By: Susan Coolidge (1835-1905)
"Imagination is like a sail, as Mr. Joyce had said that evening; but sails are good and useful things sometimes, and carry their owners over deep waters and dark waves, which else might dampen, and drench, and drown." Twelve year old Isabella Bright is endowed with just such an imagination and spends her time amusing herself and her friends with stories. Will her imagination be called upon to help her navigate tempestuous seas?
By: George Manville Fenn (1831-1909)
The Dark House
An extremely wealthy but reclusive man has died, leaving an eccentric will which hints at great riches hidden somewhere in the house. Most of the people at the reading of the will did not know the deceased in person, but had received kindnesses from him, for instance by the payment of school and university fees. The principal beneficiary, a great-nephew, also did not know him. The only two people who really knew him were the old lawyer who dealt with his affairs, and an old Indian servant. Yet when the will had been read, and they all went to where the treasure–gold, jewels and bank-notes–were supposed to be hidden, nothing could be found.
Joe Carstairs is a boy on a farm in Australia. His father is a keen naturalist who, some years before had set off for New Guinea in search of specimens, and never been heard of again. Joe is old enough to mount a search expedition, and takes with him a local doctor and an aboriginal worker on his farm. They find themselves joined by a stowaway, Jimmy, whose father is a squatter (farmer) nearby, together with his dog, Gyp.This team sets off, arrive in New Guinea, hire some more porters, and travel guided by some sixth sense straight to where Mr...
By: George Fenn (1831-1909)
Young Robin Hood
Ever wonder how Robin Hood became Robin Hood? Well, now you can read how a young boy was molded into the famous hero who "robbed from the rich and gave to the poor". This imaginative story gives zesty details into the development and growth of the famous Robin Hood
By: George Manville Fenn (1831-1909)
In California settlers are trying to make a living working as fruit-growers. Problems with blights and insects mean that the crops are failing. A prospector arrives and tells stories of ancient cities where there is a lot of gold. He then dies. Some of the settlers decide to go and search for the gold. They have long distances to travel and meet many challenges along the way. They eventually reach one of these cities and find evidence that it has been abandoned by invaders hundreds or thousands of years ago...
Cutlass and Cudgel
Based around the crew of cutter HMS White Hawk, this is a tale of smuggling in the early 19th century off the coast of Wessex. The midshipman of the cutter is taken hostage by the smugglers and is befriended by a farm-boy, son of one of the smugglers. His friendship is rudely rebuffed, the midshipman eventually escapes and the farm-boy gets his long-held dream of becoming a seaman on an Excise vessel.
By: Philip K. Dick (1928-1982)
The Variable Man
Predictability has come a long way. The computers of the future can tell you if you’re going to win a war before you fire a shot. Unfortunately they’re predicting perpetual standoff between the Terran and Centaurian Empires. What they need is something unpredictable, what they get is Thomas Cole, a man from the past accidently dragged forward in time. Will he fit their calculations, or is he the random variable that can break the stalemate? – The Variable Man first appeared in the September, 1953 issue of Space Science Fiction magazine.
Early victories by the USSR in a global nuclear war cause the United Nations government to retreat to the moon leaving behind troops and fierce autonomous robots called “Claws”, which reproduce and redesign themselves in unmanned subterranean factories. After six bloody years of conflict the Soviets call for an urgent conference and UN Major Joseph Hendricks sets out to meet them. Along the way he will discover what the Claws have been up to, and it isn’t good… - Second Variety was first published in the May 1953 edition of Space Science Fiction Magazine.
The Crystal Crypt & Beyond the Door
Two early science fiction stories by the wonderful craftsman, Philip K. Dick. In the Crystal Crypt, taken from the 1954 Planet Stories, the war between Mars and Terra is about to erupt and earth has only merchants and salesmen to fight; can they carry out their mission? Beyond the Door is a story that asks and answers the question: what lives beyond the door? And is it dangerous?
The terrible destruction of total nuclear war between the Western and Eastern Blocks has succeeded in sterilizing the surface of the earth. No living creature can now exist there and all humans on both sides, have fled to the hives built miles below the surface where they constantly work to produce the war materials necessary to carry on the battle. For 8 years now, the actual fighting between these super powers has been conducted by robots known as Ledeys since only they can sustain the terrible levels of radiation caused by the constant bombardment...
Beyond Lies the Wub & The Skull
Two stories in the inimitable Philip Dick style. What is a Wub? A 400 pound slovenly, fat, ungainly, drooling animal that looks like a cross between a walrus and an enormous hog? Well, yes that is pretty much what he looks like and for 50 cents, a good bargain no matter how he tastes. The hungry spaceship crew expect to find out. Of course the Wub may not entirely agree but it doesn't have much to say about it. The second story, The Skull, is a skilful mesh of time travel, unscrupulous governments, prisoners, and religion. With an assassin thrown in for good measure. Enjoy!
