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Wednesday, 12 May 2021

The Tricycle of the Future by Frank R. Stockton

Though little discussed today, save perhaps for one of his most famous fairy tales, Frank R. Stockton (1834-1902) was often compared to his contemporary Mark Twain as a humourist and writer of children's fiction. That most famous work is the ambiguous fairy tale The Lady, or the Tiger? published in The Century Magazine in 1882. In it, the lover of a princess is sentenced by the king to choose between two doors. Behind one is a tiger that will rip him asunder, behind the other is one of the princess' handmaidens whom he would marry. The princess furtively directs him to one of the doors... but the story ends before revealing which one. 

Prior to The Lady, or the Tiger?, Stockton served as assistant editor on St. Nicholas Magazine, one of the higher caliber magazines for children available in the later half of the 19th century. There he sharpened his wit in writing not only fairy tales, but also Scientific Romances. He would go on to write for St. Nicholas' parent-magazine The Century and Harper's, eventually producing full novels. Most notable of these is The Great War Syndicate (1889) about a future war between the United States and Great Britain. 

The Tricycle of the Future is a delightful short story that exemplifies one of the great joys of Victorian-Edwardian Scientific Romances: how writers of the 19th century arrived at modern technologies through the most abstract, complicated, and absurd ways. In this case, Stockton's boy inventor comes up with the idea for what is essentially an automobile with a six-horsepower engine using six actual horses. But as typical for boy inventors from Darius Green on down, it doesn't quite work out as anticipated.

The following is the complete Tricycle of the Future as it appeared in the May 1885 volume of St. Nicholas Magazine. Click on each page for a larger version.   



Wednesday, 28 April 2021

La Folie du Docteur Tube

Short, comic, and simply weird, La Folie du Docteur Tube (1915) is a strange film to have come from Abel Gance, the acclaimed director of such serious and psychological films as J'accuse (1919) and Napoléon (1927). A true double-dome egghead scientist discovers a white powder that, in either fact or perception, distorts reality. He unleashes this plague on his houseboy and a quartet of young lovers until they forcefully compel him to reverse the process.

There are overtones of drug use in any film involving mysterious white powders that affect reality, but more than that, La Folie du Docteur Tube was an opportunity for Gance to begin a long career of innovative cinematography. Lenses and funhouse-type apparatus help achieve the effect of reality going berserk. Gance would be renowned for his work in later films. For Docteur Tube, the company was so outraged by this madness that they refused to release it.

  La Folie du Docteur Tube paired with the
album Twirligig by Jonti.

Saturday, 17 April 2021

Announcing "Science Fiction of the Gay Nineties: An Anthology - 1890-1910"

 The latest in my series of Victorian-Edwardian Scientific Romances has been released!


To the generation that came of age during the horrors of the World Wars, the Turn of the Century took on a nostalgic life of its own. 

Strolling ladies with bustles, parasols, and feathered hats. Men in dapper suits, straw boaters, and handlebar moustaches. Barbershop quartets singing “Sweet Adeline” and “In the Good Old Summertime.” Penny-farthing bicycles weaving between horse-drawn trolleys and newfangled horseless carriages. Thomas Edison’s latest invention. The town marching band playing in the park bandstand. Colourful Queen Anne homes accented with gingerbread trim. Gibson Girls staring indolently from the pages of Life and Harper’s. Casey at the bat. Ice wagons and ice boxes and ice cream parlours. Dime novels and dime stores. Vaudeville shows. Ragtime music. Silent movies. Party-line telephones. Suffragettes in green and purple sashes. Old fashioned rowboat dates. Gaslit evenings on Main Street. These happy days of youth before The Great War, The Spanish Flu, The Roaring Twenties, and The Great Depression were the “Gay Nineties.”

The real 1890’s and 1900’s were an era of change and a cornucopia of invention, which lead inevitably to fictional tales of scientific discovery and technological progress in the popular magazines of the era. This volume reprints the lost science fiction of Pearson’s, The Century, The Black Cat, and Cosmopolitan, featuring over a dozen tales by such celebrated authors as Mark Twain, Ellis Parker Butler, Herbert Quick, and George Chetwyn Griffith.

To order Science Fiction of the Gay Nineties: An Anthology - 1890-1910, visit Amazon or click on the image above. If you can also share this post or the link on your social networks, leave a review on Amazon, and rate Science Fiction of the Gay Nineties, that would go a long way to helping spread the word!

Thank you very much for you support of this blog for all these years and for your purchase of my new anthology.


