“An Itinerant House”

Never having read any Emma Frances Dawson, a literary associate of our friend Ambrose Bierce, I was looking forward to this week’s weird fiction story over at LibraryThing.

This “Deep One” turned out to be disappointing, so disappointing I’m going to spoil everything about it.

Review: “An Itinerant House”, Emma Frances Dawson, 1878.FanTales1

This one started out promising.

Mexican housekeeper Felipa is absolutely devastated to find out her employer, Mr. Anson, who runs a boarding house, actually has a wife, and she’s shown up in town, town being San Francisco, site of all of Dawson’s fiction.

It’s pretty clear that Felipa has been more than just an employee. She’s been Anson’s lover. We don’t hear what promises he may have whispered into her ear. Continue reading

Reading Bitter Bierce: Bierce and Science Fiction

If you look up some standard reference works on science fiction, you will see a few Bierce tales mentioned. They always mention “Moxon’s Master” (1909), an early robot story, and “That Damned Thing” (1898), an early invisible menace story.

Robert S. Coulson’s entry on Bierce in the James Gunn edited The New Encyclopedia of Science Fiction mentions both as well as “The Realm of the Unreal” which I’ve already discussed. 

The Bierce entry, authored by Peter Nichols and John Clute, in The Science Fiction Encyclopedia mentions several weird tales I’ve already discussed using the justification that “the speculative environment they create is often sufficiently displaced to encourage the interest of sf readers”. But they also mention “John Smith Liberator: (From a Newspaper of the Far Future)” aka “John Smith” (1873), “For the Ahkoond” (1888), and “The Ashes of the Beacon: An Historical Monograph Written in 4930” (1905) which is a radical revision of “The Fall of the Republic: An Article from a ‘Court Journal’ of the Thirty-First Century” (1888). I will be talking about all these stories in future posts except “John Smith” and “The Fall of the Republic”, neither of which I’ve gotten my hands on yet.

For now, though, I want to briefly talk about Bierce’s place in science fiction as an editor, critic, cheerleader and, in a sense, imitator. Continue reading