This past year, Voyages Extraordinaires: Scientific Romances in a Bygone Age celebrated its fifth anniversary. For the fifth time now, we are closing out the year with a retrospective of our highlights. I would even go so far as to say that the whole year in itself has been a lifetime highlight, as demonstrated by a May trip to Disneyland and a summer spent tracking around the Rocky Mountains with the lovely Ashley, as well as facing the necessity of pulling this weblog back to posting only once a week.
One of the challenges of a weblog like this is finding the time to read the books and watch the movies I review. I did manage to post about some new books by some of my favourite recent writers, including Mark Hodder's conclusion the Burton and Swinburne series, Expedition to the Mountains of the Moon, and Edward Erdelac's third Merkabah Rider book Have Glyphs Will Travel. I also learned about, and learned to love, Black Coat Press, which specializes in English translations of classic French Scientific Romances, like Albert Robida's The Clock of the Centuries and Jules Lermina's Panic in Paris. If you haven't ordered stacks of books (or torrents of epubs) from them yet, treat yourself to an after-Christmas present.
2012 was a notable year for bringing together a number of centennials. I discussed them in a general way in a piece entitled “1912: Zenith of the Scientific Romances.” We had the 100th anniversaries of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan and John Carter, which Disney more or less recognized with their ill-fated film adaptation. I also looked at Disney's previous adaptation of Tarzan, for which they at least went to the trouble of advertizing, and one of Burroughs' own inspirations, Gulliver of Mars. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World also enjoyed a centenary, and I enjoyed contributing to a centennial edition of the novel now available for sale. And, of course, it was the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, which I meditated upon in terms of its ending the Edwardian Era and entering the realm of a modern Atlantis.
Being the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, I took a moment to wax on the spectacle of empire, as well as my native Canada's love affair with royalty and the railway (not to mention my own love for Hudson's Bay Company heritage branding).
I'm also admittedly a sucker for the Victorian Science Fiction films of the Atomic Age, and reviewed a number of them including two of my favourites, Around the World in 80 Days and Journey to the Center of the Earth. In truth I most admire the “Gay Nineties” aesthetic found in many films of the era, and Ashley has been doing her part to expose me to the musical side of things. I also doubled-up on the fashion writing with a word about Sixties Edwardiana. Unfortunately, for as much as I love those mid-century movies, they did contribute to an unjust view of Jules Verne which I rebutted in this open critique of Robert J. Sawyer's opinion. I also attempted to set it a bit more straight in my review of Verne's Paris in the Twentieth Century, Magellania, and Facing the Flag. The latter inspired the artistically standout and standalone Verne adaptation of the era, Karel Zeman's Fabulous World of Jules Verne. It could only be matched by his other adaptations, On the Comet and The Stolen Airship.
When not enjoying movies from that era, I may be found shivering at vintage Japanese tales of terror. Through October I took a look at the three most renowned of these stories: Botan Doro, Bancho Sarayashiki, and my favourite, Yotsuya Kaidan. I also had the opportunity to share one of my favourite Japanese animated shorts, an early piece that demonstrates the roots of the distinct anime look in mirroring the pie-eyed style of early American cartoons.
Thank you for remaining with us through our fifth year of Voyages Extraordinaires. As always it has been a pleasure and we have much planned for the coming year. Our running commentary on the original Doctor Who continues and possibly comes to its conclusion, we'll feature the longstanding connection between Oz and Disney, revisit both the Atomic Age and Golden Age of Sci-Fi cinema, ride along with the Lone Ranger, and possibly even expose the secret history of the American Space Program. Our next great voyage will be to Paris in May, and I'm sure there will be much to share when we return.
Best wishes for the coming year and we'll see you then!