ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION: HUGO GERNSBACK’S SCIENTIFIC ADVENTURES (1915-1917)

scientific adventures of baronTHE SCIENTIFIC ADVENTURES OF BARON MUENCHHAUSEN (1915-1917) – Written by the iconic Hugo Gernsback in the years before he launched his own publication, these sci-fi tales presented the 1700s Baron being alive and having wild adventures. (The cover spelling does not match the one Gernsback used.)

Like most people I know, I just roll my eyes at the Baron Muenchhausen tall tales, so that’s why I used Hugo’s name in the blog post title. Hugo as the writer of this series of short stories is the REAL draw. The following items first appeared in the magazine Electrical Experimenter.

I MAKE A WIRELESS ACQUAINTANCE (May 1915) – Gernsback’s fictional counterpart I.M. Alier is a radio enthusiast and one day picks up transmissions from THE Baron Muenchhausen. The Baron tells him that in the 1700s he was injected with special embalming fluid which actually put him in suspended animation.

He emerged from that state a few years back and, forced to flee Germany over past offenses, has been having amazing scientific adventures. Alier is skeptical, but the Baron proves his claim by using some of the advanced science he has discovered to change the color of part of the moon. This convinces the narrator. 

HOW MUENCHHAUSEN AND THE ALLIES TOOK BERLIN (June 1915) – Alier learns that the Baron has been helping the French in the World War. Among his inventions was a tunneling device for launching sneak attacks but the Central Powers were able to reverse-engineer the technology, resulting in another deadlock.

The Baron and his friend Professor Flitternix have devised anti-gravity screens for a spaceship. They plan to fly the vessel – called the Interstellar – to the moon.   

NOTE: From this point on, I will just shorten Muenchhausen to “M” wherever the name appears.

M. ON THE MOON (July 1915) – The Baron and the Professor fly to the moon, and M. describes weightlessness to Alier. On the moon itself, the Baron finds that it has a breathable atmosphere. He and Flitternix follow footprints to a lunar cave in which dwell various forms of moon life.

electrical experimenterTHE EARTH AS VIEWED FROM THE MOON (August 1915) – While describing how the Earth looks from the moon to his wireless correspondent Alier, the Baron is interrupted by a meteor shower striking the moon. The moon’s thin atmosphere does not burn up enough of the meteorites to lessen their size by very much and the storm poses a mortal threat to the lunar expedition. 

M. DEPARTS FOR THE PLANET MARS (October 1915) – The Baron informs Alier that he and Flitternix discovered that the moon is hollow inside. They are ready to depart for Mars as soon as they erect a radio wave relay station for the wireless messages they will continue to send to the narrator.

M. LANDS ON MARS (November 1915) – The Baron and the Professor reach Mars after a 40 day trip. They find Mars to have deserts as well as water-bearing canals constructed by the VERY advanced Martians. The people of the Red Planet are 9 feet tall with very thin, long limbs.

Three of their own flying warships surrounded the Interstellar upon its arrival and after learning that the space travelers mean no harm they begin giving them a tour of their high-tech world. 

M. IS TAUGHT MARTIAN (December 1915) – The Martians have the Baron and Flitternix wear fururistic helmets that let them receive the Martians’ thought-waves. They inform Alier that they have learned how to speak the Martian language as well as the history of the planetary civilization.

Long ago they had a virtual paradise and scaled the heights of scientific achievement. As resources began to dwindle, life became a bit of a scramble for survival. The Martians use solar power and atomic energy to run their advanced technology, including antigravity.

THOUGHT TRANSMISSION ON MARS (January 1916) – The Baron describes Martian thought-helmets to Alier, including cranial disk tech and devices for recording projected thoughts on tape. M. also transmits otherworldly, electronic Martian music to his wireless correspondent.

THE CITIES OF MARS (March 1916) – Alier learns that Martians eat their food in its gaseous state. Their cities are tiered, and their buildings all have solar-powered lights on top. Martian elevated roadways are perforated to allow accumulated sand from the frequent sandstorms to fall through. Those sandstorms are the greatest obstacle to Martian ground transportation.

elec expTHE PLANETS AT CLOSE RANGE (April 1916) – The Martians demonstrate their advanced astronomical science. The Baron is impressed by the close-up images that the Red Planet’s super-telescopes provide of other planets. 

MARTIAN AMUSEMENTS (June 1916) – The Ruler of Mars entertains the Baron and Professor Flitternix. They travel with him and his court on antigravity sleds and attend a concert at an enormous, sprawling stadium.

Through their technology and telepathy, the Martian choirs broadcast their songs directly into the minds of the audience, allowing for the “tasting” of music and seeing music in solid form. Martian antigravity tech allows for spectacular water fountain shows that apparently would put modern day Las Vegas to shame.

HOW THE MARTIAN CANALS ARE BUILT (November 1916) – Alier relates the Baron’s broadcasts regarding the way Martians construct their canals. All the manipulation of building materials and all related matter is accomplished through energy waves powered via solar and atomic energy.

MARTIAN ATMOSPHERIC PLANTS (February 1917) – In this final account of the Baron’s scientific adventures, he informs Alier that the Martian atmosphere is dissipating. This has necessitated the construction of 60 huge plants to replenish that dwindling atmosphere.  

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/         

16 Comments

Filed under Ancient Science Fiction

16 responses to “ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION: HUGO GERNSBACK’S SCIENTIFIC ADVENTURES (1915-1917)

  1. Fantastic! This would make a great audiobook. I love these early works of martian fiction.

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