THE ADVENTURES OF AN ENGINEER (1898) – Written by Weatherby Chesney, better known as C.J. Cutcliffe Hyne. This is a collection of short stories about the scientific adventurer Richard Felton.
Part pulp hero and part proto-Quatermass, Felton’s escapades also put one in mind of Quentin E Deverill from the cult show Q.E.D. aka Mastermind. Seventeen stories are featured in this collection, among them:
THE RULER OF THE WORLD – Felton is persuaded by his old friend Braithwaite to construct a super-scientific aircraft for him. Richard does so, and after a test-flight with Braithwaite to demonstrate how deadly the flying machine is, the latter reveals his megalomaniacal plans to use the aircraft in a Roburesque plan to conquer the world. Our hero must try to stop him, even if it means destroying his own creation. Continue reading
A FANTASTICAL EXCURSION INTO THE PLANETS (1839) – Written by an unknown author. The anonymous narrator of this novel is taken on a visit to assorted planets and other celestial bodies. The figure who transports him is a winged, rainbow-colored sprite whose face and body constantly change slightly, allowing no lasting impression to be made out.
MERCURY – The narrator discovers Mercury to be a sunny but not scorching planet of pleasantly aromatic meadows and trees. The inhabitants are beautiful, angelic creatures of indeterminate gender whose light-weight bodies permit them to virtually float around like feathers.
These beings devote all their time to frolicking, singing and making music on other-worldly stringed and wind instruments that the narrator compares to lyres and flutes. The closest thing to actual labor that the Mercurians do is to cultivate flowers then weave them into chaplets and garlands with which to adorn themselves.
VENUS – Next our narrator and his winged guide visit Venus. This planet is covered with roses, myrtles, amaranths and asphodels plus alien flowers flaunting colors unknown on Earth. The flatlands are all covered in short green grass which smells of lilies and violets. Continue reading
THE DOMINION IN 1983 (1883) – Written by “Ralph Centennius,” the presumed pseudonym of an unknown author.
Oh, Canada! Our neighbors to the north hopped on the speculative science fiction bandwagon with this short story. The premise is that the author is looking back at the 100 years of Canadian “history” from 1883 to 1983.
In futuristic 1983 the population of Canada is 93 million, there are 15 provinces and the country is a model for the world in terms of peace, learning, arts and sciences. We readers are told that there was a period around 1885 when many Canadians supported the idea of Canada becoming part of the United States, but this movement faded after losing at the ballot box.
Canadian technology leads the world, with rocketships that can fly at a mile per second and electric automobiles for ground transport. Electricity is the predominant energy source, and Electropolis, the first all-electric city, was recently completed. Continue reading
THE PEOPLE OF THE MOON (1895) – Written by Tremlett Carter. An unnamed narrator, a scientist of some sort, sees a glowing 18 inch object floating in the sky. A bird who makes physical contact with the glowing orb is killed by the object’s electric charge.
Our narrator jury-rigs a means of grounding against the electricity and hauling the orb down to his laboratory. The object slowly reaches room temperature and ejects from its interior a book written in an unearthly alphabet.
The anonymous narrator’s friend Professor Hector Goss visits him in the midst of all this and excitedly tells our protagonist about a secret society that he belongs to. Goss and his fellow society members have been performing scientific research by directing the astral/ spiritual bodies of hypnotized human guinea pigs.
Before dying, their most recent test subject visited the moon in his astral body and saw a city on the dark side of Earth’s satellite. He also spotted life – humanoid AND dragon life. Professor Goss jumps to the conclusion that the unearthly book that Nameless Narrator holds came from the moon.
Conveniently, Nameless and Goss had previously devised a fool-proof system of deciphering any and all languages so they translate the mysterious book and learn all about the beings on the moon. Continue reading
THE AUTOMATIC MAID-OF-ALL-WORK. A POSSIBLE TALE OF THE NEAR FUTURE (1893) – Written by female author M.L. Campbell. Obviously I shortened the title for my blog post headline. Balladeer’s Blog’s look at “ancient” science fiction continues with this 1893 robot story.
Well-to-do John Matheson and his wife are having a hard time keeping a maid. To satisfy his hard to please wife, the inventor works away in his laboratory/ workshop to perfect his new idea: a mechanized “Maid-Of-All-Work” hoping this will solve the domestic staff issue. Continue reading
THE QUEEN OF APPALACHIA (1901) – Written by Joe H. Borders. This novel features Paul Thornton, a merchant in Kentucky, and his Lost World adventures. While hiking in the wilderness Paul saves a beautiful woman from drowning. The woman is, coincidentally enough, utterly identical to Paul’s girlfriend May Arnold.
The rescued woman says she is Olivet, the Queen of a subterranean land called Appalachia. Several generations earlier, Kentucky pioneers were driven into hiding in a cave to escape hostile Native Americans. The cave was part of an entire network of subterranean tunnels which extend around the world.
A large mass of electricity provides light and heat and “revolves” in time to the Earth’s revolution to approximate day and night in the underground realm called Appalachia by the pioneers. Gold and diamonds are plentiful in Appalachia. Continue reading