(Jan 25th to 31st)

Format: Triple

I have been waiting eagerly for this invitation and I follow Captain Hodgson from the control-platform, stooping low to avoid the bulge of the tanks. We know that Fleury’s gas can lift anything, as the world-famous trials of ’89 showed, but its almost indefinite powers of expansion necessitate vast tank room. Even in this thin air the lift-shunts are busy taking out one-third of its normal lift, and still “162” must be checked by an occasional downdraw of the rudder or our flight would become a climb to the stars.


This is from “With the Night Mail” in Actions and Reactions.

It is the year 2000, and – powered by ‘Fleury’s Ray’ – a host of transatlantic aircraft, most of them lighter-than-air (airships), are flying across the air waves. The narrator is on board a mail plane, en route from London to Quebec, and here he has beeen invited to visit the engine-room.

‘…the magic – the manifestations – the Hertzian waves – are all revealed by this . The coherer, we call it.’
He picked up a glass tube, not much thicker than a thermometer, in which, almost touching, were two tiny silver plugs, and between them an infinitesimal pinch of metallic dust. ‘That’s all’, he said proudly …’That is the thing that will reveal to us the Powers – whatever the Powers may be – at work – through space – a long distance away.’


This is from “Wireless” in Traffics and Discoveries (1904).

The narrator has come to observe an early experiment in wireless communication, like those of Marconi. The site of the experiment happen to be a pharmacy, and – mysteriously – not only do wireless waves come to them through space, but through time, in the shape of the words of a poem by an earlier pharmacist, the poet Keats, coming from the past through the ether.

…’I’m not committing myself to anything…but every dam’ tissue up to now seems to have its own time for its own tides. Samples from the same source have the same tides in strength and time. But, as I showed you just now, there are minute constant variations – reactions to something or other – in each tide, as individual as finger-prints…’


This is from “Unprofessional” in Limits and Renewals.

A group of doctors are looking into the possible connections between the heavenly bodies – which raise tides on earth – and cancer cells. One of them has discovered mysterious ‘tides’ in normal human tissues, which are not present in malignant cells; the timing of this ebb and flow affects the body’s responses to a doctor’s intervention.