Moreau’s Other Island

Moreau’s Other Island
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Welcome to Dr Moreau’s other island. Place of untold horros. Home of the Beast Men…Available for the first time in eBook.He stands very tall, long prosthetic limbs glistening in the harsh sun, withered body swaying, carbine and whip clasped in artificial hands. Man-beasts cower on the sand as he brandishes his gun in the air.He is Dr Moreau, ruler of the fabulous, grotesque island, where humans are as brutes and brutes as humans, where the future of the entire human race is being reprogrammed. The place of untold horrors. The place of the New Man.


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Moreau’s Other Island


Even if an author writes something as far-fetched as possible, still something of his family influence will remain.

And in the case of this novel, what remains is deliberate.

I am fortunate in having two sons and two daughters. My eldest daughter is very close to me (and indeed lives nearby). When she was still in utero, a drug called thalidomide was being touted, said to alleviate the suffering of morning sickness in pregnant women. Thalidomide was available between 1957 and 1962, after which it was banned.

Fortunately, our doctor did not prescribe the drug for my wife. It emerged that Thalidomide was in fact a teratogen – a substance causing terrible birth defects in children. Had it been prescribed, then my dear daughter would likely have been malformed from birth. All these years later, I rejoice still that she was spared any such deformities.

The dictator in this story is not so lucky. Mortimer Dart, who has inherited the island invented by Mr H.G. Wells, has to wear metal prostheses; he has suffered from the malevolent effects of Thalidomide. And Dart himself behaves much like a teratogen upon the creatures he rules over on his island – the Beast People.

It has always been a struggle to have any novel in the fantasy or science-fiction genres reviewed in newspapers or journals. This novel proved more fortunate than most. The elegant American hardback, which was first published by Simon & Schuster, quotes from four British reviews. Those reviews between them convey much of the kind reception of the book:

‘For a good yarn in an old style - and I do intend a compliment - no need to go further than Brian Aldiss’s descendant of Dr Moreau, the wicked man in the H.G. Wells story who first brought the concept of genetic engineering to the horrified eyes of middle-class Edwardians... But this creaky stuff isn’t really the point of the book: its pleasures are to enjoy the old-fashioned virtue of pace and narration, to be let up and let down by the pulling of the strings, to smell the heat and the rank vegetation of a Pacific island.’

Manchester Guardian

‘A sprightly homage to H.G. Wells’s fable about scientific irresponsibility, first published in 1896 … Aldiss has glossed ‘Frankenstein’ similarly and though he touches nothing he does not adorn, he’s onto an easy winner here, for simply restating this nineties theme in the eighties says a lot about the progress of notions and the notions of progress.’

Sunday Times

What the factual Brian Aldiss would add to these comments is that throughout this story a global war is in progress, emphasising the ready militarism of the West. The Beast People are among its victims.

Brian Aldiss

Oxford, 2013

To sink below the surface of the ocean was to enter a world of sound. Much of the sound originated from organic beings, for ever transmitting their signals and necessities in harmonics which ranged through a scale commensurate with their environment, from shrillest, fastest squeak to deepest grunt. No one ear in that great element could encompass the span of frequencies involved.

Near the surface of the ocean, the sounds were light and many, and the organisms transmitting them similarly multitudinous and small. Lower, where larger fish swam, a deeper note prevailed. Lower still, deeper yet. As the light faded, as pressure increased towards the submerged valleys and hills of the ocean bed, the sounds became infrequent and acquired a lugubrious note in keeping with their surroundings.

Another range of sounds also persisted. It issued from another order of existence entirely: from the inorganic, from the mantle of water which moved ceaselessly over the drowned landscapes of its domain. These throatless cadences had been audible almost since the beginning of time, certainly long before any stirrings of life. Currents, waves, tides, sunken rivers, sunken lakes and seas, all served as restless atmosphere to a world remote from the sentient creatures whose existences were confined to exposed territories outcropping above the planetary waters.

This ocean was of considerable depth. Its dimensions extended for thousands of miles in all directions. It occupied one-third of the surface of the planet, covering an area greater than that of all the exposed lands. A philosophical observer might regard it as the subconscious of the world, contrasting it to the exposed land area, which might – in the light of this rather whimsical notion – be considered as the seat of a fitful conscious.

In the aqueous subconscious of the planet all was as usual, all as it had been for millions of years. On land, away in another element, the teeming individual awarenesses of the dominant species were in more than normal ferment. Their actions were full of sound and fury. They had just launched themselves into a global war which threatened to lay waste much of the land area, besides bringing about their own extinction.

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