Review of “Danger” by Fletcher Pratt

The unnamed narrator of this piece is an artist accompanying a scientific expedition to the South Pacific. The aged Professor Hertford is the expedition leader. The team includes Burgess, an entomologist; Howard, an ichthyologist; Greaves, a botanist; among others.

At one point, Burgess, trying to draw out Hertford, who is suffering from a bout of mal-de-mer, by talking about his specialty—insects—and the rising tide of their presence.

“Sooner or later,” Burgess says, “we will have to fight for our lives with them.”

Hertford doesn’t think insects will do man in (he probably means to include woman here). He thinks a new form of animal derived from protozoa will be the end of us.

The expedition first stops at Easter Island. The crew marvels as its barrenness, its lack not only of people, but of fish and animal life. They move on to nearby Sala-y-Gomez, a small uninhabited island.

Here, the narrator/artist begins sketching a seascape with a great rock on the shore. As he completes his sketch, he realizes, the rock is no longer in the same place. Is it his imagination? A trick of the light and tide?

Cries from his companions interrupt his thoughts. Sad news: Old Makoi, an Easter Islander, has been killed by a snake while fishing along the shore.

This is an old-fashion science fiction horror story. It’s a little dated. The tragedy of Easter Island is better understood now than it was in 1929 when the story was written. And if protozoa do humans in, it will probably be via disease.

Title: “Danger”
Author: Fletcher Pratt (1897-1956) and Irvin Lester (a pen name used by Fletcher Pratt. So, huh?)
First published: Amazing Stories July 1929
Source: ISFDB http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/title.cgi?54648
Read in: 101 Weird

© 2017 Denise Longrie

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