Wednesday, 14 April 2021

A Telepathic Wooing by James Buckham

Love is a complicated business. Just meeting someone is challenging enough, but once you've swiped right or whatever you do these days, the really difficult part is expressing your affections. For many, many people, the threat of rejection is enough to stall any effort to do so. If only there was some vehicle by which one's true feelings could be expressed without any of the vulnerability intrinsic to the act, without the risk of humiliation. In junior high school, that mechanism is your best friend. In adulthood, at the end of the 19th century, it might necessitate more esoteric tools. 

The following short story by James Buckham appeared in the February 1896 volume of The Black Cat Magazine



Saturday, 3 April 2021

The Jungle Book on the Silver Screen


Today's special post comes by way of the 2021 Classic Literature on Film Blogathon. Click on the banner above for more interesting articles on the cinema's sometimes tense relationship with literature!




Published in 1894 as a series of moralizing fairy tales for his daughter, Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book is a classic of adventure literature. For those of us raised on cinematic versions it can be surprising to learn that Mowgli's exploits comprise a relatively small portion of the book. In fact, they are drawn from only three chapters. Absent are the white fur seal Kotick, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi the mongoose, and even Akela the proud wolf whose name was officially lent to the leaders of Cub Scout packs. Yet it's the stories of Mowgli that have most inspired filmmakers and audiences for generations: a reiteration of the "wild man" myth that has endured from The Epic of Gilgamesh to Tarzan of the Apes

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Segundo de Chomón's Excursion dans la Lune


Copyright law comes and goes in waves. "Information wants to be free" say many as they illegally upload movies to shadowy servers. International trade seeks ever more uniform and pro-corporate regulations, while media companies simultaneously seek ever more restrictive censorship of individuals,  together posing what may be the greatest threats to freedom of speech and information since the rise of Communism. A century ago, the rules were much looser, with their attendant benefits and challenges. Georges Méliès was, sadly, one of the ones who lost the most from those challenges.

Méliès' classic Le Voyage dans la Lune (English: A Trip to the Moon) was the blockbuster smash of 1902, provoking a number of copyright violations. Thomas Edison, unsurprisingly, had his men smuggle copies of the film out of France, distributing them on his own in the United States without a dime going to Méliès. The French maestro's plans for an American debut were foiled, leading as surely to his financial demise as the development of the matured Hollywood filmmaking system.

Not helping was Spanish filmmaker Segundo de Chomón. Getting into film in 1901, he produced his first trick film - Gulliver en el país de los gigantes - in 1903. Pathé took notice and saw in de Chomón a competent filmmaker who could compete with Méliès. After releasing a series of his own trick films in Méliès' style, he was asked to essentially replicate A Trip to the Moon.  

Like numerous remakes throughout cinema history, Excursion dans la Lune (English: An Excursion to the Moon) is serviceable. All the pieces are in the right place and, in many places, it is even more refined than the original. Knowing where all the pieces go and understanding why they go there are two different things, however. An Excursion to the Moon lacks the fanciful sensibilities of Méliès, the wry blurred line between the astronomer and the astrologer, the joviality of the etheric spheres in a romantic cosmos. Though de Chomón's star rose just as Méliès' declined, posterity has been more kind to the latter than to the former. Méliès has - rightly - been canonized that the true innovator and artiste. It takes de Chomón's own films, original in content, to showcase his own abilities and separate his legacy from that of his competitor. 


Wednesday, 17 March 2021

By the Water with James Tissot

Born Jacques Joseph Tissot in 1836 in Nantes, France, he had already become an established artist by the time he moved to London in 1871. During that phase of his life, "James" Tissot specialized in scenes from the docks and aboard ship... Likely, he was influenced by the same seagoing culture of Nantes that also affected Jules Verne so deeply, who was himself born in Nantes in 1828. The following is a selection of Tissot's works on that theme, including his series of paintings that appear to be using the same room and same models. Click on the each image for a larger version. Without further ado...   

Ball on Shipboard (1874)

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

John Jacob Astor's A Journey in Other Worlds

Some people, despite their topmost efforts, celebrity, or wealth in life, are best remembered for the manner of their death. John Jacob Astor IV is one such man: a millionaire born to a wealthy American dynasty, he graduated Harvard and obtained a rank of colonel in the Spanish-American War to become the richest man to die aboard the Titanic.

