Research Reads: May
The internet is a vast and wonderful place that provides a lot of information, which means it’s a great place to find ideas for stories or story elements.
Here’s a list of topics that have caught my attention in the last month. (Initial links are provided along with any additional research I may have done.)
The Forgotten Story of the Radium Girls, Whose Deaths Saved Thousands of Workers’ Lives
Warning: the article contains some grainy, yet still gruesome pictures of some of the cancers the women developed.
The abstract on the article sums this up better than I can: “During World War I, hundreds of young women went to work in clock factories, painting watch dials with luminous radium paint. But after the girls—who literally glowed in the dark after their shifts—began to experience gruesome side effects, they began a race-against-time fight for justice that would forever change US labor laws.”
Wonderfully, this is a general summary of a book on the same topic—The Radium Girls by Kate Moore. I know what I’m adding to my Want to Read list.
Aside from the nonfiction account being a fascinating story to tell, there are reminders here about untested new technologies, the hierarchy of labor, and the greed of corporations. (Seriously, can you imagine being told that the “best practice” of your job painting with radium is to lick your paintbrush to a fine point?)
If you don’t want to commit to the book, but are interested in the topic, here are options for further reading:
- Undark and the Radium Girls by Alan Bellows for Damn Interesting
- The Radium Girls via Atomic Heritage Foundation (includes impact on the Manhattan Project)
- Waterbury’s Radium Girls via Connecticut History (information on Radium Girls in CT, including one who survived until 2014!)
Mickey Mouse WWII Gas Masks
A child's gas mask during WWII. pic.twitter.com/HKVrDvE7fg
— History In Pictures (@HistoryInPix) April 22, 2017
Technically this picture was posted at the end of April, but I haven’t been able to get this creepy image out of my head. It also led to me researching what the heck these Disney World War II antiquities actually are.
Designed following the attack on Pearl Harbor, 1,000 of these masks were produced for toddlers in 1942. They weren’t needed in the States, and only a few of these terrifying relics remain.
For further reading:
- Objects of Intrigue: Mickey Mouse Gas Mask by Allison Meier for Atlas Obscura
- Did you know Walt Disney designed the world’s weirdest gas mask? by John Kelly for The Washington Post (contains good historical information on the lack of distribution of gas masks in the US)
- Somehow This WWII Mickey Mouse Gas Mask Was Supposed to be Less Creepy by Leslie Horn for Gizmodo (a lot of the same info as in the first article, but I just really appreciate the title)
Time Travel: A Conversation Between a Scientist and a Literature Professor
An interesting conversation about the “realities” of time travel and how time travel works in narrative fiction (not just in speculative fiction about traveling through time, but the way time is manipulated in narrative forms). It’s a pretty good primer for discussing time travel, and thinking about how to use time travel in different narratives. (They also discuss my preferred time travel theory—parallel timelines—which just makes more sense and is much less headachy than closed time loops (I’m looking at you Harry Potter.))
No further reading links for this one—it’s just a nugget to mull over for another time. Ha, ha.