JF Ptak Science Books Post 2318
I've posted a number of bits in this blog about stupendously large and enormously small things, but it is infrequent to find the story of something made exceptionally large in a reduced world. Perhaps it is normal fare in the science fiction world, but I found the not-obvious but still-obvious making of a giant in microland to be, well, less than obvious.
There have been countless stories told of shrinking people, or the discovery of vastly small communities living withing a larger host community, and so on, like the following:
This is a story by Henry Hasse and it involves a great scientist and the his elixir called "Shrinx" which after it has been injected into his assistant shrinks the man immeasurably, so science-fictionally small, that he has passed through the microscomos and "subuniverses" to the point where he emerges on a primitive place called Earth. The assistant has traveled from a planet in a solar system revolving around a sun in a solar system in a galaxy in a universe to something small, something sub-atomic, landing in an electron holding within it its own universe.
And then there is this piece of magnificent ne plus ultra, where we remain in the microworld but where there are also micro-giants.
The cover of Fantastic Novels (1921?) seems to tell a straightforward story, but as it turns out the giant is giant but one living within a world in an atom of a gold wedding ring.
Author Ray Cummings (1887-1957) found a nice writing niche for himself in his fictional discovery of a drug that could make people as small as atoms and then, once inside the microworld, could be made as immense as micro-mountains. The Girl in the Golden Atom was one of a five-part trilogy(?)1 and so far as I can tell, Cummings used the hell out of his original idea. The prose reads like it is punctuated with invisible periods every fifth word--evidently Cummings was so very busy writing 750 books and short stories that it left him little time to edit or, maybe, think.
It was a very nice surprise for me. That said, I can only imagine the giddiness and suspension of (dis-)belief when the mass market readership of Robert Hooke's Micrographia got a look for the first time on what the small creepy crawlies that lived around them looked like under magnification. Suddenly the blots and blotches took on real--and sometomes terrifying--forms. These were basically unseen during their long interactions with human beings, until, suddenly, Mr., Hooke made his investigations and put a face on the unseen microworld and shared it with the General Public.
"It is my hope, as well as belief, that these my Labours will be no more comparable to the Productions of many other Natural Philosophers, who are now every where busie about greater things; then my little Objects are to be compar'd to the greater and more beautiful Works of Nature, A Flea, a Mite, a Gnat, to an Horse, an Elephant, or a Lyon" said Mr. Hooke at the end of his 28-page preface to Micrographia in 1665.
[Mr. Hooke's drawing of his flea, in full and unexpected glory, with as much detail and armor as anything that had ever been imagined--only this thing was real, and common, and lived on you.]
It may have been a similar shock to those seeing these images for the first time as it was for people to see Galileo's images of the Moon, or to read him announcing that the perfect sky of Creation was actually not so, and that his telescope revealed ten-fold the number of stars that people could see with only their eyes, and which faith alone could not elaborate.
Yes, the incredible shrinking giant woman was a surprise but not on this order, not by a stretch--though it seems to be the world of science rather than scifi that has delivered the most shocking stories of the big and the small.