mars revealedMARS REVEALED (1880) – Written by Henry A. Gaston, this is another work that combines science fiction with religious and spiritual concepts.

The novel’s narrator, while walking in the hills of northern California during springtime, is approached by a Celestial Spirit. The spirit interrogates him about his lack of knowledge regarding the arcane secrets of the other planets in our solar system.

Our narrator expresses a willingness to be tutored in those secrets and the spirit offers to show him any planet of his choice. He selects Mars and the Celestial Spirit flies off with him toward the Red Planet. The voyager is awed by the sight of Earth far below and by the hills and valleys of the moon as they fly past it.

mascot sword and gun pic


Approaching Mars, the Earthman sees that the planet has a pink atmosphere and, rather than be all red like it appears from Earth, the Martian surface is red mixed with silver and green. After circling Mars a few times, the Celestial Spirit and the Narrator land atop the highest mountain peak on the planet.

Mountaintops on Mars are covered in snows that have a pink tinge to them because of the pink atmosphere. Trees larger and taller than any on Earth grow far down from the peaks and those trees give off a perfumed scent. 

Streams from melting snow flow down the mountain until combining into one river and, at ground level, into lakes and rivers. In the distance a vast ruby-colored sea could be seen. At the foot of their mountain landing site, our two main characters encounter homes much more technologically advanced than those on Earth.

Parks and lawns dominate the landscape. As night falls, the Celestial Spirit points out that what the Narrator has mistaken as the rising moons of Mars are artificial lights atop skyscrapers and are meant to provide night lighting for the Martians. 

The spirit and the Earthman spend the entire night making their way down the mountainside and walking through a few Martian villages. Magnificent music can be heard coming from inside the residences and soothing voices can be heard in conversation.

The Celestial Spirit forbids the Narrator from disturbing any of the residents at present, saying they want to reach a larger settlement before letting him interact with Martians. As the pair walk along, our main character learns that Mars is divided into seven parts nearly equal in size and population.

Each of those seven sections have a capital city, in which the “best and the brightest” of the divisions ultimately settle. The capital cities of each division have a skyscraper/ temple at their core. Six roads extend from those skyscrapers, each one leading to one of the other capital cities as an expressway that links these vital centers of Martian life.

Golden chariots drawn by winged horses traveled on the roads, and the Martian passengers were all humanoid and clearly men, women and children. The Narrator and the Celestial Spirit reach the skyscraper at the center of this city and are welcomed in by a beautiful Martian woman with brown hair down to her ankles.   

The Earthman is shown to a bed and he sleeps the rest of the night. At morning he shares in a fantastic breakfast consisting of unearthly but delicious foods served on gold and silver trays. The Celestial Spirit grants our main character the ability to understand and speak the Martian language for the rest of their visit.

The inhabitants of the Red Planet are very religious and speak elaborate prayers before eating breakfast. As the meal goes on, an elderly man engages in a catechism with the children at the table, drilling them in the Martian religion, which centers on praising God’s glory on the many inhabited planets. Breakfast concludes with the singing of songs of a spiritual nature. 

The Celestial Spirit then shows our Narrator around the city. In one of the parks stands a monument inscribed in diamonds with the words:

“ Before whom all worthy intelligences are equal,
“ This temple is dedicated—
“ On the one millionth year of Mars. ”

From there the spirit conveys our main character around the city and its educational institutions, in which hypnotism conveys incredible amounts of information to the students. By now it is nightfall again and the voyager is taken back to his bed and sleeps.

And so it goes, with the Narrator learning more and more about life on Mars with each passing day. The current religion practiced on Mars was established 91,000 Martian years ago, so nearly double that in Earth years.

Practitioners believe that there is ample intelligent life on other planets in our solar system and on planets throughout the entire universe. Comets are regarded as God’s Chariots and the star Sirius is considered to be God’s Home. Through a Martian telescope the Narrator is shown God and his Celestial Attendants on Sirius.

When an elderly Martian dies, their friends and family gather around them in a joyous ceremony in which it is said that the dying one “puts on immortality.” Beautiful music and gentle conversations are heard.

Weddings are held communally, with up to twelve couples being married at once. Women, who have high civic standing in Martian society, get to choose their mates and if the marriage has not yet borne children, the woman is free to divorce her man and marry another.

One day the Celestial Spirit and the Narrator fly in a chariot drawn by winged horses to the massive, beehive-like gold mines of Mars. Gold is plentiful enough that it is worth much less on the Red Planet, but the metal is still very important given its many uses.

At length the spirit reveals his identity to the Earthman – he is the brother of Jesus. Our two main characters have a long conversation during which the Celestial Spirit critiques the comparative virtues of Jesus, Zoroaster, Moses and others. The spirit even tells our Narrator that Earth’s Bible is full of errors and is inferior to the Bible used on Mars.

Moving on, our travelers take what we would call a ski-lift up the side of a great mountain and from there board a chariot drawn through the sky by enormous birds. As they fly over the ruby-colored sea which covers half the planet’s surface, the Earthman spots untold numbers of Martian boats making their way.

As the chariot flies closer to the surface of the sea, our main character can make out fish that are all the colors of the rainbow and whose movements are bizarrely limited, almost like they’re swimming chess pieces. This late in the novel we finally learn that our Narrator’s first name is Henry, presumably Gaston, the book’s author.

One of the last sights that Henry is shown before Jesus’ Brother flies him back to Earth is the main religious temple of Mars. After an elaborate mass, Henry and his guide return to our planet. During their goodbyes, the spirit tells the Earthman to write a book about his experiences on Mars.

Mars Revealed is in dire need of editing. To get to each of the above islands of interesting material I had to swim through page after page of repetitious spiritual gibberish regarding the “superior” religious attitudes of the Martians.

Only something like the old Reader’s Digest Condensed Versions of various novels could make Mars Revealed worth reading to most people. Just eliminating the repetitious sections would cut the book nearly in half. 



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




Filed under Ancient Science Fiction


  1. Who knew they wrote about Mars in 1880! I watched a few Mars movies when Musk first talked about going there–can’t remember the names.

    • Yep, in fact in these Ancient Science Fiction blog posts I’ve reviewed books from the 1600s onward about travels to Mars and elsewhere. And I’ve reviewed Washington Irving’s 1809 piece about people from the moon invading Earth. He used it as an allegory for colonialism several decades before H.G. Wells did it with his Martian invasion in the late 1890s.

  2. Hi Balladeer
    Thank you so much for sharing lovely Ancient Post.

  3. I really like the sound of this book, and will at it to my reading list. It doesn’t sound perfect, but it has a certain charm about it. I’m in and thanks for bringing it to my attention.

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