Tag Archives: proto-science fiction

THE NEW HUMANS (1909): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

UgandaTHE NEW HUMANS (1909) – Written by B Vallance. No other name has come to light for the author of this thought-provoking work. Explorer Montgomery Merrick is roaming around the wilds of 1909 Uganda when he falls down a mountainside and into a concealed valley.

Merrick’s injuries are such that he does not expect to survive but he wakes up on an operating table in fine condition. Looking down at him are amoeboid humans who don barrel-shaped exo-skeletons whenever they need to keep their forms stable, as in during the surgery they were performing on Merrick.  

One of the beings speaks English and introduces himself to the recovering patient as the Chief Adaptor, who takes credit for “repairing” our hero. Merrick gradually becomes aware that his ultimate fate is still being debated by his odd saviors. Continue reading

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ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION: EIGHT MORE EXAMPLES (1744-1910)

Speedy JourneyOne of the most popular posts here at Balladeer’s Blog was my list about “ancient” science fiction from 1634-1909. Here is a followup list of sci fi tales that were way ahead of their time. FOR THE ORIGINAL LIST CLICK HERE     

THE SPEEDY JOURNEY (1744) – Written by Eberhard Christian Kindermann. A five-man crew from Earth pilot a spacecraft to a moon of Mars, where they encounter alien life-forms of all kinds as well as secrets tying the inhabitants to Earth people by way of odd religious parallels. The space travelers also encounter a world-destroying meteor and a “space whirlpool.” CLICK HERE  

THE VOYAGE OF LORD CETON TO THE SEVEN PLANETS (1765) – Written by female author Marie-Anne de Roumier. Set in the 1640s this story features an angel named Zachiel who transports a man and his sister to the planets of our solar system. Continue reading

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THE QUEER SIDE OF THINGS: ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

StrandTHE QUEER SIDE OF THINGS (1890s) – Written by James Frank Sullivan.  Straight from the Gay Nineties, it’s a selection of Sullivan’s contributions to the Strand magazine’s short fiction column The Queer Side of Things.

So, before we all find ourselves on Queer Street just because some Dick wants to arrest us for seeming as queer as a clockwork orange, here’s a snatch of J.F.’s work from The Queer Side of Things column. 

OLD PROFESSOR WILLETT (December 1892) – Professor Willett announces to his family that his latest invention is going to make all of them rich but refuses to elaborate. Willett disappears after a few days without revealing any more details.

Foul play is suspected and the story’s narrator investigates. It turns out the Professor had devised a highly advanced explosive made from natural fibers. The explosive goes off with no sound and is so rapid its victims seem to simply vanish.

Willett was the first to go during an accident with his invention. Other family members have been perishing/ vanishing, too and the narrator is desperate to save his fiancée – one of the Professor’s daughters – from meeting the same fate.

SPOILER: He is too late and in despair lets himself die from the super-explosive, too.   

THE DWINDLING HOUR (January 1893) – Pre-Einsteinian look at Relativity. A relic in the form of a water clock made from rare stone around 5000 B.C. gets passed down from civilization to civilization. Odd changes in the size of the water hole in the bowl of the water clock seem harmless at first but eventually are understood to be ominous.  Continue reading

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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 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 Nth MAN (1920 – 1924): VINTAGE SCIENCE FICTION

Nth ManTHE Nth MAN (1920 – 1924?) – Written by Homer Eon Flint, who died in 1924. Though this short novel was not published until 1928 many fans of the author argue that it was actually written in 1920.

The story is set in what was then the near future of the 1930s. The Nth Man is an enormous humanoid figure with hardened skin like the shells of certain species of animals. He is supposedly 2 miles tall, but that would make many of the events in the novel impractical if not impossible.

The mysterious giant is at first regarded as half rumor and half Tall Tale as he sets the world talking with some incredible actions. He tears apart some of the Great Wall of China, he removes the head of the Sphinx and places it on top of one of the pyramids and he picks up a ship bound for Australia and carries it for thousands of miles.  

Showing more cognitive purpose the Nth Man also makes off with an entire building to thwart a plot by anarchists and saves a little girl from drowning. All of the preceding deeds have been accomplished under cover of darkness but now the colossus comes out into the open, emerging from San Francisco Bay to tower over the city.  

The Nth Man walks from coast to coast, easily defeating the aerial and land forces that attempt to stop him. You would think this proto-Kaiju sequence would have inspired a film adaptation long ago. The gigantic figure goes to Washington D.C. and lays down some demands from on-high. Continue reading

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FUNGUS ISLE (1923): THE INSPIRATION FOR “ATTACK OF THE MUSHROOM PEOPLE?”

Fungus IsleFUNGUS ISLE (1923) – Written by Philip M Fisher. Fungus Isle has the same proto-Creature Feature feel to it that The True Inheritors (qv) had. In the case of the previously reviewed story it was a forerunner of various giant spider flicks. In the case of Fungus Isle it seems like the inspiration for Attack of the Mushroom People, aka Matango, the Fungus of Terror.  

A handful of friends find themselves shipwrecked on an uncharted island near New Guinea. The island is crawling with various types of fungus and our protagonists eventually encounter some fungi that are nearly humanoid and can walk.

The spores shot out by the fungi cling to human flesh, eventually accumulating to the point where they completely cover the body. Salt water serves as an effective remedy to clean off the spores but there is no food on the island except mushrooms. Continue reading

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