Born to the blue-blooded Astor family in 1864, John Jacob inherited the best possible circumstances for the time. He went to the best schools and utilized the skills learned there to increase his wealth through real estate. He built New York's famous Astoria Hotel, which adjoined to the hotel built by and named for his cousin, William Waldorf Astor. With this wealth he indulged his love of invention, patenting a type of bicycle brake, a turbine engine, a pneumatic road improver, and a means of producing gas from peat moss. In 1898 he joined the ranks as a lieutenant colonel in the Spanish-American War, whereupon he fought in Cuba. As a celebrity capitalist, he was no stranger to scandal: Astor divorced his wife of 18 years to marry 18 year old Madeleine Talmadge Force in 1911. Shunned and gossiped about, the pair went on a tour of Europe and Egypt in the company of Molly Brown, herself a nouveau riche outside of the aristocratic cliques of New England society. Madeleine became pregnant on the trip and they were forced to return home aboard the most luxurious ocean liner ever built. Madeleine made it back to New York. John did not.

John Jacob Astor is also notable for having tried his hand at writing a Scientific Romance in the style of Jules Verne, entitled A Journey in Other Worlds: A Romance of the Future. This 1894 novel is a work of retro-futurism, being set in 2088, and exposes Astor's fixation on the issues of his time as only a work charting the future course of humanity can reveal. The first two-thirds wax on history and exploration from the very defined perspective of a millionaire capitalist, and the last third expands into a strange but sympathetic treatise on philosophy, morals and life after death.


Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Life Magazine's Glimpses into the Future

I wonder if the relative degree of optimism in futuristic visions can be determined by how far away they are placed. For example, Walt Disney, ever the optimist, set his Tomorrowland in the amazing year 1986... A mere 31 years after Disneyland opened in 1955. Most Victorian-Edwardian retro-futurism seems to have opted for a safer 100 years hence. Occasionally they made those same lapses of placing the future too close to the present that make us really chuckle today. The following "Glimpses into the Future" ran through Life Magazine during 1898 and 1899, and projected into such distant times as 1901, 1912, 1930, and 1976. They do include some more objectionable fears to modern multicultural sensibilities, and aren't especially optimistic, but also hold out perennial dreams like the flying car. Click on each image for a larger version. 






Wednesday, 3 February 2021

Scientific Romances of the Seventies

In 1954, Walt Disney set about proving the mettle of his studio and Science Fiction by producing one of the first great genre epics of the post-war era, turning to Jules Verne to supply him with the setting and outline of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. That, in turn, inspired a lengthy series of Victorian Scientific Romances rebranded as Atomic Age parables that stretched until the end of the Sixties, running parallel to the more modern Science Fiction of the time. However, after the Summer of Love, the global protests of 1968, the Stonewall riots, the Tet Offensive, and the moon landing, the heady days of ray gun adventures and cautionary atomic optimism were passed. In their place came a strange affectation for pessimistic, deromanticized films whose ponderous lengths and turgid performances somehow gave the impression of profound meaning, no better exemplified than in the first truly large-scale, full-colour, big-budget Science Fiction epic since 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.

An instructive comparison can be made between the two. Above all else, 2001 is a film about the emergence of consciousness. First, we see the emergence of primate consciousness in the "Dawn of Man" sequence and the connection between consciousness, technology and the violent struggle of survival. In the middle section, which contains the only part of 2001 that may be considered a story, we see the emergence of technological consciousness as HAL 9000 gains sentience and repeats the violent struggle for survival. Finally, in "Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite" we see the emergence of stellar consciousness as a state of being that cannot be described, only show in slit-screen effects over footage of Monument Valley for half an hour. Yet all of Kubrick's brilliant cinematography is a disingenuous construct, meant to disguise the fact that the entire movie is conceptual. It is a 161 minute depiction of a theme without any meaningful ideas, and certainly very little that approaches anything like a story or characters. Kubrick asks us to be in awe of the technical spectacle of 2001, accepting that the spectacle in-itself comprises something kind of like a philosophical idea.

