Read The End Of Books Online

Authors: Octave Uzanne

The End Of Books (6 page)

Most of these concepts were illustrated by Frank R. Paul, who was almost solely responsible for a great majority of the artwork in Hugo Gernsback’s large stable of magazines. Trained as an architect and engineer, Paul’s vaguely baroque spacecraft had an unprecedented aura of believability.

Many other fictional rockets continued to contribute to the collective and cumulative design of the spaceship. The 1922 animated film
All Aboard for the Moon
featured a streamlined rocket launched from a rooftop, carrying tourists to the Moon. Miral-Vigee’s 1922 novel
L’Anneau des Feu
(Ring of Fire) based its atomic-powered spaceship on the theories of Robert Esnault-Pelterie, the French aviation and space pioneer. The 1930 Hollywood musical
Just Imagine
featured the ultimate Art Deco spaceship. It became the representative prewar spaceship after it was recycled in the immensely popular Flash Gordon serials.

By this time—in the “real world”—Tsiolkovsky had published extensively and his plans included not only large manned rockets but lunar rovers and self-contained space colonies.

The Russian Fridrikh A. Tsander designed enormous biplane spaceships that fed upon their own structure for fuel, and Franz Ulinski published his schemes for electrically propelled spacecraft. In 1925, Walter Hohmann not only designed his “powder tower” spaceship, an enormous cone-shaped rocket with an egg-shaped manned capsule at its apex, but his work on interplanetary orbits became so fundamental that these energy-saving orbits have been named for him.

Franz von Hoefft proposed an evolutionary spaceship design, employing the lifting body concept. Using standardized units spaceships could be customized for particular missions. He laid out a systematic and progressively more ambitious scenario for the exploration of outer space, employing a series of eight spacecraft, designated RH I-VIII. Hoefft’s unique design resembled the blade of a shovel with a pair of slender pontoons beneath, since the larger ones were to be launched from water.

In the late 1920s, Eugen Sänger began his researches into spaceflight, basing his hopes on the development of an “aerospaceplane” This eventually resulted, a decade later, in his famous “silver bird” antipodal bomber concept, the immediate precursor of today’s Space Shuttle and modern aerospace planes.

By the time Goddard and the VfR flew their first liquid-fueled rockets, these dreamers and theorists—and scores of others—had not only established that space travel would ultimately take place, but had anticipated virtually every step on the road to achieving it.

During the 1920s and 1930s three highly influential organizations were formed: the Verein für Raumschiffarht (or VfR, the German Society for Spaceship Travel), the American Interplanetary Society (later the American Rocket Society) and the British Interplanetary Society (the only one of the three to exist in more or less its original form today). The first two of these three groups performed many of the earliest serious and controlled liquid fuel rocket experiments. Robert Goddard, who had made the first liquid fueled rocket flight, was working in strict secrecy, allowing little if any news of his work to be available to other researchers. The societies, however, were entirely open and freely shared the results of their experiments. Much of the development of modern rocketry, at least up until the 1960s, can be traced directly to the experiments of the VfR and ARS. Meanwhile, the BIS, prevented by law from experimenting with rockets, devoted itself to the theory and promotion of spaceflight, a service it still performs to this day. For example, in 1939 the BIS published the results of the first-ever detailed scientific and engineering study for a manned lunar rocket and lander.

With the advent of hostilities in Europe at the end of the 1930s, the work of the VfR, as well as many of its most brilliant members, was usurped by the German military machine, disappearing into well-kept secrecy, a secrecy broken only by the first V2 missiles dropping onto London. At the same time, ex-members of the ARS formed the private companies that produced wartime rockets and JATO units for the United States military and, later, the propulsion systems for the first American rocket-propelled aircraft. High-altitude balloonists were taking their “spaceships” to the limits of the Earth’s atmosphere (by the mid-1930s altitudes of 12 miles or more were being reached), and rocket-powered gliders and aircraft were being flown—great advances being made in this area by the Germans and Russians.

V The End of an Era

Rocket research and development progressed dramatically during World War II...with no greater example of this than the spectacular V-2, a rocket that—in spite of the intervening 70 years of advancing technology—has become the iconic symbol for “spaceship.” It was by far the largest rocket ever launched. The fournteen ton missile was 46 feet tall and five feet six inches in diameter. Its fins spanned eleven feet nine inches. It could carry a payload of one ton of high explosives. On its first flight, the giant rocket reached an altitude of 53 miles and a range of 118 miles.