The Eyes Have It & Tony and the Beetles
Aliens have invaded the earth! Horrible one celled creatures disguised as normal human beings ! Well, at least that is what it seems to the author. Yes, The Eyes Have It is a whimsical story, making gentle fun of certain writing styles, but only a topflight science-fictionist like Philip Dick , we thought, could have written this story, in just this way. Tony and the Beetles takes place far in the future when Earth's enormous colonial empire is well established but the question is, how long can it last? 10 year old Tony grows up fast when history catches up with the human race. A sobering look at human history .. and our probable future. Two very different stories but both entertaining.
By: Ivan S. Turgenev
The title of the novella is almost an adequate summary in itself. The “boy-meets-girl-then-loses-her” story is universal but not, I think, banal – despite a surprise ending which notoriously turns out to be very little of a surprise. “First Love” is given its originality and poignancy by Turgenev’s mastery of the piercing turning-point (akin to Joyce’s “epiphanies”) that transforms the character’s whole being, making a tragic outcome inevitable. Even the nature symbolism is rescued from triteness by lovely poetic similes – e...
Fathers and Sons
The fathers and children of the novel refers to the growing divide between the two generations of Russians, and the character Yevgeny Bazarov has been referred to as the “first Bolshevik”, for his nihilism and rejection of the old order. Turgenev wrote Fathers and Sons as a response to the growing cultural schism that he saw between liberals of the 1830s/1840s and the growing nihilist movement. Both the nihilists (the “sons”) and the 1830s liberals sought Western-based social change in Russia...
The Diary of a Superfluous Man
Turgenev’s shy hero, Tchulkaturin, is a representative example of a Russian archetype – the “superfluous man”, a sort of Hamlet not necessarily dignified with the title Prince: an individual of comfortable means leading a dreary existence, without purpose and led on by events which may, as in this story, engulf him. The novella takes the form of a diary started by Tchulkaturin in the shock of being diagnosed as having a terminal illness. The journal entries cover a period of two weeks, leading to his death...
By: Mary Everest Boole (1832-1916)
Philosophy and Fun of Algebra
Mary Everest Boole (1832-1916) was born Mary Everest in England and spent her early years in France. She married mathematician George Boole. She was the author of several works on teaching and teaching mathematics in particular. This short book, Philosophy and Fun of Algebra, is meant to be read by children and introduces algebra and logic. She uses the word “algebra” broadly, defining it as a “method of solving problems by honest confession of one’s ignorance”. Using this definition, Boole introduces, in a conversational manner, the concepts of logic and algebra, illustrating these concepts with stories and anecdotes, often from biblical sources...
By: Mrs. Cecil Hall
A Lady's Life on a Farm in Manitoba
The nineteenth century was marked by intense colonization by countries like Britain, France, Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands. Initially, the pioneering efforts were made by men who battled unfamiliar terrain to create territories that they marked out as their own, while their wives, mothers, sisters and daughters kept the home and hearth in their native land. However, with travel becoming more common and family life assuming more importance, the women too began to travel to the four corners of the earth...
By: H. G. Wells (1866-1946)
The War in the Air
War in the Air was written during a prolific time in H. G. Wells's writing career. Having withdrawn from British politics to spend more time on his own ideas, he published twelve books between 1901 and 1911, including this one. while many British citizens were surprised by the advent of World War I, Wells had already written prophetically about such a conflict. War in the Air predicted use of airplanes in modern war.
In the Days of the Comet
William ("Willie") is a student living in the British town of Clayton. As a Socialist, he tries to move power from the upper class to the working class. Interestingly, in a fictitious confrontation Britain declares war on Germany. Willie falls in love with Nettie, but when she elopes with an upper-class man, Willie resolves to kill them both. Throughout the novel there is present in the sky a large comet which gives off a green glow. As Willie prepares to shoot the lovers, two battleships appear and begin shelling the coast, causing Willie to nearly lose his targets...
The History of Mr. Polly
A funny and touching account of the imaginative Mr. Polly who, bored and trapped in his conventional life, makes a U-turn--and changes everything.H.G. Wells’ early life as the son of a semi-insolvent shopkeeper and as a draper’s apprentice fueled his novels of the lower middle class: The Wheels of Chance (1896), Kipps (1905), and The History of Mr. Polly (1910). These works evoke the desperation of apprentices, clerks, and small traders in their monotonous toil behind shop counters. And, like Mr...