By contrast, 20,000 Leagues possesses not only a theme (atomic power), but an idea (how atomic power should be used responsibly) conveyed through an impassioned human drama. Whereas Kubrick may be the greater artiste, Disney is by far the greater showman. He no doubt recognized that you can't carry a 121 minute movie on theme or even ideas alone. A concept is what gets you started, a foundation upon which you build a movie and not the movie itself. Therefore the idea of atomic power's responsible use underlies an actual story about a trio of men who are taken captive aboard Captain Nemo's submarine ship... A story overflowing with human drama, tragedy, action, and charismatic personalities. It is a heartily Romantic, passionate film. Even the settings are richly Romantic, from the beauty of the ocean to the opulence of Nemo's salon. 2001, on the other hand, depicts the vast expanses of the cosmos as listlessly dull. All the ballet music in the world cannot bandage the gaping wound in which space, spaceships and even whole planets are stripped bare of anything interesting. With newly expansive stellar consciousness pushing beyond the infinite, all Dave Bowman sees are infinite dead worlds not unlike the dessicated desert that was Earth at the Dawn of Man. Though trying to communicate space as a place of infinite growth and possibility, Kubrick somehow only succeeds in making space looking really boring. It is no wonder, after 2001 and its offspring like The Andromeda Strain, Soylent Green, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, THX 1138, Blade Runner, and Alien, that the original Star Wars should have been such a huge hit. Its return to a Romantic vision of space begat a string of genuinely well-loved Science Fiction films through the Eighties and early Nineties, like Back to the Future, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, E.T., Aliens, The Terminator and Terminator 2, Ghostbusters, Jurassic Park, and even, God forbid, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.

In between were the 1970's, and though those dusty old Victorian Scientific Romances were put back on the shelf, a few attempts were made to revive the genre, with varying degrees of success.


Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Jolly Top Hat

The Plimptons explain Victorian economics and class warfare through a giant robot...



Wednesday, 6 January 2021

The Great Unknown by Clement Melville Keys

There are two great intractable expanses that have always captured the imaginations of writers, being the vast desolations at the Earth's poles. From Arthur Gordon Pym to Captain Hatteras to the Miskatonic University Expedition to the Antarctic to the incessant true-life quests to find the South and North poles, and the Northwest Passage, the endless ice have attracted adventurers and lovers of mystery.

The North-West Passage by John Everett Millais (1874)

The Great Unknown by Clement Melville Keys was originally published in the 41st volume (1902-03) of The Argosy magazine, and reads more like the set-up for a larger story than a story unto itself. Though published as a short story it could easily be a first chapter. It was not to be, at least as I have been able to uncover. Keys is far better remembered for his role as a financier for Curtiss-Wright, China National Aviation Corporation, North American Aviation and TWA. Though born in Canada in 1876, he came to be known as "the father of commercial aviation in America." Literature was apparently more of a recreational sideline.

That leaves the titular Great Mystery up for the reader's imagination to discover... Or to simply savour, respecting that sometimes a perpetual terra incognita can be more enticing than the actual discovery. 

The complete text of The Great Unknown appears below, as published in The Argosy. Click on each page for a larger version.






Wednesday, 23 December 2020

A Christmas Dinner with the Man in the Moon

Could there be any more pleasing a Christmas dinner than one spent in the mansions of the Moon's prime minister? Or a more charming Christmas evening that one spent with Uncle Jack telling you about it? Thus comes Washington Gladden's delightful tale of a trip to the lunar surface aboard the Great Aerial Line, the ways of life of its inhabitants, and a scientific mystery that the arrival of earthlings has solved.

A Christmas Dinner with the Man in the Moon was published in the December 1880 edition of St. Nicholas Magazine and is presented here in full, with original illustrations by Victor Nehlig. Gladden, a Congregationalist minister most famous as a pioneer of the Social Gospel movement, a unionization advocate, and anti-segregationist, was also an author of hundreds of poems, stories, and religious tracts. A Christmas Dinner with the Man in the Moon resurfaced in Gladden's 1894 anthology Santa Claus on a Lark: and Other Christmas Stories. Click on each page for a larger version.

Merry Christmas!


Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Ely's Automatic Housemaid by Elizabeth Bellamy

Even more than flying cars, perhaps the longest-standing dream of Science Fiction is the robot maid. Tales of adventure and exploration in the far interstellar frontiers excite the more science-minded, but the average person is, quite understandably, more interested in how technological development is going to improve their daily lives. Sometimes it won't, which is the focus of dystopian "Anti-Science Fiction", but more often it's a bit of a mixed bag. The most famous example of the robot maid - Rosie from The Jetsons - is closest to getting it right... What will happen when we have robot maids and flying cars and condos on stilts and all of that? Basically the same things that have always happened. 


