THE ADVENTURES OF A MICRO-MAN (1902) – This work of vintage or “ancient” science fiction was authored by Lancelot Bayly under the pen name Edwin Pallender. The central character of the story was Doctor Geoffrey Hassler, a wealthy eccentric scientist who has discovered “microgen” a gas which shrinks objects down to a very small size.
Dr Hassler’s demonstrations of the procedure in a diving-bell shaped chamber convinces even the skeptics and he rakes in even more money plus scientific recognition. One day when he, his daughter Muriel, her fiancee Gerald and a family friend named Reverend Eden are all inside the chamber a fluke accident causes them all to be shrunk down to a fraction of an inch.
Nobody was around to witness the accident so the quartet are trapped at tiny size for approximately 10 days, when the microgen treatment will wear off and they will return to normal. In their struggle to survive they manage to escape the chamber and make their way to Dr Hassler’s garden which – at their current size – is like a vast, dangerous jungle to them. Knowing they need food and water the group has no alternative but to venture forth.
The involuntary adventurers clash with – to them – gigantic beetles, and survive to continue their quest for food. Eventually the foursome have secured food & water and have made shelter in the shell of an empty walnut. Resourceful Dr Hassler even finds a way to make fire so they can roast their victuals.
In the days to come Hassler, Muriel, Gerald and Reverend Eden battle spiders, moths, ants and gnats and discover that at their tiny size they can walk atop the water in the garden’s pond, which is dense enough to support their weight. Even along the shore of that pond peril awaits – in particular a mussel which tries to eat Gerald.
Along the way Muriel and her beau are married by Reverend Eden and the adventure turns very horrific at times. A nightmarish segment which finds the quartet having to escape a spider’s web is very effective.
A rainstorm threatens to drown our heroes, forcing them to try to climb the garden wall like it’s a steep mountain in order to escape the rising waters. Eventually the foursome return to their normal size and Gerald & Muriel hold an elaborate wedding reception.
I find it a huge shame that this story is not better known. It deserved to be one of those quaint vintage sci-fi stories that everybody is familiar with growing up, like War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. ++
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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