THE FIFTH DIMENSION (4)
May 24, 2023
HiLoBooks is pleased to serialize Clare Winger Harris’s “The Fifth Dimension” (which first appeared in Amazing Stories, December 1928) here at HILOBROW.
I poured John his third cup of coffee, but did not feel that it had happened before! A mild thump on the front porch informed me that the morning paper had arrived. I brought it in and laid it in front of John, then I fled to the kitchen, where the odor of burning toast apprised me of the fact that I was much needed. Returning with the scraped toast, I seated myself opposite John for the purpose of resuming my breakfast.
“What news?” I asked casually.
For answer John handed me the paper and pointed mutely to an enormous headline. His face was ashen and his hand trembled.
With a sinking sensation I read the large letters: “Head-on collision demolishes engines and cars, and kills 70 persons.”
“John,’ I gasped, “is it was it — the 8:15?”
His voice was husky with pent emotion.
“Ellen, it was the 8:15, and I have been on it in theother cycles of time. I know it now.”
I gazed at him incredulously for a moment, and then half in fun, half seriously, I said, “John, you are now living on borrowed time!”
He smiled a little wanly.
“Not exactly that, dear,” he said, “but my mind has been doing some rapid thinking since I saw those headlines, and I believe I have a solution to your ever-puzzling problem of the fourth dimension, time.’
“If you can prove my time-cycles are not incompatible with progress, evolution and growth,’ I cried eagerly, “you will make me the happiest woman on earth!”
“Wouldn’t a new fur coat delight you more?” he asked teasingly.
“Well, that would help some,” I admitted, “but tell me what makes you believe that evolution and progress are fact, despite the eon-worn ruts of the cycles of time.’
“The fifth dimension,” he replied in a quiet voice.
“The fifth dimension?” I echoed, puzzled.
“Which is simply this, Ellen. There is a general progression of the Universe over and above the cycles of time which renders each cycle a little in advance of the previous one. We see and recognize this truth daily in the phenomena of humanity. Every baby born starts life a little in advance, materially and mentally, of its father. This process is very slow and we call it evolution, but it is a perceptible progress nevertheless. It may be aptly likened to the whorls of a spring as compared to a mere flat coil of wire. The earth follows an orbit around the sun, and every year it is in the same relative position with regard to the sun as it was the previous year. It has completed one of its countless cycles. But you know as well as I do that the sun and the earth, as well as the other planets, are all farther along in space together. There is a general progression of twelve miles a second on some vaster orbit. This general progression, then, is analogous to our possibility of change and growth; the power to better our conditions; in other words, it isa fifth dimension.”
“The wheels of the Juggernaut can be turned aside,” I said reverently, “and there is hope.”
RADIUM AGE PROTO-SF: “Radium Age” is Josh Glenn’s name for the nascent sf genre’s c. 1900–1935 era, a period which saw the discovery of radioactivity, i.e., the revelation that matter itself is constantly in movement — a fitting metaphor for the first decades of the 20th century, during which old scientific, religious, political, and social certainties were shattered. More info here.
SERIALIZED BY HILOBOOKS: Jack London’s The Scarlet Plague | Rudyard Kipling’s With the Night Mail (and “As Easy as A.B.C.”) | Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Poison Belt | H. Rider Haggard’s When the World Shook | Edward Shanks’ The People of the Ruins | William Hope Hodgson’s The Night Land | J.D. Beresford’s Goslings | E.V. Odle’s The Clockwork Man | Cicely Hamilton’s Theodore Savage | Muriel Jaeger’s The Man With Six Senses | Jack London’s “The Red One” | Philip Francis Nowlan’s Armageddon 2419 A.D. | Homer Eon Flint’s The Devolutionist | W.E.B. DuBois’s “The Comet” | Edgar Rice Burroughs’s The Moon Men | Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland | Sax Rohmer’s “The Zayat Kiss” | Eimar O’Duffy’s King Goshawk and the Birds | Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Lost Prince | Morley Roberts’s The Fugitives | Helen MacInnes’s The Unconquerable |
Geoffrey Household’s Watcher in the Shadows | William Haggard’s The High Wire | Hammond Innes’s Air Bridge | James Branch Cabell’s Jurgen | John Buchan’s “No Man’s Land” | John Russell’s “The Fourth Man” | E.M. Forster’s “The Machine Stops” | John Buchan’s Huntingtower | Arthur Conan Doyle’s When the World Screamed | Victor Bridges’ A Rogue By Compulsion | Jack London’s The Iron Heel | H. De Vere Stacpoole’s The Man Who Lost Himself | P.G. Wodehouse’s Leave It to Psmith | Richard Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game” | Houdini and Lovecraft’s “Imprisoned with the Pharaohs” | Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Sussex Vampire” | Francis Stevens’s “Friend Island” | George C. Wallis’s “The Last Days of Earth” | Frank L. Pollock’s “Finis” | A. Merritt’s The Moon Pool | E. Nesbit’s “The Third Drug” | George Allan England’s “The Thing from — ‘Outside'” | Booth Tarkington’s “The Veiled Feminists of Atlantis” | H.G. Wells’s “The Land Ironclads” | J.D. Beresford’s The Hampdenshire Wonder | Valery Bryusov’s “The Republic of the Southern Cross” | Algernon Blackwood’s “A Victim of Higher Space” | A. Merritt’s “The People of the Pit” | Max Brand’s The Untamed | Julian Huxley’s “The Tissue-Culture King” | Clare Winger Harris’s “A Runaway World” | Francis Stevens’s “Thomas Dunbar” | George Gurdjieff’s “Beelzebub’s Tales” | Robert W. Chambers’s “The Harbor-Master”.