Radium Age 100 (13)

By: Joshua Glenn
June 24, 2015

One in a series of 100 posts about the best science fiction novels published from 1904–33. HILOBROW’s Josh Glenn has named that era science fiction’s Radium Age; more info here. The complete Radium Age 100 list can be found here.

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bulgakov fatal eggs

Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Fatal Eggs (1925).

In a near-future (or perhaps alternate-history) Moscow, the zoologist Persikov discovers a ray that causes frogs and other organisms to mature and reproduce at a rapid rate. At the same time, however, a disease wipes out all of Soviet Russia’s domesticated poultry. Persikov’s equipment is confiscated by the authorities, and thousands of chicken eggs are sent to his laboratory… so that the ray can be used to regenerate the country’s chicken population overnight. Unfortunately, a mixup causes snake and crocodile eggs, instead of chicken eggs, to be treated with the growth ray. Catastrophe!

Is the novella a satire — cf. Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita — of the leadership of Soviet Russia? Some critics at the time suspected as much. However, The Fatal Eggs is squarely in the tradition of western science fiction — from Frankenstein to Wells’s The Food of the Gods, say — which warns arrogant scientists not to meddle too deeply in nature’s mysteries.

Fun fact: Some sci-fi exegetes suspect that Professor Vladimir Ipat’evich Persikov is a spoof on Soviet leader Vladimir Il’ich Lenin… both of whom unleashed destruction on Russia.

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MORE RADIUM AGE SCI FI ON HILOBROW: HiLoBooks homepage! | What is Radium Age science fiction? |Radium Age 100: 100 Best Science Fiction Novels from 1904–33 | Radium Age Supermen | Radium Age Robots | Radium Age Apocalypses | Radium Age Telepaths | Radium Age Eco-Catastrophes | Radium Age Cover Art (1) | SF’s Best Year Ever: 1912 | Radium Age Science Fiction Poetry | Enter Highbrowism | Bathybius! Primordial ooze in Radium Age sf | War and Peace Games (H.G. Wells’s training manuals for supermen) | Radium Age: Context series | J.D. Beresford | Algernon Blackwood | Edgar Rice Burroughs | Karel Čapek | Buster Crabbe | August Derleth | Arthur Conan Doyle | Hugo Gernsback | Charlotte Perkins Gilman | Cicely Hamilton | Hermann Hesse | William Hope Hodgson | Aldous Huxley | Inez Haynes Irwin | Alfred Jarry | Jack Kirby (Radium Age sf’s influence on) | Murray Leinster | Gustave Le Rouge | Gaston Leroux | David Lindsay | Jack London | H.P. Lovecraft | A. Merritt | Maureen O’Sullivan | Sax Rohmer | Paul Scheerbart | Upton Sinclair | Clark Ashton Smith | E.E. “Doc” Smith | Olaf Stapledon | John Taine | H.G. Wells | Jack Williamson | Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz | S. Fowler Wright | Philip Gordon Wylie | Yevgeny Zamyatin

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