One of the best parts about reading older fiction – say, the detective fiction of the 1880s or the pulp stories of the 1920s – is seeing into a world that is not our “currently believed to be” world. For example, the readers of H. P. Lovecraft’s “The Whisperer in Darkness” may have thought old HPL was making it up when he created a ninth planet in the solar system. Kiddies in one-room school houses (Yes, I’ve heard all the stories from my dad) were drawing pictures of the “eight” planets that had existed since 1846 when Alexis Bouvard detected some gravitational irregularities with the planet Uranus. That means my dad, grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather all lived in a society that believed in eight planets.
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