I have at least two trips planned for the new year, and I’ll be traveling without ever leaving my desk chair for both.
The first is the next volume of the Phantom Traditions Library: After the End of the Line: Railroad Hauntings in Literature and Lore. So far, the PTL has focused on short fiction, though each volume includes an appendix of related non-fiction. After the End of the Line will be something a bit different. There will still be plenty of short fiction — all of it about haunted train tunnels or signal stations, phantom locomotives, or victims of the iron horse who come back as ghosts. But this volume will also include a few works of narrative poetry along with newspaper reports and other non-fiction about those same phenomena. Maybe more than any other kind of ghost story, the lines were very thin between fictional, poetic, and journalistic accounts of railroad hauntings during the 1800s/early 1900s. At least, it’s clear that there was a lot of cross-influence between them.
Here’s a mock-up of the cover:
This anthology is scheduled to arrive in summer, so there’s plenty of time before you need to swing by the depot to pick it up.
The other excursion is to a place that never was. And yet it appears on some maps of the Arctic! In a book chronicling his 1906 effort to reach the North Pole, the great explorer Robert Peary claimed he had spotted a significant landmass rising from the Arctic Sea. He named it Crocker Land, a nod to George Crocker, who had financed Peary’s expedition. The surface of the world was pretty much mapped by the early 1900s, and this would have been a very significant discovery. Yep, very significant if Peary hadn’t experienced a mirage — or wasn’t flat out lying, as many have since argued.
You see, subsequent searches for the place proved it wasn’t really there. Nonetheless, I’m fascinated by the polar regions, by the history of its exploration, and by this unique chapter of such exploration. At some point this year, I’ll start a page (one probably linked to other pages) charting the story of Crocker Land. Is there a history book here? Probably not. Others have already written that. Is there inspiration for some speculative fiction set in Crocker Land? Maybe an alternate history tale? Good heavens, yes! Look for my Charting Crocker Land project to be added to the For Fun and Edification wing of this website in the coming months.
What’s that you ask? Does the Crocker Land saga really fits with the rest of the Brom Bones Books website? It’s not especially ghostly, after all. But it is chilly and phantasmal! That’s close enough for me.