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1897 __ « A Trip to Venus »
John Munro (1849-1930)
Comment : John Munro's 1897 science fiction novel includes one of the first detailed, scientifically accurate descriptions of the potential use of rockets in space exploration. It is also an exciting adventure on an unknown world, filled with action and humor.
Original excerpt : « Chapter 1.While I was glancing at the Times newspaper in a morning train for London my eyes fell on the following item:-- A STRANGE LIGHT ON MARS.--On Monday afternoon, Dr. Krueger, who is in charge of the central bureau at Kiel, telegraphed to his correspondents:-- "Projection lumineuse dans région australe du terminateur de Mars observée par Javelle 28 courant, 16 heures.--Perrotin." In plain English, at 4 a.m., a ray of light had been observed on the disc of the planet Mars in or near the "terminator"; that is to say, the zone of twilight separating day from night. The news was doubly interesting to me, because a singular dream of "Sunrise in the Moon" had quickened my imagination as to the wonders of the universe beyond our little globe, and because of a never-to-be-forgotten experience of mine with an aged astronomer several years ago. This extraordinary man, living the life of a recluse in his own observatory, which was situated in a lonely part of the country, had, or at any rate, believed that he had, opened up a communication with the inhabitants of Mars, by means of powerful electric lights, flashing in the manner of a signal-lantern or heliograph. I had set him down as a monomaniac; but who knows? perhaps he was not so crazy after all. When evening came I turned to the books, and gathered a great deal about the fiery planet, including the fact that a stout man, a Daniel Lambert, could jump his own height there with the greatest ease. Very likely; but I was seeking information on the strange light, and as I could not find any I resolved to walk over and consult my old friend, Professor Gazen, the well-known astronomer, who had made his mark by a series of splendid researches with the spectroscope into the constitution of the sun and other celestial bodies. [...] "The idea of signalling has got into people's heads through the outcry raised about it some time ago, when Mars was in 'opposition' and near the earth. I suppose you are thinking of the plan for raising and lowering the lights of London to attract the notice of the Martians?" "No; I believe I told you of the singular experience I had some five or six years ago with an old astronomer, who thought he had established an optical telegraph to Mars?" "Oh, yes, I remember now. Ah, that poor old chap was insane. Like the astronomer in Rasselas, he had brooded so long in solitude over his visionary idea that he had come to imagine it a reality." "Might there not be some truth in his notion? Perhaps he was only a little before his time." [...] How on earth are we to understand what the Martians say, and how on Mars are they to understand what we say? We have no common code." "True; but the chemical bodies have certain well-defined properties, have they not?". »
Source : Munro, John (1897), “A Trip to Venus”, Jarrold & Sons, London.
Urls : http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/A_Trip_to_Venus (last visited ) http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/13716 (last visited )

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