A. Boyles

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A. Boyles

A. Boyles’s book reviews

"The Mysterious Card" by Cleveland Moffett
"The Great Valdez Sapphire" by Anonymous
"The Oblong Box" by Edgar Allan Poe
"The Birth-Mark" by Nathaniel Hawthorne
"A Terribly Strange Bed" by Wilkie Collins
"The Torture by Hope" by Villiers de l'Isle Adam
"The Box with the Iron Clamps" by Florence Marryat
"My Fascinating Friend" by William Archer
"The Lost Room" by Fitz-James O'Brien
"May-Day Eve" by Algernon Blackwood
"The Diamond Lens" by Fitz-James O'Brien
"The Mummy's Foot" by Theopile Gautier
"Mr. Bloke's Item" by Mark Twain
"A Ghost" by Lafcadio Hearn
"The Man Who Went Too Far" by E. F. Benson
"Chan Tow the Highrob" by Chester Bailey Fernando
"The Inmost Light" by Arthur Machen
"The Secret of Goresthorpe Grange" by A. Conan Doyle
"The Man with the Pale Eyes" by Guy de Maupassant
"The Rival Ghosts" by Brander Matthews
"The Listener" by Algernon Blackwood
"Number 13" by Montague Rhodes James
"Joseph: A Story" by Katherine Rickford
"The Horla" by Guy de Maupassant
"The Beast with Five Fingers" by William F. Harvey
"Sister Maddelena" by Ralph Adams Cram
"Thrawn Janet" by Robert Louis Stevenson
"The Yellow Cat" by Wilbur Daniel Steele
"Letter to Sura" by Pliny the Younger
The following reveals plot elements.

Here's what Herman Melville wrote:

"Cooper's New Novel"

The Sea Lions, or The Lost Sealers! An attractive title, truly. Nor does this last of Cooper's novel disappoint the promise held forth on the title page.

The story opens on the seacoast of Suffolk County, Long Island; and turns mainly upon the mysterious existence of certain wild islands within the Antarctic Circle, whose precise whereabouts is known but to a choice few, and whose latitude and longitude even the author declares he is not at liberty to make known. For this region, impelled by adverse, if not hostile motives, the two vessels, the Sea Lions, in due time sail, under circumstances full of romance.

After encountering a violent gale, described with a force peculiarly Cooper's, they at last reach the Antarctic seas, finding themselves walled in by "thrilling regions of rock-ribbed ice." Few descriptions of the lonely and the terrible, we imagine, can surpass the grandeur of many of the scenes here depicted. The reader is reminded of the appalling adventures of the United States Exploring Ship in the same part of the world as narrated by Wilkes, and of Scoresby's Greenland narrative. In these inhospitable regions the hardy crews of the Sea Lions winter--not snugly at anchor under the lee of a Dutch stove, nor baking and browning over the ovens by which the Muscovite warms himself--but jammed in, masoned up, bolted and barred, and almost hermetically sealed by the ice. To keep from freezing into crystal they are fain to turn part of the vessels into fuel.--All this, and much more of the like nature, are told in a style singularly plain, downright, and truthful.

At length, after many narrow escapes from ice-bergs, ice-isles, fields and floes of ice, the mariners, at least most of them, make good their return to the North, where the action of the book is crowned by the nuptials of Roswell Gardiner the hero and Mary Pratt the heroine. Roswell we admire for a noble fellow; and Mary we love for a fine example of womanly affection, earnestness, and constancy.--Deacon Pratt, her respected father, is a hard-handed, hard-hearted, psalm-singing old man, with a very stretchy conscience; intent upon getting to heaven, and getting money by the same course of conduct, in defiance of the scriptural maxim to the contrary. There is a good deal of wisdom to be gathered from the story of the Deacon.

Then we have one Stimson, an old Kennebunk boatsteerer, and Professor of Theology, who, wintering on an ice-berg, discourses most unctuously upon various dogmas. This honest old worthy may possibly be recognized for an old acquaintance by the readers of Cooper's novels.--But who would have dreamt of his turning up at the South Pole? One the subordinate parts of the book is the timely conversion of Roswell the hero from a too latitudinarian view of Christianity to a more orthodox, and hence a better belief. And as the reader will perceive, the moist rosy hand of our Mary is the reward of his orthodoxy. Somewhat in the pleasant spirit of the Mahometan, this; who rewards all true believers with a houri.

Upon the whole, we warmly recommend The Sea Lions; even those who more for fashion's sake than anything else, have of late joined in decrying our National Novelist, will in this last work, perhaps, recognize one of his happiest.
A fine adventure in the pulp tradition. Reminiscent of H.G. Wells's First Men in the Moon, but without the commentary on society. Interesting to note that the author, writing fully in the mindset of the time, did not grant the queen of the termites her rightful authority. As far as he was concerned, if there was a big brain running the termite society, it would have to be a guy.

Augh! We're all going to be giant brains on the floor! Make it stop! Can't anyone make evolution stop!?!

No. But Edmond Hamilton can make it accelerate to a rate of fifty million evolutionary years for every fifteen minutes under the ill-conceived cosmic-ray lens. I've read a handful of Mr. Hamilton's stories, and I love their rough-cut disconnection from reality, especially the, uh, "science" part of reality. It seems that Hamilton did not let his tenuous grasp of any field of inquiry stand between him and a good yarn. I read this story when I was a kid (in Isaac Asimov's anthology The Golden Years, I think), and it made a big impression. I still think it's a lot of fun, with a few Gothic elements, including the complete destruction of the unholy site of the events and a survivor who ends up giggling mad in a sanitarium.