The Handyman, by Lester Barclay

This is the last reblog of a classic invisibility story! I think I’ve got a couple more that I haven’t blogged before to follow. Want to keep up my “blog post a day” streak for as long as possible!

Skulls in the Stars

Let’s tackle another invisibility story! This one is a little different, in that it is a story about an imaginary invisible friend!

“The Handyman,” by Lester Barclay, appeared in the October 1950 issue of Fantastic Adventures. It is short and sweet, so this will be a very short blog post! Spoilers follow… you can read the story on in advance if you like.

View original post 590 more words

Posted in Invisibility | Leave a comment

The Vanishing American, by Charles Beaumont

I found another invisibility story! This allows me to keep talking about invisibility for at least one more day, with a reminder that my book on the history and science of invisibility is now available.

This next invisibility story is a somewhat different creature than many of the previous ones we’ve discussed. Most of the tales I’ve considered have been science fiction, and dealt with the how and why of invisibility; “The Vanishing American,” by Charles Beaumont, is more of a parable. It appeared in the August 1955 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

I will discuss some spoilers below, so go track down the story first if you’re worried about them!

Continue reading
Posted in Invisibility, Weird fiction | Leave a comment

Why is the polar bear white? The optics of polar bear pelts

You can find amazing and wonderful things when you browse old science journals. And when I say “old,” I don’t mean that you even have to go back very far. While I was tracking down an article in the journal Applied Optics from 1980, I came across a paper by R. E. Grojean, J. A. Sousa, and M. C. Henry1, “Utilization of solar radiation by polar animals: an optical model for pelts.”

Yes, it’s a paper that looks at whether the fur of polar bears works as a solar heat converter!

The future of solar energy? Photograph by Alan Wilson, via Wikipedia.

You would think that this would be a relatively simple question to answer. We’re not talking quantum physics, we’re talking polar bear fur, but the exact optical purpose of polar bear fur, if any, has been surprisingly controversial — and as far as I can tell has not been solved! Let’s take a look at the history, the science and the mystery.

Continue reading
Posted in Animals, Optics | Leave a comment

Priestess of the Moon, by Ray Cummings

Running out of classic invisibility stories to reblog! With that in mind, I’m running out of times to remind people that my book on the history and science of invisibility is now available!

Skulls in the Stars

More invisibility? Okay, sure, why not.

I may be cursed to blog about invisibility in fiction for the rest of my life. While preparing a post about McGivern’s “The Visible Invisible Man,” I suddenly realized that there is another story about invisibility in the very same issue of Amazing Stories!

As you can see from the short description, “Priestess of the Moon,” by Ray Cummings, features a woman fighting against an invisible being before disappearing herself. It is in fact another invisibility story, and quite frankly a very silly one. Let’s take a look… spoilers again, though I don’t think anyone will be particularly upset in the case of this story.

View original post 1,765 more words

Posted in Invisibility | Leave a comment

Fake Book Titles Extravaganza, Part 7!

It’s time to compile all my fake book titles from social media again!  You can see compilation 1compilation 2compilation 3compilation 4compilation 5 and compilation 6 at the links. 

Somehow, @bhaal_spawn and I just keep doing these… and have been for years now! Without further ado, let’s begin. This first one was inspired by the takeover of Twitter by a certain person who has only made this cover more prophetic as time passes…

Original title: The Attack of the Giant Baby
Continue reading
Posted in ... the Hell?, Silliness | Leave a comment

Discussing Invisibility on Ologies!

All of you might be tired of hearing about my book at this point, but here’s another bit of fun news related to it: I joined Alie Ward on her great podcast Ologies to talk about “Invisible Photology,” aka invisibility!

I had to take a screenshot of the episode page to memorialize it here:

Alie is a really fantastic and fun interviewer and we had a really fun conversation about invisibility and all sorts of strange connections, including “transparent frogs, stealth bombers, and gorilla mischief.” If you’re not familiar with Ologies, it is a great podcast that features a different “-ology” each episode!

Please check it out, and let me know what you think!

Posted in Invisibility, Personal | Leave a comment

The Visible Invisible Man, by William P. McGivern

Yet another reblog of classic invisibility, from a fellow who wrote a few invisibility science fiction stories!

Skulls in the Stars

Here’s another invisibility story — again, my book on the history and physics of invisibility will be out next year!

The last we saw of William P. McGivern was his story “The Chameleon Man,” published in January of 1942. But it turns out that this wasn’t McGivern’s first invisibility story! That honor (presumably — he might still have an early one) goes to “The Visible Invisible Man,” published in the December 1940 issue of Amazing Stories.

Like McGivern’s later story, “The Visible Invisible Man” is also a comedy. I found it much more effective than the later one, though. You can read it here before reading my post if you want.

View original post 410 more words

Posted in Invisibility | Leave a comment

The Vanishers, by Arthur J. Burks

Another invisibility story! This one’s more of a stretch, but it’s a fun one! Keeping up my reminders that my book on the history and science of invisibility is available now!

Our next science fiction story related to invisibility is “The Vanishers,” by Arthur J. Burks! It appeared in the May, 1950 issue of Super-Science Stories; the cover is shown below.

I’ve actually had this story in my collection for quite some time, but hadn’t written about it, because at first glance it didn’t seem to be an invisibility story! You’d think with a title like “The Vanishers” it might be, but… after reading the story, I’m still not sure who or what “The Vanishers” refers to! But it nevertheless includes an invisible object as a key part of the story, so let’s take a look! I will of course include a bunch of spoilers, so track down the story first to read if you don’t wanna get spoiled.

Continue reading
Posted in Invisibility | Leave a comment

Junji Ito’s Tomie and Remina

I’ve been pretty obsessed with Junji Ito lately. I started out by purchasing two of his classics, Uzumaki and Gyo, and since then have been gobbling up various volumes and collections, even though every time I buy a new one I say “this is the last.” Ito’s manga is bizarre, graphic, imaginative, and at its best leaves you with stuff to ponder.

Today, I thought I’d talk a little bit about two of his volumes, which were published very far apart in time but have some interesting thematic relations. The two volumes are Tomie (1987-2000) and Remina (2004-2005).

The stories are very different, but both of them feature (and are named after) a woman who people become lethally obsessed over! By the end of this post, I’ll talk about how one of these stories has a very real-life scientific lesson, too.

Continue reading
Posted in Horror | Leave a comment

Cloak of Aesir, by Don A. Stuart

Let’s do another reblog of an invisibility story! Still on a blitz to make sure everyone knows about my book on the history and science of invisibility.

Skulls in the Stars

This is the last of my daily run of blog posts for now, marking the 30th post in a row! Most of them have been on invisibility in fiction, and we wrap with a fascinating example. I’ve still got more invisibility to post, but I won’t try to do them every day…

Is there a word for finding the correct thing by mistake? That is basically what happened with the next story of invisibility to discuss, “Cloak of Aesir,” by Don A. Stuart, published in the March 1939 issue of Astounding Science-Fiction.

So why was I mistaken? Well, here’s the description of “Cloak of Aesir” from the table of contents:

A man and the Sarn-Mother and a cloak of blackness— and the old Sarn-Mothcr couldn’t hate that human enemy!

The description of the “cloak of blackness” is what caught my attention, as it certainly sounds like something invisible-y! In…

View original post 2,120 more words

Posted in Invisibility | Leave a comment