Because YOU demanded it**: the return of our semi-regular feature in which we marvel at how The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction‘s excellent On This Day function makes for fascinating reading and, occasionally throws up days with an infeasibly high level of cool people being born. And, one of those days – at the risk of disagreeing with the heir of Elendil – it is, in fact, this day.
Setting our TARDIS to ’30th November, Whenever’, our first stop is 1667, and the birth, in Dublin, Ireland, of satirist and poet Jonathan Swift, who gave us – among many fine and incisive works – Gulliver’s Travels.
Moving forward a couple of centuries, we arrive in Florida, Missouri, in 1835 to greet the arrival of one Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known to the world at large as Mark Twain – author of several American classics including, of special interest to Gateway readers, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.
Barely worth engaging the dematerialisation circuit to skip forward a scant four decades to 1874, and the birth of one of the great figures of 20th century history: Sir Winston Churchill. Quite apart from his extraordinary achievements in the political realm and his inspirational oratory, Churchill was responsible for a remarkable body of literary work. Although best known for his memoirs and histories, for which he received the Nobel Prize for Literature, he also wrote a novel: Savrola: A Tale of the Revolution in Laurania, described by The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction as ‘a Ruritanian story set in an imaginary European republic as a civil war rages’ – and therefore officially, ‘one of ours’!
Moving forward to 1937 – just three years before Churchill would take office and leave his indelible mark on world affairs – we find ourselves in South Shields, Tyne and Wear, for the birth of Ridley Scott, sculpter of SF cinema visions par excellence.
And finally, that noise you can hear is the TARDIS materialising in London in 1950, where the man who would help create one of the biggest franchises in the modern comics field, Chris Claremont, was born.
So. If you want a satirical novel about mutants sailing the Mississippi in an attempt to defeat the Nazis, stylishly filmed and available in a Director’s Cut, 30th November is your date. There must have been something in the water . . .