Verne and Wells get a great deal of the attention but of course there were others writing speculative fiction in the 19th century. Occasionally I see a reference to such a story and while it isn’t always great writing its interesting to see how they envisioned the future.
The latest is “A Journey in Other Worlds: A Romance of the Future” by John Jacob Astor, published in 1894 – an account of life in the year 2000 and a space flight adventure to Jupiter and Saturn.
I tend to think of anti-gravity as a modern idea but it has been around for some time now. In this story, the spaceship Callisto is propelled by Apergy, a fictitious form of anti-gravitational energy. A later version of the idea is Cavorite in Mr. Wells 1901 story “The First Men in the Moon”. Anti-gravity is such an attractive idea. Alas, reality is much more difficult.
I’ve only read bits and pieces and haven’t settled down to read the story in full, but a couple of things which stand out are:
* Jupiter as a jungle world, as Venus was imagined to be in later years, with flesh-eating plants, giant snakes, flying lizards, and other exciting forms of wildlife.
* Large-scale engineering projects such as the one to adjust the tilt of the Earth in order to create a more stable global climate. The elimination of the seasons brought to you by “The Terrestrial Axis Straightening Company”. Have they really thought this through?
I decided to build a model of spaceship Callisto and see what it looked like in person.
The design could use some work. The pointy bits would sink into the ground, but then that might have been intended for stability – or maybe the artist just liked it that way.
Still, it has a Babbagy look to it.
The book is available in various forms here: http://openlibrary.org/books/OL6965657M/A_journey_in_other_worlds