Read The Red Journey Back Online

Authors: John Keir Cross

The Red Journey Back

 

THE RED JOURNEY
BACK

 

A FIRST-HAND ACCOUNT OF THE
SECOND AND THIRD

MARTIAN EXPEDITIONS, BY THE
SPACE-SHIPS

 

Albatross
AND
Comet
,

 

COMPILED FROM NOTES AND
RECORDS BY

VARIOUS MEMBERS OF THE
EXPLORING PARTIES,

THE WHOLE REVISED BY STEPHEN
MACFARLANE

AND NOW FULLY ASSEMBLED AND EDITED
BY

JOHN KEIR
CROSS

 

THE ILLUSTRATIONS ARE BY

Robin Jacques

 

 

COWARD-M
C
CANN
INC

NEW YORK

COPYRIGHT, 1954, BY JOHN KEIR CROSS

 

Eight lines on
page 145 are reprinted from
Hassan
by James Elroy

Flecker by
permission of the publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Copy-

right, 1922, by
Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Renewal copyright, 1950, by

Mrs. Helle
Flecker.

 

 

 

Library of
Congress Catalog Card Number: 54-6320

MANUFACTURED IN
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

a collaborative
eBook

also known as
SOS
from Mars

PUBLISHER’S
NOTE

 

The Red
Journey Back
is a companion-story to the famous book
The Angry Planet
,
published
some few years ago in the United States of America, Great Britain, and Europe,
and also broadcast as a radio serial play in the BBC Light Programme from
London.

But
although some of the original characters reappear, and the adventures on Mars
of the
Albatross
explorers are
continued in the old “authentic vein,” this present tale is quite self-contained
and can be read whether or not you have ever come across its predecessor.

When
sending us the manuscript from his home in Devon, England, the author-editor
said in his covering letter:
“As
to a
dedication, I feel I can do no better than to inscribe this new account of life
and adventure in the Martian wastes to those friendly readers in all countries
who not only wrote saying that they had enjoyed
The Angry Planet
,
but were
flattering enough to a humble author to ask for more. There were far too many,
alas, for me to have been able to send individual replies
,
as
I should certainly have wished to do; and so this whole book is in the nature
of a communal ‘open letter’ to those friends: I hope most sincerely that they
will enjoy it
too.”

CONTENTS

THE RED JOURNEY BACK

ILLUSTRATIONS

AN INTRODUCTION by the Editor, With a
Footnote by Michael Malone

CHAPTER I. THE AIRSTRIP: a Personal
Contribution by John Keir Cross

CHAPTER II. MacFARLANE’S NARRATIVE:
The Broken Radio Messages Received On Twenty-Seven Consecutive Nights as Built
To a Continuous Chronicle by Catherine W. Hogarth

CHAPTER III. MacFARLANE’S NARRATIVE
CONTINUED

CHAPTER IV. IN THE
MEANTIME . . . A Contribution by Various Hands

1. Michael Malone

2. Jacqueline Adam

3. Paul Adam

4. Michael Malone

5. The Editor

CHAPTER V. THE CANALS: Macfarlane’s
Narrative Concluded

CHAPTER VI. THE COMET: A Contribution
by Paul Adam

CHAPTER VII. THE THIRD MARTIAN
EXPEDITION

1. A Personal Impression by Catherine
W. Hogarth

2. A Technical Note by Dr. Marius B.
Kalkenbrenner

3. A Final Editorial Interlude

CHAPTER VIII. LOOMINGS, by A. Keith
Borrowdale*

CHAPTER IX. THE GOLDEN JOURNEY, by A.
Keith Borrowdale

CHAPTER X. “DR. LIVINGSTONE, I
PRESUME by A. Keith Borrowdale

CHAPTER XI. SIR GALAHAD, by A. Keith
Borrowdale

CHAPTER XII. DISCOPHORA, by A. Keith
Borrowdale being a transcription of a new theory, by Dr. Andrew McGillivray

CHAPTER XIII. FLASHBACK, by A. Keith
Borrowdale, with an inserted contribution by Margaret K. Sherwood

CHAPTER XIV. THE LAST JOURNEY, by A.
Keith Borrowdale

AN EPILOGUE by The Editor; With Some
Concluding Remarks and a Final Salutation by Stephen Macfarlane

The End

 

ILLUSTRATIONS

 

 

It
was as if he too had been snatched by giant hands.

The
terrible ones were in confusion and rout.

The
Comet
rose higher and higher into the pale sky.

Two
friends—who smiled and beckoned us on.

The
monster was within my range.

And
I was suddenly flying through the air.