Despite a steady stream of misfortune, Elizabeth Whitfield Bellamy maintained a steady stream of fiction writing. Born in 1837 in Florida, her affluent family moved to Antebellum Georgia to provide a better education and quality of life for the children. It was not to last: at the height of the Civil War, both of her children and her husband passed away of illness and the family plantation was left in ruin and bankruptcy. Widowed, Elizabeth went to live with her parents and afterwards her brother's family, earning her keep with teaching and writing. She stayed with her sister-in-law when her brother passed away in 1884 of bronchitis at the age of 45. Ely's Automatic Housemaid, a satirical exploration of the subject of robot maids, was one of her last short stories.    
  
The following is the full text of Ely's Automatic Housemaid as it appeared in the December 1899 issue of Black Cat Magazine, only a few months before she herself passed away. Click on each page for a larger version.


Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Wojciech Ostrycharz's World of Jules Verne

The following images are by Polish artist and animator Wojciech Ostrycharz, currently of Barcelona, Spain, drafted for an interesting Jules Verne exhibit. His credits include work on Dead Island and the Call of Juarez game franchises, and a cross section of his excellent work can be found at his website  Art Way Studio. The exhibit - The World of Jules Verne - was put together by Branzo Artistic Agency, photos of which can be seen on their website






Wednesday, 11 November 2020

George Chetwyn Griffith's A Honeymoon in Space

Quite often, both the chief delight and the greatest challenge of Victorian-Edwardian Scientific Romances is the quality of the language. Earnest, effervescent, sometimes overwrought 19th century prose can, in the right hands, not only describe the scene with vivid intensity but convey the mood of overstuffed Victorian formality. In less capable hands they are a mulch of jagged cliches, stilted dialogue, and bizarre Eurocentric racial attitudes. Thankfully George Chetwyn Griffith was a much more accomplished writer than many. Granted, he certainly has his share of melodrama, unrealistic conversations, and objectionable views towards the ethnic characteristics of Martians (as well as clumsy prose: "I wonder if the descendants of the ancestors of the future human race on Saturn will invent anything like a suitable language."). Nevertheless, Griffith's background as a journalist prepared him to deliver his forays into Scientific Romance with the pitch of a Jane Austin novel set in space.

For your consideration, this extended excerpt from the opening chapter of his 1901 novel A Honeymoon in Space, in which "the tall athletic figure and the regular-featured, bronzed, honest English face" of Rollo Lenox Smeaton Aubrey, Earl of Redgrave, Baron Smeaton in the Peerage of England, and Viscount Aubrey in the Peerage of Ireland, appears in his flying machine to whisk Miss Lilla Zaidie Rennick and her chaperone away from a trans-Atlantic steamer on its way to an arranged marriage of economic convenience...
Mrs. Van Stuyler was shaking in every muscle, afflicted by a sort of St. Vitus' dance induced by physical fear and outraged propriety. Quite apart from these, however, she experienced a third sensation which made for a nameless inquietude. She was a woman of the world, well versed in most of its ways, and she fully recognised that that single bound from the bridge-rail of the St. Louis to the other side of the clouds had already carried her and her charge beyond the pale of human law.
The same thought, mingled with other feelings, half of wonder and half of re-awakened tenderness, was just then uppermost in Miss Zaidie's mind. It was quite obvious that the man who could create and control such a marvellous vehicle as this could, morally as well as physically, lift himself beyond the reach of the conventions which civilised society had instituted for its own protection and government.
He could do with them exactly as he pleased. They were utterly at his mercy. He might carry them away to some unexplored spot on one of the continents, or to some unknown island in the midst of the wide Pacific. He might even transport them into the midst of the awful solitudes which surround the Poles. He could give them the choice between doing as he wished, submitting unconditionally to his will, or committing suicide by starvation.
They had not even the option of jumping out, for they did not know how to open the sliding doors; and even if they had done, what feminine nerves could have faced a leap into that awful gulf which lay below them, a two-thousand-foot dive through the clouds into the waters of the wintry Atlantic?
They looked at each other in speechless, dazed amazement. Far away below them on the other side of the clouds the St. Louis was steaming eastward, and with her were going the last hopes of the coronet which was to be the matrimonial equivalent of Miss Zaidie's beauty and Russell Rennick's millions.
They were no longer of the world. Its laws could no longer protect them. Anything might happen, and that anything depended absolutely on the will of the lord and master of the extraordinary vessel which, for the present, was their only world.
"My dearest Zaidie," Mrs. Van Stuyler gasped, when she at length recovered the power of articulate speech, "what an entirely too awful thing this is! Why, it's abduction and nothing less. Indeed it's worse, for he's taken us clean off the earth, and there's no more chance of rescue than if he took us to one of those planets he said he could go to. If I didn't feel a great responsibility for you, dear, I believe I should faint."
By this time Miss Zaidie had recovered a good deal of her usual composure. The excitement of the upward rush, and what was left of the momentary physical fear, had flushed her cheeks and lighted her eyes. Even Mrs. Van Stuyler thought her looking, if possible, more beautiful than she had done under the most favourable of terrestrial circumstances. There was a something else too, which she didn't altogether like to see, a sort of resignation to her fate which, in a young lady situated as she was then, Mrs. Van Stuyler considered to be distinctly improper.
Griffith was most famous in his day for his political novels of future war, such as Angel of the Revolution: A Tale of the Coming Terror (1893) and Olga Romanoff (1894). Pure cosmic explorations were more rare, and he restrained himself from the socialist revolutionary views that he injected more freely into his war books. These views likely limited his appeal in the United States, but perhaps enhanced his appeal in the milieu of public debates between Victorian-Edwardian England's intelligentsia. Between 1893 and 1895 he was considered the most popular English writer of Scientific Romances, until Wells usurped him.

