Using author's style to find the identity of America's 1st science fiction writer

#1
C C Offline
https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-tur...ion-writer

EXCERPTS: On November 22, 1820, the New York Evening Post ran a perfunctory book ad that was none too particular in its typesetting: WILEY & HALSTED, No. 3 Wall street, have just received SYMZONIA, or a voyage to the internal world, by capt. Adam Seaborn. Price $1. [...] this humble advert may herald the first American science-fiction novel. Although one might point to the crushingly dull “A Flight to the Moon,” from 1813, that text is more of a philosophical dialogue than a story, and what little story it has proves to be just a dream.

Symzonia; Voyage of Discovery” is boldly and unambiguously sci-fi. The book takes a deeply weird quasi-scientific theory and runs with it -- or, more accurately, sails with it, all the way to Antarctica. “Symzonia” is narrated by Captain Seaborn, who outfits a steam vessel for Antarctic exploration and hires a crew for a voyage that he is worryingly unforthcoming about...

[...] It is a timely sort of madness. “Symzonia” pivots off the widely circulated hollow-earth theories of Captain John Cleves Symmes, Jr., a hero of the War of 1812. The idea of a hollow earth was not new -- the astronomer Edmond Halley, among others, argued for the earth being composed of nesting spheres -- but Symmes added a compelling twist. He claimed that there were openings at the earth’s still undiscovered poles, and that an ambitious expedition could actually enter the internal world.

That is exactly what the narrator of “Symzonia” finds, and more. The earth proves to have a subbasement utopia of pale, wise beings who fear and marvel at their visitors. Symzonians live in a quasi-socialist society, dwell in houses whitewashed with liquified pearls, travel in airships, and are governed by a council of worthies and a “Best Man.”

Captain Seaborn, proudly recounting the outer world’s valiant deeds of conquest, unwittingly horrifies them. The Symzonians suspect that “Externals” like Seaborn are the descendants of a depraved race exiled from Symzonia thousands of years earlier. Inevitably, the explorers are ejected from this paradise; and Seaborn, back home, is swindled out of what seal pelts he did procure, and is reduced to selling his tale.

[...] Though a young Edgar Allan Poe likely read “Symzonia”—his first published story and his sole novel both hint at it -- the book itself received little attention. ... who wrote it? When “Symzonia” is attributed to anyone at all, it’s commonly credited to the hollow-earther John Cleves Symmes, Jr., himself. The reason is bewilderingly flimsy...

[...] There are, thankfully, better attribution tools now ... like JGAAP (Java Graphical Author Attribution Program) ... It can help identify a likely author by comparing the language of an unknown text with texts by other potential authors. ... So who are our suspects?

[...] I assembled texts from eighteen authors ... Then I hit the Process button, heard my computer whir, and waited. ... one author did leap to the forefront -- taking first rank in nearly every run, and second or third in the remainder. His name is Nathaniel Ames. “This scapegrace son of Fisher Ames deserves to be better known,” the historian Samuel Eliot Morison once mused, describing how “he left Harvard in his senior year (1815), and went to sea as a common sailor.”

Nathaniel Ames, the black sheep of a prominent family -- his father, a Federalist congressman, was offered Harvard’s presidency -- is exactly who you’d imagine writing a nautical literary satire. [...] Ames, who was born in 1796 and died in 1835, admitted that he was too wild for college. ... he spurned family and fortune to go to sea. ... Like many sci-fi novels, “Symzonia” isn’t so much about another world or the future as about the author’s world and its present. Ames, stranded and broke, perhaps recalled Captain Seaborn’s rueful final lines...
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#2
Zinjanthropos Offline
CC..... your writing is one of the most identifiable styles I’ve ever seen on the internet Smile . I say that as a compliment. So if I can do it, so can a machine.
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#3
C C Offline
(Nov 29, 2020 01:57 PM)Zinjanthropos Wrote: CC..... your writing is one of the most identifiable styles I’ve ever seen on the internet Smile . I say that as a compliment. So if I can do it, so can a machine.

I partly got it from Jack Vance. Have deviated to being far less ornate than him over the years, though.

(EDIT add-on): Geez, is that a cigar or cigarette in his hand? How'd he ever live to be 96?
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#4
Zinjanthropos Offline
(Nov 29, 2020 06:12 PM)C C Wrote: (EDIT add-on): Geez, is that a cigar or cigarette in his hand? How'd he ever live to be 96?

It’s spectacles.
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#5
C C Offline
(Nov 29, 2020 09:12 PM)Zinjanthropos Wrote:
(Nov 29, 2020 06:12 PM)C C Wrote: (EDIT add-on): Geez, is that a cigar or cigarette in his hand? How'd he ever live to be 96?

It’s spectacles.


Ah, good (the enlarged version of the pic). Toxic mold must be working over my eyes with a two-by-four as much as the memory.
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