Ether Frolics: Nine Tales from the Etheric Explorers Club
The conceit of this collection of short stories, as expressed in the author’s foreword, is that an organization known as the Etheric Explorers Club was formed in the early 19th century. At that time parties sometimes included, for entertainment purposes, experimentation with a newly discovered liquid: ether. If the guests didn’t knock themselves out entirely by breathing the fumes, the results could be amusing to all. However, during the early years of the Second World War, the club headquarters had to be moved to avoid destruction by bombs. The author then reveals he has fictionalized certain of the organization’s archives for the readers’ pleasure.
Marlowe’s short stories include such entertaining titles as “The Mud Men of Tower Tunnel,” in which an engineer is brought into London in 1869 to advise on the Tower Tunnel, which was nearing completion. What he and a companion discover is a most shocking life (or death?) form. Other stories feature an ancient manuscript, a lost world, a Russian painter’s visions, an experiment that goes horribly wrong, and more delights. These are fun, light tales—nine altogether—that reveal a lively imagination and subtle humor.