By: Lilith Lorraine
September 28, 2023

Mondrian’s Evolution (c. 1910–1911)

Lilith Lorraine’s feminist utopian novelette The Brain of the Planet was published by David Lasser as a chapbook in Hugo Gernsback’s Science Fiction Series in 1929. HiLoBooks is pleased to serialize it here for HILOBROW’s readers.

ALL INSTALLMENTS: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8.


CHAPTER IV (cont.)

Note by the Writer: It is to be hoped that none of my readers will view this tale in any other light than that of fiction, in spite of the series of queer coincidences that served as its inspiration. Among these coincidences I might mention the well-known fact of Professor Maxwell’s disappearance in August, 1935, some four years before the establishment of the World-State. Everybody is of the opinion, however, that he secluded himself from the world because of the persecution to which he was subjected because of his radical ideas. It is also true that a recent exploring party discovered a twisted mass of machinery, whose function could not be deduced, in an isolated canyon in the State of Coahuila. An examination of the official records of that State show that a permit was issued by the Governor in August, 1935, to erect a broadcasting station for experimental purposes. The two Americans who secured this permit must have given false names, as they could not be traced.

Added to all this is the further coincidence that the material on which this story is based was found among the effects of Jerry Brand, a promising young inventor, who disappeared about the same time and reappeared many years later. His friends say that in spite of splendid public recognition of his merits he seemed lonely and strangely restless. He seemed possessed of a belated desire to find Prof. Maxwell, who, he said, had gone alone into the mountains of Mexico to investigate some old Indian tradition concerning an undying fire. He had a foolish idea, his friends said, that the man was calling him.

Despite all these rather startling coincidences, it is manifestly illogical to give credence to any tale which would attribute to any one intelligence plus a machine, the remarkable changes that began to take place since 1938. These changes were the natural and inevitable outcome of the collapse of an artificial economic system that had exploited its last field and had outlived its usefulness. While it is true that the changes were startling in their rapidity, coupled with a still more unexplainable change in human nature itself, there must be some psychological explanation. There seems to be a growing conviction, however, among brilliant psychologists and scientists that there was something out of the ordinary about the two cerebral epidemics, one of which occurred previous to and the other several years after the founding of the World-State. The latter wave of insanity, while shorter in its duration and less fatal than the preceding one, was a serious menace to the government in that it threatened to cause a reversal to the primitive institutions of 1930. My private opinion, however, is that it was nothing but the last stand of the old savage instincts against the new-born altruism of a liberated humanity. It would be strange, though, if some human instrument of that Divinity whose existence no sane man questions had really snatched us from the edge of the abyss in 1938, while we in our colossal egotism attributed all our achievements to ourselves. Perhaps it is true, after all, that many meet the gods but few salute them.


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”.