PSI CASSIOPEIA, or STAR: A MARVELOUS HISTORY OF WORLDS IN OUTER SPACE (1854) – Written by Dr Charlemagne Ischer Defontenay, a French M.D. and author. Long before J.R.R. Tolkien churned out obsessive amounts of fine detail about his fictional Middle Earth, Defontenay produced this volume of history, poetry and drama from his fictional planets in the star system Psi Cassiopeia.
The narrator of the story is supposedly translating alien documents which he discovered in an artificial meteor that crashed in the Himalayas. The documents were from a planet called (incongruously enough) “Star.”
The system where that planet is located is a three-star system. Ruliel is the large, white star at the center, around which orbit the two lesser stars Altether (green) and Erragror (blue). The planet called Star is orbited by large planetoids/ moons named Tassul, Lessur, Rudar and Elier. Throwing all science to the winds the planet is also orbited by a small red star called Urrias.
Star and its satellites are inhabited except, of course, for Urrias. The translated documents cover a roughly 1,000 year period of events regarding these worlds. The ancient Starian humanoids formed a united world-wide culture which started as an Empire before becoming a socialist planet economically and politically. The documents also claim that their culture boasted beautiful architecture, incredible feats of engineering and awe-inspiring works of art.
At one point a plague swept the globe, reducing the proud Starian civilization to chaos. A Nihilist Cult formed as the plague kept whittling away at the population over the course of years. In the post-apocalyptic ruins the Nihilists formed a fanatical religion devoted to ending all life on Star. The zealots formed armies which exterminated millions of Starians with the intention of taking their own lives when all non-members of their cult had been wiped out.
The Repleus, ape-like sub-humans, became the new dominant species on Star once the Nihilists completed their insane mission. The only humanoid survivors of Star had fled in spaceships just in time to avoid dying with the rest of their kind. The humanoid Starians in these spacecraft were led by a trio of Nemsedes (also called Longevouses), 9 feet tall, immortal superhumans who are incapable of reproducing.
These Starians had gotten permission from the inhabitants of Tassul to re-settle there. The Tassulians are themselves humanoids and are the dominant species on the planetoid. These Tassulians are all hermaphroditic and reproduce on their own without mating. This also prevents cross-breeding between them and the Starians.
While co-existing peacefully on Tassul the Starians can’t help but adapt the spiritual, totemistic bond that exists between the Tassulians and long-lived birds called Citos. Now THESE guys all “form a symbiotic circle,” so use them to teach Obi Wan Kenobi the real meaning of such an expression. (I’m kidding.)
Over the centuries the Starians become too populous for the areas of Tassul set aside for them, so many of them set off in spaceships bound for Lessur. The dominant species on Lessur are bisexual humanoids who need to feel their partner is perfectly in-tune with them before they will mate with them. The Lessurians are also skilled at cultivating the beautiful foliage on the planetoid and center their lives around the arts.
Eventually the Starians outgrow their living spaces on Lessur, too, so the surplus population board spaceships and fly to Rudar. Unfortunately Rudar’s dominant species are scaley, gray skinned humanoids who are very hostile. That hostility matches the dark, unpleasant environment of the world itself. A predatory, vampiric life-form is especially dangerous, and drains its prey of life-force and – the narrative tells us – even the soul.
Deciding Rudar is too hostile the Starians fly on to the last remaining habitable world in their star system: Elier. This insect-heavy world is virtually transparent, as are its dominant species of humanoids. The narrative informs us that the humanoid form is “nature’s most perfect” which is why such beings inevitably assume the rule of inhabited worlds.
At length the Starians decide that with their population continuing to grow the time has come to retake their homeworld. With a fleet of spaceships they attack Star and defeat the Repleus, taking over the entire planet. Breeding with the Repleus is discouraged because the hybrid offspring tend to be criminal anti-social types.
At the time that the artificial meteor with the star system’s history was sent off to Earth another few hundred years had passed. The Starians and their allies had a peaceful Republic of Worlds with very few laws, given the “high intelligence and cultivated morality” of the humanoids. Land ownership is forbidden, however.
There is one shared religion centered around the symbiotic relationship between the humanoids and the blue Cito birds on each world. All of the preceding is conveyed via straight historical narration complemented by poetry and dramas produced by the Starians.
Many may be surprised at the contents of this work from the 1850s. I am increasingly impressed by the ideas conveyed in these “ancient” or “vintage” works of science fiction. The science, of course, is always shoddy but the concepts are fascinating enough to make up for that. +++
FOR TEN MORE EXAMPLES OF ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/2014/03/03/ten-neglected-examples-of-ancient-science-fiction/
FOR WASHINGTON IRVING’S 1809 depiction of an invasion from the moon click here: https://glitternight.com/2014/05/05/ancient-science-fiction-the-men-of-the-moon-1809-by-washington-irving/
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