Readers and listeners know that we here at SciFi Pulse like a bit of Victorian Gothic. To that end, I happily present “Lot No. 249” by Arthur Conan Doyle as our Halloween treat.
Conan Doyle published “Lot No. 249” in Harper’s Magazine in 1892. It was a product of Egyptomania. Additionally, it was inspired by Conan Doyle’s personal interest in crime and the occult.
While “Lot No. 249” wasn’t the first mummy story in English literature, it was the first story to present a mummy as dangerous. Indeed, “Lot No. 249” was an ancient Terminator at six feet and seven inches tall.
Added to that, he didn’t lumber as mummies famously did in the old Universal and Hammer pictures. He chased his prey at a good clip.
That said, “Lot No. 249” wasn’t the real antagonist. If anything, “Lot No. 249” was one of the victims.
His outer sarcophagus was lost and with it, his true name. Readers learn only that he was a noble from the 11th dynasty. With his history erased, he can never rest in the afterlife.
The real villain of the piece is Edward Bellingham. In Bellingham, Conan Doyle gave his readers a Victorian prototype for Casper Gutman.
Finally, Conan Doyle’s world-building is superb. His readers get a real sense of place and time. Nineteenth-century Oxford and the character dynamics therein were evocative and well-drawn.
I’d like to thank Greg Wagland for his excellent narration on behalf of Magpie Audio. It was a real joy to revisit this classic tale for this spooky season. Once again, Happy Halloween from all of us here at SciFi Pulse.