Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Book Review: The Horror of the Heights

The Horror of the Heights and Other Tales of Suspense
Arthur Conan Doyle
Fantasy, science fiction, horror

Conan Doyle was a full-fledged genius story-teller; you only have to read the work of his competitors to realize that. Well . . . even Homer nods. The tales in The Horror of the Heights are largely forgettable and largely forgotten. To be fair, these stories would have seemed much more original and shocking when they were first published. On balance, though, these remain minor works. 

The exception is the remarkable short story "Danger!", published a few months before World War I broke out, in which Doyle forecast--with breathtaking and uncanny accuracy--the U-boat strategy that Germany would follow. Apparently a number of admirals reacted: they huffed and puffed and pooh-poohed about how it would never happen, the whole thing was balderdash, jolly bad show . . . but it happened anyway. The collection is worth having for this story alone.


  1. Was "Horror of the Heights" the early airplane story where the narrator discovers there are giant air-monsters living above the clouds? (Which we can't see from the ground for some reason?) I thought that was kind of blah.

    1. That's the one. The others are similarly anticlimactic. The man who discovers that (gasp) the mummy walks. The lady who's an evil mesmerist. I expect they would have seemed less blah when published.