Friday, November 13, 2015

"It Is a Funny Camera and No Mistake"

"The Prophetic Camera."
By Lance(lot de Giberne) Sieveking (1896-1972).
First appearance: The English Review, November 1922.
Also published in The Living Age, January 13, 1923; The Strand Magazine, February 1923; and reprinted in Strange Tales from The Strand, 1991 (HERE).
Short short story (7 pages).
Online HERE.
"I'm positive it ain't no good knowing the future unless it's pleasant."
In his wife's absence Mr. Muffle is attending their pawn shop when a "miserable-looking man" convinces him to take a decrepit camera for five shillings; when she returns, Mrs. Muffle is not pleased, expressing her feelings with a snort and a "contemptuous little laugh"—but, as we'll see, neither of them could ever have imagined just what that old camera is capable of.
Purely by coincidence, of course, an episode of The Twilight Zone featured a camera with disturbingly similar capabilities; Rod Serling tells us about it:
. . . "Object known as a camera, vintage uncertain, origin unknown. But for the greedy, the avaricious, the fleet of foot, who can run a four-minute mile so long as they're chasing a fast buck, it makes believe that it's an ally, but it isn't at all. It's a beckoning come-on for a quick walk around the block—in The Twilight Zone." — IMDb HERE
- Lance Sieveking was quite active in the halcyon days of radio; see Wikipedia HERE.
- Only one of Sieveking's stories seems to have appeared in EQMM (April 1954, online HERE), "The Bookhawker," first published somewhere in 1932.
- Other information about Sieveking for you datajunkies: FictionMags HERE, IMDb HERE, the ISFDb HERE, and the SFE HERE.

The bottom line: The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people's reality.
— Susan Sontag

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