Monday, June 24, 2013

Happy Birthday, Ambrose Bierce!

Today is Ambrose Bierce's birthday. He was born on June 24, 1842, along Horse Cave Creek in Meigs County, Ohio, not far from where I write this. I can say today is his birthday rather than the anniversary of his birth because nobody knows that he died. He just disappeared in late 1913. Some people place the year of his death as 1914. That seems like overconfidence to me. For all we know, old Ambrose is still wandering around out there somewhere. Charles Fort, for example, speculated that someone in the great universe is collecting Ambroses. If you have collected a perfectly good Ambrose, wouldn't you want to preserve it for as long as you could?

Today is also the birthday of flying saucers. On June 24, 1947, Kenneth Arnold spotted the first lot of them while he was winging his way past Mount Rainier. As everyone now knows,  the alien pilots of those flying saucers like to abduct people. The first experiences people had with saucermen were not abductions however, but contact. George Adamski was the first and most famous of the contactees. Many years before that, he had served in the U.S. Army on the Mexican border. I wonder if he would have encountered Ambrose Bierce in either one of those places, either in Mexico or on a spaceship bound for Venus. If he did, he never let on as far as I know.

Happy Birthday, Ambrose Bierce!

(And Happy Birthday to the Flying Saucers, too.)

Copyright 2013 Terence E. Hanley


  1. We studied "Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge' when I was in secondary school. I read an anthology of Bierce's stories subsequently. A few in particular really stuck in my mind - one about a group of people waiting for a train in a state of ominous expectancy(?). I think the mc in this story recurred in several others, and they were all supernatural in tone - and the best stories in the collection, for my money. I would have liked to have read more of the same.

  2. Aonghus,

    Although Bierce is known for his Civil War stories, he actually wrote more fantasy, horror, and stories of the supernatural (in terms of numbers of stories). It's fitting that he would simply disappear, as if he were David Lang.