Around A Distant Star bookAROUND A DISTANT STAR (1904) – Written by Mrs Muirson Blake under the alias Jean Delaire.

This British novel features the brilliant Royal “Roy” Staunton and his old school friend Delafield. The latter returns to Great Britain after 7 years in India and renews his acquaintance with the scientific genius.

In the intervening years Roy studied the works of Tesla, Kelvin, Roentgen and other giants of science and developed plans for several futuristic inventions of his own. He has been sitting on the plans for awhile because he wants to secretly carry out a project with Delafield at his side.

Staunton has perfected a means of electronically-powered space travel which will propel his two-man vessel at a speed of TWO THOUSAND TIMES THE SPEED OF LIGHT. Previously he used another of his inventions, a “super-telescope” to discover a distant planet capable of sustaining human life.

Royal has his old school chum fly off with him to that planet, which he has named Kallistos, and which is 2,000 light years away from our planet. Though it is just one of 25 such life-sustaining worlds discovered by Staunton with his super-telescope, Roy insists on exploring Kallistos before any of the others precisely because of its distance from the Earth.

Upon arrival on that far-off planet after their voyage of light-warping speed, Staunton and Delafield assemble one of Roy’s super-telescopes. Since light from Earth is just now reaching Kallistos from roughly 1900 years in the past, Royal plans to be able to use his ‘scope to observe the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus Christ, whom he has come to regard as the greatest person who ever lived.

Ignoring the most obvious problems inherent in such a plan, the narrative throws a whole different obstacle at our heroes. They’ve landed in the wrong part of Kallistos for them to be able to scrutinize events from Earth’s Middle East of long ago once the light DOES finally reach the planet.

Their space craft is no good for purely intra-atmospheric flight, so the pair set about a Fitzcarroldo-style quest to manually transport the super-scope equipment to a different hemisphere. Along the way they deal with the simple-minded ape-like beings on Kallistos as well as hostile life-forms like tentacled man-eating plants which induce hallucinations to lure human/ primate prey.

Staunton and Delafield at last succeed, using wheeled vehicles and boats, then patiently wait. Using the super-scope with its incredibly tight focus they observe in the delayed light-waves the betrayal in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus’ march toward Calvary, the crucifixion, death AND the resurrection.

Ready to share this confirmation of the events with the entire world, the duo prepare to return to Earth in their interstellar craft. Royal reveals to his longtime friend that he (Royal) must stay behind because he needs to operate the dynamo which will send the spaceship back toward their home planet.

Staunton shares the Earthly location of his scientific papers and tells Delafield that he is happy to stay on Kallistos, studying the animals, plants and especially the development of the semi-human apelings.

Delafield returns alone to the Earth and publicizes the results of his and Royal’s journey. He also publishes his old friend’s papers, which revolutionize science. Based on Staunton’s discoveries and inventions, humanity is moving into a Golden Age, complete with plans to travel to all the planets the scientific genius discovered and more.

Around A Distant Star is a lot of fun with its eccentric blend of science fiction and religion. It’s not really all that heavy-handed with the proselytizing so I’m perplexed by its lack of wider fame. +++     


FOR WASHINGTON IRVING’S 1809 depiction of an invasion from the moon click here:

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Filed under Ancient Science Fiction


  1. I have never heard of this book before, but I will be seeking out my own copy of it! Thank you for sharing your observations of it with us.

  2. You didn’t mention when this scifi novel was written, but I assume it would have been soon after the invention of the first electric motor and some kind of powerful telescope that made looking at distant stars possible. Very primitive by our standards, and fanciful. But then it occurred to me that we are doing exactly the same thing with the big scientific developments of our own era. I’ve read some incredibly fanciful stories featuring AI that are capable of all sorts of things, including emotions. I guess to extrapolate is human? lol

    • Hello again and thank you for the comment! The (1904) is when this story was written by this woman. I like your quote that “to extrapolate is human.”

      • lol – thank you! I was actually describing my own process when writing scifi. 🙂

        Re the date, I was actually expecting it to be earlier than 1904, but then for anyone to know about the speed of light and time dilation back then, let alone a woman, is pretty amazing.

      • I know how you feel about the date. I was a little surprised, too, but then I remembered that concepts that ultimately became the Theory of Relativity were already known and being used in science fiction in the 1890s. I covered one of them in my review of The Queer Side of Things, a series of sci-fi short stories from The Strand magazine around 1893 and 1894. The Queer Side of Things also featured a Soylent Green forerunner with a company secretly killing people and using them in their “synthetic” foods.

      • I must have missed that one. It’s both amazing and kind of reassuring that people were stretching the limits of knowledge even then. Whatever our faults, and they are legion, we humans do have an incredible capacity to imagine things that have never existed!

      • I know exactly how you feel! And if you’re interested in that one you missed here is the link –

      • Thank you. Just had a look and was struck by the how often the scientific seemed to go hand in hand with the ‘spiritual’, as in literally spirits. Interesting.

      • I agree with you. It’s true going at least as far back as Dante’s Paradiso with different “castes” of souls dwelling on the sun, moon and the known planets at the time, but all of them considered to be in Heaven.

      • -blush- I read about 1/3 of the Inferno and that was it. Never made it to Paradiso but I’m seriously impressed that you did. 🙂

      • Thank you very much! You’re so kind!

    • I suppose it happens in every era. Many times the science fictions come true, like a premonition.
      Do read my latest and path-breaking article:

  3. This sounds crazy cool! Loving the tentacled man-eating hallucination inducing plants! I’m gong to see if my library can find a copy. Sounds like a very fun read. Thank You and Cheers!!! 🙂

  4. Wow, that sounds like a thoroughly riveting and imaginative adventure 😀

  5. Cicily

    What a stunning story from so long ago!

  6. Urban

    There should be a subreddit devoted to your blog.

  7. Sounds like a very interesting read. Thank you bringing it to my attention

  8. Magdalene Francis

    A comic book adaptation of this would be very interesting.

  9. This sounds great! I’m putting it on my list.

  10. Jack

    This was pretty trippy!