I’ve been trying to squeeze in spare moments to work on Certain Fathoms, and have made some progress reworking the outline. Last night I stayed up into the wee hours looking through the photocopies I’ve made over the past couple years while researching my real-life protagonist, and which now rise as a mountain of sorts on my desk. It’s easy to get lost on one’s way while trying to make a story historically accurate, so I’m working right now to find a good balance in my mind between being faithful to actual events and personalities and telling an entertaining and cohesive story. I hope to spend the whole day tomorrow chiseling out the outline tomorrow, in particular the middle portion of the novel.
Meanwhile, I recently got a sneak peak at the two stunning illustrations that will accompany “The Bear God” when it’s published later this year in a forthcoming anthology. I hope to have more details for you on the anthology shortly, and also some BIG NEWS on a related project. Stay tuned.
I’m considering a brief trip this summer to visit the Minnesota Historical Society and various Ignatius Donnelly-related sites to research miscellanea for Certain Fathoms. I’ve been able to get a wealth of material via microfilm and interlibrary loan, but nothing beats boots-on-the-ground research. It’s been something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, and now that an opportunity has presented itself I should probably act on it. I’m also planning a trip out east this year, so I may also try to visit Donnelly’s home in Philadelphia, where he lived and worked as an attorney before moving to the Midwest. I’ll post more about these opportunities as details finalize.
What if there were a world where all the utopias from nineteenth-century literature coexisted? And what if the nations of that world were divided into two types of utopias—the Aspirants, who seek the create the best of all possible worlds for themselves, and the Gildeds, who also seek the perfect world but long to force their own ideals on the other utopias?
On the Pluritopia World, the citizens glide through the heavens in the bellies of fish-shaped airships and learn about the exotic goings-on of the sundry utopias by means of aether-powered telephonoscopes. But when a mysterious woman from the Earth’s center appears suddenly in the tranquil Pacific Northwest paradise of France-Ville, the ideal world finds itself on the brink of the unimaginable—a great conflagration that threatens to scorch the Pluritopia World to cinders.
This novelette first appeared in the anthology Tales of the Shadowmen: Grand Guignol.
I just discovered that the Library of Congress has scanned Ignatius Donnelly’s rare campaign biography Donnelliana: An Appendix to “Caesar’s Column” and uploaded it to archive.org. This was, next to The American People’s Money, the hardest book of Donnelly’s to track down, unavailable even through the usual used and rare book markets online, although I finally did manage to acquire a physical copy of the first edition a few months ago (after having gotten it through interlibrary loan a couple years ago). While Everett W. Fish was attributed as the book’s editor, after a dispute with Donnelly, Fish claimed Donnelly had written the whole book himself. This turned out to be more or less true, Donnelly having been assisted by his son-in-law George Giltinan to compile the book from Donnelly’s journals and other archives. I don’t think very many copies of the book were printed, or that of those, a whole lot of copies survived the years outside of libraries. Interestingly, Everett W. Fish also wrote perhaps the first book ever on ancient Egyptian archaeoastronomy, which makes one wonder if the two men ever discussed Donnelly’s work on Atlantis.
And by the way, don’t fear, my Donnelly project is still very much alive, just running behind schedule due to other priorities.
Tonight I’ve been digging through the mountain of photocopies I made from the Ignatius Donnelly Papers over the past year or so. Almost had a heart attack when for a few moments I thought I’d shuffled some of the papers out of order a few months ago and would never remember where they’d go (I have the papers filed by microfilm roll for citation and reference purposes). Fortunately I was able to deduce that the unsorted papers came from the same roll but that I’d printed them from PDF scans I’d made. Close one.
Of course, this means the project I’m looking over is about to recommence. Kind of a scary thought.
I’ve been reading (actually, listening to the audio of during my work commute) Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? by James Shapiro. A good book, with a pretty balanced take that lightly jabs at both believers in an alternate authorship of the Shakespeare plays and academics who scoff at such claims in a reactionary manner (although the author is firmly in the Stratfordian camp). It includes a few pages on Donnelly, but quite surprisingly (and disappointingly) completely skips over the fascinating history of the Bacon Society of London (although the author does cite their journal Baconiana a few times) and Mrs. Henry Potts’s influential role in shaping the authorship debate, not even to mention The Promus of Formularies and Elegancies. Harumph. But recommended nonetheless. Here’s a brief video of the author discussing the book.
I wrote about Vlad Verano‘s demonstration of the Espresso Book Machine here. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know I’m an Ignatius Donnelly buff and that I’ve been researching his life and works for a few projects I have percolating. Well, when I first heard about the EBM, and its ability to print public domain books archived online, one of my first thoughts was that it would be neat to have a new edition of Donnelly’s classic apocalyptic utopian novel Caesar’s Column. And that if I had my way, it would feature the wonderfully cataclysmic proto-steampunk cover art from the 1890 paperback newsstand edition, and also the interior layout from the first edition. It would also bear no mark of Donnelly’s name but rather use the pseudonym he used when the book was first published: Edmund Boisgilbert. A couple weeks ago I decided to go for it and see what Vlad could do. Here are the results and I couldn’t be more pleased, especially with Vlad’s exceptionally tasteful and artful design work.
Front cover with 1890 artwork (Airships! A populist uprising! The end of civilization!):
Back cover (Featuring promo copy from the 1890 edition.)
An exclusive TPP/EBM edition of a utopia-gone-awry classic, perfect for lovers of all things steampunk, don’t you think? If you’d like to order a copy, just email Vlad over here and he’ll set you up.