The Principles of Nature by Andrew Jackson Davis

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In the introduction, we’re given a description of Andrew Jackson Davis which would appeal to a phrenologist, as well as testimonials from his acquaintances. We’re told he was poor and barely educated, only attending a few months of school, so he only knows the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Although we’re also told he knows all the technical medical terms, so maybe he’s not as ignorant as they want us to believe. He’s only 20 years old.

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To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis

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Ned Henry is a time traveler who has been tasked with finding out whether an item known as the bishop’s bird stump was in Coventry Cathedral when it was bombed during WW2. He comes down with a case of time-lag due to too much time travel and is sent to the Victorian era to rest. However, the Victorian era isn’t as restful as he had hoped because a missing cat might cause time itself to unravel.

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Varying Distances by Darren Speegle

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A solid collection with fleshed-out characters and good world building. Most of the stories left me wanting more including the dream-like opener, “In the Distance, A Familiar Sound” in which a drug-using artist in Germany obsessed with consciousness and time meets a figure of chaos. We get another artist in “The Flesh Winks while the Ghost Weeps” who is forced to do a portrait of a cult leader.

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There is Confusion by Jessie Redmon Fauset

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“The time comes when he thinks, ‘I might just as well fall back; there’s no use pushing on. A colored man just can’t make any headway in this awful country.’ Of course, it’s a fallacy. And if a fellow sticks it out he finally gets past it, but not before it has worked considerable confusion in his life.”

Joel Marshall has ambitions to be a great man. He’s a successful caterer, but he wants more. His daughter, Joanna, shares his desire for greatness and she has a talent for both singing and dancing. She’s at a disadvantage due to her skin color, but she thinks that her success could be a way to break down prejudice. Joanna has the double consciousness spoken of by W. E. B. Du Bois, considering herself an American first, and a colored person second.

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Welcome to the Show

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This is a collection of 17 horror stories that all take place in the same venue, a music club called The Shantyman in San Francisco. The first story, “What Sort of Rube” by Alan M. Clark sets the stage. In the era of horse-drawn carriages, a sailor is shanghaied outside of a music hall, then shipwrecked on an island of cannibals. He curses the music hall, so presumably, all the bad things that happen in the rest of the stories are a result of this old sailor’s curse.

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