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In Search of the Unknown
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In Search of the Unknown

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Author: Robert W. Chambers
Publisher: Hyperion, 1974
Harper & Brothers, 1904
Series: Hyperion Classics of Science Fiction: Book 13
Book Type: Novel
Genre: Fantasy
Sub-Genre Tags: Romantic Fantasy
Comic Fantasy
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Synopsis

The book follows a young man who works for the Bronx Zoo as an ornithologist. He gets sent on exotic travels around the world as part of his job. He has strange adventures, or hilarious clamity, during his search for odd and extinct animals that are supposed to still exist. He can never quite realize his goal, but always finds a pretty girl to fall in love with, only to have her wisked away at the last moment.


Excerpt

Because it all seems so improbable-so horribly impossible to me now, sitting here safe and sane in my own library-I hesitate to record an episode which already appears to me less horrible than grotesque. Yet, unless this story is written now, I know I shall never have the courage to tell the truth about the matter-not from fear of ridicule, but because I myself shall soon cease to credit what I now know to be true. Yet scarcely a month has elapsed since I heard the stealthy purring of what I believed to be the shoaling undertow-scarcely a month ago, with my own eyes, I saw that which, even now, I am beginning to believe never existed. As for the harbor-master-and the blow I am now striking at the old order of things-But of that I shall not speak now, or later; I shall try to tell the story simply and truthfully, and let my friends testify as to my probity and the publishers of this book corroborate them. On the 29th of February I resigned my position under the government and left Washington to accept an offer from Professor Farrago-whose name he kindly permits me to use-and on the first day of April I entered upon my new and congenial duties as general superintendent of the water-fowl department connected with the Zoological Gardens then in course of erection at Bronx Park, New York. For a week I followed the routine, examining the new foundations, studying the architect's plans, following the surveyors through the Bronx thickets, suggesting arrangements for water-courses and pools destined to be included in the enclosures for swans, geese, pelicans, herons, and such of the waders and swimmers as we might expect to acclimate in Bronx Park. It was at that time the policy of the trustees and officers of the Zoological Gardens neither to employ collectors nor to send out expeditions in search of specimens. The society decided to depend upon voluntary contributions, and I was always busy, part of the day, in dictating answers to correspondents who wrote offering their services as hunters of big game, collectors of all sorts of fauna, trappers, snarers, and also to those who offered specimens for sale, usually at exorbitant rates. To the proprietors of five-legged kittens, mangy lynxes, moth-eaten coyotes, and dancing bears I returned courteous but uncompromising refusals-of course, first submitting all such letters, together with my replies, to Professor Farrago.

Copyright © 1904 by Robert W. Chambers


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