Fantastic Adventures

Having just wrote about Algernon Blackwood and being interested in H.P. Lovecraft, H.R.Giger, H.Rider Haggard, Edgar Rice Burroughs and other Fantasy and science fiction authors I was fascinated to read about Adventures, an American pulp fantasy and science fiction magazine, published from 1939 to 1953 by Ziff-Davis. It was initially edited by Raymond A. Palmer, who was also the editor of Amazing Stories, Ziff-Davis’s other science fiction title. The first nine issues were in broadsheet format, but in June 1940 the magazine switched to a standard pulp size.

It was almost cancelled at the end of 1940, but the October 1940 issue enjoyed unexpectedly good sales, helped by a strong cover by J. Allen St. John for Robert Moore Williams’ Jongor of Lost Land. By May 1941 the magazine was on a regular monthly schedule. Historians of science fiction consider that Palmer was unable to maintain a consistently high standard of fiction, but Fantastic Adventures soon developed a reputation for light-hearted and whimsical stories. Much of the material was written by a small group of writers under both their own names and house names. The cover art, like those of many other pulps of the era, focused on beautiful women in melodramatic action scenes. One regular cover artist was H.W. McCauley, whose glamorous “MacGirl” covers were popular with the readers, though the emphasis on depictions of attractive and often partly clothed women did draw some objections.

In 1949 Palmer left Ziff-Davis and was replaced by Howard Browne, who was knowledgeable and enthusiastic about fantasy fiction. Browne briefly managed to improve the quality of the fiction in Fantastic Adventures, and the period around 1951 has been described as the magazine’s heyday. Browne lost interest when his plan to take Amazing Stories upmarket collapsed, and the magazine fell back into predictability. In 1952, Ziff-Davis launched another fantasy magazine, titled Fantastic, in a digest format; it was successful, and within a few months the decision was taken to end Fantastic Adventures in favor of Fantastic. The March 1953 issue of Fantastic Adventures was the last.

Algernon Blackwood CBE

BlackwoodEnglish short story writer and novelist Algernon Henry Blackwood, CBE sadly died 10 December 1951. He was born 14 March 1869 in Shooter’s Hill and between 1871 and 1880 lived at Crayford Manor House, Crayford and was educated at Wellington College. Blackwood had a varied career, working as a dairy farmer in Canada, where he also operated a hotel for six months, worked as a newspaper reporter in New York City, became a bartender, model, journalist for the New York Times, a private secretary, business man, and a violin teacher.

He became one of the most prolific writers of ghost stories and he was also a journalist, he also wrote the short story collection Incredible Adventures (1914). he was also an occasional essayist for various periodicals. In his late thirties, he moved back to England and started to write stories of the supernatural. He was successful, writing at least ten original collections of short stories and later telling them on radio and television. He also wrote fourteen novels, several children’s books, and a number of plays, most of which were produced but not published. He was an avid lover of nature and the outdoors, and many of his stories reflect this. To satisfy his interest in the supernatural, he joined The Ghost Club. He never married; according to his friends he was a loner but also cheerful company.

Blackwood was a member of one of the factions of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, as was his contemporary Arthur Machen. Cabalistic themes influence his novel The Human Chord. His two best known stories are probably “The Willows” and “The Wendigo”. He would also often write stories for newspapers at short notice,

Blackwood’s novels were a speculative and imaginative treatment of possibilities outside our normal range of consciousness, often concerning hidden human powers and the extension of consciousness. He also wrote a number of horror stories and stories which induced a sense of awe in the reader such as the novels The Centaur, which climaxes with a traveller’s sight of a herd of the mythical creatures; and Julius LeVallon and its sequel The Bright Messenger, which deal with reincarnation and the possibility of a new, mystical evolution of human consciousness. Blackwood also wrote an autobiography of his early years, Episodes Before Thirty and an biography, Starlight Man, was also written by Mike Ashley

Sadly Blackwood died after several strokes. Officially his death on 10 December 1951 was of cerebral thrombosis with arteriosclerosis as contributory. He was cremated at Golders Green crematorium. A few weeks later his nephew took his ashes to Saanenmöser Pass in the Swiss Alps, and scattered them in the mountains that he had loved for more than forty years.

