Sailing to the moon (1868); an Ancient Greek idea

A Voyage to the Moon (1868) by Gustave Doré

Jules Verne and H.G. Wells are often said to be the fathers of science fiction – and Mary Shelley the mother. Verne was more interested in scientific theories and technical details, whereas Wells and Shelley were less bothered about such specifics.

So much for 1800s, in fact you can go back a lot further to find early tales that could be considered as sci-fi.

‘A True Story’ is a novel written in the 2nd century by Lucian of Samosata (a Greek-speaking author of Syrian origin). It is the earliest known work of fiction to include travel to outer space, alien life-forms, and interplanetary warfare. Lucian develops the Greek notion that the moon is a mirror world to our own. Setting out on a voyage, the story-teller is caught up in a storm that propels him through the sky, and his ship ends up landing on the moon.

The wonderful illustration shown here is ‘A Voyage to the Moon’ (1868) by Gustave Doré (France, 1832-1883).

Some favourite moon and space quotes:

“There is nothing new under the sun, but there are new suns.”
― Octavia E. Butler

“I had aimed at Mars and was about to hit Venus; unquestionably the all-time cosmic record for poor shots.”
― Edgar Rice Burroughs, Pirates of Venus

“Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.”
― Mark Twain

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.
― John F. Kennedy

“As different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire.”
― Emily Brontë

I want! I want! (1793) by William Blake. A ladder to the stars.

Image of I want! I want! (1793) by William Blake

I want! I want! (1793) by William Blake (English, 1757-1827). The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK.

In Blake’s 1793 engraving, the poet and artist finds an inspired solution to getting to the moon: a really big ladder! Elon Musk could learn something. Or is this piece of art about something else? Seems quite apt for today.

I, Robot [1920s design]

Image of Prediction for a robot by Karel Capek, 1920s

1920s illustration predicting what a robot would look like: “The Robot rising from it’s seat and bowing.”

Looks a bit like the Tin Man from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to me.

“Now I know I’ve got a heart because it is breaking”. [Tin Man]
― L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Victorian multitasking!

Man on strange bicycle. Linley Sambourne illustration for Punch

An excellent example of Victorian multitasking! Linley Sambourne (English, 1844-1910), illustration for Punch magazine (UK), 1869.

“Call it a toy, indeed! Why our ingenious friend, Glimmer, has a run before breakfast, and grinds his coffee and churns his butter with the greatest ease”.

Reminds me of a Heath Robinson invention.

The first in-flight movie (1925) – a personal favourite

Image of preparations for the first in-flight feature film

It’s 1925 and Imperial Airways are preparing an aircraft for the first ever in-flight feature film (movie) – The Lost World. Anyone who reads my book/art blog will know I’m a big fan of Conan Doyle. He wrote the novel upon which the film was based. Never seen the 1925 film, but later Jurassic Park drew on the same material.