The Disintegration Machine is a very short story written by Arthur Conan Doyle. It was first published in Strand Magazine in January 1929.
The story centers around the discovery of a machine capable of disintegrating objects and reforming them as they were.
This short story is a part of the "Challenger series", a collection of stories about the wealthy eccentric adventurer Professor Challenger.
Edward Malone, the narrator of The Lost World, the novel in which Challenger first appeared, described his first meeting with the character: His appearance made me gasp. I was prepared for something strange, but not for so overpowering a personality as this. It was his size, which took one's breath away – his size and his imposing presence. His head was enormous, the largest I have ever seen upon a human being. I am sure that his top hat, had I ventured to don it, would have slipped over me entirely and rested on my shoulders.
He had the face and beard, which I associate with an Assyrian bull; the former florid, the latter so black as almost to have a suspicion of blue, spade-shaped and rippling down over his chest. The hair was peculiar, plastered down in front in a long, curving wisp over his massive forehead.
The eyes were blue-grey under great black tufts, very clear, very critical, and very masterful. A huge spread of shoulders and a chest like a barrel were the other parts of him which appeared above the table, save for two enormous hands covered with long black hair. This and a bellowing, roaring, rumbling voice made up my first impression of the notorious Professor Challenger. He was also a pretentious and self-righteous scientific jack-of-all-trades.
Although considered by Malone's editor, Mr McArdle, to be "just a homicidal megalomaniac with a turn for science", his ingenuity could be counted upon to solve any problem or get out of any unsavoury situation, and be sure to offend and insult several other people in the process.
Challenger was, in many ways, rude, crude, and without social conscience or inhibition. Yet he was a man capable of great loyalty and his love of his wife was all encompassing.
Like Sherlock Holmes, Professor Challenger was based on a real person — in this case, a professor of physiology named William Rutherford, who had lectured at the University of Edinburgh while Conan Doyle studied medicine there.
"A very enjoyable tale and an easy listen that has reignited my interest in Conan Doyle's work." (The Cult Den)
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A final hurrah for Professor Challanger
Yes, The author is brilliant and the narrator added appropriate amounts of dramatic performance to make this an enjoyable listen.
A bit less than what I had expected. It seemed more like a small scene in a larger story and barely worthy of existing on its own. Trivial might be a good description of the story. Entertaining in spots - yet still inconsequential.
Challenger's blustering argument with - well, about everyone.
The story is so short and trivial, it might make a Twilight Zone episode, but that's about it. Pay to see it, probably not.
A somewhat interesting morning in the life of a far more interesting character. I had hoped for something better for the Professor's final story appearance. Interesting if you are a Challenger fan, but beyond that, probably not worth your time.
- Richard S. Swol