General Walter Dornberger, who was in charge of developing the V-2, exclaimed: “Do you realize what we accomplished today? Today the spaceship was born!”

But at the same time an era died. Before that day in October, 1942, the spaceship had been a device of the imagination. Traveling in space would surely come about some day. . .but a day that was in the far distant future. Now that a man-made device had reached the very fringes of space, travel to the stars seemed less of a remote possibility. It was clear that it was only a matter of time, money. . . and will.

While there were many imaginative spaceships yet to come— both in and out of fiction—such as those of the fabulous “Collier’s Space Program” devised by Wernher von Braun and his colleagues—spaceships now had a reality they’d never before possessed. There was little question in anyone’s mind that the conquest of space was just around the corner. So the cut-off date imposed on my series by copyright restrictions (with a few happy exceptions), seems less arbitrary and more appropriate.

VI Finding the Books

The first hurdle in creating the series was finding the books in the first place.

I already had an extensive collection of literature devoted to spaceflight and rocketry. This was the result of, first, a life-long interest in the subjects. I have been accumulating such books since I was a little kid. I had never been an especially serious collector, however, until I began working on a book called
The Dream Machines
(Kreiger, 1993). This was a massive chronological history of the evolution of the spaceship that required research into literally thousands of vintage books and magazines, ranging from the present to several hundred years in the past. I haunted bookstores, both real and online, eBay, and fellow collectors. Someone who was both an inspiration and an invaluable source was Fred Ordway, whose collection of science fiction and space-related material was second to none. His collection of 900 SF pulp magazines now resides in the Harvard Library and his books at the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville. His encouragement and generous access to his collection were invaluable.

My own collection, while attaining nowhere near the volume and completeness of Fred’s, still fills three seven-foot bookcases and more than a dozen file boxes.

However, even given all these resources there were still books that were unobtainable. Fortunately, I had another excellent source—the existence of online resources such as While there are many typographical, formatting and editing issues that still need to be addressed, the texts available through this excellent service provided an essential foundation.

VII Creating the Books

Most of the titles are reproduced from books in my collection, books that were accumulated during the many years I spent researching
The Dream Machines
. For the most part, these are books that are not available as etexts anywhere else. Many are from vanishingly rare books, such as
To the Moon and Back in Ninety Days*
, which had been privately published in 1922. For biographical information regarding the author of this book, I managed to track down his surviving relatives.

Other books unique to the collection include
The Moon-Maker
(which includes its prequel,
The Man Who Rocked the Earth)
The Moon Colony
(which is the first to suggest terraforming the Moon)
, Zero to Eighty
and many more. These titles are already part of the published collection while others are still being prepared.

The books are scanned and converted to editable texts with an OCR reader. This is then carefully edited by comparing it to the original book. Obvious typographical errors (inevitable with scanned text) are corrected, but factual and other errors are left intact as written.

Occasionally, a book I have in my collection is replicated in the Gutenberg library or another online source, which saves me the trouble of scanning hundreds of pages. If the text of a book was obtained this way, I converted it to the typeface and formatting I desired for the finished book. I also went through the text to make sure that italics and other special characters—such as mathematical symbols or words in Greek, for example—appear properly.

As with the books scanned from my collection, chapter breaks are made on new pages as well as any special formatting, such as decorative chapter titles or drop caps. Every effort is made to either replicate the appearance of the original book or create a new design appropriate to the era and subject. If the original book was illustrated, I try to track down the best quality copies of these I can find. Sometimes I have these already in my collection. Finally, if the book warrants it, I add footnotes, biographies or explanatory appendices. I do this for several reasons. One is that I feel a need to add something extra for the reader, to set these books apart from a text that might be found online. Another is the need to provide background and context, to help the reader understand and appreciate the full importance of the book they’ve read.

Finally, there are a small number of books that are appearing in English for the first time in their current form. For instance, Arnould Galopin’s
Doctor Omega
(1906) enjoys its first unabridged publication in English.

