THE KE WHONKUS PEOPLE aka A Tale of the North Pole Country (1890) – The author John O. Greene was American, but the main character in this story is a Canadian named Sampson De Lilly. Sampson survives a shipwreck and is picked up by a steamship headed for the North Pole.
When the steamer hits too much ice and mist to proceed any further, De Lilly and other crew members continue heading north on dogsleds. Ultimately, they reach Ke Whonkus, a previously unknown island just south of the Pole, but possessed of a warm climate.
The island is inhabited by 4 and a half million people, all of them white and some of them survivors of the doomed expedition of John Franklin in the 1840s. Those survivors speak English and serve as translators for Sampson and his colleagues.
Most technology on Ke Whonkus is more advanced than in the rest of the world. The inhabitants have electric lighting through all the populated areas, plus electric cars and trains.
Oddly enough, guns and other weapons are backward compared to the outside world. The people of Ke Whonkus possess written records going back nearly 12,000 years. The Ke Whonkans say Adam and Eve really existed, but most of what the outside world believes about them is inaccurate.
The remote land’s history indicates that Adam and Eve were exiled in a lighter than air vessel and from there, much of their origins are unknown. Ke Whonkus established equal rights for women 100 years earlier and the culture marks that as the start of their new calendar, making the year 100 A.E.R. (After Equal Rights).
The Ke Whonkans use paper currency and a free education is available to all. Marriage laws are more binding than in the rest of the world.
Sampson and his fellow travelers try to convert the Ke Whonkans to Christianity but are ridiculed into abandoning the attempt. The island’s culture worships the sun and has a detailed pantheon of lesser deities.
Going further on the scientific side, mineral waters on Ke Whonkus heal assorted ailments when drunk, and long-term consumption even restores a number of years’ worth of youth. A neighboring island is inhabited by primitive creatures who may be the Missing Link. Flying dragons who suck blood also exist.
In the end De Lilly and company head back to the southern part of the world, where Sampson’s restored youth is noted. De Lilly makes plans to establish regular contact with and transportation to De Whonkus, but no sequel story was ever published.
The Ke Whonkus People sometimes goes overboard on the touches of humor, but is solid enough for an 1890 work. I probably would be more impressed with it if not for the sheer number of these remote/ lost civilization stories I’ve reviewed over the years as part of my Ancient Science Fiction category. For any reader not as immersed as I am in this type of tale, The Ke Whonkus People might be a standout tale.
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/
6 responses to “THE KE WHONKUS PEOPLE (1890) – ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION”
If only such a place existed! “The Ke Whonkus People” definitely a band name there. Great review.
Thank you! And yes, the Ke Whonkus People really would be a good name for a band.
Reblogged this on El Noticiero de Alvarez Galloso.
Thank you, sir!