Quaint they were, these records, strange and ancient, washed to shore when the Moderan sea finally thawed. Played in the old-fashioned machine way we, the beam people, the Essenceland Dream people, easily divined, they told of a very different world, a transition world, if you will, between what we are now and the death and defeat these people hoped to overcome. New-metal man! It does have a ring. MODERAN! It did seem pretty great in concept, I’m sure, and, who knows, perhaps it had a reasonable chance for success. But all societies, all civilizations, all aspirations it seems must fail the unremitting tugs of shroudly time, finally, leaving only little bones, fossils, a shoe turned to stone maybe, a bone button in the sea perhaps, a jeweled memento of an old love. In this case, tapes were left, wherein a great “King” had set down his story of hopes, fears, wars — yes, WARS! Perhaps this “King” was a writer of some skill, a kind of doomed King James. His prose does have a flair, although sometimes it turns tedious, I’m afraid; sometimes he belabors the obvious and becomes vague when he needs to elucidate; sometimes he’s fat when he needs to be lean, lean when fat would be better. Or at least it seems to me these things are true. But then, I am the true machine efficiency, here as essence man, my perfections against his human flaws — quite unfair!
Archive for November, 2010
Spiridon by André Laurie (Adapted with an Introduction by Michael Shreve)
“Spiridon, Monsieur Prosecutor, is not a human being. He’s an animal, a refined insect, a giant ant who managed to develop his instinct to an imperfect intellectual level, but who is still, in spite of everything, an animal, an unaware, irresponsible animal and totally innocent.”
André Laurie was a one of Jules Verne’s collaborators, a pioneer of science fiction as well as a prolific writer, militant journalist and even politician. In Spiridon (1907), a young surgeon discovers an island off the coast of Corsica inhabited by giant, intelligent ants. Their king, Spiridon, eager to learn more about humanity, goes to Paris where, using his advanced knowledge, he begins effecting miraculous cures before being unmasked by jealous competitors. Forced to protect himself, Spiridon reveals his alien nature and becomes a killer. Spiridon, a non-humanoid alien gifted with knowledge, scientific curiosity, but no human emotions, the victim of mankind’s fears, is a ground-breaking science fiction character and a striking departure from both Jules Verne and H.G. Wells.