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SCIENCE FICTION AND THE
SEARCH FOR TRANSCENDENCE
Hypertext Poem [QuoteLinks in brackets] by:
Jonathan Vos Post, Sir Horace Walpole,
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, Jules Verne,
Herbert George Wells, Abraham Grace Merritt,
Howard Phillips Lovecraft, Dr. William Olaf Stapledon,
Dr. Edward Elmer Smith, Dr. Jack S. Williamson
"A drop of thunder at that instant shook
[and in my shaking hands, a glowing book]
the castle to its foundations, the earth rocked"
[so rocked my mind. Imagine and concoct
a whole new form of art, inflamed,
fantastic, and as yet unnamed].
"I collected the instruments of life around me
[again and again this new art found me]
that I might infuse a spark of being
[a new form of thought, a new way of seeing]
into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet."
"And now we rushed into the embraces
[new forms of time, new forms of spaces]
of a cataract, where a chasm threw
[a fabulous view that was utterly true]
itself open to receive us. But their arose
[suppose this is more than merely prose?]
in our pathway, a shrouded human figure."
"I was carried through infinite space.
[ripped from the womb of the commonplace]
My body was volatilized in turn...
[while every neuron began to burn]
tracing their flaming orbits through infinity."
"Dim and wonderful is the vision
[irrevocable is the decision]
I have conjured up in my mind
[always before, I had been blind]
of life spreading slowly from this little seed-bed
[beyond all need, beyond all dread]
of the solar system, throughout the inanimate
vastness of sidereal space."
"Is there a sea of this conscious force
[the source of life, the ultimate source]
which laps the shores of the far-flung stars
[from my home town past the planet Mars]
that finds expression in everything
[and gives creation a voice to sing]
man and rock, metal and flower, jewel and cloud?"
"Could I but rotate my arm
[with a four-dimensional charm]
out of the limits set to it
[there's the catch: how to get to it?]
I could thrust it into a thousand universes."
"From a wild weird clime that lieth, sublime,
Out of Space -- Out of Time."
"We live in a placid island of ignorance
in the midst of black seas of infinity."
"A being, whom you would call a future man
[Olympian, Promethian, Utopian]
has seized the docile but scarcely adequate brain
[of a host, transfigured, practically insane]
of your contemporary, and is trying to direct
[connect, elect, infect, protect]
its familiar processes for an alien purpose.
Thus a future epoch makes contact with your age....
We can help you, and we need your help."
" 'She flies!' he cried exultantly, 'She flies,
[and so our dreams in metal crystallize]
dearest, like a ray of light for speed
[and so the word at last becomes the deed]
and like a bit of thistledown for lightness
[we recognize the power and the rightness]
We've been around the moon!' "
"A glorious picture of an empire that lies
[the world beyond the hill, beyond the skies]
away past a million flaming suns
[this stunning vision ever onward runs]
until it reaches the black infinity
[where life begins, within the cosmic pond]
of unknown space,
and extends beyond..."
Notes: The quotations below, which form the 12 windows of the hypertext poem,
appear successively in The World Beyond the Hill: Science Fiction and the
Search for Transcendence, Alexei & Cory Panshin, Tarcher, 1989, pp.13, 25, 35,
49, 116, 151, 158, 166, 166, 199, 208, 234
(1) The Castle of Otronto, Sir Horace Walpole, 1764
(2) Frankenstein, or the New Prometheus, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley,
(3) The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, Edgar Allan Poe, 1837
(4) Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Jules Verne, 1864
(5) The War of the Worlds, Herbert George Wells, 1898
(6) The Metal Monster, Abraham Grace Merritt, 1920
(7) Men Like Gods, Herbert George Wells, 1923
(8) "Dreamland", Edgar Allan Poe, inspired name of magazine
Weird Tales for J.C.Henneberger, 1923
(9) The Call of Cthulhu, Howard Phillips Lovecraft, 1928
(10) Last and First Men, Dr. William Olaf Stapledon, 1930
(11) Skylark of Space, Dr. Edward Elmer Smith, 1928
(12) "Scientifiction, Searchlight of Science", essay by
Dr. Jack S. Williamson, Fall 1928 Amazing Stories Quarterly
Jonathan Vos Post, Altadena, California, 0210-0402 17 June 1991
Copyright 1991 by Emerald City Publishing.
All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without permission.
May be posted electronically provided that
it is transmitted unaltered, in its
entirety, and without charge.