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, 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

1880s poster for The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

1880s poster for The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

“Great God! Can it be” !!

Poster for The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1880s), a novella by Victorian author, Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894).

It says something about this story that the phrase “Jekyll and Hyde” is now part of the English language – meaning a person who can be greatly different in character over a short passage of time.

I was interested to read that Robert Louis Stevenson (re)wrote his world famous story whilst suffering from tuberculosis (TB) – and in just three days! (See below)

This from the Guardian:

One of the enduring mysteries of English literature was solved last night when it emerged that the first, impassioned draft of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was destroyed by the author’s wife.

Fanny Stevenson burned it after dismissing it to a friend as “a quire full of utter nonsense”. She said – of what became the world’s most admired and profound horror story – “He said it was his greatest work. I shall burn it after I show it to you”.

Stevenson, an invalid almost deranged by tuberculosis and the effects of medicinal cocaine, had to spend the next three days feverishly rewriting and redrafting the 30,000-word story by hand.

Within weeks, the new version of his pioneering novel about split personality was in print. Despite Fanny’s view, it was an instant bestseller. Sermons were preached on it in thousands of churches, including St Paul’s cathedral, London. It was pirated in the US and in translation.

It rescued the Stevensons from acute debt. For the first time, the couple had enough money to live comfortably.

Some 115 years later, Fanny’s deed has been disclosed in a two-page letter on pages torn from a notebook. It was written by her in 1885 to Stevenson’s close friend and fellow poet WE Henley.

Fascinating fact:  The name “Jekyll” was borrowed from the author’s friend – the Reverend Walter Jekyll, younger brother of famous horticulturalist and landscape designer Gertrude Jekyll.