Drug Themes in Science Fiction/Annotated Bibliography-Primitive Period

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Drug Themes in Science Fiction by Robert Silverberg
Primitive Period, c. 1900–1935

ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY


PRIMITIVE PERIOD

(1900–1935)

Works (not individually listed)


Author: Pratt, Fletcher and Lester, Irvin
Title: The Roger Bacon formula
Journal: Amazing Stories, Vol. 3, No. 10, 940-948
Publisher: Experimenter Publishing Company, New York
Date: January 1929
Format: Short story
Descriptor: Drugs as mind-expanders
Annotation:Medievalist rediscovers lost manuscript in which Roger Bacon provides the formula for mandragordeum, a drug that induces "transportation of the mind." Taking it, the experimenter finds himself freed from his body and journeying to Venus; a vivid vision of life on the second planet ends only when the drug wears off. Fearing addiction, he never tries the drug again, though he admits a temptation to more tripping.




Author: Harris, Clare Winger
Title: The diabolical drug
Journal: Amazing Stories, Vol. 4, No. 2, 156-161
Publisher: Experimenter Publishing Company, New York
Date: May 1929
Format: Short story
Descriptor: Drugs as mind-controllers
Annotation:Scientist develops a chemical which, by retarding the voltage of the brain's electrical activity, halts the aging process. An experiment on a human is performed, the subject being the scientist's beloved, who is six years older than he is; he intends to hold her at the same age until he has caught up. She sinks into a kind of stasis. Unable to perfect an antidote, he injects himself also, and the two of them enter a strange suspended animation in which extreme psychological effects of the metabolic slowdown manifest themselves.



Author: Huxley, Aldous
Title: Brave New World
Publisher: Chatto & Windus, London, England
Pages: 214 pp.
Date: 1932
Format: Novel
Descriptor: Drugs as panaceas
Annotation:In mechanized, standardized utopian world of the future, where human beings are synthetically produced in incubators and conditioned for optimum social stability, a drug called soma serves as the utopiate of the masses, distracting and tranquilizing those who might otherwise become restless in their too-comfortable lives.




Author: Keller, David H.
Title: The literary corkscrew
In: Wonder Stories, Vol. 5. No. 8, 867-873
Publisher: Continental Publications, New York
Date: March 1934
Format: Short story
Descriptor: Drugs as intelligence enhancers
Annotation:Satiric story. A professional writer discovers he can write only when in physical pain, and requires his wife to drive a corkscrew into his back to get him started. But the pain of the corkscrew is impossible to sustain for long, and they seek medical help. The doctor they consult discovers that it isn't the pain itself but rather certain hormones secreted as a response to the pain that encourages literary production, and synthesizes a drug that makes writing easier. Doctor takes his own drug and writes a best-seller.





Author: Fearn, John Russell
Title: He never slept
Journal: Astounding Stories, Vol. 13, No. 4, 56-67
Publisher: Street & Smith, New York
Date: June 1934
Format: Short story
Descriptor: Drugs as intelligence-enhancers
Annotation:Scientist concocts a protein-based drug that frees the subject from all need to sleep. Narrator takes the drug and enters into a condition of enhanced perceptivity in which he is capable of penetrating the visionary recesses of his own mind and visiting the dream-creating processes. The experience eventually exhausts him, but unable to give up use of the drug, he looks forward to death as the only release from its effects.




Author: Herbert, Benson
Title: The control drug
Journal: Wonder Stories, Vol. 6, No. 6, 669-675
Publisher: Continental Publications, New York
Date: November 1934
Format: Short story
Descriptor: Drugs as euphorics
Annotation:Scientist invents a xenon-derived drug that seems to offer a "paradise" effect—brief glimpses of the Divine, freedom from the material body, etc. But further research shows its dread long-term effects: "The stuff doesn't exalt you or energize you. . . What it does is to release the emotions from a lifetime of civilized control and suppression. It takes the bonds off secret desires. Its subtle physiological action leaves you with no control whatever." Naturally he destroys the drug and takes his own life.





Author: Hamilton, Edmond
Title: The truth gas
Journal: Wonder Stories, Vol. 6, No. 5, 1060-1071
Publisher: Continental Publications, New York
Date: February 1935
Format: Short story
Descriptor: Drugs as mind-controllers
Annotation:A scientist who believes that all sin and crime stem from deceptiveness perfects and releases into the atmosphere a drug that "causes a short-circuit between the brain's thought-centers and its motor-centers of speech" so that lying becomes impossible. The resulting compulsive honesty leads to impossible social situations as the whole veneer of tact and diplomacy vanishes; it becomes necessary to devise and release an antidote.




Author: Bartel, Philip J.
Title: The elixir of progress
Journal: Wonder Stories, Vol. 6, No. 11, 1286-1304
Publisher: Continental Publications, New York
Date: April 1935
Format: Short story
Descriptor: Drugs as euphorics
Annotation:Satiric story of the quest in the year 3903 for rediscovery of the lost ancient drug that provided stimulation and energy and delight to early man—coffee.