From 1898 it’s Garrett P Serviss’ work of science fiction.
PART ONE – After the Martian invaders from H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds and Serviss’ own Fighters From Mars died from exposure to Earth germs, astronomers around the world realized the ordeal wasn’t over yet. All indications were that the Martians were readying another fleet of spaceships to attack the Earth. CLICK HERE
PART TWO – Thomas Alva Edison reverse-engineered the Martian space craft. The nations of the Earth then banded together to build an entire fleet of similar vessels and take the war to the Red Planet. President McKinley, Queen Victoria, Kaiser Wilhelm and other heads of state from around the world attend the global summit. CLICK HERE
PART THREE – After a monumental effort the Earth has a space-fleet of its own, equipped with Edison’s Disintegrator Rays as weaponry. With Edison commanding the flagship and with military men and scientific geniuses from around the world as an officer corps the Earth Fleet departs the Earth. CLICK HERE Continue reading
DR. CUNLIFFE, INVESTIGATOR (1913) – Written by Harold Frankish. This book was a collection of short stories centered around Frankish’s fictional “scientific detective” Dr. Theodore Cunliffe.
A brilliant man, the British Cunliffe has granted himself enough strength to lift just over a ton and he is such a man of action that he wrestles with an ape in one story. A definite forerunner of later Pulp heroes, Dr. Cunliffe is a physician, scientist and criminologist who is often called in by Scotland Yard. Theodore is also a cosmopolitan world traveler and is well-versed in a variety of esoteric subjects.
The stories featuring his adventures:
THE ADVENTURE OF THE ATOMIC RAYS – The Adonis-like Dr. Cunliffe is called in by Scotland Yard when high-profile scientists begin to disappear. Cunliffe traces the disappearances to the mad scientist Dr. Burton, who has created a disintegration weapon powered by atomic rays. Our hero must prove Burton’s culpability in the evidence-free disintegration deaths of the missing scientists while making sure that he himself survives. Continue reading
THROUGH THE HORN OR THE IVORY GATE (1905) – Written by Anatole France. In this story a Frenchman, the tale’s narrator, finds himself in the year 2270 A.D. The large buildings that used to fill Paris have been replaced by small cottages inhabited by people whose tastes run to fine art and statuary.
There is no more pollution and no more honking of automobile horns. No vehicles or horse-drawn carriages use the curving streets. Trains apparently no longer run through Paris as well. Instead, people travel via all manner of aircraft in the skies above.
The vessels move through motors and lighter than air technology. The shapes of the aircraft are based on birds and fish, and our narrator describes the sight of that traffic by saying the sky now “seemed to be a combination of heaven and ocean.” Continue reading
ACCOUNT OF AN EXPEDITION TO THE INTERIOR OF NEW HOLLAND (1837) – Written by multiple parties, with Lady Mary Fox, Richard Whateley and Lord Holland the likeliest authors. “New Holland” was an old name for Australia. In 1860 the novel was reissued under the title preface The Southlanders.
The story centers around an expedition that travels hundreds of miles into the interior of Australia, where the off-course explorers find a fictional chain of lakes and rivers with a Lost Civilization founded by English Dissenters during the Protestant Reformation.
This Lost Civilization is called Southland by its mixed-race inhabitants. The major language is English as it was in the 1500s when Southland was established, so some words and expressions differ from the English spoken by our expedition members. Otherwise, they can communicate with each other just fine.
Southland boasts a population of roughly four million and is divided into eleven distinct regions which, though under one overall parliamentary government, enjoy a large amount of internal sovereignty. Some regions are republics and others live under a hereditary monarchy. In several of the republics, however, their chief executive figure is still called a king despite being elected.
The citizens are nearly all mixed-race now after three centuries of intermarrying among the white population and the aborigines. Continue reading
THE STOLEN PLANET (1906) – Written by John Mastin. Jervis Meredith, a wealthy young British man and his equally wealthy friend Fraser Burnley are so brilliant they invent anti-gravity. Next the young tycoons have a spaceship built so they can use their anti-gravity device to tour outer space.
The battleship-sized craft is named The Regina and combines propellers with Meredith and Burnley’s anti-gravity invention. The friends set off with a ten-man crew and – oddly enough – they are so paranoid about people stealing their secrets they have rigged an elaborate bugging system throughout the Regina so they can know what the crew members talk about.
The explorers make the eccentric decision to explore the region around Sirius first, rather than our own solar system. Enroute the Regina accidentally pulls an uncharted planet out of its orbit (?) and causes it to collide with another uncharted planet. This collision causes a new sun to be born. (Regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog will remember that this was apparently a big idea for a time since a lot of these old stories feature suns forming from colliding planets.)
Eventually our heroes decide to explore some planets on their way to the star Sirius. On the first planet they visit the explorers find enormous ruins obviously built by a gigantic race that is now extinct. The structures were beautiful from what can be made out and are made of materials unknown on Earth. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
THE ADVENTURES OF A MICRO-MAN (1902) – This work of vintage or “ancient” science fiction was authored by Lancelot Bayly under the pen name Edwin Pallender. The central character of the story was Doctor Geoffrey Hassler, a wealthy eccentric scientist who has discovered “microgen” a gas which shrinks objects down to a very small size.
Dr Hassler’s demonstrations of the procedure in a diving-bell shaped chamber convinces even the skeptics and he rakes in even more money plus scientific recognition. One day when he, his daughter Muriel, her fiancee Gerald and a family friend named Reverend Eden are all inside the chamber a fluke accident causes them all to be shrunk down to a fraction of an inch.
Nobody was around to witness the accident so the quartet are trapped at tiny size for approximately 10 days, when the microgen treatment will wear off and they will return to normal. In their struggle to survive they manage to escape the chamber and make their way to Dr Hassler’s garden which – at their current size – is like a vast, dangerous jungle to them. Knowing they need food and water the group has no alternative but to venture forth. 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
MEDA: A TALE OF THE FUTURE (1891) – This sci-fi tale of the year 5575 AD was first written in 1888 but read mostly among the social circle of the author. Its first official publication came in 1891.
Artist Kenneth Folingsby is flung forward in time to the year 5575, when he can tell that the pull of gravity has lessened substantially. Following a canal, he comes across the ruins of Edinburgh and sees what people of future Scotland – who call themselves Scotonians – look like. This is another of those 1800s novels which absurdly assume that less than 4,000 years will be enough time to bring on enormous evolutionary changes to the human body.
To be fair, though, Meda: A Tale of the Future does use mutation following a planetary disaster to justify the rapid physiological changes.
The Scotonians have stubby bodies with large heads shaped like hot air balloons and are no taller than four feet. The people themselves are practically lighter than air, with some needing weighted down with lead or stones to prevent them from floating off into the upper atmosphere. Continue reading
THE HAMPDEN-SHIRE WONDER (1911) – Written by J.D. Beresford. The story centers around Victor Stott, the remarkable son of Cricket star Ginger Stott. A news reporter who is on friendly terms with Ginger Stott meets his one year old child Victor during a train trip.
The reporter is disturbed by Victor’s obvious intelligence and menacing, piercing stare, though the prodigy’s father has forbidden the child to speak in order to avoid confirming suspicions regarding his paranormal intellect.
When Victor is five years old the anthropologist Squire Challis, another friend of the family, lets the obviously brilliant child loose in his extensive library. Victor manages to complete every book in Challis’ library in a matter of days. He then proceeds to debate and demolish all of Challis’ deeply-held views in a variety of scholarly subjects. Continue reading