P. A. Stonemann, CSS Dixieland

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P. A. Stonemann, CSS Dixieland

P. A. Stonemann, CSS Dixieland’s book reviews

"Herland" and "With Her in Our Land" (this one not in Many Books as of August 2014), are more realistic than "Mizora" or most other gynotopias. Three men exploring the Amazon fall prey of the legendary women. One man scientifically studies their unique feminine culture, another is mystically enraptured by their goddess-like "perfection", and the other is a selfish bastard who tries to get his own profit. Androtopias are far less common in literature, the earliest are the "Vera Historia" (about year 150) by Loukianous Samosatens, and the "Voyage to Cacklogallinia" (1727) by Captain Samuel Brunt. Frequent use of parthenogenesis in the average gynotopia might seem a fantastic literary device, but recent research shows that homothermal species can indeed reproduce thus. Haploid chromosomatic sets are sometimes made diploid by a variety of mechanisms, which we are now beginning to understand:


Androtopias or gynotopias are often simplified in their scientific elements, for the benefit of the ignorant reader:

A Russian lady exiled to Siberia escapes in a boat. Swallowed by a maelstrom, she falls in the women land of Mizora. The book describes that feminine paradise (poetry-heavy and with inconsistencies, mainly in the Mizoran language: it could not really have expressed ideas that are unknown in Mizora). Advanced Science gives synthetic food, parthenogenesis, no trouble at all, and everyone is a beautiful happy blonde. Gynotopias have existed in legend or literature since the Old Greeks, with the first European explorers of South America, and up to the present. Some of them may have been true matriarchies, others were tribes where men and women shared war or hunting, but most are just fantasy. Writers are often women, though not always. An incomplete English literary list is:

-Travels (1371), John Mandeville

-Mizora (1880), Mary E. Bradley

-New Amazonia (1889), 'George' Elizabeth Burgoyne Corbett

-2894 (1894), Walter Browne

-Herland (1915) -also in Many Books-, With Her in Our Land (1916), Charlotte Perkins Gilman
An authoritarian ruler of the Solar System escapes a revolution by travelling to the past. He falls in 1950's North America. "Flight from Tomorrow" was published in the September 1950 issue (quelle coincidence!!!) of "Science Fiction Stories". It is one of the worst of Henry Beam Piper (1904-1964). Predictable plot, implausible in several points, with over stuffed, innatural dialogues that only are explanations for the benefit of the reader, and above all a repugnant, hateful chauvinism, such as in: "...an idealistic humanitarian nation, treacherously attacked, created the first atomic bomb in self defence...". This is the fashion in which the "patriotic" author justifies Uncle Sam's murder of three hundred thousand Japanese in August 1945. This is not Science Fiction, this is a cheap pamphlet of political propaganda. Many Books (and Project Gutenberg) offer over thirty stories by Piper. To be fair, "He Walked Around the Horses" (1948), or "Omnilingual" (1957), are much better than this rubbish.
Two men go to the Moon using an anti-gravitational substance called cavorite. Once there, they become prisoner of insectoid Selenites. The story vividly depicts their society. "The First Men in the Moon" was published in 1901 and became a success. Wells was accused of taking ideas from "The History of a Voyage to the Moon" (Chrysostom Trueman, 1864) and "A Plunge into Space" (Robert Cromie, 1890). Wells replied that his work was original: a fantasy with some social criticism. In spite of the cavorite (for which current Science has no theoretical basis), the story is not just "a fantasy". The Selenites are NOT similar to humans, and they are organised like social insects, NOT like any known human society. The effort of some Selenite specialists at learning the human language is realistic. Wells has deeply influenced Stapledon, Clarke, Niven, Vinge, Lewis, Herbert, Aldiss, Baxter, and others. There is an active "H. G. Wells Society". He cannot be read with a modern mindset, but inside a XIX century context.
Through a spiritist medium, a microscopist is told by Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (Father of Microbiology, 1632-1723) a secret from the grave: to use a diamond as lens of his microscope. The microscopist gets a huge diamond from a jew (who had previously stolen it in Brazil), and examines a water drop. He is amazed at the discovery of a fascinating, lovely, incredibly beautiful, microscopic woman ! The Diamond Lens is a delicious story, although it has more fantasy than Science. It was published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1858. Fitz James O'Brien (1828-1862) is praised as a precursor in the milestone book Science Fiction by Gaslight (Sam Moskowitz, 1971). Some of his stories of Scientific Romance (all published in 1858-9) are: The Lost Room, From Hand to Mouth, The Wonder Smith, and What Was It? (A Mystery). In spite of some unfair negative review, Fitz James O'Brien deserves an unbiased reading, mainly because his work is placed between those of Poe and Verne, and because it has influenced later writers.
Traducçao da novela "De la Terre a la Lune" (Jules Verne, 1865 -depois de "Voyage au centre de la Terre"-). Detalhado relato de um (ficticio) plan internacional para lançar a Lua um grande projectil com tres passageiros, por meio de um gigantesco canhao construido em Tampa, Florida. Conhecendo a massa do projectil, o Observatorio Astronomico de Cambridge da o calculo exacto do azimuth e elevaçao de tiro, em tanto que experientes artilheros fornecem a carga explosiva correcta para imprimir a requerida velocidade de escape desde a latitude de Tampa. Verne sabe do problema da aceleraçao, que mataria aos viageiros. Soluciona-o com um mecanismo de amortiguaçao instalado dentro do projectil. Esta obra prima foi seguida por outras duas de Verne: "Autour de la Lune" (1869), e "Sans dessus dessous" (1889). Inspiraram a novela "The First Men in the Moon" (Herbert George Wells, 1901), e as producçoes cinematographicas "Le Voyage dans la Lune" (George Melies, 1902), e "Excursion a la Luna" (Segundo de Chomon, 1908).
Human civilisation is expanding across stellar systems. In some planets are found cairns, left by a hitherto unknown civilisation that humans nickname "Plumy". Some cairns are centuries old, others seem recent. Nothing else is known. The Niccola is one of several ships commissioned for exploring unknown systems. She makes first contact with a Plumy ship. The development of events suits the author's fancy, but the reactions of human characters are realistically depicted: boldness and caution, the temerarious fanatic is checked by balanced thinkers. The negative point is presenting the aliens as anthropomorphic. They strongly resemble humans, with only minor anatomical differences. This anthropocentric view devaluates the story. Science agrees that forms of life evolving in other planets will not be similar to any living thing known in Earth, even at biochemical level, let alone a copy of Homo sapiens. See the disciplines of Astrobiology, Exobiology and Xenobiology at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exobiology
"The Murders in the Rue Morgue" is one of three fictional stories in the genre of Crime Detection (Police Science) staging the fictional detective Monsieur Auguste Dupin, created by the genius of Edgar Allan Poe. The other two stories are "The Purloined Letter" and "The Mystery of Marie Roget". The latter story was inspired on the real murder (not fiction) of Mary Rogers, whose body was found in the River Hudson between New York and New Jersey (although the Marie Roget of Poe's fiction is assassinated in Paris). There are other precursors of crime fiction as well as of real-life journalism on the subject of crime, but Monsieur Auguste Dupin of Edgar Allan Poe is THE VERY FIRST APPEARANCE in world-wide literature of the figure of the clue-collecting, deductive-reasoning detective, who inspired the also fictional detectives Monsieur Lecoq of Emile Gaboriau and Mister Sherlock Holmes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. These three stories written by Poe are thus a necessary reading for lovers of this kind of narrative.