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Read by Ghizela Rowe, Gideon Wagner & Richard Mitchley (Unabridged: 48mins)
Edward Page Mitchell was born in Bath, Maine on 24th March 1852 into a wealthy family. When he was eight the family moved to a house on New York’s famed Fifth Avenue.
In 1863 he witnessed the Draft Riots and in the aftermath Mitchell's father moved the family to Tar River, North Carolina. It was there, at the age of fourteen, that his letters were first published in the local newspaper The Bath Times.
In 1872, at age twenty, whilst on a train journey to Bath, Maine, a hot cinder from the engine's smokestack flew in through the window blinding his left eye. After several weeks, while doctors attempted to restore his sight, his uninjured right eye underwent sympathetic blindness. He was now completely blind. His burnt left eye eventually regained its sight, but his uninjured right eye remained blind and was later replaced with a prosthetic glass eye. While recovering from this surgery, Mitchell wrote his dazzling story ‘The Tachypomp’.
Mitchell’s influence on science fiction writing is incredible and pre-dated many major themes. He wrote about a man made invisible, a time-travel machine, a thinking computer, teleportation, superior mutants and mind transfer. Add to this other stories which predicted travel by pneumatic tube, electrical heating, newspapers printed at home, food-pellet concentrates, international broadcasts, and suspended animation through cryogenics and they amount to talents that are not as publicly lauded as they should be.
Edward Page Mitchell died of a cerebral hemorrhage in New London, Connecticut on 22nd January 1927. He was 76.
The Tachypomp is a glorious mixture of a youth looking to impress his prospective father-in-law with a seemingly outlandish solution to a scientific problem.