Doing this is a laborious task, since my command of French is painfully limited. With the aid of translation software, dictionaries, earlier translations and an intimate knowledge of the book itself, the job gets done.

Special attention has been paid to Jules Verne in this regard, who is not only one of my favorite authors but has historically suffered from ridiculously poor translations. For instance, the “standard” translation of
20,000 Leagues
was created by a British Protestant minister, and Verne was a French Catholic liberal. Anything of which the translator didn’t approve was simply cut out. The result was that nearly 20 percent of the book was eliminated! To make things worse, he had a slippery command of French and no grasp at all of science. The result was literally thousands of errors. . .errors which for nearly a century had been blamed on Verne by his American and English readers. Because this translation has been in the public domain for generations, it’s the one most likely to be reprinted

For my new edition of the book, I replaced the missing text and corrected all of the translation errors and factual mistakes (for instance, having Professor Arronax return from the “Badlands” of Nebraska instead of the original version’s “disagreeable territory”). The book also includes numerous maps, appendices, and a detailed schematic of the

From the Earth to the Moon
Round the Moon
have been translated entirely from scratch, with thousands of words of text restored that have never before been seen in any other English edition. Like the other Verne titles, they contain extensive notes and appendices.

Journey to the Center of the Earth
is another new translation that also includes maps and some three hundred notes. The new editions of
Off on a Comet!
Purchase of the North Pole
are based on vintage nineteenth century texts which have been carefully edited for errors and missing text. In addition to the Verne novels I’ve included a brand-new translation of
Doctor Omega
(1906), by Arnould Galopin. This will be the first time this classic novel about a trip to Mars has appeared in English complete and unabridged. The original illustrations are also included.

All of these books were designed for print editions. Adapting the book for ebook editions brought an entirely new set of problems, largely generated by the inherent simple nature of the electronic book. For example, much, if not all, of the special formatting and typography of the originals had to be abandoned. Illustrations could be retained, however, which pleased me since they not only added character to all the books, they were an intrinsic part of many. Leaving the art out of some of them would be like
without Tenniel.

In the end, I hope to have created not only a library of fascinating books that may be entirely new to many modern readers, but also a kind of monument to those pioneers who laid the foundation for space exploration. For I very much believe that while engineers and scientists made space travel a reality, it was invented by Edgar Allan Poe, Jules Verne. H.G. Wells, and their scores of less illustrious colleagues who not only bore the torch when science laughed at the possibility of leaving our planet, but inspired those who ultimately made that dream come true.

The Ron Miller Science Fiction Classics Collection


The Archeology of Space Travel

(space travel books from the 18th and early 19th centuries)

The Life and Astonishing Adventures of John Daniel
(1751), Ralph Morris, illustrated

Voyage to the Moon
(1827), George Tucker

Journeys to the Moon
(includes "The Moon Hoax" by Richard Adams Locke, "The Unparalleled Adventures of Hans Pfaall" by Edgar Allan Poe and " the newly discovered Planet Georgium Sidus" by "Vivenair", illustrated

Trip to the Moon
, Lucian of Samosata

Iter Lunaire
(1703), David Russen

A Voyage to Cacklogallinia
(1727), "Samuel Brunt"

Gulliver Joi
(1851), Elbert Perce, illustrated

The Consolidator
(1705), Daniel Defoe

Trips to the Moon

(1896), James Cowan, illustrated

The Conquest of the Moon
(1889), Andre Laurie, illustrated

(1917), J.A. Mitchell, illustrated

The Moon Conquerors
(1930), R.H. Roman

A History of a Voyage to the Moon
(1864), "Chrysostom Trueman"

The Moon Colony
(1937), William Dixon Bell, illustrated by Ron Miller

To the Moon and Back in Ninety Hours
(1922), John Young Brown, illustrated

Pioneers of Space
(1949), George Adamski

A Christmas Dinner With the Man in the Moon
(1880), illustrated

Flights to and from Mars

Doctor Omega
(1906), Arnould Goupin (translated by Ron Miller), illustrated

To Mars via the Moon
(1911), Mark Wicks, illustrated

A Plunge Into Space
(1890), Robert Cromie

A Trip to Mars
(1909), Fenton Ash, illustrated

War of the Worlds
(includes The Crystal Egg and The Things That Live On Mars), H.G. Wells. Illustrated

