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The Miracle of the Lily – Three Novelettes by Clare Winger Harris

Three classic novelettes of reincarnation, evolution and revolution by a pioneer of female science fiction writers.

Book Details

Book Details

Three classic novelettes of reincarnation, evolution and revolution by a pioneer of female science fiction writers.

A Certain Soldier (1927) – A story of reincarnation and ancient Rome
A novelette of six chapters

The Miracle of the Lily (1928) – Insects were, and still are, mankind’s greatest enemies, and will remain so for many years to come.
Chapter I – The Passing of a Kingdom
Chapter II – Man or Insect?
Chapter III – Lucanus the Last
Chapter IV – Efficiency Maximum
Chapter V – The Year 3928
Chapter VI – The Miracle
Chapter VII – Ex Terreno

The Ape Cycle (1930) – No more will man rule . . . From the ranks of his servants the apes, springs a new leader . . . .
Chapter I
Chapter II – The New Servants
Chapter III – A Tragedy
Chapter IV – A Moral Issue
Chapter V – From Brawn to Brain
Chapter VI – The Missing Link
Chapter VII – Open Revolt
Chapter VIII – A Rescue
Chapter IX – The Conference

Clare Winger Harris (1891-1968) was an early science fiction writer whose short stories were published during the 1920s. Her stories often dealt with characters on the “borders of humanity” such as cyborgs.

Harris began publishing magazine stories in 1926, and soon became well liked by readers. She was the first American woman to publish science fiction stories under her own name. Her writing career lasted until 1933.

The Miracle of the Lily – Three Novelettes contains 4 illustrations.

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Excerpt : The Miracle of the Lily

Chapter I

The Passing of a Kingdom

SINCE the comparatively recent resumé of the ancient order of agriculture I, Nathano, have been asked to set down the extraordinary events of the past two thousand years, at the beginning of which time the supremacy of man, chief of the mammals, threatened to come to an untimely end.

Ever since the dawn of life upon this globe, life, which it seemed had crept from the slime of the sea, only two great types had been the rulers; the reptiles and the mammals. The former held undisputed sway for eons, but gave way eventually before the smaller, but intellectually superior mammals. Man himself, the supreme example of the ability of life to govern and control inanimate matter, was master of the world with apparently none to dispute his right. Yet, so blinded was he with pride over the continued exercise of his power on Earth over other lower types of mammals and the nearly extinct reptiles, that he failed to notice the slow but steady rise of another branch of life, different from his own; smaller, it is true, but no smaller than he had been in comparison with the mighty reptilian monsters that roamed the swamps in Mesozoic times.

These new enemies of man, though seldom attacking him personally, threatened his downfall by destroying his chief means of sustenance, so that by the close of the twentieth century, strange and daring projects were laid before the various governments of the world with an idea of fighting man’s insect enemies to the finish. These pests were growing in size, multiplying so rapidly and destroying so much vegetation, that eventually no plants would be left to sustain human life. Humanity suddenly woke to the realization that it might suffer the fate of the nearly extinct reptiles. Would mankind be able to prevent the encroachment of the insects? And at last man knew that unless drastic measures were taken at once, a third great class of life was on the brink of terrestrial sovereignty.

Of course no great changes in development come suddenly. Slow evolutionary progress had brought us up to the point, where, with the application of outside pressure, we were ready to handle a situation, that, a century before, would have overwhelmed us.

I reproduce here in part a lecture delivered by a great American scientist, a talk which, sent by radio throughout the world, changed the destiny of mankind : but whether for good or for evil I will leave you to judge at the conclusion of this story.

“Only in comparatively recent times has man succeeded in conquering natural enemies; flood, storm, inclemency of climate, distance, and now we face an encroaching menace to the whole of humanity. Have we learned more and more of truth and of the laws that control matter only to succumb to the first real danger that threatens us with extermination? Surely, no matter what the cost, you will rally to the solution of our problem, and I believe, friends, that I have discovered the answer to the enigma.

“I know that many of you, like my friend Professor Fair, will believe my ideas too extreme, but I am convinced that unless you are willing to put behind you those notions which are old and not utilitarian, you cannot hope to cope with the present situation.

“Already, in the past few decades, you have realized the utter futility of encumbering yourselves with superfluous possessions that had no useful virtue, but which, for various sentimental reasons, you continued to hoard, thus lessening the degree of your life’s efficiency by using for it time and attention that should have been applied to the practical work of life’s accomplishments. You have given these things up slowly, but I am now going to ask you to relinquish the rest of them quickly; everything that interferes in any way with the immediate disposal of our enemies, the insects.”

“At this point, it seems that my worthy ancestor, Professor Fair, objected to the scientist’s words, asserting that efficiency at the expense of some of the sentimental virtues was undesirable and not conducive to happiness, the real goal of man. The scientist, in his turn, argued that happiness was available only through a perfect adaptability to one’s environment, and that efficiency sans love, mercy and the softer sentiments was the short cut to human bliss.

It took a number of years for the scientist to put over his scheme of salvation, but in the end he succeeded, not so much from the persuasiveness of his words, as because prompt action of some sort was necessary. There was not enough food to feed the people of the earth. Fruit and vegetables were becoming a thing of the past. Too much protein food in the form of meat and fish was injuring the race, and at last the people realized that, for fruits and vegetables, or their nutritive equivalent, they must turn from the field to the laboratory: from the farmer to the chemist. Synthetic food was the solution to the problem. There was no longer any use in planting and caring for food stuffs destined to become the nourishment of man’s most deadly enemy.

The last planting took place in 2900, but there was no harvest, the voracious insects took every green shoot as soon as it appeared, and even trees, that had previously withstood the attacks of the huge insects, were by this time, stripped of every vestige of greenery.

The vegetable world suddenly ceased to exist. Over the barren plains which had been gradually filling with vast cities, man-made fires brought devastation to every living bit of greenery, so that in all the world there was no food for the insect pests.

Excerpt From: Clare Winger Harris. “The Miracle of the Lily – Three Novelettes.”

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The Miracle of the Lily - Three Novelettes by Clare Winger Harris
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