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The Diamond Lens and Other Strange Tales
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The Diamond Lens and Other Strange Tales

3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  23 ratings  ·  5 reviews
Fitz-James O'Brien lived only 33 years -- from 1828 till 1862 -- but in his brief life he left a mark that endures today. O'Brien endures because he was a remarkable writer. Remarkable indeed He had a way of blending of hard fact with almost-fanciful fantasy, juxtaposing technology and mysticism, creating convincing and "scientific" settings that play against the otherworl ...more
Paperback, 172 pages
Published August 1st 2002 by Wildside Press
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La vida de Fitz-James O'Brien es digna de una novela. Nació en Irlanda, en 1828, y quedó huérfano de padre a los once años. Su madre volvió a casarse con un hombre de familia acomodada. Con dieciséis años empezó a componer poemas, sobre todo al ser testigo de la Gran Hambruna. Al llegar a la mayoría de edad pudo disponer de la herencia de su padre. A partir de aquí se convirtió en un vividor, trasladándose a Londres, donde siguió escribiendo historias de todo tipo, predominando las sobrenaturale ...more
Richard Wright
An early forerunner of the weird story, the stories here are characterised firstly by insane and original ideas, and secondly by the act of the protagonists taking a scientific approach to the supernatural. This is best seen in the titular 'The Diamond Lens', in which worlds are discovered under a microscope's scrutiny, and 'What Was It?", an Invisible Man type tale that beats Wells to the punch by several years. In each, it is the scientific rigor (within the limits of the science of the day) w ...more
There's a lot of raw talent and sadly wasted potential in these stories. O'Brien is a sort of transitional figure, bridging the gap between the Gothic Romanticism of Poe and Hoffmann and what would later become science fiction. It's tantalizing to imagine what he might have accomplished had he not been killed in the Civil War.
The title story "The Diamond Lens" is a wonderful satire of Science's claim to objectivity, exposing the highly eroticising nature of a scientist's gaze, when he falls in love with his 'object'. There's also a hint at the potentially dangerous nature of the gaze when the very act of surveillance brings death to the surveyed. Unfortunately the rest of the short tales in this collection cannot keep up the high standard set by this story. While the two poems are entertaining, the stories fail to ge ...more
Selina Lock
An interesting collection of early speculative fiction by Fitz-James O'Brien written in the 1850/60s. It includes stories dealing with the fascination of microscopic worlds hauntings, murderous miniature manikins and alchemy.

The only thing that mars it is the streak of racism running through the stories, which I assume were indicative of the culture at the time.
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He was born Michael O'Brien in County Cork, and was very young when the family moved to Limerick, Ireland. He attended the University of Dublin, and is believed to have been at one time a soldier in the British army. On leaving college he went to London, and in the course of four years spent his inheritance of 8,000, meanwhile editing a periodical in aid of the World's Fair of 1851. About 1852 he ...more
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