THE PURPLE DEATH (1895) – Written by William Livingston Alden. Presented in the first person this story is narrated by a British gentleman staying in Italy. He becomes friendly with his neighbor, a German M.D. and bacteriologist named Dr Schmidt.
Subsequent conversations reveal that Schmidt is a good old-fashioned mad scientist who has some very odd sympathies. The German doctor sides with Anarchists (among the biggest bogey-men of the 1890s) and his only objection to the occasional assassinations that Anarchists commit is how impractical those crimes are.
Schmidt feels that there will always be plenty of other capitalists, royalty and politicians to replace the odd few who get whacked by Anarchist assassins. He feels that the real way for Anarchists to help the working class is by paradoxically killing off laborers in enormous numbers, thus increasing the value of those workers who are still alive.
The German’s experiments have produced a variety of incredibly virulent strains of germs. His greatest creation is called the Purple Death and kills adult males within a half hour without fail.
Schmidt plans to carry out his plans for mass annihilation of laborers but finds his conscience roused by his conversations with the Englishman. The mad scientist decides against using his Purple Death after all but the thought of all the wasted years spent developing his mutant strains induces a heart attack.
As Dr Schmidt dies he begs our narrator to destroy all his implements for germ warfare. The Brit does so, except for the tube of Purple Death that the madman died clutching.
The narrator sees that Schmidt is buried with the vial but from then on is fearful that the Purple Death may infect worms or plantlife in the cemetery where his late neighbor was interred. He fearfully envisions this new plague spreading across the globe, leaving all of humanity dead in its path. +++
FOR EIGHT ADDITIONAL EXAMPLES OF ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION CLICK HERE
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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4 responses to “THE PURPLE DEATH (1895): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION”
Downer of a story!
You said it!
Really old sci fi like this is so interesting!