Category Archives: Ancient Science Fiction

THE LOG OF THE FLYING FISH (1887): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

Log of the Flying FishTHE LOG OF THE FLYING FISH: A STORY OF AERIAL AND SUBMARINE PERIL AND ADVENTURE (1887) – Written by Harry Collingwood (William J.C. Lancaster).

Professor Heinrich von Schalckenburg, a brilliant German scientist, is speaking at the Migrants’ Club, an organization of explorers and scientific pioneers. Von Schalckenburg dismisses lighter than air vessels and claims he will prove the success of heavier than air vessels with two of his most recent inventions.

One of those inventions is a crystal powder which can be used as an explosive and as a source of electricity and gas. The other is a new metal alloy that the professor has dubbed “aethereum”, a light but strong substance.

Von Schalckenburg says he is 100,000 British pounds short of being able to construct a craft capable of flying AND serving as a submarine. Mighty Jack, eat your heart out! Sir Reginald Elphinstone, a member of the Migrants’ Club, finances the professor’s project. Continue reading

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BEST OF NOVEMBER 2019

Balladeer’s Blog’s end of year retrospective concludes with this look at November’s best:

New York City underwaterA NEW LIST OF HILARIOUSLY WRONG PREDICTIONS FROM PSYCHICS – Cannibalism in Pennsylvania? A Civil War in the 1980s?

All that and more. CLICK HERE 

People of the Moon biggerANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION: The People of the Moon (1895) HERE , The Dominion in 1983 (1883) HERE , A Fantastical Excursion Into The Planets (1839) HERE  

THE RUSTIC – My look at this ancient Greek Comedy by Epicharmus. CLICK HERE

ALLEGRO NON TROPPO – A review of the 1977 Italian film. CLICK HERE

Iron Sights 2 PsychosIRON SIGHTS: TWO PSYCHOS – Comic book giant Richard C Meyer’s latest graphic novel featuring all-out action against the Mexican drug cartels. CLICK HERE

CONGRESSWOMAN TULSI GABBARD CALLS OUT HER PARTY – The heroic role model once again displays her courage. CLICK HERE

THE BLACK TULIP: SWASHBUCKLER – An action-filled adaptation of the Alexandre Dumas novel from 1850. CLICK  HERE Continue reading

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Filed under Ancient Greek Comedy, Ancient Science Fiction, Bad and weird movies, LIBERALS AND CONSERVATIVES, Neglected History, opinion

A JOURNEY WITH THE FLYING FISH “PROMETHEUS” (1870)

Prometheus aircraftMEMOIRS FROM A JOURNEY WITH THE FLYING FISH “PROMETHEUS” (1870) – Written by Danish author Vilhelm Bergsoe. I shortened the title in the heading for this blog post. Some editions shorten it even more, to just Flying Fish Prometheus

This story was originally serialized in three issues of Illustreret Tidende from January 9th to January 23rd of 1870. Memoirs … Prometheus is a piece of speculative science fiction set in the “far off year” 1969. William Stone is the main character and narrator of the tale.

Stone is Danish and works for a company digging an underwater tunnel connecting Sweden and Denmark. Our main character receives an invitation (as a professional courtesy) to fly to Panama to witness the opening of the Panama Canal. You have to smile when speculative sci-fi is actually pessimistic about how long certain accomplishments will take. Remember the Russian sci-fi story setting the first moon landing in the year 2017?

Mascot new lookWilliam’s American colleagues send the new airship Prometheus to fetch him. The Prometheus is cigar-shaped (like so many UFOs would be described decades later) and sports wings plus propellors. Our man Stone boards the airship in Koege, along with other passengers including his love interest Anna Blue.       Continue reading

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THE ADVENTURES OF AN ENGINEER (1898): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

Adventures of an engineerTHE 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

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A FANTASTICAL EXCURSION INTO THE PLANETS (1839): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

Fantastical excursionA 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.

              masc chair and bottleThese 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

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THE DOMINION IN 1983 (1883): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

Dominion in 1983THE 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.

Mascot new lookCanadian 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

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THE PEOPLE OF THE MOON (1895): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

People of the Moon biggerTHE 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

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