Back in February 2007 Robert A. Graff, of Rochester, NY, took up the first SFFaudio Challenge. He read 5 chapters of a novel and then — nothing — but, that isn’t quite the end of this story. Some half-dozen or so LibriVoxiteers have lent their voices, and they’ve now finished off A Strange Manuscript Found In A Copper Cylinder by James De Mille!
The novel was just catalogued yesterday – that makes it a mere 120 years since it was originally serialized in Harper’s Weekly in 1888. De Mille, the son of a United Empire Loyalist (for you American’s that’s what Benjamin Franklin called “Royalists”), was variously a professor of classics, rhetoric and history. He also holds the distinction of being Canada’s first Science Fiction author.
Strange Manuscript is considered a Swiftian satire, the setting is that of an Antarctic “lost world” inhabited by pre-historic creatures and an insidious death cult. It has been compared variously to Edgar Allan Poe’s Narrative of Gordon Pym, H. Rider Haggard’s She, King Solomon’s Mines or even to Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World. The title and locale were likely inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s Ms. Found in a Bottle.
The main narrative follows the adventures of Adam More (keep that last name in mind), a British sailor shipwrecked on the homeward voyage from Tasmania. After More passes through a subterranean tunnel of volcanic origin, he finds himself in a lost world of prehistoric animals, plants and people, all sustained by a natural volcanic heat despite the long Antarctic night (which may remind you of Marvel comic’s Ka-Zar and his “Savage Land”). The secondary plot about the persons who found the manuscript written by More, forms a frame for the main narrative. In his strange volcanic world, More finds a highly developed human society comparable to Sir Thomas More’s Utopia, Erewhon by Samuel Butler and Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. The copper cylinder’s manuscript describes a society that has reversed the values of Victorian life: wealth is scorned and poverty is revered, death and darkness are preferred to life and light. Rather than accumulating wealth, the natives seek to divest themselves of it as quickly as possible.
A Strange Manuscript Found In A Copper Cylinder
By James De Mille; Read by various
31 zipped MP3s or Podcast – 9 Hours 16 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: July 2008
Adam More, a British sailor is shipwrecked in Antarctica. There he stumbles upon a tropical lost world of prehistoric animals, plants, and a cult of death-worshipping primitives. He also finds a highly developed human society which has inverted the values of Victorian society. Wealth is scorned and poverty revered; death and darkness are preferable to life and light. Rather than accumulating wealth, the natives seek to divest themselves of it as quickly as possible. At the beginning of each year, the government imposes wealth (the burden of “reverse taxation”) upon its unfortunate subjects as a form of punishment. A secondary plot about the four yachtsmen who find the manuscript forms a frame for the central narrative.
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Posted by Jesse Willis