Thursday, June 9, 2016
Dinosaurs and Brain Surgery
Pearson's Magazine was a late-19th/early-20th Century British periodical that, among other notable accomplishments, serialized H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds in 1897.
But that wasn't the only example of Really Cool Fiction published in Pearson's. The September 1899 issue gave us "The Monster of Lake LaMetrie," by Wardon Allan Curtis--a wonderful short story that manages to be silly, fun and kind of creepy all at the same time.
The titular lake is located in a remote area of the American West. It's a place well-worth investigation--there is evidence that the lake contains a passageway to a Hollow Earth--an interior world in which prehistoric animals might still survive.
You can't read this story without thinking about Edgar Rice Burroughs' Pellucidar novels, of course. In fact, the narrator of "Lake LaMetrie" even mentions passages into the inner world at the poles. Remember that Burroughs' established at least a North Pole entrance into Pellucidar.
"The Monster of Lake LaMetrie" involves an elasmosaur making its way to the lake through the underwater passage, so this inner world also includes prehistoric monsters.
And it also includes an inter-species brain transplants, something that was shown to exist in Burroughs' universe in 1927's The Master Mind of Mars.
So, by golly, I officially declare that "The Monster of Lake LaMetrie" is a part of Edgar Rice Burroughs' universe. Never mind that it was written 13 years before ERB turned to writing novels. We all know that Burroughs was really an historian rather than a novelist. He was, after all, John Carter's nephew. Why the heck would he have to make stuff up?
So Wardon Allan Curtis was another historian, publishing the diary excerpts of a scientist who discovered a living elasmosaur and--due to several very unlucky occurrences--ended up transplanting the brain of his assistant into the elasmosaur's skull.
Whether or not the scientist acted wisely--well, you can read the story and decide for yourself. It's available online HERE.