Ad Lovelace – Enchantress of numbers

CompThe Analyst, Metaphysician, and Founder of Scientific Computing, Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace was born on 10th December 1815. Born Augusta Ada Byron and now commonly known as Ada Lovelace, she was the daughter of Lord Byron and is remembered as a mathematician and writer chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage’s early mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. Her notes on the engine include what is recognised as the first algorithm intended to be processed by a machine. Because of this, she is often considered the world’s first computer programmer and left a legacy as role model for young women entering technology careers.

Ada was the only legitimate child born during a brief marriage between the poet Lord Byron and Anne Isabella Byron). She had no relationship with her father, who separated from her mother just a month after Ada was born, and four months later he left England forever and died in Greece in 1823 leaving her mother to raise her single-handedly, Her life was an apotheosis of struggle between emotion and reason, subjectivism and objectivism, poetics and mathematics, ill health and bursts of energy. Lady Byron wished her daughter to be unlike her poetical father, and she saw to it that Ada received tutoring in mathematics and music, as disciplines to counter dangerous poetic tendencies. But Ada’s complex inheritance became apparent as early as 1828, when she produced the design for a flying machine. It was mathematics that gave her life its wings.

As a young adult, she took an interest in mathematics, and in particular that of Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge, Charles Babbage whom she met met in 1833, when she was just 17, who was One of the gentlemanly scientists of the era and become Ada’s lifelong friend. Babbage, was known as the inventor of the Difference Engine, an elaborate calculating machine that operated by the method of finite differences , and they began a voluminous correspondence on the topics of mathematics, logic, and ultimately all subjects. In 1835, Ada married William King, ten years her senior, and when King inherited a noble title in 1838, they became the Earl and Countess of Lovelace. Ada had three children. The family and its fortunes were very much directed by Lady Byron, whose domineering was rarely opposed by King.Babbage had made plans in 1834 for a new kind of calculating machine (although the Difference Engine was not finished), an Analytical Engine.

His Parliamentary sponsors refused to support a second machine with the first unfinished, but Babbage found sympathy for his new project abroad. In 1842, an Italian mathematician, Louis Menebrea, published a memoir in French on the subject of the Analytical Engine. Babbage enlisted Ada as translator for the memoir, and during a nine-month period in 1842-43, she worked feverishly on the article and a set of Notes she appended to it. These notes contain what is considered the first computer program — that is, an algorithm encoded for processing by a machine. Ada’s notes are important in the early history of computers. She also foresaw the capability of computers to go beyond mere calculating or number-crunching while others, including Babbage himself, focused only on these capabilities

Ada called herself an Analyst (& Metaphysician), and the combination was put to use in the Notes. She understood the plans for the device as well as Babbage but was better at articulating its promise. She rightly saw it as what we would call a general-purpose computer. It was suited for “developing and tabulating any function whatever. . . the engine is the material expression of any indefinite function of any degree of generality and complexity.” Her Notes anticipate future developments, including computer-generated music. Sadly though Ada passed away on November 27, 1852, in Marylebone at the age of 37, from Cancer and was buried beside the father she never knew. Her contributions to science were resurrected only recently, but many new biographies* attest to the fascination of Babbage’s “Enchantress of Numbers.”

Huckleberry Finn

HuckleberryThe Classic American novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain was first published 10th December 1884. It is told in the first person by Huckleberry “Huck” Finn, a friend of Tom Sawyer and narrator of two other Twain novels (Tom Sawyer Abroad and Tom Sawyer, Detective) and is a sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. It features colorful description of people and places along the Mississippi River and satirizes the Southern antebellum society. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is an often scathing look at entrenched attitudes, particularly racism and has been studied by serious literary critics since its publication. It was criticized upon release because of its coarse language and became even more controversial in the 20th century because of its perceived use of racial stereotypes, despite strong arguments that the protagonist & tenor of the book, is anti-racist & explores notions of race and identity & highlights the hypocrisy required to condone slavery within an ostensibly moral system.

