THE INCUBATED GIRL (1896) – Written by F.T. Jane, as in THE Jane who originated the Jane’s Guides.
It would be overly glib to describe this novel as just a sci-fi version of Alraune because it definitely goes in some unexpected directions. Plus Alraune itself borrowed heavily from Homunculus, Mandrake and Mandragore folklore. There’s a touch of The Great God Pan as well.
The Incubated Girl begins with British Egyptologist Blackburn Zadara discovering an ancient coffin of a Priest of Isis. There is no corpse inside but rather a manuscript and assorted chemical concoctions. Zadara returns to England with the discovery and translates the manuscript – it is a guide to creating human life by using the chemical substances that were buried with the manuscript.
Blackburn closely follows the instructions and months later he invites his friend Meredyth Wilson Sr over to witness the initial results of the experiment. Wilson watches as Zadara opens a large egg-shaped pod from which he removes a little baby girl.
Blackburn Zadara names the child Stella and tells Meredyth that according to the Egyptian manuscript Stella will be supernaturally healthy and will never experience death as long as she never drinks human milk nor eats any meat.
Over the years as Stella grows, Zadara tries to create additional humanoids but those efforts always fail. The Egyptologist has been using specifically deaf-mute servants to attend to Stella to limit involved interaction with other humans.
By her 18th year Stella is beautiful and highly intelligent but is as selfish as a newborn and enjoys enacting revenge against anyone who gets on her bad side. Blackburn takes the incubated girl to London with him, but she abandons him there, since she finds him ugly and unpleasant.
Like all beautiful women Stella never lacks for men willing to pander to her every whim so she manages to get by without Zadara, who nevertheless uses spies to keep track of her for his scientific notes. Stella eventually meets the son of Blackburn’s friend – Meredyth Wilson JUNIOR.
Meredyth is a wealthy artist and Stella finds him interesting. She tells him she is moving in with him since she enjoys his company and she even gets rid of an artist’s model who works for Meredyth. Stella is sexless, so there’s nothing erotic here, she just likes Meredyth and, as usual, will not take “no” for an answer.
As the gorgeous Stella spends months as Meredyth’s artist model and assistant the young man is amazed at how quickly she learns. He is oblivious – but the reader is not – to the way that the incubated woman seems to absorb talents and abilities from any humans she interacts with.
Stella is soon having visions of life in ancient Egypt, which makes her even more difficult to live with as she puts on VERY regal airs. Meredyth talks the artificial woman into spending some time at the home of a country clergyman, hoping she will learn more polite behavior.
That little misadventure is a disaster and soon Stella abandons the clergyman as well. She sets out to make it on her own. She has absorbed enough artistic talent from Meredyth that she churns out very sellable works and gets hired as an illustrator for a British publication.
She absorbs the business acumen of her employers and – since they are crooked businessmen as it turns out – Stella becomes an excellent white collar criminal, too. The artificial woman remains as uninhibited as ever, with her beauty combined with all her other talents managing to extricate her from any legal difficulties that result.
Stella finds the horses who pull the London omnibuses to be fascinating creatures, and, upon witnessing them getting whipped to hurry them on, becomes enraged. She commandeers the vehicle and horsewhips not just the driver but ALL OF THE PASSENGERS AS WELL.
Our main character goes on to use a red-hot poker on a cruel little boy for abusing a mouse and frees a captive elephant. Stella then indulges in some Bad Craziness by riding atop the elephant in a rampage down Saville Row.
Blackburn Zadara signs his guardianship of Stella over to Meredyth Wilson SENIOR since she likes his son so much, but continues keeping notes on the girl’s activities. The Wilsons learn that Zadara refuses to share with them the complete translation of the manuscript that led to Stella’s creation, but he does let on that it includes a warning of some kind.
Eventually Stella capitalizes on her visions of ancient Egypt and the preaching abilities she absorbed from the country clergyman by launching her own religion with HERSELF as both the goddess AND one-woman clergy.
Stella issues Three Commandments: 1. Animals are to no longer be used for any kind of labor … 2. People who abuse animals will be punished with the same treatment they gave the animals … and 3. People who refuse to become vegetarians will be imprisoned and eventually served to each other as food.
All of this leads to Stella admitting she has no soul to a lovesick reverend who has left his religion to worship Stella. She asks him if she can have HIS soul and he says yes. Stella absorbs the man’s soul and begins to soften and feel tender emotions.
Her now-soulless victim, however, becomes animalistic and tries to rape her. After this attacker is dealt with, Stella seeks out Meredyth JUNIOR, feeling that now she could truly love him.
Zadara kidnaps the incubated girl before she can reach Meredyth and takes her to his laboratory. He begins to vivisect her alive to complete his experiment but the dying Stella absorbs the soul of Blackburn’s lab assistant, reducing him to savagery like her former worshiper earlier.
The now wild man attacks Zadara. The two men kill each other and fall onto the dead body of Stella, bringing the entire misguided affair to a close. +++
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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