Monday, October 26, 2015

Botanical Fiction Database

I don't ordinarily provide links to other sites, but recently I found one that probably every fan of fantasy and science fiction should know about. The site itself is called The Fish in Prison. The page to which I'd like to refer you is called "Botanical Fiction." The URL is as follows (click on it for the link):

The author of the site is Dr. Timothy S. Miller of Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. Dr. Miller received his Ph.D. at the University of Notre Dame. If he'll accept the honor, we'll call him a Hoosier.

The Botanical Fiction Database isn't quite a database yet. Dr. Miller calls it instead a "Timeline of Botanical Fictions." It begins with "Rappaccini's Daughter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne, published in 1844 and reprinted in Weird Tales in May 1928. There are many other stories from Weird Tales in Dr. Miller's list, including "The Blood Flower" by Seabury Quinn, which was reprinted in The Adventures of Jules de Grandin, a book from one of my recent postings. In fact, a lot of the stories on his list are from Weird Tales. The John Carstairs series by Frank Belknap Long is not. This is the first I have heard of the series. It's about a botanical detective. As a forester, part-time botanizer, reader of detective fiction, and (bewildered) explorer of the mysteries of life, I want to read the series exactly right now.

I have written a little about plants in two of my last three postings. They have led me first in an unintended way, then in an intended way, to today's posting. By the way, I wrote more on plants in "Trees and Other Plants on the Cover of Weird Tales" on February 11, 2014. Click on the title for a link.

Copyright 2015 Terence E. Hanley


  1. There seems to be a fairly substantial sub-genre on this subject. Recent anthologies have included "Botanica Delira: More Stories of Strange, Undiscovered and Murderous Vegetation", "Flora Curiosa: Cryptobotany, Mysterious Fungi, Sentient Trees and Deadly Plants in Classic Science Fiction and Fantasy", and "Arboris Mysterius: Stories of the Uncanny and Undescribed From the Botanical Kingdom", all titles adopting the Latin nomenclature used in the classification of plants. And, although from a film and not a pulp, let's not forget the Mariphasa Lupina Lumina from Universal's "Werewolf of London" (1935). Also, Bloch's "Black Lotus" comes to mind.

    1. John,

      The words jump out at me: strange, undiscovered, crypto-, mysterious, uncanny, undescribed. They indicate what must be a common feeling that we share the world with living things that we find alien, perhaps beyond comprehending. That makes me think that a catalog of alien plants from Star Trek might make a good article.

      Thanks for writing.


  2. A collection of the John Carstairs stories by Long is available from Ramble House.