Online Books recently catalogued The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century, which it had spotted in a nice clean .TXT version at Gutenberg. A fascinating curiosity, it seems, is Mrs. Loudon’s The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century (1827). A lively proto-steampunk and partly aerial adventure by all accounts, albeit stretching over three volumes. And perhaps thus a possibility for adaptation to expand Kipling’s Aerial Board of Control (“With the Night Mail”) universe, on which Tentaclii has had several posts.
Three volumes is a bit daunting though. Has it been abridged? Yes, it has, “The only modern edition is abridged” says L.W. Currey, but doesn’t name the edition. Amazon reveals this as a “University of Michigan Press; Abridged edition (1995)”, aka “Ann Arbour”. Google Books reveals it was a paperback and also “illustrated”.
The SF Encyclopedia has “one of the very earliest Proto SF texts … a somewhat melodramatic plot”. Sounds great, and apparently lots of early sci-fi inventiveness too.
The SF Encyclopedia perhaps usefully comments on the University of Michigan edition is a “much cut bowdlerization”, basing this on one negative review. Some 100 pages cut and touches of new smoothing added at the joins, it seems. I’m fine with that, for reading enjoyment rather than scholarship. If the feminists who claim her (very much ‘in passing’) want to produce a sumptuous critical edition of the three volume table-trembler, then go ahead.
It looks like the abridged University of Michigan edition sells for £30 on eBay, and would be tricky to get via Amazon. Since there’s Amazon’s usual utter confusion on editions, and you might end up buying some public domain shovelware you could get free elsewhere.
Archive.org refuses a search for “The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century”, presumably because of the ! mark, and has “No results matched your criteria” for “A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century” in the title. So it’s difficult to compare editions there. But eventually, via Google and then an author search, deep down the Archive.org results (she wrote a lot about gardening after her marriage to a botanist) one finds the University of Michigan Press edition is available to borrow.
Also there is an 1828 second edition of the three-volume work: I, II, and III. But Gutenberg’s clean .TXT compilation of all three volumes will be preferred for some e-ink devices such as the original Kindle 3. This, together with judicious skimming, is perhaps the best option for reading.
I should also note the 18 hour LibriVox recording, which again is a bit daunting.
It never seems to have been adapted for media or comics.
I’m not alone in only just hearing about this novel. A 2018 blog post by Gothic Wanderer (not linked due to absolutely massive plot spoilers) remarks that she is vastly superior to Mary Shelley. And, yet despite being claimed by feminists…
The novel has received almost no critical attention. I have spent twenty years reading and studying Gothic fiction and yet I only learned of the novel’s existence in the last year. It is time for it to be studied more.
S.T. Joshi observes, in his weighty survey Icons of Horror and the Supernatural, that Loudon does not share Shelley’s radical politics — which may perhaps explain some of the neglect. Joshi also points up a few of the horror passages, before passing on to Poe in his survey of early mummies.
It seems that Lovecraft and his circle did not know the novel.