Friday, May 16, 2014

Mesaerion, Best SF 1800-1849 by Andrew Barger **

A curiosity including obscure Poe, Hawthorne, and more. Mesaerion: The Best SF1800-1849 by Andrew Barger includes stories about the hot science topics of the early 19th century including hot air balloons, mesmerism, perpetual motion, and clockwork automata. Especially interesting is the editor's introduction to the stories placing them in context such as first steam punk story or first SF by a woman.

On the topic of firsts, SF is a genre that suffers from it own special writing problems (SFWA: Turkey City Lexicon) due to the additional requirement to introduce a world foreign to the reader. Many of these errors are first made in the included stories. Glimpses of Others World by Morgan is a "traveler's narration," and maybe the prototype for infodumps.

Many of the stories are prefaced with the endorsement that this volume is the first time the story has been published in over 150 years. For several of these stories the reason seems clear.

I recommend this volume more for scholars interesting in early 19th century literature than those looking for interesting SF reads. A well-read person has certainly seen better by Poe and Hawthorne than the couple of selections by each author in this volume.

I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway on March 28, 2014. I received my copy on May 7, 2014.

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