“Journey to Amtrak”

This is another one of my “grievance readings” of books discarded as a result of the Fort Worth city government decision to close the Central Public Library and sell off the land to real–estate developers. To me, this is on a level with the decision to close and demolish a public–housing project on the edge of downtown (convenient to jobs! even without a car!) and sell the land for a new Radio Shack headquarters… the company went bust and the complex stood empty for years, before being taken over by the community college district.

Be that as it may, this slim volume, subtitled The year history rode the passenger train, is a photoessay collection of the last days of railroad passenger service in the USA leading up to 1 May 1971, when the National Railroad Passenger Corporation took over. So you get to listen to me reading text written to accompany photos which you can’t see. Perhaps not my best choice of material…

  • 2024–05–24 As I was not watching the clock closely, this recording breaks off very suddenly, partway through an essay by Harold Edmondson entitled “Sixty–Two Historic Hours” in Chicago.
  • 2024–05–28 In the latter half of this show, I manage to read almost completely through a table listing all the intercity passenger rail services as of 1971–05–01, leaving out only Union Pacific and Chicago South Shore routes on account of lack of time. I think I will call this “done”.

The Sunless City

From the papers and diaries of the late Josiah Flintabbatey Flonatin, Esq. — by JE Preston Muddock, also author (according to the title page) of Maid Marian and Robin Hood, Stories, Weird and Wonderful, From the Bosom of the Deep, The Dead Man’s Secret, Sweet Doll of Haddon Hall, Stormlight, For God and the Czar, et cetera. Not only is there a mining town in Manitoba named Flin Flon after this book, but the copy I am reading from was sent to me by SDFer somedude, who resides there.

  • 2023–04–26 Live reading of the table of contents, Chapter 1 “The Lake of Mystery”, and Chapter 2 “Flin Flon’s Fish”
  • 2024–04–30 Chapter 3 “The Start”, Chapter 4 “A Subterranean River”, Chapter 5 “A Petrified Forest”, and the beginning of Chaper 6 “The Hall of Jewels”

№4472 Flying Scotsman

Steam railway locomotive noises from an LP? Yes! But not just any steam locomotive, one of the most famous in the world, the last surviving non–streamlined “Pacific” (4–6–2 wheel arrangement) of the Gresley A3 class. Undoubtedly it was the great love for the Flying Scotsman that made possible the brand new “Pacific”, 60163 Tornado of the A1 class, which was funded by rail fans and completed in 2008.

Archive recording (By error, the 2024–03–01 broadcast included only side A of the record, played twice, so I ran a corrected version at the next opportunity.)

Steam shunting locomotive moving three "Excellox 3" nuclear fuel flasks. Ad from ATOM 265 (1978 November)
“From steam power to nuclear power” indeed!
Greenpeace poster advertising a U2 concert in Manchester, part of the "React" campaign against the Sellafield THORP reprocessing plant project.
Of the text on this poster, the location, time, and ticket purchase information is probably truthful. The rest? Nobody cares!

“My Polar Flights”

Umberto Nobile, the Italian airship builder and pilot, came together with the great Arctic explorer Roald Amundsen to reach and cross the North Pole by air for the first time, in the year 1926. Two years later, on a subsequent expedition, Nobile and his men were shipwrecked. This first part of this volume, entitled “The First Crossing of the Arctic Ocean”, covers the successful voyage of the N1 Norge, known as the Amundsen–Ellsworth–Nobile Polar Expedition. The second part, “The Tragedy of the Italia”, is about twice as long.

Having read My Zeppelins, I thought that this would be of similar interest, and also that it might be best to give General Nobile the chance (as it were) to defend himself against some belittling remarks of Dr Eckener’s regarding his skill as an airshipman.

  • 2024–02–20 The preface ; the first chapter, The Preliminaries of the Expedition ; and a little bit of the second chapter, On the Eve of the Flight. (Chapters are not numbered.)
  • 2024–02–23 Remainder of the second chapter ; beginning of the third chapter, The Flight from Rome to the Svalbard.
  • 2024–02–27 Completion of the third chapter, and almost all of the fourth, From King’s Bay to the Pole.
  • 2024–03–08 Completion of the fourth chapter, covering the actual first attainment and crossing of the North Pole by air ; and the whole of the fifth chapter, In the Unexplored Zone, describing an incredible feat of piloting under conditions of adverse weather and extreme exhaustion.
  • 2024–03–12 Two short chapters, The End of the Flight and Returning Home, and an Appendix, complete Part I. The author attempts to settle once and for all the controversy caused by certain intemperate and ill–informed remarks of Amundsen, who knew much of Polar exploration, but little of airships or their handling.
  • 2024–03–15 Origin and Preparation of the Expedition (in which we learn how to spell “caïque”), and the first part of The Flight from Milan to King’s Bay, describing the atrocious weather on the way to Stolp on the Baltic (now Słupsk, Poland), begin Part II.
  • 2024–03–19 Completion of The Flight from Milan to King’s Bay ; At King’s Bay ; and The Flight to Severnaya Zemlya.
  • 2024–03–29 The Voyage to the Pole ; The Catastrophe ; and the beginning of Adrift on the Pack. I note details related by Nobile which completely negative Eckener’s notion of the cause of the wreck. (For some reason, the aNONradio archiver split this show into two parts, so I had to re-join it.)
  • 2024–04–05 After a couple of days when I could not do a show, the remainder of Adrift on the Pack, followed by the entirety of The Courage of Despair. Interrupted near the end by a telephone call.
  • 2024–05–10 “Both Parties will Die!” ; Six in the Red Tent ; and the first part of The Miracle of the Radio.
  • 2024–05–14 After some dead air and glitches at the beginning, the completion of The Miracle of the Radio ; Manna from Heaven ; and the first section of An Aeroplane Lands on the Pack.
  • 2024–05–17 The remainder of An Aeroplane Lands on the Pack ; and all of On the Città di Milano, in which Captain Romagna has things to say which are difficult to comprehend, much less believe. Only one chapter remains.
  • 2024–05–21 Our story concludes with the long chapter entitled The End of the Drama. Details of the political scene have been omitted by General Nobile, but may be read in his 1945 book Posso Dire la Verità.

