THE SPIDER OF GUYANA (1860) – Written by the team of Emile Erckmann and Alexandre Chatrian. Balladeer’s Blog’s previous looks at ancient works of science fiction have established how far back the “big bug” trope goes. Creature Feature movies were far from the first appearance of oversized insects and arachnids. And atomic radiation wasn’t needed to justify such outrageous mutations.
This story is set in Spinbronn, a resort town in the mountains of Germany. Sufferers of gout and other afflictions flock to Spinbronn to soak in its healing waters as prescribed by their physicians. Disappearances begin to plague the area.
Even more eerily, the remains of birds begin to wash downstream from the cavern in which the waters originate. Eventually animal and human skeletons begin to arrive, carried down by those same waters.
Worse still, skeletons of unknown creatures and creatures believed extinct begin to wash down as well. Two gutsy patients at the resort take it upon themselves to investigate and one of them falls prey to the gigantic spider, called the Spider of Guyana due to a similar creature having existed in Guyana according to Agatha, an elderly black woman.
SPOILER: Doctor Christian Weber, a physician at the spa, organizes a party to brave the cavern, where they smoke out the giant spider and burn it alive.
Short and to the point, but nothing all that great. The Spider of Guyana is noteworthy largely because of its 1860 use of a giant arachnid and for the praise H.P. Lovecraft bestowed upon this tale and its writing team. Too bad nobody brought this story to Jon Peters’ attention when he was going through his obsessive quest to use a giant spider in one of his films.
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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