The Next Great Scary Story?

Stranded travelers aren’t the only ones cursing the volcanic ash cloud currently hovering over Europe. Kenyan farmers have been forced to dump many tons of Europe-bound vegetables and flowers, and food shortages have been reported in Europe and the U.S. Meanwhile, everyone from Whitney Houston to John Cleese is getting creative about transportation; non-celebrities are relying on social networking sites for alternatives. If this eruption is anything like the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora, there may be at least a few positive artistic side-effects. The resulting dismal weather of 1816 (the Year Without a Summer) caused famine and rioting, but also reportedly resulted in Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley‘s Frankenstein and John Polidori‘s The Vampyre.[%comments]

Mike B

You know, there is a connection between volcanic activity and temperature. Maybe the earth can defend itself from global warming.


And Rasputina wrote an eerily compelling song about "1816, The Year Without A Summer."


Since when did Mary Wollstonecraft write Frankenstein?


Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley wrote Frankenstein. She is the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft who wrote "A Vindication of the Rights of Women."


Melvin D Melmac, Poughkeepsie, NY

Oh great, more vampire movies.

Melvin D Melmac, Poughkeepsie, NY

I have ideas for volcano-vampire mashups:

An adaptation of Under the Volcano:
Under the Volcano with Vampires.

And Susan Sontag's The Volcano Lover:
The Volcano Lover Meets the Vampires


Why would someone think that this tiny eruption was anything like the Tambora eruption, the largest known to have occurred in the last 1000 years?
Eyjafjallajökull's Volcano Explosivity Index is no more than 3, Tambora was 7. That's a factor of 10,000 between them, vaguely similar to the difference between the Feb 27 Chile earthquake and this morning's earthquake in Mexico.

Ian Kemmish

Don' forget J M W Turner.

Out cycling this weekend, I saw some very impressionistic landscapes!


Seriously? As far as I recall, last summer lasted about 1 week here in the UK. Boo!


As usual the earth keeps balancing it's ecosystem.


I'm with Ian. I remember seeing Turner's paintings and learning they were from the year without a summer. Let's hope we get something similar from The Year of Eyjafjallajökull.

Robyn Ann Goldstein

Dear Mike;

Your idea may well be a good one up until a certain point. I am thinking of the human body and of its ability to fend off suffering and thus diseases of all different sorts some of which may be caused by what humans do to themselves or by what has been done to them. At a certain point, that bit of an advantage might be non-existent. I would not want to try such a test. Humans have a creative and a destructive side.

Robyn Ann Goldstein

i.e., until sufficiently certain of its consequences that the price of human error is not so high.


You assume the Earth has a problem with global warming. The planet is not endagered at all. It's the humans (and animals) that have issues with with the climate. The Earth will go on ... until the sun burns out in some billions of years.

So, no, it's not correcting a human activity ... it's just going on as it always has ... bit of magma spewed up when the plates shift a bit ... it's all natural.


Can't we just lock artists in a cellar (or garret)?


One creative outcome might be the invention of aircraft that can fly through volcano ash without harm to their working parts.


Please please stop posting things that include such specious comparisons ("if this eruption is anything like the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora" is just a way of showing off a little bit of knowledge, which would be awkward and more obviously useless if you included in your note the point that this is actually nothing like the eruption of Mt. Tambora).

I like a lot of what you post, but then things like this, and various over-stating-the-case headlines just dismay me.