“My Zeppelins”

Im Zeppelin über Länder und Meere (1949), an autobiographical account of the development of intercontinental airship flight by Hugo Eckener, long–time head of the Zeppelin organization, was abridged and translated into English by Douglas Robinson, published 1958. I found to my sorrow that the local library’s copy, which I had checked out many times, had been discarded ― but I managed to buy it, in order to read it to you. As usual, there is a great deal of my chatter intermingled with the actual material.

  • 2023–11–07 Introduction, and first part of Chapter I, “The Flight of the ZR III (sic) Los Angeles
  • 2023–11–21 Remainder of Chapter I, and commencement of Chapter II, “The First Flights of the Graf Zeppelin
  • 2023–12–05 Continuation of Chapter II
  • 2023–12–12 Conclusion of Chapter II, all of Chapter III, “A Sentimental Journey to Egypt”, and the very beginning of Chapter IV, “The Flight Around the World”
  • 2023–12–19 Continuation of Chapter IV
  • 2024–01–05 Conclusion of Chapter IV, and beginning of Chapter V, “The South American Service, 1930―37”
  • 2024–01–09 Conclusion of Chapter V
    Links to a British Pathé Newsreel series showing a trip to South America aboard the Graf Zeppelin : “Flying Down to Rio” Part 1 (not to be confused with the musical film of the same title) ― Part 2Part 3Part 4
  • 2023–01–12 Commencement of Chapter VI, “The Arctic Flight of 1931”, with commentary about, inter alia, Fritjof Nansen’s humanitarian efforts, and Eckener’s undeserved censure on Nobile, and a promise to read the latter’s book My Polar Flights
  • 2024–01–16 Conclusion of Chapter VI ; beginning of Chapter VII, “The Victory of the Zeppelin Concept, 1931―37”
  • 2024–01–19 Conclusion of Chapter VII ; beginning of Chapter VIII, “The Hindenburg” (plus some chatter about the Japanese SLIM lunar landing mission)
  • 2024–01–23 Conclusion of Chapter VIII, and almost all of Chapter IX, “Helium Troubles and a Gloomy Ending”
  • 2024–01–26 After a few minutes of dead air (owing to my failure to un–mute the mic), the conclusion of Chapter IX, and with it the main text ; and the first part of the Appendix, “A Note on the Technology and Development of the Zeppelin Airship”, by Dr–Ing Knut Eckener, son of the author
  • 2024–02–02 Not quite the whole of the remainder of the Appendix
  • 2024–02–06 A short show, just the conclusion of the Appendix, with a promise to start My Polar Flights by Umberto Nobile with a show of its own

“Science–Fiction : The Early Years”

This monumental work by Everett F Bleiler, the compilation of which occupied six years altogether and involved the reading of more than two thousand stories (when we consider the ones the author rejected for inclusion), many of them very difficult to get hold of before the arrival of the Internet and large-scale scanning of old books and periodicals ― and in many cases, that difficulty has not gone away ― attempts to list, categorize, and even summarize the material out of which the literature which we know as science–fiction developed.

Continue reading ““Science–Fiction : The Early Years””

“The Flying Scarab and the Seventh Heaven”

Here we have another story by Rene Mansfield from Popular Electricity magazine. This and “The Sun Victim”, which appeared in The Popular Magazine, are mentioned by Everett Bleiler in Science Fiction : The Early Years ― his comment on this one is “horrible writing”. Possibly I will be able to get my hands on that third story at some future date.

Illustrations below the cut

“A Sherlock of the Skies”

This brief story combines the detective genre with aviation, as the name would imply, but also with wireless, the other wonder of the age. It is thus science fiction, of a sort at least. It appeared in Popular Electricity magazine, 1912 October, over the name of Rene Mansfield.

Illustrations below the cut

Superb Owl Sunday 2023

In celebration of this important American religious festival, I am reading for your delectation, All Men are Brothers by Pearl S Buck. And what is that? It’s a translation of the 14th–century Chinese adventure novel The Water Margin. There are lots of Chinese names and by–names, very challenging to keep track of, along with violence, occasional cannibalism, and minor supernatural elements ― all kinds of fun! And in the 02z00 hour I’ll be calling in to aNONradio OpenVoIP, in case you want to talk with me about the story.

A Journey in Other Worlds

Best–selling books written by very wealthy people are usually along the lines of “The Secrets of My Success” ― but this is a space–travel story!

A Romance of the Future

John Jacob Astor IV (1894)

  • HNtW 092 (2021–08–13) : Author’s Preface, Book I Chapters I―IV
  • HNtW 093 (2021–08–17) : Introduction by SM Stirling for a reprint edition (following the main content of the show, which is Chapter II of The Castle of Otranto)
  • HNtW 094 (2021–09–02) Book I, Chapters V―VII
Continue reading “A Journey in Other Worlds”