Tag Archives: proto-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 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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THE SEA DEMONS (1916): VINTAGE SCIENCE FICTION

Amphibious Man

Picture by Doneplay at Deviant Art

THE SEA DEMONS (1916) by Victor Rousseau Emanuel aka H.M. Egbert. Set in contemporary times this story features Lt Donald Paget of the Royal Navy battling sea creatures. World War One is raging but Paget’s scientist friend Masterman warns him about invisible humanoid sea beings who are mutating into air-breathers.

That development means the Sea Demons are looking to conquer the surface world and with their respectable intelligence they just might succeed. Paget dismisses the story as lunacy even after the Sea Demons kill Masterman to prevent him from rallying the surface world against them.

Lt Paget remains skeptical even after he encounters Sea Demons going through the late Masterman’s papers to find out how much he knew about them. Not even Agent Scully would still be doubting the existence of the sea creatures by this point but Donald remains skeptical until he goes back on duty at sea where he and his crew encounter the Sea Demons in action. Continue reading

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PSI CASSIOPEIA (1854): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

Star by C I Defontenay betterPSI CASSIOPEIA, or STAR: A MARVELOUS HISTORY OF WORLDS IN OUTER SPACE (1854) – Written by Dr Charlemagne Ischer Defontenay, a French M.D. and author. Long before J.R.R. Tolkien churned out obsessive amounts of fine detail about his fictional Middle Earth, Defontenay produced this volume of history, poetry and drama from his fictional planets in the star system Psi Cassiopeia.  

The narrator of the story is supposedly translating alien documents which he discovered in an artificial meteor that crashed in the Himalayas. The documents were from a planet called (incongruously enough) “Star.”

Star by C I DeFontenayThe system where that planet is located is a three-star system. Ruliel is the large, white star at the center, around which orbit the two lesser stars Altether (green) and Erragror (blue). The planet called Star is orbited by large planetoids/ moons named Tassul, Lessur, Rudar and Elier. Throwing all science to the winds the planet is also orbited by a small red star called Urrias.  

Star and its satellites are inhabited except, of course, for Urrias. The translated documents cover a roughly 1,000 year period of events regarding these worlds. The ancient Starian humanoids formed a united world-wide culture which started as an Empire before becoming a socialist planet economically and politically. The documents also claim that their culture boasted beautiful architecture, incredible feats of engineering and awe-inspiring works of art.

At one point a plague swept the globe, reducing the proud Starian civilization to chaos. A Nihilist Cult formed as the plague kept whittling away at the population over the course of years. In the post-apocalyptic ruins the Nihilists formed a fanatical religion devoted to ending all life on Star. The zealots formed armies which exterminated millions of Starians with the intention of taking their own lives when all non-members of their cult had been wiped out. Continue reading

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THE MAN FROM SATURN (1890): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

SaturnTHE MAN FROM SATURN (1890) – By an unknown author. This work also appeared under the title Willmoth the Wanderer, a cutesy reference to the classic Melmoth the Wanderer. A young, unnamed American encounters Willmoth, a male humanoid who states he is from the planet Saturn and is hundreds of thousands of years old.

Willmoth begins the tale of how he came to be stranded on Earth long ago. He was born and raised in the Saturnian city called Eathman, which he describes as a happy socialist state which survives due to the absolute honesty of its citizens. Eathman is an isolated city-state and its perfection has meant that the inhabitants have never undertaken expeditions to see what the rest of Saturn is like, despite their futuristic technology. (Odd.)

The women outnumber the men 20 to 1 in Eathman so all of the men have multiple mates, which I’m guessing explains the lack of interest in exploration, though the author never goes there. Willmoth’s tutor back then was a famous astronomer named Elwer. One day Elwer shows Willmoth a flying machine he has invented, a device which uses hot-air to rise and propellers for directional flight. 

Using the flying machine Elwer and Willmoth set out to address their civilization’s deficiency of knowledge about the rest of Saturn. The pair encounter and catalogue many and varied life-forms, ending with their extended stay with the Ground-Dwellers, humanoids who live in networks of underground caverns. Willmoth falls in love with Zea, a beautiful female Ground-Dweller who befriends the explorers.  Continue reading

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