Another in the "Doom of London" series, in which the author sounds a clarion call of potential disasters that may fall upon the great city. Here he relates a tale of air pollution.
THE weather forecast for London and the Channel was "light airs, fine generally, milder." Further down the fascinating column Hackness read that "the conditions over Europe generally favoured a continuance of the large anti-cyclonic area, the barometer steadily rising over Western Europe, sea smooth, readings being unusually high for this time of the year." Martin Hackness, B.Sc., London, thoughtfully read all this and more. The study of the meteorological reports was part of his religion almost. In the laboratory at the back of his sitting-room were all kinds of weird-looking instruments for measuring sunshine and wind pressure, the weight of atmosphere and the like. Hackness trusted before long to be able to foretell a London fog with absolute accuracy, which, when you come to think of it, would be an exceedingly useful matter. In his queer way Hackness described himself as a fog specialist. He hoped some day to prove himself a fog-disperser, which is another word for a great public benefactor.... read more
There is a history in all men’s lives,
Figuring the nature of the times deceased;
The which observed, a man may prophesy,
With a near aim, of the main chance of things
As yet not come to life; which in their seeds
And weak beginnings lie intreasured.
Shakespeare, 2 Henry IV., III. i.
They pass through whirl-pools, and deep woes do shun,
Who the event weigh, ‘ere the action’s done.
Webster, Duchess of Malfi, II. 4.
In this serious attempt to forecast the changes ahead in the 20th century from the year 1906, the author deals with the accelerating rate of scientific progress, housing, travel, population, business, pleasure, newspapers, utilization of the sea, science, education, religion, economics, and law. He describes his intentions in the following manner in his Preface:... read more
The Kreutzer Sonata (Russian: Крейцерова соната, Kreitzerova Sonata) is a novella by Leo Tolstoy, named after Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata. The novella was published in 1889 and promptly censored by the Russian authorities. The work is an argument for the ideal of sexual abstinence and an in-depth first-person description of jealous rage. The main character, Pozdnyshev, relates the events leading up to his killing his wife; in his analysis, the root cause for the deed were the "animal excesses" and "swinish connection" governing the relation between the sexes.
Travellers left and entered our car at every stopping of the train. Three persons, however, remained, bound, like myself, for the farthest station: a lady neither young nor pretty, smoking cigarettes, with a thin face, a cap on her head, and wearing a semi-masculine outer garment; then her companion, a very loquacious gentleman of about forty years, with baggage entirely new and arranged in an orderly manner; then a gentleman who held himself entirely aloof, short in stature, very nervous, of uncertain age, with bright eyes, not pronounced in color, but extremely attractive,—eyes that darted with rapidity from one object to another.
This gentleman, during almost all the journey thus far, had entered into conversation with no fellow-traveller, as if he carefully avoided all acquaintance. When spoken to, he answered curtly and decisively, and... read more
The figure of my wife came in... it came straight towards the bed... its wide eyes were open and looked at me with love unspeakable' Edith Nesbit, best known as the author of The Railway ren and other ren's classics, was also the mistress of the ghost story and tales of terror. She was able to create genuinely chilling narratives in which the returning dead feature strongly. Sadly, these stories have been neglected for many years, but now, at last, they are back in print. In this wonderful collection of eerie, flesh-creeping yarns, we encounter love that transcends the grave, reanimated corpses, vampiric vines, vengeful ghosts and other dark delights to make you feel fearful. These vintage spooky stories, tinged with horror, are told in a bold, forthright manner that makes them seem as fresh and unsettling as today's headlines.
It was an enthusiastic send-off. Half the students from her atelier were there, and twice as many more from other studios. She had been the belle of the Artists' Quarter in Montparnasse for three golden months. Now she was off to the Riviera to meet her people, and everyone she knew was at the Gare de Lyon to catch the last glimpse of her. And, as had been more than once said late of an evening, "to see her was to love her". She was one of those agitating blondes, with the naturally rippled hair, the rounded rose-leaf cheeks, the large violet-blue eyes, that looked all things and meant Heaven alone knew how little. She held her court like a queen, leaning out of the carriage window and receiving bouquets, books, journals, long last words, and last longing looks. All eyes were on her, and her eyes were for... read more
In addition to his great "Wessex Novels," Thomas Hardy wrote "Wessex Tales" (1896), a collection of six stories written in the 1880s and 1890s that, for the most part, are as bleakly ironic and unforgiving as the darkest of his great novels -- "Jude the Obscure." But this great novelist began and ended his writing career as a poet. In-between, he wrote a number of books that many readers find emotionally-wrenching, but which are considered among the classics of 19th Century British literature, including "Far from the Madding Crowd," and "Tess of the D'Urbervilles." Readers will experience Hardy's uncompromising, unsentimental realism in "Wessex Tales," and for those seeking a taste of the Dorset poet and novelist, they represent an ideal start.
An Imaginative Woman
The Three Strangers
The Withered Arm
Interlopers at the Knap
The Distracted Preacher
An apology is perhaps needed for the neglect of contrast which is shown by presenting two consecutive stories of hangmen in such a small collection as the following. But in the neighbourhood of county-towns tales of executions used to form a large proportion of the local traditions; and though never personally acquainted with any chief operator at such scenes, the writer of these pages had as a boy the privilege of being on speaking terms with a man who applied for the office, and who sank into an incurable melancholy because he failed to get it, some slight mitigation of his grief being to dwell upon striking episodes in the lives of those happier ones who had held it with success and renown. His tale of disappointment used to cause some wonder why his ambition should have taken such an unfortunate form, but its nobleness was never questioned. In those days, too, there was still living an old woman who,... read more
The creatures on the little planet were real bafflers.
The first puzzler about them was that they died so easily.
The second was that they didn't die at all.
