MESSAGES FROM MARS BY THE AID OF THE TELESCOPE PLANT (1892) – Written by Robert D Braine. I shortened the title for the blog post headline. The main character of this novel is a sailor named Nordhausen. After leaving Madagascar our hero winds up shipwrecked on an uncharted island.
While roaming this island Nordhausen finds plants with thick transparent leaves which refract light like lenses do. The sailor breaks off one of the leaves to study it more closely, only to be seized by the island’s native inhabitants, who have been watching him from hiding.
The natives take him through a cave entrance to their hidden village which is a blend of the primitive and the futuristic. For the “sacrilege” of damaging one of the telescope plants Nordhausen is to be executed. The means? A device formed from several of the lens-like leaves which magnify the sunlight into a makeshift heat-ray, like holding a magnifying glass over a piece of paper to catch it on fire.
Our hero is saved at the last minute by a beautiful woman named Raimonda, who wants him spared. When her own words are not sufficient to stay the execution she enlists the King of Mars to persuade the natives to spare Nordhausen. Continue reading