Gulliver of Mars
(1905), Edwin Arnold

Across the Zodiac
(1880), Percy Greg

Journeys to Other Worlds

The Moon-Maker
(includes The Man Who Rocked the Earth) (1916), Arthur Train and Robert Wood

A Trip to Venus
(includes "Daybreak on the Moon") (1897), John Munro

A Honeymoon in Space
(1900), George Griffith, illustrated

The Brick Moon
(includes "On Vesta" by K.E. Tsiolkovsky) (1869), E.E. Hale

A Columbus of Space
(1894), Garrett Serviss, illustrated

Extract from Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven
(1909), Mark Twain

Zero to Eighty
(1937), "Akkad Pseudoman" (E.F. Northrup)

(Voice from Another World, 1874 and Letters from the Planets, 1883), W.S. Lach-Szyrma, illustrated

A Journey in Other Worlds
(1894), J. J. Astor. Illustrated

Deutsche im Weltall

(Germans in Space)

By Rocket to the Moon
(1931), Otto Willi Gail, illustrated

The Shot Into Infinity
(1925), Otto Willi Gail, illustrated

The Stone From the Moon
(1926), Otto Willi Gail, illustrated

Between Earth and Moon
(1930), Otfrid von Hanstein, illustrated

Distant Worlds
(1932), Friedrich Mader, illustrated

A Daring Flight to Mars
(1931), Max Valier

Space Travel for Junior Space Cadets

Through Space to Mars
(1910), "Roy Rockwood" (Howard R. Garis)

Lost on the Moon
(1911)), "Roy Rockwood" (Howard R. Garis)

Rocket Riders Across the Ice
(1933), Howard R. Garis, illustrated

Rocket Riders in Stormy Seas
(1933), Howard R. Garis, illustrated

Rocket Riders in the Air
(1934), Howard R. Garis, illustrated

Adrift in the Stratosphere
(1937), A.M. Low, illustrated

Jules Verne

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
, Jules Verne, translated and edited by Ron Miller. Illustrated

A Journey to the Center of the Earth
, translated, annotated and edited by Ron Miller. Illustrated

Off on a Comet!
, Jules Verne, edited by Ron Miller, illustrated

From the Earth to the Moon
(includes Around the Moon), Jules Verne, translated and edited by Ron Miller. Illustrated

The Purchase of the North Pole
, edited by Ron Miller, illustrated

Science Fiction by Gaslight

The End of Books
(1884), Octave Uzanne, illustrated by Albert Robida

Under the Sea to the North Pole
(1898), Pierre Mael, illustrated

Penguin Island
(1908), Anatole France, illustrated by Frank C. Pape

The Crystal City Under the Sea
(1896), Andre Laurie, illustrated

The Earth-Tube
(1929), Gawain Edwards (G. Edward Pendray)



Three Go Back
(1932), J. Leslie Mitchell

The Flying Legion
(1920), George Allen England, illustrated

The Island of Captain Sparrow
(1928), S. Fowler Wright

Under the Sea to the North Pole
(1898), Pierre Mael, illustrated

Fugitive Anne
(1904), Rose Praed, illustrated

Lentala of the South Seas
(1908), W.C. Morrow

The Girl in the Golden Atom
(1923), Ray Cummings

Maza of the Moon
(1929), Otis Adelbert Kline

Bad Girls

(1920), Pierre Benoit

Out of the Silence
(1928), Erle Cox


The Lost Continent
(1900), C.J. Cutcliffe-Hyne

The Legend of Croquemitaine
(1874), Ernest L'Epine, illustrated by Gustave Dore

Not Quite Human

The Beetle
(1897). Richard Marsh, illustrated

(1872), J. Sheridan LeFanu

The Lair of the White Worm
(1911), Bram Stoker, illustrated

The Life and Adventures of Peter Wilkins
(1751), Richard Paltock, illustrated

The Sea Lady
(1902), H.G. Wells, illustrated

Angel Island
(1914), Inez Haynes Gilmore

The Future Eve
(1926), Villiers de L'Isle-Adam, illustrated

The Coming Race
(1871), Edward Bulwer-Lytton

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