H.G. Wells 1903 short story “The Valley of the Spiders” is somewhat short, slightly nonsensical, and more than a little anti-climatic, but considering it contains two of my favorite things – spiders and classic era weird tales – I felt it was worth writing at least a short article about. The story concerns a group of three men tracking what may be a runaway slave girl and her friends in what may be some semblance of the Old West. They arrive in a valley that appears to quite dead when they first encounter a snake, then a wild dog, and finally a wild boar running from, apparently, the breeze. Soon enough they discover it is not the wind that the beasts fear, but rather what it carries – the web-balloons of some species of giant, poisonous, and highly aggressive spiders. From there we follow the short trials of the men as they attempt to escape and make sense of what they’ve seen. Clocking in at just over ten pages the narrative of The Valley of the Spiders doesn’t do too much, and honestly, the whole piece comes across as a scientific paper gone pulp. More or less the story concerns the practice of spiders (common, smaller spiders rather than tarantulas and other large arachnids) of “ballooning”, that being creating an umbrella of silk and using the wind to transport young spiders to farther places than they could travel otherwise. This is a real practice that is easily seen anywhere spiders inhabit on warm summer days, and honestly enough does create kind of a neat scenario for a weird tale were it fleshed out slightly more, and perhaps the horror played at rather than the slave trade angle Wells seemed to be going for. - Aaron
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Book Description HarperCollins Distribution Services, 1974. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 6130380
Book Description HarperCollins Distribution Services, 1974. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0006130380