A Honeymoon in Space was originally serialized in Pearson's Magazine as Stories of Other Worlds, before being collected into a single volume in 1901. The change in title is significant. Though still suggesting considerable adventure and wonder, the idea of a honeymoon also implies a certain comfort and familiarity... A domestication of outer space. While his protagonists Lord and Lady Redgrave are exploring uncharted territory, Griffith is not. Based on popular conceptions of cosmology and evolution in his day, Griffith retreads the ground of the celestial spheres as a study in the pathways of human development. 




Wednesday, 28 October 2020

The Tragedy of H.P. Lovecraft

Howard Phillips Lovecraft is rightly heralded as one of the greatest horror writers of all time, if not the greatest. His lurid prose hinted at indescribable terrors lurking beyond human comprehension, tapping into the fundamental existential angst of modern society. In the wake of the Great War, when the optimism of the Victorian and Edwardian Eras was inexorably shattered in the blasphemies of flesh wrent and consumed by industrial warfare, Lovecraft invented a pantheon of unfathomably monstrous, blasphemous gods who saw humans as mere food for their march through vast cosmic space, if they thought of humankind at all. Though not overtly successful during his lifetime, Lovecraft's nihilistic post-war view of life came to resonate with society imagining itself spiralling ever more and more towards meaninglessness. Yet, no matter how hard he railed against it, meaning is inescapable.



Wednesday, 14 October 2020

H.P. Lovecraft's The Beast in the Cave

H.P. Lovecraft's work is most accurately understood in its post-World War One milieu. In fiction, the optimism of Scientific Romances and the notions of good and evil in Gothic Horror had largely gone extinct in the conflagration that seized the world in its most devastating mechanized war to date. Horror would be given a reprieve on the silver screen with the Universal Studios series of Gothic monster movies that lasted up to the Second World War, but Lovecraft was ahead of the game on the sense of cosmic nihilism that would pervade much of the 20th century.

Nevertheless, Lovecraft began his writing career prior to the First World War. Though not published until 1918, The Beast in the Cave was drafted in 1905 when Lovecraft was only 14 years old. In it, we already see the nascent themes that he would explore in his literary career. A visitor to Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, now a national park, gets separated from his tour group. In the darkness of the subterranean depths, terror seizes upon him as he hears the fall of footsteps drawing close. A young Lovecraft explores his powers of description leading up to the kind of shock ending that he would become known for.

Without further ado, we present the complete text of The Beast in the Cave...



Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Song of the Deep and its Sources

Insomniac Games' Song of the Deep is a charming 2-D action-puzzle game in a rich underwater fantasy world. The company's first "Metroidvania"-style game, the story revolves around young Merryn, a 12-year old girl who lives by the sea. When her fisherman father goes missing one terrible night, she must descend below in her own makeshift submarine to find him. There, she discovers that the mystical world of sea creatures, sunken wrecks, and ancient civilizations he told her about in bedtime stories actually is real. 

Song of the Deep's reveal trailer.



Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Those Fatal Filaments by Mabel Ernestine Abbott

Subtitled "A wonderful invention and the story of why it was never perfected", Those Fatal Filaments by Mabel Ernestine Abbott explores one of those turning points in history when the inventor faces down the prospect of great discovery with even greater costs. There are things that Man Was Not Meant to Know, including the thoughts of other men... and especially the thoughts of women. 

The following is the complete text of Those Fatal Filaments as it appeared in volume 41 (1902-03) of The Argosy magazine. Click on each page for a larger version.