 

 

AN INTRODUCTION by the
Editor, With a Footnote by Michael Malone

 

THIS IS THE
STORY of the second and last great flight of the little spaceship
Albatross
to the planet Mars—the Angry Planet, as it has been
called, from its ferocious red color, and also from all that happened on it
during the first visit of the
Albatross
travelers.

Now, I have no
wish to embark on any complicated “summing-up” of everything that befell during
that first adventure, which involved my friend and cousin Stephen MacFarlane,
his colleague Dr. Andrew McGillivray, and the two young people Paul and
Jacqueline Adam—to say nothing of
their
cousin,
the irrepressible Mike Malone. But perhaps a few editorial comments right at
the outset won’t do any harm: hence this brief preface (which, Mike asks me to
add, “You can easily skip if you want to push on to the real meat”).

So:

At least most
readers—old and new—should remember the immense excitement when it was announced
in the late 1940’s that a small spaceship had succeeded in making
interplanetary contact:

 

MAN’S FIRST FLIGHT TO MARS

Scots Professor and
Well-

known Writer
Accomplish

Spaceship Journey
in Two

Months!

THREE TEEN-AGE STOWAWAYS ON BOARD!

 

Following the
first wild outcry—the newspaper interviews, the radio and television
appearances, the scientific and popular articles—a secondary reaction set in.
The story was doubted, was eventually ridiculed: Dr. McGillivray’s obviously
workable rocket might indeed have set off from the small Scottish town of
Pitlochry, as he had claimed; but it surely achieved no more than a brief
flight into the stratosphere, landing uselessly at Azay in North France . . .
and for some unaccountable reason the five travelers in it had chosen to invent
a tale of a visit to a planet 35,000,000 miles away
at
its very nearest—
to embroider that tale with descriptions,
fantastic beyond all measure yet curiously probable too, of mobile plant people
living in gigantic glass bubble houses, of “thinking” trees and telepathic
communication.

Set out thus,
in its barest bones, the tale does seem, at the least, highly colored—perhaps
it is no great marvel that the world turned against the explorers. But two of
them were profoundly hurt by the popular reception: the sensitive Dr.
McGillivray himself, of Aberdeen University, distinguished alike in his
achievements and his appearance, and Stephen MacFarlane, the “well-known writer”
of the newspaper headlines, a man of thirty-six when last I saw him, thin,
wiry, adventurous. And so these two, alone, went back across the skies, set off
once more to meet the “Beautiful People,” to explore the further mysteries of
the dying red sphere which is our nearest true planetary neighbor in space.

“I leave and
maybe lose the world,” MacFarlane wrote to me before his second departure, “—and
somehow, from all the enmity we have encountered in it, I consider it well
lost. I can be assumed dead. By the time you read these words I shall be once
more in outer space—I shall be, my dear John, on my way back to Mars!—and for
the very good reason, among many others, that I prefer an Angry Planet to a
Mean, Envious, Uncharitable Planet. . . .”

So they went
back, then; and we who did believe—myself and the young people left behind—mourned
the loss of two fine men. We looked longingly across the vast velvet spaces and
speculated, dreamed, wondered. . . . The Red Journey Back, as we
came to think of it in Jacqueline’s brief poetic phrase: what had been its
nature?—what had McGillivray and MacFarlane found?—in what unimaginable
adventures were they even now engaged?

The months,
almost a year, went by; and it was as if, indeed, our friends had perished.

And then, out
of the blue—literally out of the blue—came a coincidence so vast that I almost
hesitate to use it as this book’s true starting-off point; for authors are
naturally chary of using coincidences in their works. “It could never happen
that way,” the reader cries. “It is too much, too much of a coincidence!”

Yet
coincidences do occur—the newspapers every day are full of them. And so I must,
in this factual account of all that happened, attempt to describe this single
great coincidence of my own life. I do so in the only full chapter which I
personally propose to contribute to this book—the chapter entitled
The
Airstrip
. To it—the beginning of the adventure proper, however
irrelevant it may at first seem—I now proceed without further delay.

 

A Footnote by
Michael Malone.
All I want to say right now is, thank heaven old J.K.C. has got on with it at
last! I was all for starting straight away, you know—bang into Chap One and a
bit of action—Steve MacFarlane and Doctor Mac and the new kind of Martians they
met, called the
Vivores
—all that kind of thing. But you know what
editors are, particularly fussy ones, and old J.K.C. said, “No go,” we had to
have something to tie up the threads from that other book of ours, which was
all about how we accidentally stowed away in the
Albatross
first
time it went to Mars, etc.—that is, Paul and Jacky and me, the “three young
people” old J.K.C. keeps referring to. (By the way, I just ought to emphasize
that it doesn’t matter in the least if you never read that previous book, which
we called
The Angry Planet—
this one will still make sense in its own right,
I hope!)

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