Tension eased away as the spaceship settled down on its metallic haunches and they savored a safe planetfall.
Ekstrohm fingered loose the cinches of his deceleration couch. He sighed. An exploration camp would mean things would be simpler for him. He could hide his problem from the others more easily. Trying to keep secret what he did alone at night was very difficult under the close conditions on board a ship in space.
Ryan hefted his bulk up and supported it on one elbow. He rubbed his eyes sleepily with one huge paw. "Ekstrohm, Nogol, you guys okay?"... read more
Jack London gained his first and most lasting fame as the author of tales of the Klondike gold rush. This, his first collection of stories, draws on his experience in the Yukon. The stories tell of gambles won and lost, of endurance and sacrifice, and often turn on the qualities of exceptional women and on the relations between the white adventurers and the native tribes.
Stories included are:
- The White Silence
- The Son of the Wolf
- The Men of Forty Mile
- In a Far Country
- To the Man on Trail
- The Priestly Perogative
- The Wisdom of the Trail
- The Wife of the King
- An Odyssey of the North
'Carmen won't last more than a couple of days.' Mason spat out a chunk of ice and surveyed the poor animal ruefully, then put her foot in his mouth and proceeded to bite out the ice which clustered cruelly between the toes.
'I never saw a dog with a highfalutin' name that ever was worth a rap,' he said, as he concluded his task and shoved her aside. 'They just fade away and die under the responsibility. Did ye ever see one go wrong with a sensible name like Cassiar, Siwash, or Husky? No, sir! Take a look at Shookum here, he's—' Snap! The lean brute flashed up, the white teeth just missing Mason's throat.
'Ye will, will ye?' A shrewd clout behind the ear with the butt of the dog whip stretched the animal in the snow, quivering softly, a yellow slaver dripping from its fangs.... read more
Uncle Silas is a Victorian Gothic mystery-thriller novel by the Irish writer J. Sheridan Le Fanu. It is notable as an early example of the locked room mystery subgenre. It is not a novel of the supernatural (despite a few creepily ambiguous touches), but does show a strong interest in the occult and in the ideas of Emanuel Swedenborg, a Swedish scientist, philosopher and Christian mystic.
Like many of Le Fanu's novels, it grew out of an earlier short story, "A Passage in the Secret History of an Irish Countess" (1839), which he also published as "The Murdered Cousin" in the 1851 collection Ghost Stories and Tales of Mystery. The setting of the original story was Irish; presumably it was changed to Derbyshire for the novel because this would appeal more to a British audience. It was first serialized in the Dublin University Magazine in 1864, under the title Maud Ruthyn and Uncle Silas, and appeared in December of the same year as a triple-decker novel from the London publisher Richard Bentley.[Wikipedia]
It was winter—that is, about the second week in November—and great gusts were rattling at the windows, and wailing and thundering among our tall trees and ivied chimneys—a very dark night, and a very cheerful fire blazing, a pleasant mixture of good round coal and spluttering dry wood, in a genuine old fireplace, in a sombre old room. Black wainscoting glimmered up to the ceiling, in small ebony panels; a cheerful clump of wax candles on the tea-table; many old portraits, some grim and pale, others pretty, and some very graceful and charming, hanging from the walls. Few pictures, except portraits long and short, were there. On the whole, I think you would have taken the room for our parlour. It was not like our modern notion of a drawing-room. It was a long room too, and ... read more
The Machine Stops is a short science fiction story. It describes a world in which almost all humans have lost the ability to live on the surface of the Earth. Each individual lives in isolation in a 'cell', with all bodily and spiritual needs met by the omnipotent, global Machine. Most humans welcome this development, as they are skeptical and fearful of first-hand experience. People forget that humans created the Machine, and treat it as a mystical entity whose needs supersede their own. Those who do not accept the deity of the Machine are viewed as 'unmechanical' and are threatened with "Homelessness". Eventually, the Machine apocalyptically collapses, and the civilization of the Machine comes to an end.
Imagine, if you can, a small room, hexagonal in shape, like the cell of a bee. It is lighted neither by window nor by lamp, yet it is filled with a soft radiance. There are no apertures for ventilation, yet the air is fresh. There are no musical instruments, and yet, at the moment that my meditation opens, this room is throbbing with melodious sounds. An armchair is in the centre, by its side a reading-desk-that is all the furniture. And in the armchair there sits a swaddled lump of flesh-a woman, about five feet high, with a face as white as a fungus. It is to her that the little room belongs.
An electric bell rang.... read more
The Masquerader is one of two Katherine Cecil Thurston’s books that appeared on the Publisher’s Weekly best-sellers list in 1905. The Masquerader is part mystery, part romance and part political thriller – all tied up in one neat package. Nature has a way of sometimes making two people nearly indistinguishable in appearance. Such is the premise for this book. John Chilcote, a British politician, and John Loder, a man down on his luck meet by accident one night during one of London’s worst fogs. Chilcote, addicted to morphine, needs to escape his political responsibilities and presents an offer to Loder to exchange places occasionally. Loder, reluctant at first, finally accepts the proposal and finds he fits into Chilcote’s role – perhaps better than Chilcote himself. The exchanges become more frequent and lengthy. Loder, finding his way, discovers he is worthy of Chilcote’s position, especially during an international crisis, but when Chilcote reclaims his life, Loder’s accomplishments try to unravel. Two women are intimately involved in this story – one is Chilcote’s wife, Eve, who is a wife of convenience rather than love. The second is Lady Astrupp. We will say little about Lady Astrupp except that she adds a great deal of suspense to the story. In such a charade, things do not always go as expected. Does Chilcote break his drug habit? What becomes of Loder? Does Eve become suspicious as a wife might? Is the masquerade exposed by... read more