While some scholars suggest that Jim was a good-hearted, moral character, others have criticized the novel as racist.Huck struggles not only with the challenges of his strenuous journey, but also with the 19th century social climate and the role it forces on him regarding Jim. Throughout the story, Huck is in moral conflict with the received values of the society in which he lives, and while he is unable to consciously refute those values even in his thoughts, he makes a moral choice based on his own valuation of Jim’s friendship and human worth, a decision in direct opposition to the things he has been taught. Mark Twain in his lecture notes proposes that “a sound heart is a surer guide than an ill-trained conscience”, and goes on to describe the novel as “…a book of mine where a sound heart and a deformed conscience come into collision and conscience suffers defeat”.To highlight the hypocrisy required to condone slavery within an ostensibly moral system, Twain has Huck’s father enslave him, isolate him, and beat him. When Huck escapes – which anyone would agree was the right thing to do – he then immediately encounters Jim “illegally” doing the same thing. Some scholars discuss Huck’s own character, and the novel as a whole, in context of its relation to African-American culture as a whole. John Alberti quotes Shelley Fisher Fishkin who writes in her 1990’s book Was Huck Black?: Mark Twain and African-American Voices, “by limiting their field of inquiry to the periphery,” white scholars “have missed the ways in which African-American voices shaped Twain’s creative imagination at its core.” It is suggested that the character of Huckleberry Finn illustrates the correlation, and even interrelatedness, between white and black culture in the United States.

The story begins in fictional St. Petersburg, Missouri, on the shore of the Mississippi River, sometime between 1835 and 1845 (when the first steamboat sailed down the Mississippi). Two young boys, Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn, have each come into a considerable sum of money as a result of their earlier adventures (The Adventures of Tom Sawyer). Huck has been placed under the guardianship of the Widow Douglas, who, together with her sister, Miss Watson, are attempting to civilize him. Huck appreciates their efforts, but finds civilized life confining. His spirits are raised somewhat when Tom Sawyer helps him to escape one night past Miss Watson’s slave Jim. However, his shiftless father “Pap”, sudden reappears who is an abusive parent and drunkard. Although Huck is successful in preventing him from acquiring his fortune, Pap forcibly gains custody of him and moves him to his backwoods cabin. Although Huck prefers this to his life with the widow, he resents his father’s drunken violence and his habit of keeping him locked inside the cabin so he escapes, elaborately fakes his own murder, and sets off down the Mississippi River.While living quite comfortably in the wilderness along the Mississippi, Huck encounters Miss Watson’s slave Jim on an island called Jackson’s Island. Huck learns that Jim has also run away & is trying to make his way to Cairo, Illinois, and then to Ohio. At first, Huck is conflicted over whether to tell someone about Jim’s running away, but as they travel together and talk in depth, Huck begins to know more about Jim’s past and his difficult life &, Huck begins to change his opinion about people, slavery, and life in general.

Huck and Jim take residence In a cavern on a hill on Jackson’s Island. When they can, they scrounge around the river looking for food, wood, and other items. One night, they find a raft they will eventually use to travel down the Mississippi. Later, they find an entire house floating down the river and enter it to grab what they can and also find a dead man, shot in the back while apparently trying to ransack the house. Huck find out the latest news in the area, and is worried by what he learns, so he returns quickly to the island where he tells Jim of the impending danger. The two immediately load up the raft and leave the islands. Huck and Jim become separated. Huck is given shelter by the Grangerfords, a prosperous local family & becomes friends with Buck Grangerford, a boy about his age, and gets involved in the Grangerfords blood feud against another family, the Shepherdsons which comes to a head when Buck’s sister, Sophia Grangerford, elopes with Harney Shepherdson. In the resulting conflict, all the Grangerford males from this branch of the family are shot and killed, and Huck narrowly avoids his own death in the gunfight,

After reuniting with Jim they Sail farther south on the Mississippi River, and rescue two cunning grifters, who join Huck and Jim on the raft. The younger of the two swindlers, a man of about thirty, introduces himself as a son of an English duke (the Duke of Bridgewater) and his father’s rightful successor. The older one, about seventy, then trumps the Duke’s claim by alleging that he is the Lost Dauphin, the son of Louis XVI and rightful King of France. He continually mispronounces the duke’s title as “Bilgewater” in conversation.The Duke and the King then join Jim and Huck on the raft, committing a series of confidence schemes on the way south. To allow for Jim’s presence, they print fake bills for an escaped slave; and later they paint him up entirely in blue and call him the “Sick Arab”. On one occasion they arrive in a town and advertise a three-night engagement of a play which they call “The Royal Nonesuch”. The play turns out to be only a couple of minutes of hysterical cavorting, not worth anywhere near the 50 cents the townsmen were charged to see it. ThenA drunk called Boggs arrives in town and threatens a southern gentleman by the name of Colonel Sherburn. so Sherburn kills him and almost gets lynched. By the third night of “The Royal Nonesuch”, the townspeople are getting fed up but the Duke and the King have already skipped town, and together with Huck and Jim, they continue down the river.

