Tag Archives: Ancient Science fiction

AN INTER-PLANETARY RUPTURE (1906): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

Frank L PackardAN INTER-PLANETARY RUPTURE (1906) – Written by Frank L Packard. This work of Science Fiction is set in the far-off year 3102 A.D. Since the year 2532 all of the Earth has been united under one single government, which is headquartered in America’s Washington, D.C. (Yet this was written by a Canadian.)

The global parliamentary body was called the Assembly of the World and met in an enormous billion-dollar building called the Edifice of Deliberations. Former sovereign nations of the Earth are represented there like States or Provinces were in countries during the past. 

The executive body of the world government is called the Supreme Council of Earth and meets in the same building as the Assembly but in the opposite wing. This Supreme Council consists of 12 members who are appointed based on their brilliance and accomplishments in global law and governance.

In an interesting touch the flag of the United Earth is red and white: a blood-red field with a white dove in the center.

To the people of the 32nd Century space travel is as easy as train or ship travel to the people of 1906. Multiple inhabited planets interact with each other and periodic wars are as common between these planets as wars between nations were in the past.

An asteroid called Mizar has been under Earth’s political jurisdiction since the Treaty of 2970. The people living on Mizar declare their independence from the Earth and strongly request that the people of the planet Mercury annex the asteroid. Mercury’s government hungers for Mizar because of its strategic orbital path.     Continue reading

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THE GUARDIAN OF MYSTERY ISLAND (1896): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

Guardian of Mystery IslandTHE GUARDIAN OF MYSTERY ISLAND (1896) – Written by Dr Edmond Molcini. Mystery Island lies off the coast of Maine and everyone near the coast considers the place haunted by a true monstrosity – a large ghost-dog.

Sam Lenartson, the hero of the story, is new to the region and is bemused by the superstitious whispers about Mystery Island. He decides to investigate by sailing over to the place but can’t find anyone willing to brave the isle with him.

Sam arrives alone and, though he hears distant barking of an apparently large canine when he follows the sounds he finds a small dog and its owner. That owner is a very, very, VERY old French woman who is either senile or insane. She says she has been around since the 1790s, kept alive by chewing what she calls “Devil Weed.” Continue reading

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THE LIFE AND ASTONISHING ADVENTURES OF JOHN DANIEL (1751): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

John DanielFull Title: A NARRATIVE OF THE LIFE AND ASTONISHING ADVENTURES OF JOHN DANIEL, A SMITH AT ROYSTON IN HERTFORDSHIRE, FOR A COURSE OF SEVENTY YEARS. (1751) – Written by Ralph Morris, supposedly a pseudonym used by an unknown man.

Around the year 1650 John Daniel, a smith in Royston, is subjected to the relentless advances of his sultry stepmother. To avoid a situation which would hurt his father, John goes off to sea on a ship bound for the Moluccas. Enroute the ship goes under, with the only survivors being John Daniel and a young man who turns out to really be a woman in disguise.

John and this woman – named Ruth – are castaways on an uncharted and uninhabited island somewhere near Java. Food, shelter, fresh water and game animals are in huge supply, so John and Ruth name the place the Isle of Providence. The couple perform a do-it-yourself wedding ceremony and begin having children.

As the years go by our main characters have six sons and five daughters. Any other ships that draw near the island always wreck, leaving no survivors so the family abandons hope of rescue. Five of the sons and five of the daughters are married to each other when they reach their teen years. (All together now: “Eeewww!”)

John Daniel 2The unmarried son, Daniel (yes his name is Daniel Daniel) has a knack for inventing things and builds a flying machine. Its general shape is like one of our modern-day airplanes but the wings are leather over metal rod frames and in order to fly the wings must “flap,” which they do, powered by a pump.

John insists on accompanying his son Daniel (I’ll call him “Dan-Dan” from this point on) on the “mechanical eagle’s” test-flight. The flying machine performs even better than Dan-Dan hoped, but is so strong and fast that it winds up taking the inventor and his father to the moon. Continue reading

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THE STOLEN PLANET (1906): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

Stolen PlanetTHE 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.

