Tag Archives: Science fiction

CAPTAIN GARDINER OF THE INTERNATIONAL POLICE (1916) – ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

captain-gardinerCAPTAIN GARDINER OF THE INTERNATIONAL POLICE (1916) – Robert Allen Dodd wrote this story one hundred years ago under the name Robert Allen. Narration informs us that the story is set 60 years after the conclusion of the then-raging World War. Since we know it ended in 1918 we can look forward to visiting the “far-off future” of 1978.

A multi-national entity called the International Federation is one of the major world powers along with the Chinese-Japanese Alliance and the Muslim Confederation. The International Police have been the Federation’s military and intelligence service but after decades of peace there is emerging pressure to disband the I.P. Amid the ongoing political and bureaucratic wrangling over that prospect our hero Captain Gardiner and his colleague Major Wilkie undertake a dangerous mission. Continue reading

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EDISON’S CONQUEST OF MARS (1898)

Edison's Conquest of Mars 2

From 1898 it’s Garrett P Serviss’ work of science fiction.

PART ONE – After the Martian invaders from H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds and Serviss’ own Fighters From Mars died from exposure to Earth germs, astronomers around the world realized the ordeal wasn’t over yet. All indications were that the Martians were readying another fleet of spaceships to attack the Earth. CLICK HERE   

PART TWO – Thomas Alva Edison reverse-engineered the Martian space craft. The nations of the Earth then banded together to build an entire fleet of similar vessels and take the war to the Red Planet. President McKinley, Queen Victoria, Kaiser Wilhelm and other heads of state from around the world attend the global summit. CLICK HERE   

PART THREE – After a monumental effort the Earth has a space-fleet of its own, equipped with Edison’s Disintegrator Rays as weaponry. With Edison commanding the flagship and with military men and scientific geniuses from around the world as an officer corps the Earth Fleet departs the Earth. CLICK HERE    Continue reading

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STAR MAIDENS (1975-1976) FORGOTTEN TELEVISION

star maidens planet medusa

star maidens dvdSTAR MAIDENS (1975-1976) – This obscure (only 3 reviews to date on IMDb) British-German television series from the 1970s has the same kind of campy visual appeal as U.F.O., Space: 1999 and every other Gerry & Sylvia Anderson series in history.

A few years back, Balladeer’s Blog reviewed All That Glitters, the 1977 Norman Lear follow-up to Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. All That Glitters was a five night per week soap opera parody set on a parallel Earth where women were in charge of everything and men were second-class citizens. Star Maidens was an earlier, 13-episode Euroseries that had cranked such a premise up to eleven AND treated it as serious science fiction.

star maidens picThe futuristic planet called Medusa was ruled by women with an iron fist, with men relegated to the roles of domestic servants or laborers in mines and factories, etc. Men were outrightly owned by women and the “Men’s Liberation Movement” was outlawed and hounded. Gareth Thomas of all people starred as one of two rebellious men who escape Medusa in a stolen spaceship and head for 1970s Earth. Continue reading

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DR. CUNLIFFE, INVESTIGATOR (1913) – ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

dr cunliffe bookDR. CUNLIFFE, INVESTIGATOR (1913) – Written by Harold Frankish. This book was a collection of short stories centered around Frankish’s fictional “scientific detective” Dr. Theodore Cunliffe.

A brilliant man, the British Cunliffe has granted himself enough strength to lift just over a ton and he is such a man of action that he wrestles with an ape in one story. A definite forerunner of later Pulp heroes, Dr. Cunliffe is a physician, scientist and criminologist who is often called in by Scotland Yard. Theodore is also a cosmopolitan world traveler and is well-versed in a variety of esoteric subjects.

The stories featuring his adventures:

THE ADVENTURE OF THE ATOMIC RAYS – The Adonis-like Dr. Cunliffe is called in by Scotland Yard when high-profile scientists begin to disappear. Cunliffe traces the disappearances to the mad scientist Dr. Burton, who has created a disintegration weapon powered by atomic rays. Our hero must prove Burton’s culpability in the evidence-free disintegration deaths of the missing scientists while making sure that he himself survives. Continue reading

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THE SOLARNAUTS (1967) – FORGOTTEN TELEVISION

SolarnautsTHE SOLARNAUTS (1967) – It’s kind of a shame that this pilot for a science fiction series didn’t get picked up. The Solarnauts combined some of the best (and worst) elements of Star Trek and Doctor Who plus Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s countless “Supermarionation” programs like Thunderbirds, Supercar, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, etc. 

