Friday, June 18, 2021

"It Was Just a Plain, Ordinary, Everyday Electric Push-button"

"The Doorbell."
By David H. Keller (1880-1966).
Original illustration by Lumen Winter (1908-82; HERE).
First appearance: Wonder Stories, June 1934.
Reprints page (HERE).
Short story (10 pages as a PDF).
Online at Faded Page (HERE).
     "Brother was dead and Mother was almost dead, but she managed to gasp out what had happened."

Even the most harmless technology can turn lethal when it becomes a means to exact revenge . . . .

Principal characters:
~ Jacob Hubler:
  "Why didn't you use the gun?"
~ Henry Cecil:
  "There would have been no originality in it."
~ Doctor Murdock:
  "He's a good physician and I have the greatest confidence in him. There's no occasion for him to worry."

References and resources:
- "a Rolls-Royce": For decades the world has regarded a Rolls as the very emblem of wealth:
  "Rolls-Royce was a British luxury car and later an aero-engine manufacturing business established in 1904 in Manchester, United Kingdom by the partnership of Charles Rolls and Henry Royce. Building on Royce's reputation established with his cranes they quickly developed a reputation for superior engineering by manu-facturing the 'best car in the world.' The First World War brought them into manufacturing aero-engines. Joint development of jet engines began in 1940 and they entered production. Rolls-Royce has built an enduring reputation for development and manufacture of engines for defence and civil aircraft" (Wikipedia HERE).
- "auditory hallucinosis": Often called "hearing voices":
  "An auditory hallucination, or paracusia, is a form of hallucination that involves perceiving sounds without auditory stimulus. A common form of auditory halluci-nation involves hearing one or more talking voices, and this is known as an auditory verbal hallucination. This may be associated with psychotic disorders, most notably schizophrenia, and holds special significance in diagnosing these conditions. How-ever, individuals without any psychiatric disease whatsoever may hear voices, including (but not limited to) those under the influence of mind-altering substances" (Wikipedia HERE).
- "should be good for cholera": Depending on where the patient lives, it could be fatal:
  "Cholera is an infection of the small intestine by some strains of the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. Symptoms may range from none, to mild, to severe. Cholera affects an estimated 3–5 million people worldwide and causes 28,800–130,000 deaths a year. Although it is classified as a pandemic as of 2010, it is rare in high income countries" (Wikipedia HERE).
- "an electromagnet": You probably haven't realized it, but there are many electromagnets influencing your life at this very moment:
  "An electromagnet is a type of magnet in which the magnetic field is produced by an electric current. Electromagnets usually consist of wire wound into a coil. A current through the wire creates a magnetic field which is concentrated in the hole, denoting the center of the coil. The magnetic field disappears when the current is turned off. The wire turns are often wound around a magnetic core made from a ferromagnetic or ferrimagnetic material such as iron; the magnetic core concentrates the magnetic flux and makes a more powerful magnet. The main advantage of an electromagnet over a permanent magnet is that the magnetic field can be quickly changed by controlling the amount of electric current in the winding. However, unlike a permanent magnet that needs no power, an electromagnet requires a continuous supply of current to maintain the magnetic field" (Wikipedia HERE).
- Writing in much the same vein as Poe but without his literary skills, David H. Keller had his fantasies often take a gruesome turn; see Wikipedia (HERE), the SFE (HERE), The Encyclo-pedia of Fantasy (HERE), and the ISFDb (HERE).

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