FEATURE: Andrew Crumey – Bunch Of Fives | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Ahead of the release of his new book, short story collection, The Great Chain of Unbeing, we caught up with author Andrew Crumey for a new Bunch Of Fives. Over to you Andrew…

Some writers of the past have been amazingly prophetic. Mary Shelley, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells and George Orwell are obvious examples. But there are also many lesser known instances, and here are five of my favourites.

Robert Burton, The Anatomy Of Melancholy (1621).
A perennial must-read for bookish depressives, Burton’s rambling discourse also contains the first ever mention of little green people from space. They landed in the Suffolk village of Woolpit, and their descendants might still be there today…

Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels (1735).
In the fictional land of Lagado, Gulliver sees a machine that can write books, while on the flying island of Laputa – held aloft by magnetic levitation – astronomers have discovered two tiny moons orbiting the planet Mars. It was an amazing guess: real astronomers didn’t discover them until more than a century later.

Edward Everett Hale, “The Brick Moon” (1869).
Arthur C. Clarke may have invented the geostationary satellite but it was clergyman Hale who gave us the first description of an orbiting space station. Forget 2001: A Space Odyssey: Hale’s version was a 200-foot sphere made of bricks. Why ever didn’t it catch on?

Rudyard Kipling, “With The Night Mail” (1905).
Kipling’s story is set in 2000 and imagines a sky full of airships, used to send letters and parcels round the world. Not so prophetic? Well, he may have got the time-scale wrong, but Kipling beat the invention of real air-mail services by nearly twenty years.

Edwin Balmer and William MacHarg, The Achievements of Luther Trant (1910).
Balmer and his brother-in-law co-wrote a series of stories about psychologist-turned-detective Trant. Apart from applying “the method of Freud and Jung”, Trant also employed a lie detector, 14 years before the first polygraph was used by police interrogators. And that’s the truth!

Andrew Crumey’s new short story collection, The Great Chain of Unbeing, is published by Dedalus.

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