THE PROFESSOR’S EXPERIMENTS (1910) – By Paul Bo’ld (sic) – real name: Edward George Paul Bousfield. (Not to be confused with John Paul George Ann Ringo.) A possible influence on H.P. Lovecraft’s Herbert West, Reanimator in style but not in content. This collection of six short stories centered around mad scientist Jerome Mudgewood and his assistant Dr Gertrude Delaney.
Mudgewood’s envelope-pushing experiments unleash forces beyond his control, resulting in death and tragedy. The stories in order:
The Retardatory Force – Professor Mudgewood tries to harness a pair of sub-atomic and extra-atomic forces, believing that eternal life can be achieved by doing so. He, Dr Delaney and their housekeeper instead find themselves confined in an energy field that slows matter down and eventually dissolves it into nothingness. Jerome and Gertrude survive but the housekeeper isn’t as lucky.
The Magnetic Essence – The Professor isolates a particle in iron, a particle which he believes causes iron to be attracted to magnets. Dubbing this particle “the magneto component” he plans to implant it into any object he wishes to magnetize. It turns out the force is also responsible for maintaining an atom’s integrity and so extracting “the magneto component” figuratively splits the atom, unleashing incredibly deadly explosions.
The Green Paste – Mudgewood, through his usual unwholesome experiments, has distilled a greenish paste which, when swabbed into a person’s eye allows them to use that eye to enthrall others. An unexpected side-effect enables the person to use their eye to melt down objects or set them on fire. The power turns out to be uncontrollable by the conscious mind and is triggered by emotional responses, with tragic results.
Matters of Much Gravity – Jerome returns to his experiments in particle physics and discovers that gravity and cohesiveness are related. Proving he’s just as insane as ever he invents a way of destroying gravity and cohesiveness just because he can. Fortunately the process doesn’t work on living matter but unfortunately it begins to harm clothing, vehicles and buildings.
The Biological Burglar – The Professor experiments with plant sap and human blood hoping to find ways of making them interchangeable. He succeeds, and a Virginia Creeper injected with Mudgewood’s new serum takes on animal qualities and attacks him and Gertrude. Further complications arise when Jerome captures a burglar and uses him as a human guinea pig. The Professor amputates the man’s legs and grafts tree cuttings in their place, transforming the robber into a monster.
The Dimension of Time – Professor Mudgewood tries to penetrate the mysteries of the Fourth Dimension. He winds up opening a doorway into a dimension he names Intertime. He and Dr Delaney explore Intertime and this tale wraps up Jerome and Gertrude’s adventures in proto-Reanimator fashion as the Professor at last pays the price for all the horrors he’s unleashed and with his assistant surviving to tell the tale.
FOR TEN MORE EXAMPLES OF ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/2014/03/03/ten-neglected-examples-of-ancient-science-fiction/
FOR WASHINGTON IRVING’S 1809 depiction of an invasion from the moon click here: https://glitternight.com/2014/05/05/ancient-science-fiction-the-men-of-the-moon-1809-by-washington-irving/
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