With an Introduction by Geraldine Bonner
ds he then informed me that he had made the discovery that the art was extremely simple, and the expense attending the decomposition so slight as to be insignificant.
Presuming then that the object of his visit to me was to procure the necessary forms to get out a patent for the right, I congratulated him upon his good fortune, and was about to branch forth with a description of some of the great benefits that must ensue to the community, when he suddenly and somewhat uncivilly requested me to "be silent," and listen to what he had to say.
He began with some general remarks about the inequality of fortune amongst mankind, and instanced himself as a striking example of the fate of those men, who, according to all the rules of right, ought to be near the top, instead of at the foot of the ladder of fortune. "But," said he, springing to his feet with impulsive energy, "I have now the means at my command of rising superior to fate, or of inflicting incalculable ills upon the whole human race."
A pretty good story for being 140 years old. A chemist has discovered a chemical way to separate water into hydrogen and oxygen as a chain reaction and threatens to drop the stuff into the Pacific Ocean unless he's paid $1,000,000. The nabobs of Frisco try to raise the money, while considering other solutions.
Written as a series of confessions, coroner's reports, and news articles, the story manages to be descriptive, with some good characters.
(1871) Sci-fi (Destructive invention / World blackmail)
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