Explorers of the Infinite. Cleveland: World Publishing, 1963. In a work that discusses writers of fantasy and science fiction from Cyrano de Bergerac to the mid-twentieth century, the author devotes one chapter to O’Brien, titled “The Fabulous Fantast—Fitz-James O’Brien.” In Moskowitz’s opinion, O’Brien was not only one of the significant early figures in the genre of fantasy but also one of the most important short-story writers of the nineteenth century.
Tremayne, Peter, ed. Irish Masters of Fantasy. Dublin: Wolfhound Press, 1979. In his introduction to O’Brien’s “The Wondersmith,” Tremayne discusses several of O’Brien’s most important stories, including “The Diamond Lens,” “Jubal the Ringer,” “What Was It?,” and “From Hand to Mouth.” He also comments upon O’Brien’s influence on Ambrose Bierce and Guy de Maupassant.
Wentworth, Michael. “A Matter of Taste: Fitz-James O’Brien’s ‘The Diamond Lens’ and Poe’s Aesthetic of Beauty.” American Transcendental Quarterly, n.s. 2 (December, 1988): 271-284. Analysis of one of O’Brien’s most famous stories, arguing that it manifests the transcendent theory of beauty articulated by Edgar Allan Poe in his aesthetic theory.
Wolle, Francis. Fitz-James O’Brien: A Literary Bohemian of the Eighteen Fifties. Boulder: University of Colorado, 1944. The first full biography of O’Brien’s short but eventful life. Originally a doctoral dissertation, this study’s approach and emphasis, which include a scholarly discussion of all O’Brien’s writings, is suggested in the book’s subtitle. Supplemented by a bibliography.