A PLUNGE INTO SPACE (1890) – Written by THE Robert Cromie, later editions of this novel came with a preface by Jules Verne himself. Scientist Henry Barnett, after 20 years of labor, has mastered “the ethereal force which permeates all things,” a combination of electricity and gravity. This mastery will allow for interplanetary space travel.
Barnett and a select group of colleagues establish a secret base in Alaska, where they construct a spherical fifty-foot black metal Flying Ball. The craft includes air tanks, a huge telescope, sophisticated instruments and more.
In anticipation of encounters with hostile life-forms on other planets, the clique has also manufactured disintegrator weapons, with which they fight off curious parties of indigenous tribes in order to preserve their secret.
At last the vessel is ready for a flight to Mars. The crew will consist of Barnett as the Science Officer, plus MacGregor, a famous explorer and other presumed specialists in various fields, even politics, finance and literature. (Think of Napoleon’s military expedition to Egypt which took along scholars in many disciplines.)
The black spaceship heads for Mars at a speed of 50,000 miles per minute and arrives after roughly 12 hours. The crew learn that the so-called “canals” of Mars are really prolonged simooms (fast-moving wind-storms) and not canals at all. The planet has an atmosphere in which the Earthlings can breathe normally but is largely a desert. Continue reading