Monday, October 10, 2011

Mysterious Mondays: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Horror of the Heights"

From io9

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is of course best known for his Sherlock Holmes mystery series, but he also published some horror fiction, including "The Horror of the Heights", which can be read here.  Conan Doyle was a Scotsman who studied medicine and became a practicing physician, while still finding the time to write numerous novels and short stories.  In addition, this remarkable man was an avid sportsman, hired on as a ship's doctor for a while, and served as a volunteer doctor during the second Boer War, among other activities.  Although his preference was to write historical novels, Conan Doyle published stories in many different genres.  The mystery connected with this writer has to do with his name.  He was originally christened "Arthur Ignatius Conan", with Doyle as his surname.  How this surname became the compound "Conan Doyle" is uncertain, but that is the way everyone generally refers to him today.

"The Horror of the Heights" is one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's better efforts at horror fiction.  A number of his supernatural stories deal with the occult, which was popular during his day, and in which he had a serious interest, but the topic seems rather outdated now.  This tale concerns something more along the lines of science fiction, and being a man of science by training, Conan Doyle is actually able to make the premise sound somewhat plausible.  While this short story is a fascinating read, and there are others which are well-written ("Lot No. 249" is another good one), overall I prefer his Sherlock Holmes mysteries to his horror fiction.

From Wikipedia

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