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The Captain of the Pole-Star

 The Captain of the Polestar by Arthur Conan Doyle proves that he could write horror just as much as mystery.  It is the chronicles of a whaling ship’s doctor.  They have gone to the northern seas and the crew is worried they may not make it back.  Their captain has been erratic and doctor is determining if the captain is so mentally unstable that they must remove him from the helm.

He confides with the doctor.  There are a few clues here and there that indicate that this is a vampire story.  The whole story is very subtle.

Here is a fun clue that has no bearing on the story.  The doctor points out that there is a Book of Common Prayer by the church of England.  The doctor finds it interesting as the crew is either Presbyterian or Roman Catholic.  He’s basically saying that the crew is either Scottish or Irish.  Back in the Victorian era, churches were a national thing.  The Scotts were Presbyterian, the Irish were Catholics, the English were Anglicans, the Lutherans were German and so on.

Through a conversation with the Captain, Conan-Doyle throws in some of the philosophy he ascribed to, which was Spiritualism.  He also describes some people with having fae-like qualities.  Which is a nod to the other thing he believed in: faeries.

In this story, we see the decline of the Captain and the cause of the decline.  As with any good horror, we only get small clues that something horrific is happening until the tragedy happens.


The Captain of the Polestar was published in 1883.  The audio program I listened to was narrated by BJ Harrison.

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