This program featured a Star Fleet type organization of the future and its light, fluffy adventures – adventures that wouldn’t have been out of place on 1950s television so the show has a nice “retro” feel. Continue reading

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THROUGH THE HORN OR THE IVORY GATE (1905) ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

anatole franceTHROUGH THE HORN OR THE IVORY GATE (1905) – Written by Anatole France. In this story a Frenchman, the tale’s narrator, finds himself in the year 2270 A.D. The large buildings that used to fill Paris have been replaced by small cottages inhabited by people whose tastes run to fine art and statuary.

There is no more pollution and no more honking of automobile horns. No vehicles or horse-drawn carriages use the curving streets. Trains apparently no longer run through Paris as well. Instead, people travel via all manner of aircraft in the skies above.

The vessels move through motors and lighter than air technology. The shapes of the aircraft are based on birds and fish, and our narrator describes the sight of that traffic by saying the sky now “seemed to be a combination of heaven and ocean.” Continue reading

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SCIENCE FICTION THEATRE (1955-1957)

sci fi theatreSCIENCE FICTION THEATRE (1955-1957) – In Balladeer’s Blog’s Forgotten Television category here’s a look at Science Fiction Theatre, which was a syndicated series that lasted from 1955-1957. The program did 39 episodes in each of its two seasons, however, so there are 78 episodes in its history. Season One was in color, Season Two was in black & white.

Truman Bradley hosted Science Fiction Theatre and would open each program with a scientific presentation that often cited incorrect science or was outrightly faked to get the results the showrunners desired. 

Unlike The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits, this half-hour show didn’t produce as many classic episodes which became cultural reference points to this very day. That can be a positive factor if you’re in the mood for sci fi tales that don’t require as much concentration as those other two programs. 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.

mascot chair and bottle picThe 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. Continue reading

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A FLIGHT TO THE MOON (1813) – ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

a flight to the moonA FLIGHT TO THE MOON (1813) – Written by George Fowler. This story introduces readers to Randalthus (no last name given), an 1800s American man who has come to regard the moon with a mixture of near-pagan worship and pioneer longing.

Randalthus, who often goes by the shortened name Rand, is admiring the moon as he does nearly every night when a beautiful female alien figure appears to him.  Having read the adoring thoughts that our narrator directs at Earth’s satellite, she has come to grant him his wish to visit the moon and meets its peoples.

She wraps Randalthus in the white glow which surrounds her and flies the two of them to the moon. Randalthus recounts experiencing gravitational changes during the flight and eventual landing on the moon. Continue reading

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ADVENTURES OF A MICRO-MAN (1902) ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

adventures-of-a-micro-manTHE ADVENTURES OF A MICRO-MAN (1902) – This work of vintage or “ancient” science fiction was authored by Lancelot Bayly under the pen name Edwin Pallender. The central character of the story was Doctor Geoffrey Hassler, a wealthy eccentric scientist who has discovered “microgen” a gas which shrinks objects down to a very small size.  

masc graveyard smallerDr Hassler’s demonstrations of the procedure in a diving-bell shaped chamber convinces even the skeptics and he rakes in even more money plus scientific recognition. One day when he, his daughter Muriel, her fiancee Gerald and a family friend named Reverend Eden are all inside the chamber a fluke accident causes them all to be shrunk down to a fraction of an inch.

Nobody was around to witness the accident so the quartet are trapped at tiny size for approximately 10 days, when the microgen treatment will wear off and they will return to normal. In their struggle to survive they manage to escape the chamber and make their way to Dr Hassler’s garden which – at their current size – is like a vast, dangerous jungle to them. Knowing they need food and water the group has no alternative but to venture forth. Continue reading

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