As published in The Iron Republic (Heathen Edition):

We’re in agreement with The Tampa Tribune: this is an “unusually interesting” story1Tampa Involved in a Thrilling Tale. (1902, February 2). The Tampa Morning Tribune 8(29). A9.—for several reasons.

First, its general setup is, in some ways, similar to Edgar Rice Burroughs’ The Land That Time Forgot, which would arrive 16 years after this story, but whereas Burroughs ventures into Antarctic waters and discovers an uncharted island filled with dinosaurs, Richard Jameson Morgan ventures into—and through—Antarctic waters to discover an uncharted and bustling, highly-advanced utopian society.

The label “utopian,” of course, being subjective as one man’s utopia is another man’s dystopia. A point Morgan cleverly examines via a religious zealot named Moses whom our main character J. E. Barrington encounters on a train near the end of the story.

Second, that brief interaction between Moses and Barrington addresses far more than the dichotomy of opposing utopian ideals as Moses wholly embodies the tangible dictum “seeing is believing.” Religious fanatic though he is, he limits the Bible to “Divine Allegory” since his circumnavigation of the Iron Republic failed to produce an Africa, Asia, Italy, or Greece. And since he could not look upon those countries himself, then the Bible’s stories are, as per his logic, just that: stories—set in fictional lands. Anyone claiming otherwise is peddling “scholastic lies to deceive the credulous and make foundation for evil practices.” And that’s food for thought because it presents you with the challenge: why do you believe what you believe? And how do you respond when someone counters your beliefs with theirs, especially when they have seen and experienced that which you have not? Inversely, how do you respond when someone denies that which you know to be truth? Do you respond the same way that Barrington responds to Moses?

Third, and lastly, the fact that this entire story came from the mind of an inventor-newspaperman-minister who only ever wrote one novella—this one—published as a serial in Florida Magazine from February through November 1902.

While most of the story is a lengthy discourse regarding the politics, economy, and government of The Iron Republic, enough sci-fi and forward-thinking is peppered throughout to make you double and triple check its original year of publication: 1902.

But one example being the paper napkins that Kook Science notes in their critique of the book: “The Iron Republic itself is what must be seen to be a communist utopia with . . . enough paper napkins for all.” They’re being jocular, of course, but the paper napkin disposal process that Morgan describes absolutely made us do a double take: “They were chemically cleansed and went into pulp again at the factory and so were used over and over.” Paper recycling. In 1902. Morgan was most certainly looking ahead. . . .

Now, as for the text, we took issue with Morgan’s original six-chapter structure. Why? Because as we first assembled this edition, the original Chapter 3 was 36 pages, and Chapter 5 was a staggering 60 pages. Given that this is a novella, 60 pages in a single chapter seems a bit tedious and unwieldy, especially considering the information conveyed in that chapter, and because nearly all of the other chapters were less than 10 pages each, so we have fractionated Chapters 3 and 5 utilizing natural narrative break points in order to make the text more manageable, resulting in a new chapter total of 13.

For transparency’s sake, here is our breakdown:

Chapters 1 and 2 are the same as the original serial.

Chapter 3 has become Chapters 3 through 6.

Chapter 4 is the same, but is now Chapter 7.

Chapter 5 has become Chapters 8 through 12.

And what was originally titled “Conclusion,” the sixth and final chapter, is now Chapter 13.

We’ve also corrected numerous instances throughout the story in which Morgan allowed two characters to speak dialogue within the same sentence or paragraph, which we always find maddening when you inevitably find yourself asking, “Wait: who’s saying what?”

Further, we have collected and included three additional Morgan pieces that were published alongside the original serial in Florida Magazine. The first being a brief biographical sketch of Morgan titled “A Many-Sided Man” that provides the most information our research has been able to uncover about the can-do Floridian jack of all trades. The second and third being his poems “Ah the Days.” and “Them Sweet Old Days.”

(Forward-thinking in his fiction, but backward-looking in his poetry?)

All together, our edition includes everything contributed by, and concerning, Richard Jameson Morgan that was published in Florida Magazine in 1902.

With that, enjoy!


The Iron Republic by Richard Jameson Morgan (Heathen Edition)