Four tales comprise this collection, the first of which is the story for which H. G. Wells is most known, The Time Machine. The adventures of a time traveller who builds a machine that propels him 800,000 years into a future that appears utopian only—and quite literally—on the surface has been reprinted thousands of times and adapted into at least a half dozen films that I know of.
However, the other three stories in the collection were new to me: “The Empire of the Ants”, “The Country of the Blind”, and “The Man Who Could Work Miracles.”
Of these, the first is forgettable, the second compelling, and the third entertaining. In “The Country of the Blind,” we join professional mountain climber, Núñez, as he survives a fall from Parascotopetl in Ecuador only to discovers a hidden land occupied by a population of blind natives. Núñez learns that these people have been without sight for generations and somewhere along the way, lost all knowledge and belief in the world beyond their own village. Núñez recalls the old adage, “In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” He quickly learns just how wrong he is…
In “The Man Who Could Work Miracles,” a nebbish clerk with the unlikely name of George McWhirter Fotheringay does not believe in miracles and is all too happily debating their impossibility in the Long Dragon pub when, to his utter astonishment, he performs a miracle by ordering an oil lamp to turn upside down and continue burning. This leads Fotheringay on a journey of escalating marvels that eventually leads to global consequences…
This week, David Gaughran and Anne R. Allen analyze Amazon’s heavy-handed measures of fraud detection that are forcing the innocent to suffer for the guilty. P.J. Parrish illustrates the revision process using one of her own manuscripts while Ruth Harris and Andrew Falconer offer tips on writing historical fiction.
We strike gold with… who else, but… Jami Gold! Jami is busy with NaNoWriMo, so she has invited guest bloggers to discuss such topics as Imposter Syndrome (Kassandra Lamb), Deep POV (Lisa Hall-Wilson), and Productivity (J. Rose).
From the latter, this statement leapt out at me: “We’re trained to work ourselves to the bone, and that we should best each other about “who’s the most busy” or “who has the least amount of time.” I challenge you to step away from this game! Do you really want to be #1 at being stressed and being busy all the time so you don’t have time to enjoy your life?”
All that and a little more. Enjoy!
Amazon’s Hall of Spinning Knives by David Gaughran
Don’t Let Impostor Syndrome Ruin Your Writing by Kassandra Lamb via Jami Gold
Deep POV and Hidden Messages in Subtext by Lisa Hall-Wilson via Jami Gold
Creating the Right Mindset to Be Productive by J. Rose via Jami Gold
Cutting Open the Sausage: A Hard Look at Rewriting by PJ Parrish
Plunge Into Story Action—and Genre by Kathryn Craft
A Character’s POV = A Character’s Truth by Sarah Callender
Five Essentials of Historical Fantasy by Andrew Falconer
The Most Important Rule of Backstory by Andrea Lundgren
Amazon’s Latest Crackdowns: Do They Include Amazon Review Trolls? by Anne R. Allen
Harry Purvis is a master storyteller who regales his fellow patrons every Wednesday evening at the White Hart pub with fantastical yarns of eccentric characters and outrageous scientific catastrophes.
While Tales From the White Hart is considered one of Clarke’s most popular anthologies, I found a handful of the stories—such as “Big Game Hunt”, “Critical Mass”, “Cold War”, and a few others—to be either prosaic, mundane, or anticlimactic. However, there were a number of humorous and rousing romps, including:
“Patent Pending” – After a professor invents a device that records brain waves corresponding to human sensations, his assistant envisions a far more profitable, and sensual, use for the device…
“Armaments Race” – While working on a low-budget SF series for Hollywood, a special effects expert is tasked producing ever more impressive ray guns… until he creates one that actually works—with devastating results.
“The Pacifist” – The military presses a mathematician to construct a computer capable of flawless combat strategy. When the project begins falling behind schedule, the scientist is bullied by a clueless general. In response, a hidden circuit is built into the computer—one that turns out to be hilariously insubordinate.
“The Man Who Ploughed the Sea” – Harry Purvis travels to Florida with a lawyer friend to explore the coastal waters in a small submarine. During their expedition, they encounter a large yacht owned by an elderly chemist who invented a method for collecting elements and precious metals directly from saltwater.
“Moving Spirit” – When an eccentric, reclusive scientist’s still explodes, he finds himself arrested for manufacturing illegal alcohol and requests help from his nephew, Harry Purvis, attorney-at-law. With the odds stacked against them, Harry literally concocts an incendiary defense for his uncle.
“The Reluctant Orchid” – A meek, timid clerk with an affinity for orchids is routinely intimidated by his imperious Aunt Henrietta. After planting a rare, carnivorous species of orchid in his greenhouse, he soon devises a plot to get rid of her…
“What Goes Up” – In the deserts of Australia, a team of scientists are confounded while testing a new design of nuclear reactor. Rather than an explosion, the reactor forms an anti-gravity bubble several hundred feet in diameter. Entering the bubble, however, could prove as dangerous as falling off a mountain…
The one aspect about Stranger Things that captivates me most is the bond between the four main kids, Lucas, Dustin, Mike, and Will. They might bicker on occasion, but they are loyal and care about one another deeply. The safety of each one is paramount to the others. They are the Musketeers of Hawkins, Indiana.
I never experienced that growing up, not even within my own family let alone friends who drifted in and out of my life. I’m sure such friendships as depicted in Stranger Things existed back in the 80s, but I’m not confident that they still exist today in our self-absorbed, self-obsessed, technologically overdosed world.
Of course, Stranger Things isn’t the first to show us such devotion among childhood friends from previous decades, so I can only imagine that it isn’t a complete fabrication. There must be a kernel of truth there, based on the life experiences of the writers. Regardless, it’s that teamwork, camaraderie, and devotion between these four kids who believe in the fantastical dangers unnoticed by oblivious adults (except for Joyce Byers and Chief Hopper)—and who come together as one cohesive, amazingly organized unit to combat evil forces—that makes Stranger Things so enjoyable above and beyond the other excellent characters and the unnerving tension of a well-crafted story.