THE GERM GROWERS (1892) – Robert Potter wrote this work of “ancient” or vintage science fiction dealing with biological warfare and alien abductions.
The two main characters are two Welsh men named Robert Easterley and Jack Wilbraham. In 1892 Easterley witnesses a stranger being abducted by aliens and carried off in their spacecraft. The extraterrestrial vessel is invisible but does cast a shadow on the ground as it flies past Robert Easterley, convincing him of the reality of what he witnessed.
Anticipating UFO conspiracy kooks by several decades Easterley and his friend Wilbraham speculate that old stories about humans being abducted by “little people” and other supernatural figures may really be accounts of abductions by aliens. Not long afterward the area suffers multiple deaths from a mysterious disease. Continue reading
One of the most popular posts here at Balladeer’s Blog was my 2014 list about “ancient” science fiction from 1634-1909. Here is a followup list of sci fi tales that were way ahead of their time. FOR THE ORIGINAL LIST CLICK HERE
THE SPEEDY JOURNEY (1744) – Written by Eberhard Christian Kindermann. A five-man crew from Earth pilot a spacecraft to a moon of Mars, where they encounter alien life-forms of all kinds as well as secrets tying the inhabitants to Earth people by way of odd religious parallels. The space travelers also encounter a world-destroying meteor and a “space whirlpool.” CLICK HERE Continue reading
TO THE MOON & BACK IN NINETY DAYS (1917) – By John Y Brown. Balladeer’s Blog presents more Ancient Science Fiction (or Vintage Science Fiction if you prefer). This story was first penned in 1917 and later published by the Lunar Publishing Company in 1922.
Brown himself pretended to narrate the adventure, which hewed so closely to what was known about the moon back then that it must have both educated and entertained readers. The story says that in 1914 our narrator met Captain Horace Ewald, a brilliant nautical engineer and scientist in Alton, IL.
Captain Ewald invited Brown along on his planned expedition to the moon in what he dubbed his “Ethereal Vessel” but which we would call a spaceship. The craft was 235 feet tall with the shape of a dome fused to prisms. Ewald and his team constructed the Ethereal Vessel out of aluminum plating and used electric batteries to power the anti-gravity pods. Continue reading
THE PROFESSOR’S EXPERIMENTS (1910) – By Paul Bo’ld (sic) – real name: Edward George Paul Bousfield. (Not to be confused with John Paul George Ann Ringo.) A possible influence on H.P. Lovecraft’s Herbert West, Reanimator in style but not in content. This collection of six short stories centered around mad scientist Jerome Mudgewood and his assistant Dr Gertrude Delaney.
Mudgewood’s envelope-pushing experiments unleash forces beyond his control, resulting in death and tragedy. The stories in order:
The Retardatory Force – Professor Mudgewood tries to harness a pair of sub-atomic and extra-atomic forces, believing that eternal life can be achieved by doing so. He, Dr Delaney and their housekeeper instead find themselves confined in an energy field that slows matter down and eventually dissolves it into nothingness. Jerome and Gertrude survive but the housekeeper isn’t as lucky.
The Magnetic Essence – The Professor isolates a particle in iron, a particle which he believes causes iron to be attracted to magnets. Dubbing this particle “the magneto component” he plans to implant it into any object he wishes to magnetize. It turns out the force is also responsible for maintaining an atom’s integrity and so extracting “the magneto component” figuratively splits the atom, unleashing incredibly deadly explosions. Continue reading
Gaston Leroux – the author of The Phantom of the Opera – wrote The Machine to Kill in NINETEEN TWENTY-FOUR. Many book sites list it as 1935, but that was just the year it was finally translated into English. It has also been published in English under the titles The Bloody Puppet and The Gory Puppet.
Personally I would use the title The Clockwork Dead Man or The Clockwork Killer because for modern readers The Machine to Kill sounds like a traditional science fiction tale and both variations of the “Puppet” title make it sound like it’s about a killer puppet.
In reality this neglected Gaston Leroux novel is a horror/sci fi hybrid about an android/ cyborg mix whose mechanized body has been outfitted with the brain, eyes and nervous system of a guillotined murderer. The robotic man – called Gabriel – was created by Dr Jacques Cotentin, who needed an absolutely fresh brain, hence having to settle for a just-executed criminal.
And not just any criminal, but Benedict Masson, a monstrous-looking recluse put to death for a series of gory dismemberment killings whose quasi-sexual nature probably shocked readers in 1924. The foolish Dr Cotentin believed the brain and nervous system would simply serve as an operating system for Gabriel, animating his body but with no consciousness of its previous life. Continue reading
CAPTAIN GARDINER OF THE INTERNATIONAL POLICE (1916) – Robert Allen Dodd wrote this story one hundred years ago under the name Robert Allen. Narration informs us that the story is set 60 years after the conclusion of the then-raging World War. Since we know it ended in 1918 we can look forward to visiting the “far-off future” of 1978.
A multi-national entity called the International Federation is one of the major world powers along with the Chinese-Japanese Alliance and the Muslim Confederation. The International Police have been the Federation’s military and intelligence service but after decades of peace there is emerging pressure to disband the I.P. Amid the ongoing political and bureaucratic wrangling over that prospect our hero Captain Gardiner and his colleague Major Wilkie undertake a dangerous mission. Continue reading
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. Continue reading