Just completed: The Master of the World (Jules Verne)
Chief Inspector Strock gets the tough cases. When a volcano suddenly appears to threaten mountain towns of North Carolina amid the non-volcanic Blue Ridge Mountains, Strock is posted to determine the danger. When an automobile race in Wisconsin is interrupted by the unexpected appearance of a vehicle traveling at multiples of the top speed of the entrants, Strock is consulted. When an odd-shaped boat is sighted moving at impossible speeds off the New England coast, Stock and his boss begin to wonder if the incidents are related. And when Strock gets a hand-lettered note warning him to abandon his investigation, on pain of death, he is intrigued rather than deterred.
Set in a period when gasoline engines were in their infancy and automobiles were rare, and when even Chief Inspectors had to engage a carriage and horses to move about, the appearance of a vehicle that can move at astounding speeds on land, on water - and as later revealed, underwater and through the air - marks a technological advance far beyond the reach of nations. It is technology invented by and for the sole benefit of a man who styles himself (with some justification) "The Master of the World."
December 28: Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates (Mary Mapes Dodge)
With thanks to my friend Ans Winks of Maastricht, The Netherlands, for help with Dutch pronunciation!
The Brinkers are a poor but stoic family under a dark cloud - Raff, the man of the house, fell from the dikes while reinforcing them during a bad storm, and for ten years he has been in a vegetative state. With no steady income, the family's lot is grinding poverty. Despite their unfortunate circumstances, Hans and Gretel are cheerful children, yet always attentive to the needs of their mother and their present-but-not-really-there father. Their social standing is very low, but they both attract firm friends, even among the gentry, for their honesty, industry, and good-heartedness.
Then a glorious skating race is proposed for the town of Broek, with the prize a pair of silver skates for both the winning boy and girl. In the weeks leading up to the race, we follow the adventures of five of the local boys who are showing a visiting relative from England the sights of the Netherlands. Hans improbably meets the one man who might be able to heal his father, and somehow Hans finds a way to afford some skates so that he and Gretel can enter the race.
November 11: The Lost World (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)
Imagine a strange, tropical place that is almost inaccessible. Time appears to have stood still there. Species of animal and plant life not seen elsewhere on Earth, except in the fossil record, inhabit the place. The lakes heave with the shapes of huge grey bulks moving under the surface. The woods are places where chittering cries move about above your head, as powerful apes move swiftly in the canopy of leaves. Then, a tree splinters nearby, and a dinosaur steps out from his hiding place... and he's eyeing YOU.
Jurassic Park? Not quite. The Lost World was an inspiration for Jurassic Park; in fact, a character in J.P. has the same name as one of the chief characters in The Lost World. It also inspired King Kong. But this is the original! Four adventurers go off to find the place shown in a dead man's sketch book - they find a war between apes and Indians, prowling dinosaurs, a sparkly treasure hidden in the blue clay - they find the Lost World. And because of the treachery of a native guide, their means of escape is destroyed!
Other Works -
I'm thrilled that LV has finally finished The Three Musketeers! This was probably the first work I contributed to at LV after I joined 23 months ago. For some reason, a lot of chapters were claimed and then dropped, and I responded to two (?) calls for readers to pick up "orphaned" chapters. I ended up reading 11 of the 68 chapters, so I've taken quite a personal interest in this collaborative effort!
For poetry, short stories, and chapters in other collaborative efforts, see the main listing, which I've updated. You will see my body of work in science fiction has grown. Solos include Star Born, Greylorn, The First Men in the Moon, and The Master of the World - all read since the beginning of October. Cori Samuel, an LV admin, and I discussed creating collections of science fiction short stories - and she took on the project. The third collection is halfway done. I have a couple of stories among them.