A FLIGHT TO THE MOON (1813) – Written by George Fowler. This story introduces readers to Randalthus (no last name given), an 1800s American man who has come to regard the moon with a mixture of near-pagan worship and pioneer longing.
Randalthus, who often goes by the shortened name Rand, is admiring the moon as he does nearly every night when a beautiful female alien figure appears to him. Having read the adoring thoughts that our narrator directs at Earth’s satellite, she has come to grant him his wish to visit the moon and meets its peoples.
She wraps Randalthus in the white glow which surrounds her and flies the two of them to the moon. Randalthus recounts experiencing gravitational changes during the flight and eventual landing on the moon.
Once on the moon itself, Randalthus interacts with the inhabitants, who are blue-eyed, golden-skinned and golden-haired humanoids. Either telepathically or through an accommodation from the glowing woman who flew him to Earth’s satellite, our narrator understands the Lunarians and they him.
Randalthus learns that the people of the moon are technologically decades behind Earth, but centuries behind when it comes to understanding fundamental scientific concepts. Rand winds up having to explain gravity and planetary orbits to the Lunarians.
Though most fictional lunar visits before and since this 1813 work have centered around descriptions of the life and culture of the moon beings, A Flight to the Moon focused instead on Randalthus explaining Earth and its nations to the Lunarians.
At any rate, the moon’s inhabitants are peaceful, unlike the hostile Lunar invaders from Washington Irving’s 1809 piece The Men of the Moon.
When his time on the moon is finished, Rand follows in the fictional footsteps of Cyrano de Bergerac’s space explorer Dyrcona by visiting the sun. Unlike de Bergerac’s depiction of a solar civilization on its surface, Fowler presents a sun that is uninhabitable on the surface.
Randalthus discovers that the sun is hollow, an interesting parallel to the many Hollow Earth works of ancient science fiction over the centuries. The interior of the sun is inhabited by beautiful brown-haired humanoids.
Our narrator’s interaction with the sun people covers speculative territory like the eventual burning out of that celestial body and the last life on Earth. Reference is made to intelligent life on the other planets of our solar system, ending with Uranus, which had just been discovered in 1781.
At story’s end, Randalthus finds himself back on Earth.
A Flight to the Moon is an odd book, even for such “ancient” science fiction. The unusual approach of Earth being explained to the Lunarians instead of their world being explained to us readers may strike a discordant note with some. Overall, the novel makes for a fun read but far too much of the page count is spent on the lengthy expository section about the Earth.
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/