THE PEOPLE OF THE MOON (1895) – Written by Tremlett Carter. An unnamed narrator, a scientist of some sort, sees a glowing 18 inch object floating in the sky. A bird who makes physical contact with the glowing orb is killed by the object’s electric charge.
Our narrator jury-rigs a means of grounding against the electricity and hauling the orb down to his laboratory. The object slowly reaches room temperature and ejects from its interior a book written in an unearthly alphabet.
The anonymous narrator’s friend Professor Hector Goss visits him in the midst of all this and excitedly tells our protagonist about a secret society that he belongs to. Goss and his fellow society members have been performing scientific research by directing the astral/ spiritual bodies of hypnotized human guinea pigs.
Before dying, their most recent test subject visited the moon in his astral body and saw a city on the dark side of Earth’s satellite. He also spotted life – humanoid AND dragon life. Professor Goss jumps to the conclusion that the unearthly book that Nameless Narrator holds came from the moon.
Conveniently, Nameless and Goss had previously devised a fool-proof system of deciphering any and all languages so they translate the mysterious book and learn all about the beings on the moon.
The moon’s interior is a network of labyrinthine caverns lit by glowing materials. These vast underground caverns contain water, plant, animal and humanoid life. The humanoids – who do not need to breathe – are intelligent and are called Saravas.
The scientifically advanced Saravas have flying carriages, electrically fueled ground buggies, disintegrator weapons and teleportation devices. Until recently the moon beings assumed they were the only intelligent life in the universe.
Despite their futuristic science, the Saravas were similarly unaware of life forms on the moon’s surface. The Saravan government is an absolute monarchy with subordinate aristocrats of varying ranks.
Prince Indra (The author was born in India, but no other reason is ever given for the Indian names used by the Saravas) is being pressured into marrying Countess Zuenya, a ruthless, greedy and power-hungry woman who plans to rule the kingdom through her new husband. Indra, however, has dreamed of a beautiful woman named Almida who lives on the surface of the moon.
It is never explicitly stated but I’ve always assumed that this “dream” really means that Prince Indra’s astral body has visited the lunar surface, like in Professor Goss and his fellow lodge members’ experiments. Indra also sees that Almida and her people are in danger from a Moon Dragon (no relation to the Marvel Comics superheroine previously covered here at Balladeer’s Blog).
The Prince stalls Countess Zuenya so that he and a colleague can physically explore the surface of the moon to look for Almida. Indra arms himself with a disintegrator and the pair alternately walk along and fly along in one-man flying suits powered by an “antigravity ore”.
Once the explorers reach the lunar surface they are momentarily blinded by sunlight. The Prince accidentally loses control of his aircraft and shoots into space. Luckily, Saravans don’t need to breathe, you’ll remember, and Indra eventually manages to maneuver his way back down to the surface following this involuntary space-walk.
Our hero lands far from his friend but is conveniently near the scientifically advanced city he “saw” in dreams. Inside the magnificent city he finds the beautiful Almida through a psychic link which they conveniently have. (Most of this book’s story developments are similarly dragged out of the author’s ass.)
The surface-dwellers communicate telepathically since there is no air on the moon. The city is home to the last surviving remnants of Saravans who migrated from the moon’s interior 50 million years earlier, when there was ample surface water on the moon plus animal life like dragons.
They periodically warred with the antagonistic 40-50 feet tall giants called the Alma, nearly driving them to extinction but as the Surface Saravans’ population depleted over millions of years it got so they were in very real danger from the giants.
The city is soon invaded by that race of giants. The Alma trash part of the city while seizing captives to take along with them when their raid is completed. Almida was one of the citizens who were abducted and Prince Indra resolves to rescue her.
The Prince learns that the Alma have an advanced civilization of their own but are very superstitious and are fanatically devoted to a religion which centers around the human sacrifice of captives.
The giants reproduce asexually by having another of themselves literally “grow out of” the backs of their bodies. First a second face, then head, then limbs and finally the “new” Alma separates from its parent body.
Indra’s efforts to free Almida go wrong and they are both set to be sacrificed.
The giants carry out these sacrifices by subjecting captives to the moon’s “deadly surface electricity.” Prince Indra turns out to be immune to the electricity since he is from the moon’s underground race. He is able to share this immunity with his beloved Almida (Sure. Why not?).
The romantic couple turn the tables on the Alma, all of whom are killed by the moon’s surface electricity (Yes, Hayden, “Not just the men … But the women … and the children” too.) Conveniently (of course), Indra’s colleague now shows up in a multi-passenger flying carriage he went back for after the Prince accidentally shot into space earlier.
The threesome (don’t go there) fly back into the underground network of caverns, only to be ambushed by Countess Zuenya and her evil henchmen. She’s determined to kill off Almida so she can marry the Prince, but a (needless to say) convenient rock-slide kills her and her men.
Prince Indra and Almida marry and presumably live happily ever after. The surface woman needs to “learn” how to eat because her people had come to subsist entirely through smoking the leaves of a tobacco-like plant.
We readers are never told who sent the orb with the story of Indra and Almida to the Earth. Apparently why they sent it is none of our damn business, either.
The People of the Moon is far from a fun read. I honestly finished it just to scratch it off my list of must-reads, bird-watcher style.
Remember the warning in my Halloween review of The Monks of Monk Hall? The same warning applies here, but many times over. The gold nuggets of this story can be found only by sifting through a LOT of unnecessary, dull drivel.
FOR THE TOP FOUR FORGOTTEN WARS IN AMERICA’S HISTORY CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/2013/05/21/the-top-four-forgotten-conflicts-in-american-history-2/
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