Tag: Poe

Local Inspiration – Fantastic Worlds: Science and Fiction, 1780-1910 at the Smithsonian

Opening last month (July), this exhibit on Fantastic Worlds: Science and Fiction, 1780-1910 at the American History Museum
(12th and Constitution Ave., NW Washington, DC) explores the intersecting influences of science, innovation, industry, and the Victorian creative imagination through books from the Smithsonian Libraries and selected historical objects.

The industrial revolution and its attendant advances in science and art paved the way for a period of dramatic change in America and Europe. The public was enthralled by the rapid invention and scientific discoveries that characterized the age. Science became spectacle, and such literary luminaries as Jules Verne, Mary Shelley, and Edgar Allan Poe responded, crafting fiction that explored the farthest reaches of the new scientific landscape and the startling possibilities this new knowledge uncovered.

Frank Reade Magazine Cover with Flying ShipsFor those of you who cannot partake of this in person here in Washington, DC, they have a fascinating online exhibit broken into 7 separate areas:

  1. Terra Incognita – Adventure and Exploration: To the Far Reaches of the World
  2. The Age of Aeronaut – The Dawn of Flight
  3. Infinite Worlds – Exploring the Universe and Seeking Extraterrestrial Life
  4. The Body Electric – Inspiring Frankenstein
  5. Rise of the Machines – Technology Comes to Life
  6. Sea Change – Underwater Worlds: Fathoming the Deep
  7. Underworld – Fossils and Geology: What Lies Beneath?

Also, their blog has a great collection of posts relevant to “Fantastic Worlds,” history, science, technology, fiction, and adventure.

WWW: On Birthdays…and not much time

This is going to be a cheat of a post, for I have little time to work up a more in depth one. Originally I was going to write on the subject of the First One Publishing’s contest, which has been skewered around the internet, but there is little I can add to the discussion with the time I have, and anyway the contest page looks quite different now than before the hubub began. Instead, I turn to a birthday.

Today in 1809 Edgar Allan Poe was born.

It’s popular on his birthday to link to various of his famous works.  The Raven, the Fall of the House of Usher, the Tell-tale Heart.  But one of my favorites from Poe was perhaps one of his little known pieces:  Raising the Wind or Diddling Considered as One of the Exact Sciences.  In it, Poe departs from gothic horror, science fiction, or detective work and instead writes an oddly humorous little piece about grifting (“diddling” as he calls it).  I have no reason to believe that he invented any of the cons represented in the piece, but included are some common grifts that are still pulled.  The second example concerns confusing people with change counting.  One even has some of the hallmarks of what has now become the infamous Nigerian Scheme, though taking place with smaller stakes on the side of a river.

What draws me to the piece?  Simply the fact that it’s not a Poe piece, at least it’s not something anyone would think of as a Poe piece.  The man was more multidimensional as an author than his reputation has become to modern readers.  So I just wanted to take a moment to remind people that the man was not all about death and gloom.  Occasionally he was just about petty theft and grifting.

Over on my blog this week, I learned just what’s in a name, and got some exciting news.

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