1855 __ « Heliondé » — or, Adventures in the Sun (Supernatural & occult fiction) »
‣ Comment : “. (Happy Conjectures in Romance) — When the telephone was first introduced into this country, it was pointed out that that valuable invention had been foreshadowed by more than one novelist. Subsequently, howver a bookworm discovered that it had been anticipated so far back as 1665 by R. Hooke, who in the preface of Micrographia, says : "I have, by the help of a distended wire, propagated sound to a very considerable distance in an instant". Not a few inventions and discoveries have been foreshadowed by romances and in some cases by them only. Dean Swift, more than 160 years ago credited the astronomers of Laputa with the discovery of the satellites revolving round Mars, while the actual discovery of the moons of Mars only took place in 1877; and Bishop Godwin in his « Man in the Moone » -- the first work of its class -- "not only declares for the Copernican system," said Hallam, "but has surprisingly understood the principles of gravitation, it being distinctly supposed that the earth's attraction diminishes with the distance". Yet this remarkable book was published in 1638. In a curious work of fiction translated and published in 1761, with the title of « Giphantia, or a view of what has passed, what is now passing, during the present century, and what will come to pass in the world », there is a very happy conjecture, or perhaps it may be called a prophecy. The work is the narrative of a person taken to an island in the midst of a tempestuous ocean of moving sands, and it is on this island (Giphantia, as it is called) that, in a passage much too long for quotation the art of photography is clearly foreshadowed. Mr Edison's latest invention might almost have inspired the following extract from « Heliondé; or Adventures in the Sun »: -- "Alutedon here informs me that authors have no occasion to employ manual labour in their publications, for they had only to utter their thoughts aloud and the vibrations of the air, differing according to the words used, set in motion a very delicate machinery, which stamped indelibly the language expressed. Copies could afterwards be taken in any number". This "delicate machinery" is now known as the phonograph, yet Helionde was published in 1855, a considerable time before Mr Edison had perfected his labours, or perhaps even before he had begun them. The electric telegraph can be traced back a great many years, but not os the electric light. There, however, is a passage in which it is anticipated. The quotation is taken from « The Wife's Temptation, a Tale of Belgravia », published so far back as 1859. "This ball and the broad marble staircase leading from it, and similarly adorned, were lighted from the roof in a manner then comparatively little known in England and never met with in a private house before or since by me. There was no day light anywhere. Every thing was illumined with a full but softened radiance, statuary, flowers, and fountains, by imperceptible means. There was no gas. Not a candle was placed in the hand of a Venus. It seemed as if the gods looked down on this midnight festival, and lighting it with their smile made all without seem cold, and dark, and miserable." Defoe, in « The Life and Adventures of Captain Singleton », foreshadowed the discovery of that great inland lake in the South of Africa which has since been explored by Grant, Speke, Baker, Burton and Livingstone. In chapter six, he described his adventurous hero and companions as "coming in view of a great lake of water", and the next day they reach the edge of the lake. According to a rough calculation of one of the party, they were a few days before reaching it, 700 miles from the coast of Mozambique, and 1,500 from the Cape of Good Hope. Messrs Murray and Oswell, the travellers who really discovered it in a position not very far removed from that indicated in Defoe's work. Although it is possible that the immortal author of Robinson Crusoe, may have seen a hint of the lake in the records of some earlier traveller, it must not be considered among the prophets, inasmuch as in his miscellaneous writings he is said to have anticipated the London University, and the Roayl Academy of Music as well as the rural police, &c. Of the modern authors, Jules Verne is perhaps the most likely to furnish suggestions for the inventor of the next century, unless most of his dreams are relaised in the meantime -- which is not altogether impossible. The wonderful vessel in « Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea », was for years regarded as a preposterous creation of a vivid mind; but the Nordenfeldt and other recently invented submarine boats will do nearly all that was claimed for their prototype, the "Nautilus". It is commonplace, however, that the dreams and theories of one generation become the established facts of the next. Amusing instances in point are to be found in a bit of jocularity published in one of the magazines about half a century ago. The writer of this article told a wonderful inventions likely to be chronicled in the papers of (say) the year 4797 and among other things he quoted the following hypothetical paragraph : "General Congreve's new mechanical cannon was fired last week at the siege of Georgia. It discharged in an hour 1,140 balls each weighing 500 pounds. The distance of the objects fired at was 7 miles, and so perfect was the machine that the whole of these balls were lodged in the space of 20 square feet". This was of course intended as mere fun, but really it has turned out a very happy conjecture, as we are rapidly advancing to results analogous if not exactly similar. Again: "Dr Clark crossed the Atlantic in seven days". This was written in fiction; but is now well within fact.”. (Tuapeka Times, Volume XXIII, Issue 1636, 30 October 1889, Page 6)