Tono-Bungay is a realist semi-autobiographical novel. It is narrated by George Ponderevo, a science student who is drafted in to help with the promotion of Tono-Bungay, a harmful stimulant disguised as a miraculous cure-all, the creation of his uncle Edward. The quack remedy Tono-Bungay seems to have been based upon the patent medicines Carter's Little Liver Pills and Dr. Williams' Pink Pills for Pale People.... As the tonic prospers, George experiences a swift rise in social status, elevating him to riches and opportunities that he had never imagined, nor indeed desired...
God, the Invisible King
Wells wrote in his book God the Invisible King that his idea of God did not draw upon the traditional religions of the world: "This book sets out as forcibly and exactly as possible the religious belief of the writer. [Which] is a profound belief in a personal and intimate God." Later in the work he aligns himself with a "renascent or modern religion ... neither atheist nor Buddhist nor Mohammedan nor Christian ... [that] he has found growing up in himself."
A Modern Utopia
H. G. Wells's proposal for social reform was the formation of a world state, a concept that would increasingly preoccupy him throughout the remainder of his life. One of his most ambitious early attempts at portraying a world state was A Modern Utopia (1905). A Modern Utopia was intended as a hybrid between fiction and 'philosophical discussion'. Like most utopists, he has indicated a series of modifications which in his opinion would increase the aggregate of human happiness. Basically, Wells' idea of a perfect world would be if everyone were able to live a happy life...
Mr. Britling Sees It Through
"Mr. Britling Sees It Through" is H. G. Wells' attempt to make sense of World War I. It begins with a lighthearted account of an American visiting England for the first time, but the outbreak of war changes everything. Day by day and month by month, Wells chronicles the unfolding events and public reaction as witnessed by the inhabitants of one house in rural Essex. Each of the characters tries in a different way to keep their bearings in a world suddenly changed beyond recognition. This book was published in 1916 while the war was still in progress, so no clear resolution was possible...
Love and Mr Lewisham
The teaching profession, science and politics in late 19th century England. H.G.Wells’ humorous early novel, drawing on his own life, shows how these – as well as involvement in spiritualism – have to compete with love.
H. G. Wells is best known for his science fiction, but some of his greatest works were in other genres. The Passionate Friends is a love story. It also is a story about dreams, despair, jealousy, sex, the struggle against social convention, the future of civilization, and much much more. It is written by a father to his son, "not indeed to the child you are now, but to the man you are going to be." He writes it so that one day, perhaps when he is dead, his grown son can read it and rediscover him as a friend and equal...
By: Thomas Bulfinch (1796-1867)
Bulfinch's Mythology: The Age of Fable
Bulfinch’s Mythology, first published in 1855, is one of the most popular collections of mythology of all time. It consists of three volumes: The Age of Fable, The Age of Chivalry, and Legends of Charlemagne. This is a recording of the tenth edition of the first volume, The Age of Fable. It contains many Greek and Roman myths, including simplified versions of The Iliad and The Odyssey, as well as a selection of Norse and “eastern” myths. Thomas Bulfinch’s goal was to make the ancient myths accessible to a wide audience, and so it is suitable for children.
The Age of Chivalry, or Legends of King Arthur
Thomas Bulfinch (July 15, 1796 – May 27, 1867) explains the his work is “an attempt tell the stories of mythology in such a manner as to make them a source of amusement. We have endeavored to tell them correctly, according to the ancient authorities, so that when the reader finds them referred to he may not be at a loss to recognize the reference. Thus we hope to teach mythology not as a study, but as a relaxation from study; to give our work the charm of a story-book, yet by means of it to impart a knowledge of an important branch of education...
The Legends of Charlemagne
Bulfinch (July 15, 1796 - May 27, 1867) explains the his work is "an attempt tell the stories of mythology in such a manner as to make them a source of amusement. We have endeavored to tell them correctly, according to the ancient authorities, so that when the reader finds them referred to he may not be at a loss to recognize the reference. Thus we hope to teach mythology not as a study, but as a relaxation from study; to give our work the charm of a story-book, yet by means of it to impart a knowledge of an important branch of education...
By: Sax Rohmer (1883-1959)
Private detective Paul Harley investigates a mysterious case involving voodoo, vampirism, and macabre murder in the heart of London. The first book in the Paul Harley series, written by Sax Rohmer, author of The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu.
The Return of Dr. Fu-Manchu
Burmese Commisioner Nayland Smith and his faithful friend Dr Petrie continue their fight against the evil genius of Dr Fu-Manchu when they seek to save the good doctor’s lost love and protect the British Empire from disaster when their malignant enemy returns to England.