Filing Cabinet of the Damned

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Swooning a Nerdly Swoon

It came, it came, it came!

They teased me for years. At last it has been printed!

The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana by Jess Nevins has hit the world with a sickening thud, well over a year after it was first supposed to be published. And I couldn’t be happier.

The book is an exhaustive guide to the characters, stories, and settings of nineteenth century popular literature, with a focus on the fantastic and mysterious. It has big fat entries on the obvious characters such as Dracula and Sherlock Holmes, as well as obscure characters like Father Ambrosio and Gideon Barr. The book also contains entries on recurring motifs and themes of the era such as anarchism, “Future War” books, and that lovely racist motif of The Yellow Peril.

Originally The Encyclopedia was a website. The site still exists, though it's on Geocities, so it overloads and crashes all the dang time. I read the whole damn thing from front to back one very boring winter, and loved every bit of it. To have the site radically expanded and put into a book is a joy. And it’s a big mamma-jamma volume.

Good lord, what a resource. Flip it open at random and you’ll certainly find a lengthy entry on a story you’ve never heard of, by an author whose name means nothing to you, that is still dang interesting.

This book plus a stack of silver age comics (and a dime bag of kind bud) could very well make you the next Grant Morrison or Alan Moore.

“Whoa…Spring-Heeled Jack meets…uh…Father Rodin…and then…the Star-Spangled Kid shows up…and…uh…add a talking horse, and it’s Vertigo Time, baby!”