A NARRATIVE OF THE TRAVELS AND ADVENTURES OF PAUL AERMONT AMONG THE PLANETS (1873) – I shortened the title when naming this blog post. Paul Aermont was the pseudonym of an unknown author, so full credit cannot be officially given.
Paul Aermont, an American descendant of fallen French aristocrats, is living in Albany, NY with his parents. After running off to sea years earlier Paul has sown some wild oats and now seems willing to settle down. In his travels he has learned how to be a pharmacist but while pursuing this stable profession by day the still-adventurous young man spends his free time experimenting with gases and balloons.
In the early 1820s Aermont discovers a fictional gas which enables his aeronautical balloon & cart vehicle to escape the Earth’s gravitational field and explore our solar system. Like other vintage science fiction that Balladeer’s Blog has reviewed this story presents space travel being possible without breathing equipment. Once in space Paul is rendered inert and is unaware of the “space currents” (sic) blowing him toward Jupiter.
The inhabitants of that planet rescue Aermont and provide him with a guided tour of their scientifically advanced civilization. The Jovians are humanoid, dress in comfortable robes and kaftans, and live in monumental triumphs of architecture made largely from crystals. They have flying machines with wings that flap to attain flight, sub-sea vessels that resemble mechanical whales and mass-transit for travel by ground.
Paul remains on Jupiter for a long period of time and enjoys the museums and libraries plus witnesses some of the religious ceremonies of the inhabitants. That religion involves a loose set of moral imperatives and very few taboos. Masses are held only when the various moons of Jupiter are in certain allignments but those masses are attended by hundreds of thousands, with voice amplification devices used by the presiding priests.
Eventually Aermont leaves Jupiter, with his primitive balloon-craft now oufitted with gases found only on that planet. Once out of the planetary atmosphere Paul again falls into suspended animation and this time while he sleeps his vessel is blown past Mars and the Earth, all the way to Venus.
On that world Aermont encounters a small race of imps who live in large vegetables like our pumpkins or calabashes. The imps are primitive and superstitious and sacrifice to their gods all other beings who fall into their hands. When the imps are about to sacrifice a humanoid woman the same size as Paul he intervenes to save her and fly off with her.
The woman – Flora – guides Paul to her home city, named Uctiushililbactule (pronounced “uctiushililbactule”). In that city the culture lives at a technological level equivalent to medieval times here on Earth. Socially it’s a year-round Sadie Hawkins Day, with women expected to take the initiative.
Flora’s people are sexually open and no couples get married until the female of the couple gives birth to a child. The Venusians live in small, simple clay homes that are only big enough for one person. Even the married people live that way, in separate small dwellings for the mother, the father and each individual child.
Flora’s people live in those same structures their entire lives and at death the homes become a mausoleum for their remains. After another extended stay on Venus, Paul Aermont flies off into space again, wondering where he will find himself when he wakes from suspended animation next time.
Aermont arrives on Mars, which is depicted as having a very cold climate. The Martians live like the ancient Norse societies in the Scandinavian countries and lead a hard, brutal life. On Saturn, Paul loves and loses a humanoid woman named Stella.
Eventually Aermont finds himself back on the Earth, but learns that his periods of suspended animation between planets were each several years long and it is now the 1870s. He has been gone for at least 50 years. Paul happily contents himself with learning all about the changes on his home planet, which is now as alien and fascinating to him as the others he visited. +++
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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2 responses to “PAUL AERMONT AMONG THE PLANETS (1873) – ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION”
Beautiful! So many of these forgotten gems.
Thanks! I know what you mean.