Wednesday 26 December 2018

Christmas a Hundred Years From Now

The following sample of prophecy appeared in the Summit Country Journal of Breckenridge, Colorado, USA, on December 18, 1909. Now 119 years later, and ten whole years after the predicted date, we can enjoy looking back and seeing how accurate these imaginings were (like its prediction that automobiles will go extinct as humankind takes solely to the air for transportation). Click on the image to see an enlarged version.

Wednesday 12 December 2018

Ethel Watts Mumford's When Time Turned

One of the quotes most often misattributed to Albert Einstein is "time is what keeps everything from happening at once." The line actually derives from the novelist Ray Cummings, in his 1921 short story The Time Professor in the magazine Argosy. One can see why it might be so frequently assigned to the actual professor of time though, as it captures something essential about his work. Namely, that time (and space) as we experience it is relative. Time is not simply a linear progression of instances, but warps according to location. Who knows what gravities could affect it? What if, through some inscrutable power, a person could end up experiencing time in reverse?  

The most well-known story to ask this question is F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button published the following year, 1922, in  Collier's. Even that story has been overshadowed by its 2008 Brad Pitt, David Fincher film adaptation. Yet the first story to about this subject was in 1901, in the less well-known magazine The Black Cat. Dedicated to stories of the unusual, and named after the Edgar Allan Poe story, it published the Scientific Romance, Horror, and Weird Fiction of many a young and aspiring author including Jack London. The January 1901 issue featured a strange tale by Ethel Watts Mumford titled When Time Turned, about a man reliving his life in reverse.

As happens from time to time, a story is short enough that there is less point in talking about it than in simply posting the story itself. Here following is When Time Turned, that month's $125 prize winning story, as it appeared in The Black Cat.