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UP IN THE AIR AND DOWN IN THE SEA (1863): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

Boys' JournalUP IN THE AIR AND DOWN IN THE SEA (1863) – Written by William S Hayward, this story was originally serialized in The Boy’s Journal from February to August of 1863. In 1865 it was published in novel form as The Cloud King

The main character of the tale is scientific adventurer Victor Volans, who has been obsessed with ballooning all his life. During his childhood he would spend untold amounts of time sending up balloons and noting how long they would stay aloft and how far they would travel.

Eventually he moved on to an experiment in which he sent kittens up with a larger balloon, but unfortunately the kittens died from the cold air at the altitude their balloon reached. Little Victor followed up that tragedy by sending up his little brother. The brother survived his balloon trip but the horrified Volans parents angrily forbade Victor from conducting any further experiments.

masc graveyard newYears later, when Volans was a teenager, his parents moved the entire family to California to try to cash in on the Gold Rush. Victor took jobs to earn his own money and returned to his ballooning experiments.

On a test flight in his brand-new balloon, Volans loses control to intense winds which blow him and his aircraft over the Pacific Ocean. Eventually Victor winds up encountering two Lost Worlds somewhere in the Pacific. The first of these is the Region of Eternal Night, where our hero must fend off flying fire beings whose touch can burn humans to death.   Continue reading

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