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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I've listened to it twice, actually. It's not my most favourite among the professor Challenger stories but it's performed so masterly that I felt like listening to it (and enjoying it) one more time.
Edward Malone has been my favourite character in this series of stories since I first got to know him when I was a child and read "The Lost World". I've always loved Malone for his gentleness and kindness, and Barnaby Edwards portrays him in such a beautiful way - so gently and softly... Barnaby's manner of speaking, the tone of his voice (just the way Malone's voice has always sounded in my head!) - everything in the performance conveys Ed's personality so perfectly! And I loved that slight difference between two Malone's voices - in dialogues and in the narrator's remarks. (In all fairness I must say that the other characters were performed quite as well as Malone.)
I have listened to some of his other performances. Every performance is unique and absolutely masterful.