At the dawn of the twentieth century, explorers had vanquished all the dragons from the map, leaving only the Poles as blanks to be filled. The Arctic, nearer to the majority of humanity than its antipode, had long been the subject of imaginative filling, playing host to paradisiacal lands of legend and rumor.
The idea of an undiscovered Arctic continent is an old one. The ancient Greeks believed in Hyperborea, an idyllic land of eternal sunlight beyond the North Wind, populated by long-lived Hyperboreans. William Fairfield Warren in his book Paradise Found: The Cradle of the Human Race at the North Pole (1885) placed Hyperborea -- and Atlantis, Eden, Mount Meru, Yggdrasil, and Avalon -- in the Arctic.
Up to the 1890s, Greenland was widely thought to be the peninsula of a much larger land that covered the Pole. On the periphery, phantom islands like Sannikov Land and Frisland dotted the Arctic of the mind. For centuries, cartographers, most notably Mercator, filled the otherwise empty tops of their maps with various places drawn from mythology and tales of sailors seeking the Northern Passages.
It's no surprise then modern explorers, emboldened by scientific and technological advances, took up the search for lands hidden in the northern ice -- and some claimed to have found them.
The above is the cover of The Strange Adventures of Captain Quinton: Being a Truthful Record of the Experiences and Escapes of Robert Quinton During His Life Among the Cannibals of the South Seas, as Set Down by Himself (1912).
Happy New Year again! Here's a giant octopus trying to crush an electric elephant:
It's from The Wonderful Electric Elephant (1903) by Frances T. Montgomery, a children's book about a young man named Harold who encounters and shoots an elephant on a trail at the Grand Canyon, only to discover it's actually an electric-powered mecha-elephant piloted by a mysterious old man who soon dies after spilling his immortality elixir. Harold finds the man's will inside, which states that he now owns the elephant, as well as the gold and other curios and treasures the man had collected. Reading the instruction manual, he learns the elephant is watertight, so decides to cross the Pacific seafloor to Japan. On the way, he frees silky-locked Ione from Native Americans and she becomes his companion, and eventually wife, as they travel the world having adventures and frightening people, as one does when one comes into possession of a wonderful electric elephant.
Some European scientists have recently made the startling assertion that our stock of oxygen has been materially lessened within the last fifty years. Stripping of forests from thousands of square miles of country and the outpouring into the air of enormous volumes of carbonic gases are, perhaps, the two great causes of its diminution—for both of which civilization is responsible. When our oxygen is gone in considerable quantities and its place is taken by carbonic gases, what will become of mankind?
Man is very adaptable; his present form is only the result of this adaptation to changing conditions.
One may try to reconstruct man under such circumstances. It is probable that he would first sinks on all fours to breathe the oxygen still remaining near the earth's surface. His skin subjected to constant heat—for there would be little moisture in the air—would grow thick and bark-like. The pores of the skin, acted upon more and more to help in the breathing process, would enlarge enormously into octopus-like suckers. The ears would, perhaps, form a hood-like covering to the head; the nose become more and more like a tendril or the suckers which certain vigorous plants send forth. As man became more and more a crawling thing his legs would become useless and would probably form themselves into a long root-like appendage. Finally to protect himself, he would grow spines—just as the cactus did—and these would be the last form of hair that once covered his body.
Here Artist Kerr shows what his idea of plant-man would look like in that distant time. For if such changes ever did come about, it is not likely that they could occur for another million years at least.
"Professor Dawson Turner's discovery makes it a possibility of the future that the housewife will be able to buy exquisite, succulent giant frog's legs at ten cents a pound instead of coarse, rheumatism-causing beef at forty cents a pound."
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