Friday, July 9, 2010

Blogging The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu by Sax Rohmer, Part Ten – “The Spores of Death”

“The Spores of Death” was the penultimate installment of Sax Rohmer’s serial, Fu-Manchu. First published in THE STORY-TELLER in June 1913, it later comprised Chapters 24-26 of the novel, The Mystery of Dr. Fu-Manchu (re-titled The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu for U. S. publication).

The story starts off appropriately with our narrator, Dr. Petrie acknowledging the storyline is drawing to a close and apologizing (very nearly breaking the literary equivalent of the Fourth Wall in so doing) for his haste in not better detailing characters and incidents as he was forced to maintain the breakneck pace of the events as they transpired.

Dr. Petrie then spends some much welcome time discussing the mysterious origins of Dr. Fu-Manchu. Petrie suggests the name (ridiculous to modern, informed readers) is an assumed one and disassociates him with the Young China movement (the Republicans who came to power after the fall of the Manchu Dynasty) as he had speculated early on.

The story itself leads the reader on a false trail (as we have seen previously, Rohmer relished violating genre expectations). A raid is conducted on Dr. Fu-Manchu’s Limehouse base of operations where Petrie is reunited with his beloved Karamaneh and her brother, Aziz. Just when the raid begins, Petrie, Nayland Smith, and Inspector Weymouth are forced to watch in horror as the Scotland Yard men walk into a trap in Fu-Manchu’s fungi cellars. As the poisonous spores bring about the rapid and painful death of Weymouth’s men, Dr. Fu-Manchu discards his honorable demeanor and reveals himself as a madman shouting, “They die like flies….I am the god of destruction!”

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