ln the next town they decide to impersonate two brothers of Peter Wilks, a recently deceased man of property, and manage to convince nearly all the townspeople that he is one of the brothers, a preacher just arrived from England, while the Duke pretends to be a deaf-mute to match accounts of the other brother. One man in town is certain that they are a fraud and confronts them. Afterwards, the Duke, suggests that they should cut and run. The King boldly states his intention to continue to liquidate Wilks’ estate.However Huck likes Wilks’ daughters, who treat him with kindness and courtesy, so he tries to thwart the grifters’ plans by stealing back the inheritance money. The arrival of two new men who seem to be the real brothers throws everything into confusion when none of their signatures match the one on record. The townspeople devise a test, which requires digging up the coffin to check. When the money is found in Wilks’ coffin, the Duke and the King are able to escape in the confusion. They manage to rejoin Huck and Jim on the raft & Huck resolves to free Jim, who is being held at the plantation of Silas and Sally Phelps. Huck intercepts Tom on the road and tells him everything, Tom joins Huck’s scheme & develops an elaborate plan to free Jim…

Otis Redding

American singer and songwriter, record producer, arranger and talent scout Otis Ray Redding, Jr. was tragically killed in a plane crash on December 10 1967. Born September 9, 1941 . He is considered one of the greatest singers in popular music and a major artist in soul music and rhythm and blues. His singing style has been influential among the soul artists of 1960s and helped exemplify the Stax Sound. After appearing at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, he wrote and recorded “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” with Steve Cropper.

Born and raised in Georgia, United States, ‘Redding left school at age 15 to support his family by working with Little Richard’s backing band, the Upsetters and by performing at talent shows for prize money. In 1958, he joined Johnny Jenkins’ band, the Pinetoppers, and toured the Southern United States as driver and musician. An unscheduled appearance on a Stax recording session led to a contract and his first single, “These Arms of Mine”, in 1962. Stax released Redding’s debut album, Pain in My Heart, two years later. Initially popular mainly with African Americans, Redding later reached the broader American popular music audience. He and his group first played small gigs in the South, then played for the first time in the western United States, at the Whisky a Go Go. Redding later performed in Paris, London and other European cities before he was tragically Killed In a plane crash .

following Redding’s tragic death (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay became the first posthumous number-one record on both the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts . The Dock of the Bay also became the first posthumous album to reach number one on the UK Albums Chart. His premature death devastated Stax, already on the verge of bankruptcy. The label soon discovered that Atlantic Records owned the rights to Redding’s entire catalog. Redding received many posthumous accolades, including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He received the honorific “King of Soul”. In addition to “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,” “Respect” and “Try a Little Tenderness” are among his most well-known songs.

Human Rights Day

Human Rights Day is celebrated annually across the world on 10 December.The date was chosen to honor the United Nations— General Assembly’s adoption and proclamation, on 10 December 1948, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the first global enunciation of human rights and one of the first major achievements of the new United Nations. The formal establishment of Human Rights Day occurred at the 317th Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly on 4 December 1950, when the General Assembly declared resolution 423(V), inviting all member states and any other interested organizations to celebrate the day as they saw fit. The day is normally marked both by high-level political conferences and meetings and by cultural events and exhibitions dealing with human rights issues. In addition, it is traditionally on 10 December that the five-yearly United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights and Nobel Peace Prize are awarded.

Many governmental and nongovernmental organizations active in the human rights field also schedule special events to commemorate the day, as do many civil and social-cause organizations. The theme for 2006 was the struggle against poverty, taking it as a human rights issue. Several statements were released on that occasion, including the one issued by 37 United Nations Special Procedures mandate holders. On 10 December 2006, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour stated that;

‘Today, poverty prevails as the gravest human rights challenge in the world. Combating poverty, deprivation andexclusion is not a matter of charity, and it does not depend on how rich a country is. By tackling poverty as a matter of human rights obligation, the world will have a better chance of abolishing this scourge in our lifetime… Poverty eradication is an achievable goal.”

The 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights occurred on 10 December 2008, and the UN Secretary-General launched a year-long campaign leading up to this anniversary. Because the UDHR holds the world record as the most translated document, except for the Bible, organizations around the globe used the year to focus on helping people everywhere learn about their rights.