Jervis and Fraser – British to the core – “annex” the planet in the name of the King of England. They name the world Silens and soon find the atmosphere to be so radioactive they must leave before they suffer permanent damage.

Next the Regina survives an encounter with a comet, then lands on another planet. This one is many times the size of Earth and with gravity thousands of times greater. All the animals of this planet (Inimicus Ingens) are gigantic compared to Earth animals. Even germs are so large they are visible to the naked eye.

The explorers are captured by the world’s enormous humanoids but manage to escape the beings with a spunky alien sea creature as their new mascot. A guided missile that the aliens shoot at the Regina fails to hit it. Continue reading

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A PESTILENT VAPOR (1903): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

Future washington d.c.A PESTILENT VAPOR (1903) – Written by Alice MacGowan, this neglected story introduced a figure who should have become as famous in his way as H.G. Wells’ Invisible Man. 

The tale is set in “the far future” of 1950. The mad scientist Dr Sylvester assassinates the U.S. President for refusing to grant Sylvester the appointment he wanted to an overseas post where he could continue his bizarre experiments.

The not so good doctor is taken into custody and gets even more spiteful satisfaction out of the way the country is rife with rioting and protests. Dr Sylvester wants to further his plans by exploiting the spreading anarchy and disappears from his prison cell.

Sylvester has discovered a way of transforming his body into a gaseous state. When no one was watching him he turned into a vapor and drifted out of the prison, returning to his human form when he had reached safety. Continue reading

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BEYOND THE ETHER (1898): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

MARSBEYOND THE ETHER (1898) – Written by W. Cairns Johnston. This little honey is so jam-packed with enjoyable weirdness that it’s sort of like “If Ed Wood wrote Steam-Punk.”

Two friends from Harvard reunite on a camping and mountain-climbing trip. In Maine they discover a mysterious new gas which erupts from the ground. The pair study the gas and decide to use its lighter than air properties to visit other planets in our solar system.

In a cosmic-level coincidence our heroes later stumble upon a previously unknown plant here on Earth. The plant can be used to induce suspended animation for space travel and to heal grievous injuries. The incredibly lucky explorers leave the Earth on board their balloon propelled by their new gas.

At 30,000 feet they use their newly-discovered plant to put themselves into suspended animation for their trip to Mars. More than three years later they wake up as they enter the atmosphere of the Red Planet. Clumsily, our space pioneers fall out of their balloon’s basket and land in the nest of a gigantic Martian eagle. Continue reading

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THE INCUBATED GIRL (1896): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

Incubated GirlTHE INCUBATED GIRL (1896) – Written by F.T. Jane, as in THE Jane who originated the Jane’s Guides. 

It would be overly glib to describe this novel as just a sci-fi version of Alraune because it definitely goes in some unexpected directions. Plus Alraune itself borrowed heavily from Homunculus, Mandrake and Mandragore folklore. There’s a touch of The Great God Pan as well. 

The Incubated Girl begins with British Egyptologist Blackburn Zadara discovering an ancient coffin of a Priest of Isis. There is no corpse inside but rather a manuscript and assorted chemical concoctions. Zadara returns to England with the discovery and translates the manuscript – it is a guide to creating human life by using the chemical substances that were buried with the manuscript.

Blackburn closely follows the instructions and months later he invites his friend Meredyth Wilson Sr over to witness the initial results of the experiment. Wilson watches as Zadara opens a large egg-shaped pod from which he removes a little baby girl.  

Blackburn Zadara names the child Stella and tells Meredyth that according to the Egyptian manuscript Stella will be supernaturally healthy and will never experience death as long as she never drinks human milk nor eats any meat.

Over the years as Stella grows, Zadara tries to create additional humanoids but those efforts always fail. The Egyptologist has been using specifically deaf-mute servants to attend to Stella to limit involved interaction with other humans.

By her 18th year Stella is beautiful and highly intelligent but is as selfish as a newborn and enjoys enacting revenge against anyone who gets on her bad side. Blackburn takes the incubated girl to London with him, but she abandons him there, since she finds him ugly and unpleasant. Continue reading

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