The Air Ship departs the Earth as Fama and the Astral Body look on.
THE SPEEDY JOURNEY (1744) by Eberhard Christian Kindermann. This work of proto-science fiction begins with the fictitious discovery of a moon orbiting the planet Mars over a century before Phobos and Deimos were observed in real life. From there it features a journey through space to reach this celestial body.
The Speedy Journey represents an odd but entertaining fusion of scientific speculation and elements of Christian mythology. Fama (“Fame”), an actual angel from Heaven heralds the discovery of the fictitious moon of Mars and even sings the public praises of the team of scientists who set out to explore the satellite. In the peculiar fictional world presented by Kindermann in this book the general public takes in stride these visitations from angels who serve as virtual P.R. flacks for men of science. Continue reading
The spacecraft departs from Mercury.
THE UNPRETENTIOUS PHILOSOPHER (1775) – By Louis-Guillaume de La Follie. The original French title of this work of proto-science fiction was Le Philosophe sans Pretention ou l’Homme Rare, but in the 21st Century it’s more generally known by the slightly shorter title.
One of the central characters of this story is an Earth scholar named Nadir, and I have no idea if it’s a coincidence or if the people behind the 1960’s film Frankenstein Meets The Space Monster were paying sly homage to de La Follie by naming one of the characters Nadir. At any rate Nadir is visited by Ormisais, a space traveler from the planet Mercury.
Ormisais regales Nadir with details about life on Mercury and also informs him that he has crash-landed on Earth and needs rare elements to repair his electrically -powered craft so that he can return to his home planet. The Mercurians had a planetary version of the British Royal Society and the French Academy, but it had a much more limited membership. Continue reading
NAVIS AERIA (1768) – By Bernardo Zamagna. Written in 1768 Navis Aeria (“Ship of the Air”) was the Italian Zamagna’s attempt to take concepts we of today would associate with science fiction and present them in the old, quaint format of Epic Poetry.
The verse story detailed a flight around the world in a flying machine which was basically a sailing ship with four huge balloons around the sails and connected to a main mast. Zamagna presciently observed that one day aircraft would constitute “other Argos to carry chosen heroes” on their adventures. Continue reading