‣ German comment : Bereits vor Einführung des Teleportationsbegriffs durch Fort gab es Beschreibungen von Materieübertragungen in der phantastischen Literatur des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts. Erstmals wurde eine Art Materietransport im Jahr 1855 von Sydney Whiting in seinem Roman « Helionde » geschildert, in dem der Protagonist träumt, er werde in Dampf aufgelöst und zu einer Sonne transportiert. Die erste eher technische Darstellung findet sich in der 1877 in der New York Sun erschienenen Kurzgeschichte « The Man without a Body » von Edward Page Mitchell. In dieser Geschichte wird eine Technik beschrieben, durch die Materie in Energie umgewandelt, zu einem Empfänger versandt und zurückgewandelt wird. (Compiled from various sources)
‣ Original excerpt : « We were now ascending a flight of stairs composed of sapphires exquisitely engraved, and my friend, taking me by the arm, led me into a chamber of vast extent, which proved to be neither more nor less than a library, but what struck me as most strange were a number of machiens beneath different openings in the roof, apparently of a most complicated description. Before I inquired the meaning of this, I took down one of the volumes, and opening it, I was puzzled to make out the characters. Alûtedon here informs me that authors have no occasion to employ manual labour in their publications, for they had only to utter their thoughts aloud and the vibrations of the air, differing according to the words used, set in motion a very delicate machinery, which stamped indelibly the language expressed. Copies could afterwards be taken in any number. These machines, however, refused to perform their office when the author's ideas were either obscure, illogical, old, or erroneous (Some good-natured friend is sure to say that it is matter for regret that the present work had not been printed by the same means; and, for my own sake, I cordially wish ti had). This criticism be machinery served to keep down the weeds of literature; and when an author found a blank upon the tablet, he usually relinquished that particular train of thought, and either mended it or took to another. The critics were this saved a vast amount of labour, and the literature of the Sun was necessarily exceedingly choice. The machines, which I have already mentioned, at the openings on the roof, seemed now at work, and I asked Alütedon for an explanation. He replied by approaching the objects of my curiosity, which I then perceived wre an apparatus for transferring, by means of certain known laws of light -- what does the reader think ? -- why, the ideas of all the great men residing in Mercury, Venus, and the Earth ! The moment an emanation from the mind of any one of the inhabitants of these worlds arose, either novel, strange, useful, or beautiful, it found a reflexion on the tablets, and became thereon impressed in the language of the writer ot thinker, as the case might be. Just as we take photographic pictures by means of a world 95,000,000 of miles distant, so by the power of this apparatus people's ideas in hypercerulean spheres, were transfixed on a highly sensitive preparation; but it should be understood, that only those thoughts found a reflex which were subtle enough to ascend through space, so that all the rubbish and dross remained behind. The ponderosity of the earth may therefore be accounted for. Alûtedon now pointed out to me the department of the library in which the earth's contributions were placed, and I must aknowledge I had no reason to be ashamed of the essence and aroma which had been distilled from the mindes of our great men and placed in these bibliothecal flasks -- quarto et infra. I was, of course, anoly enabled at that moment to take a very cursory glance at the rich contents of the books; but a most elaborate index, into which I was able just to peep, assured me that an amazing anmount of lore, lost to us for ever, was treasured in the volumes around, and amongst other extracts were several from the 700,000 volumes consumed in the Alexandrian library (Called by Livy "Elegantiæ regum curæque egregium opus" was founded by Ptolmey Soter, and burnt by order of the Caliph Omar, A.D. 624, because the writings did not agree with the doctrines of the Koran. Gibbon, our own historian, adopting the sceptticism of Renaudot, conceives the whole tale as highly improbable). "I doubt not," said Alûtedon, "you feel a natural curiosity to know what the transferring instrument is now in the act of copying. See if you recognise any old friends". At this I advanced to the strange-looking machine; but I suppose it would be invidious to says what now occurred; for I recognised the style of living authors, and I must first ask their permission ere I publish those quotations from their works