Nine Sci-Fi Short Stories by an early Sci-Fi writer< read all 1 reviews
I am keen that you elect to read the nine short stories and one poem collected in 1994 by British SciFi novelist John Brunner under the title THE SCIENCE FICTION STORIES OF RUDYARD KIPLING.
What must I do to induce you to open the pages of that book?
Will you just take my word for it? Or must I first convince you that Rudyard Kipling (1865 - 1936) permeates modern science fiction and is held in high regard by writers like Poul Anderson, L Sprague de Camp, Joe Haldeman, and Gene Wolfe?
I feared as much. You prefer Poul Anderson to Qigongbear! So here goes. For starters dip into two 1989 books by David Drake and Sandra Miesel (editors) -
HEADS TO THE STORM:: A TRIBUTE TO RUDYARD KIPLING;
A SEPARATE STAR: A SCIENCE FICTION TRIBUTE TO RUDYARD KIPLING.
For more on what your favorite SciFi authors have to say about Rudyard Kipling see Fred Lerner's June 2004 masterly internet article at
Lerner concludes: "As any science fiction writer will cheerfully admit, Rudyard Kipling is indeed 'a master of our art'”.
John Brunner's 1994 THE SCIENCE FICTION STORIES OF RUDYARD KIPLING begins helpfully with two editorial essays, "Kipling's Major Publications" and "About Rudyard Kipling." Rather than add end notes or at times badly needed glossaries, Brunner one by one precedes each of Kipling's ten SciFipieces with one to three pages giving original publication dates (ranging from 1893 - 1932), the gist of the yarn, what makes it genuine science fiction and its impact on later SciFi writers. Thus in the lead in to 1917's "In The Same Boat" Editor Brunner admits that he "can never help wondering whether this was where L. Ron Hubbard stole the idea for the pre-natal traumas that in DIANETICS he termed 'engrams.'"
What else is in THE SCIENCE FICTION STORIES OF RUDYARD KIPLING?
-- A sea serpent whose death was witnessed by competent journalists but which no reader will believe unless presented as fiction;
-- a thinking, talking steamship whose thousands of rivets, plates and other parts only form themselves into a unified living soul during a first Atlantic voyage stressed by high winds and higher waves;
-- a brand new thinking, communicating train engine that proves its mettle on its first night in service;
-- an early effort to communicate wirelessly taps over not many miles and by chance (?) taps into time and produces a manuscript poem being labored in another century by young John Keats.
-- Next: two intertwined tales: 1909's "With the Night Mail - A Story of 2000 A.D." and 1912's (written), 1917's (published) "As Easy As A.B.C." Both foresee a 20th Century world united by ligher than air flying ships, carrying mail, passengers and other cargo. The world of 2060 and later has not eliminated tuberculosis but has virtually stamped out both anarchism and democracy in the name of law and order. The editor argues that this tale proves Kipling a libertarian!
--1917's "In The Same Boat" is about psychological disorders of a young man and a young woman that are traced back to experiences they had in their wombs when their mothers experienced trauma.
The Kipling SciFi anthology concludes with
-- 1926's "The Eye of Allah," which asks how might history have changed if the microscope had been introduced into England of the 1250s;
--1932's "Unprofessional": in which Kipling's scientists explore the universal energy that sweeps like "tides" from outside into all living beings, including microbes and diseases, and the rhythms and auras with which living beings express their reactions;
--a poem " The Fairies' Siege" (1901). Some excerpts deserve pondering:
'I'11 not fight with the Herald of God
(I know what his Master can do!)
Open the gate, he must enter in state,
'Tis the Dreamer whose dreams come true!
* * *
I'11 not fight with the Powers of Air,
Sentry, pass him through!
Drawbridge let fall, 'tis the Lord of us all,
The Dreamer whose dreams come true!'
In "Unprofessional" the hero had repeatedly argued to his scientific colleagues and fellow researchers that without imagination there is no original science. In "The Fairies' Siege" Kipling portrays a wizened old campaigner surrendering his master's castle (science? research?) to "the Herald of God," "the Dreamer whose dreams come true!" (imagination?).
Is this vision not something that writers and lovers of Science Fiction can identify with?
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