Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bringing home the Bacon

Some gorgeous "pre-Golden Age" science fiction covers illustrate Dzyd Josh's latest transmission at i09 , including Harold Steele Mackaye's The Panchronicon (1904):

I'm informed that The Panchronicon concerns a pair of New Hampshire spinsters who are given the opportunity to travel through time via a solar-powered airship-thing from the 27th-century. See, first you fly the Panchronicon to the North Pole; then you orbit the Earth widdershins (anti-sunwise, like Christopher Reeve does in the 1978 Superman); and presto, you're in 16th-century England, where you're able to disprove the Bacon-was-Shakespeare theory.

And there's an Ouroboros, linking back here, to boot!

7. E.R. Eddison, The Worm Ouroboros (London: Jonathan Cape, 1922). More admired than read, Ouroboros is a linguistically adventurous saga recounting the infinite war between the king of Witchland and the lords of Demonland... on the planet Mercury. Call it Nietzschean SF: somewhere out there, the author would have us believe, another world is possible, one in which the self-overcoming values and worldview of Roman, Arab, Germanic, Japanese nobility, Homeric heroes, and Scandinavian Vikings will never be corrupted. (As Lord Juss puts it: "For better it were we should run hazard again of utter destruction, than thus live out our lives like cattle fattening for the slaughter, or like silly garden plants.") The end of Eddison's novel is also its beginning, hence the title and Keith Henderson's heavy-metal jacket illustration — a snake devouring itself tail-first. Like they so often do in medieval engravings, Celtic sculptures, Egyptian scrolls, Aztec glyphs, and on Agent Scully's lower back. Wish I could afford a 1st edition.

(Here's my take on the book at Astral Weeks.)

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Blogger Josh Glenn said...

And now, Ed, I'm going to post a link from the io9 entry back to your Astral Weeks column. Talk about an ouroboros!

10:52 AM  

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