which, by their subtle and refined character, ascended through the regions of space, and found home in the libreary of the Prince Helionax. Should any writer of the day, therefore, wish to know whether a portion of his literay labours became reflected on the magical tablets I was examining, I shall be delighted to answer him by a private telegraphic message down a sunbeam, if ever I have the opportunity of properley examining the vast collection of literary wealth garnered in this stupendous repository. From the library we passed into a picture-gallery, the pictures being painted by means of the will of the artist acting on the colours of the atmosphere, and every tint obeyed his mandate and fell in thin or thich layers, according to the exigencies of his art. Mind was, of course, as necessary in employing this subtle agency as though the colours were put on ordinary canvas by the ordinary means. [...] The hours were now stealing on, and the Prince and Princesses arising at this moment, an aërial concert burst forth from some distant chambers. At the same instant the walls on all sides receded, the roof grew higher, and down at my feet, shining through the transparent sapphire-like floor, a second heaven burst into blaze, lit with innumerable stars, so arranged as to present a perfect reflex of the sky at night; and owing, I suppose, to some reflective power of the atmosphere beneath, they appeared to be twinkling and dancing with delight. The chamber thus magically enlarged and strangely illumined, led into an enormous hall or assembly-room, formed of the purest white minica, -- roof, floor, and walls. It was so carved and cut that brilliant artificial light on the exterior fell on the different facets of the sparkling material, imbuing them with prismatic colours, but the seemingly irregular surfaces were so arranged that “they” only received the tints, while medallions of the spotless substance remained in tranquil contrast. As soon as the Prince and ouselves became manifest to the assembly, the company, a few at a time, advanced, and ascending the dais where he had feasted, without confusion or pressure, paid their respects to their Sovereign. The music here changed the nature of its rhythmn, and ladies and gentlemen formed into figures and prepared for a dance ! Yes, even in the Sun the sympathy between motion and music was a pastime and a grace. It must be remembered, too, that here geometry in motion was the dance. Every movement was in accord with the strain, and every fresh burst of melody in accordance with the eternal laws of proportion and repetition (Some half century ago one Thoinot Arbeau, a dancing-master of Paris, gave an “orchesography”, wherein all the steps and motions of a dance were written or noted down, as the sounds of a song are scored in music). The figures, to the preconceived ideas of an Earthite on the subject, would appear strange indeed, but to me, with a new comprehension of things suited to the state of my being, they were overpowering in their effects upon the mind and senses. As the music from unseen sources burst forth in delicious harmony, groups composed of two, four, and six couples advanced from the throng into the centre of the hall, and scarcely moving from one spot, they moved their supple limbs in every conceivable form of grace, now gesstice of tenderness, now mirth, now devotion, and indeed of every sentiment connected with intellectuality and the most chaste refinement. It was quite impossible to mistake the thesis suggested by the exquisite evolutions they performed, for they were so eloquent, so chastened, and so perfectly in accordance with the sentiment of the accompanying strains, that each person might have been supposed to represent the spirit of melody moving to the impulses and harmonies of his own soul. It is utterly impossible to convey an idea of the tableaux, the peculiarity of which was increased by the dresses of the dancers changing their colours according to the movement and sentiment of the dance. To a quick measure the graceful robes glowed in brightest hues, then as the cadences died, and the motions of the dancers became slow, the tints of waving cloud-mantles faded into the most delicate dyes, but again glowed in different degrees as the concord again swelled into energy and force. On sped the hours, and time, while entrancing with delight, for once left no stain upon memory; innocence had presided at the festival, and the hours unsullied flew to their home in the eternal past. On sped the hours, and between the dances music succeeded, while the concluding concert was played in the gardens of the palace by arborescent performers ! Trees of a peculiar construction, planted according to their several powers of tone, gave forth, as the night-breeze swept through theur chord-like branches and tendrils, fitful Æolian melodies; to which, musical tubes and the pipes of shrubs adjacent, responded in a beautiful antiphony. »
‣ Source : Whiting, Sydney. (1855), “Heliondé, or Adventures in the Sun”, London: Chapman & Hall, 2nd printing, 1855; London: Frederick Warne, 3rd printing, 1866; Arno Press, 1976; Ayers Publishing, 1976, pp. 158-162, pp. 197-202.
‣ Urls : http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast?a=d&d=TT18891030.2.31 (last visited )
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