No doubt noticing the popularity of the Sherlock Holmes movies and the BBC’s Sherlock, CBS is planing to launch a TV show based on the Sherlock Holmes stories. It’s early days, but some details have been announced.
The tentative title of the show is Elementary.
Jonny Lee Miller (Trainspotting, Dexter) will be playing the role of Sherlock Holmes.
Lucy Liu (Ally McBeal, Charlie’s Angels) will be playing the role of Dr. Joan Watson.
I’m reading The Scarlet Plague by Jack London. (pictured on the left) It’s a post-apocalyptic novel written published in 1912. The Scarlet Plague is available for free from Project Gutenberg and Amazon.
The novel has presented two shocks so far. The first one was that the author of White Fang and Call of the Wild also wrote science fiction. I received my second shock when I read the details of the apocalypse. In the world of The Scarlet Plague we don’t have much time left.
“2012,” he shrilled, and then fell to cackling grotesquely. “That was the year Morgan the Fifth was appointed President of the United States by the Board of Magnates. It must have been one of the last coins minted, for the Scarlet Death came in 2013. Lord! Lord!—think of it!”
The BBC has just published an interesting article on the travels of Charles Dickens to America. To say that the first visit didn’t go well would be an understatement. Dickens found many reasons to fault his American hosts.
Here’s a quote from American Notes on just one aspect of his visit:
As Washington may be called the head-quarters of tobacco-tinctured saliva, the time is come when I must confess, without any disguise, that the prevalence of those two odious practices of chewing and expectorating began about this time to be anything but agreeable, and soon became most offensive and sickening. In all the public places of America, this filthy custom is recognised. In the courts of law, the judge has his spittoon, the crier his, the witness his, and the prisoner his; while the jurymen and spectators are provided for, as so many men who in the course of nature must desire to spit incessantly. In the hospitals, the students of medicine are requested, by notices upon the wall, to eject their tobacco juice into the boxes provided for that purpose, and not to discolour the stairs. In public buildings, visitors are implored, through the same agency, to squirt the essence of their quids, or ‘plugs,’ as I have heard them called by gentlemen learned in this kind of sweetmeat, into the national spittoons, and not about the bases of the marble columns. But in some parts, this custom is inseparably mixed up with every meal and morning call, and with all the transactions of social life. The stranger, who follows in the track I took myself, will find it in its full bloom and glory, luxuriant in all its alarming recklessness, at Washington. And let him not persuade himself (as I once did, to my shame) that previous tourists have exaggerated its extent. The thing itself is an exaggeration of nastiness, which cannot be outdone.
Another troubling issue was the lack of an international copyright law. It didn’t exist then and Dickens was enough of a business man to realize what it cost him. Our partner site, Charles Dickens – Gad’s Hill Place, has a good article on the subject of Dickens and copyright laws.
Love is no hot-house flower, but a wild plant, born of a wet night, born of an hour of sunshine; sprung from wild seed, blown along the road by a wild wind. A wild plant that, when it blooms by chance within the hedge of our gardens, we call a flower; and when it blooms outside we call a weed; but, flower or weed, whose scent and colour are always, wild! ~ The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy
Yesterday (February 9th) was the 184th anniversary of the birthday of Jules Verne. In honor of his contribution to literature and science (because after all, doesn’t science fiction inspire science) here’s a short, French movie from 1902 based on the work of Jules Verne.
In 1912 there was an announcement that rocked the scientific world. The remains of an early form of man had been found in the British village of Piltdown. It was exciting because Piltdown Man was much different from his Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal cousins. He had an enormous brain. A large tool that looked kind of like a cricket bat was found near the skull fragments. Piltdown Man was certainly one of a kind.
It turns out that the reason Piltdown Man was so different is because the artifacts were forged.
In 1953 it was proven that the artifacts were actually the skull of a modern human and the jawbone of an orangutan or chimpanzee. Now only one mystery remains. Who perpetrated the hoax?
It seems likely that Charles Dawson, the man who first found the remains, was in on the scheme. Dawson, nicknamed the Wizard of Sussex, was famous for his archeological finds. However Dawson’s discoveries have not stood the test of time.
Dr Miles Russell of Bournemouth University studied Dawson’s collection. In 2003 Russell declared that at least 38 specimens were fakes. He further stated that Dawson’s career was “built upon deceit, sleight of hand, fraud and deception, the ultimate gain being international recognition”
But did Dawson act alone? Sir Arhtur Conan Doyle has always been suspected of assisting Dawson. As a doctor Conan Doyle had the means to create the forged artifacts. As a Spiritualist he may have also had the motive to take a jab at the scientific community.
In a few weeks British researchers are going to study the remains of Piltdown Man. Their objective will be to find out everything they can about the artifacts and hopefully discover who took part in the fraud.