“A Victim of Higher Space”

This week’s weird story is part of a tradition of higher mathematics and higher geometry being used by occultists to rationalize their speculations. According to the Science Fiction Encyclopedia, this goes back to at least 1865 with Johann Zöllner’s Transcendental Physics. The non-occult tradition of such stories goes back to at Edwin A. Abbott’s Flatland from 1884.  Blackwood himself used the idea many times. Fittingly, Blackwood first published this story in The Occult Review.

Review: “A Victim of Higher Space”, Algernon Blackwood, 1902 1914.

Cover by Anibal/Fotolia

This is one of Blackwood’s John Silence stories. Actually, that’s Dr. John Silence since he’s also a medical doctor in addition to being an occult detective. 

The story opens with Silence’s “new man” speaking about an “hexatraordinary” visitor, a very thin man who disturbs the servant. Barker is a bit abashed that he left the visitor in the hall rather than show him to the waiting room. Under questioning, Barker reveals the man makes him uneasy and “queer” feeling. Silence is actually pleased by the man’s uneasiness since he chooses his assistants based on some evidence they possess “psychic intuition” which he thinks Barker is now exhibiting. Barker hands him the man’s letter of introduction from an acquaintance of Silence’s. The letter writer asks Silence to help the man but isn’t sure even Silence will be able to. 

Silence instructs Barker to show the man into the waiting room and to think generous, sympathetic, and affectionate thoughts toward the visitor. 

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