1911


The Wonder: Too cool for school

The Wonder by J.D. Beresford

As I believe I’ve mentioned elsewhere, one of the pet themes of both Radium Age and Golden Age sci-fi was that of the ubermensch (superman) or the wunderkind (child prodigy), as the case may be; individuals who, as a result of a mutation or genetic engineering, and whether deliberately or accidentally created, came to possess mental and/or physical abilities that separate them from the ruck of humanity. I have already written here of such ubermensch novels as Seeds of Life (1931) by John Taine, in which Neils Bork, a lab worker, is changed after being exposed to a massive dose of X rays and electricity; Read More

The Second Deluge: Rain, rain, go away….

The Second Deluge by Garrett P. Serviss

It is the Indian state of Meghalaya, just north of Bangladesh, the holds the record for being “The Wettest Spot on Earth,” getting, on average, a whopping total of 467” of rain a year. (Do bring an umbrella if you’re planning a visit!) But while this 38-foot tally, 13 times what Seattle might expect annually, is certainly impressive, it pales to insignificance compared to what descends from the heavens in Garrett P. Serviss’ 1911 novel The Second Deluge, in which, due to a cosmic mischance, no fewer than 30,000 feet of rain fall upon our fair planet in under one year … enough to effectively drown the entire world, past the tippy top of Mt. Everest itself! A wonderfully written novel that is fairly epic in scope, it is a sadly neglected apocalyptic work that is surely ripe for rediscovery in our modern-day era... Read More

Red Eve: A red-blooded historical adventure

Red Eve by H. Rider Haggard

For his 37th work of fiction, H. Rider Haggard, the so-called "father of the lost-race novel" and an expert at writing historical adventure tales as well, decided to go back to the Dark Ages. Red Eve, which Haggard wrote in a six-month period from 1908-1909, was ultimately published in 1911, and turns out to be yet another winner from this wonderful storyteller.

In it, we meet Hugh de Cressi, a merchant's son who is in love with “Red Eve” Clavering, a high-born cousin of his, in the year 1346. Eve is in love with him, too, but is being wooed by the traitorous knight Sir Edmund Acour. When Acour realizes that he can't win the affections of his intended in the traditional manner, he slips her a love philtre and weds her while she is doped up. It will now take an act of papal intervention to annul this marriage, and before that can happen, Hugh and his squire, the death-faced Gray Dick, get called by... Read More

The Master of the World: One of Jules Verne’s last novels

The Master of the World by Jules Verne

First published in French in 1904 and in English in 1911, The Master of the World is another of Jules Verne’s adventure novels with an SFF twist. It’s a sequel to Robur the Conqueror, though it’s not necessary to have read that book first (I didn’t). The story is set in 1903 and, as so many of Verne’s novels do, features fantastical machines and gadgetry. It should be of particular interest to those who love steampunk and to Verne’s fans who want to read one of the author’s last novels.

Verne’s hero is John Strock, a brave and clever man who investigates mysteries for the government. Currently there are a few strange occurrences going on in the United States. In the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina there is a mountain that nearby residents claim has been heard to rumble and seen to smoke. It acts like a volcano, but our investigator knows that a volcano i... Read More

The Mahatma and the Hare: A real charmer

The Mahatma and the Hare by H. Rider Haggard

The Mahatma and the Hare was first published in book form in 1911, and is one of H. Rider Haggard's rarer titles. The idea for this short novel came to Haggard, he states in the book's preface, after he had read a newspaper account of a hare that had swum out to sea to avoid being captured by pursuing hounds. In Haggard's story, the self-called mahatma — a spiritual man who is able, when asleep, to view "The Great White Road" on which the souls of those recently departed enter heaven — encounters the hare of the title after that animal's death. The hare tells the mahatma of the hardships and cruelties of his recent life: of how his entire family had been hunted to extinction; of his narrow escapes from hunters, greyhounds, and other hunting dogs; and, finally, of how he met his end. The hare also gets to debate the issue of animal rights with his chief hunter/enemy, near the book's end. T... Read More

Peter Pan: Do you really know him?

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

Most people think they’ve read — or at least know — the story of Peter Pan. The figure of the boy who refuses to grow up has become so infused in Western culture that he’s taken on a life beyond his literary beginnings, starring in countless theatrical productions, movies, television series, prequels and sequels, his image used in merchandise (everything from records to peanut butter), and on several famous statues around the world (the most famous being the one in Kensington Gardens) and even providing the namesake behind a psychological condition (we’ve all heard of people with a “Peter Pan syndrome,” referring to those who refuse to accept the responsibilities of adult life). And then there’s that other Neverland which lends unfortunate connotations to Barrie’s work.

The origins of Peter Pan are quite muddled, first appearing in an adult’s book tit... Read More