Date: October 08, 2021 06:38AM
Two nineteenth-century Englishmen find a way to go to the moon with steampunk tech, and the whole thing is the most Victorian thing I’ve ever listened to. The one guy is inventing a kind of metal that is transparent to graviton energy (back when humanity thought any force or energy or heat exerted between objects over a distance must take the form of a ray). Why not? Lol. Glass is transparent to visible light but blocks heat (infrared). So then why can’t a substance be found that blocks gravity rays? They do. The one guy invents it just because the scientific spirit of the age was like being possessed by Carl Sagan’s ghost, and the other guy keeps thinking of patents and copyrights and monopolies and industrial revolutions and jumping up and down like a giddy school girl at the prospect of being obscenely wealthy. Before these two men team up, the enterprising one was trying to write a play to pay his bills. They make a flat sheet of this new stuff that blocks gravity rays, and the air above it begins to be weightless, like helium but not even that. So the rest of the atmosphere comes rushing in to fill the vacuum at fourteen and half pounds per square inch and creates a kind of explosion which was actually the creation of an air fountain. That fountain would have ejected all of earth’s air into space had not the vortex ripped the fixed material up out of place. Oops. But they take courage again, because these are two British Victorians astride the world at the height of British imperial power, or in other words they’re like two spoiled kids playing with matches. They perfect a spherical steam bunk box to ride to the moon and use the fountain technique to go. They discover that the moon has air, but it’s thin air like at the top of a mountain. I keep having intrusive thoughts of the Apollo footage while I picture these two guys unscrewing their hatch and wondering if the lunar air is thick enough to avoid boiling their blood. They don’t know, they just know that the air pressure they’ve already lost is making them woozy. So they throw back some gin, and that basically makes them immune to low pressure sickness somehow. Most English sci fi novel ever.
I’m not all the way through. I know enough about 2021 physics to know everything wrong with this novel, but I don’t care. It is delightful to read about an Englishman’s fantasy of how a lunar landing could happen and compare it in my mind to what we know 120 years later actually having accomplished the deed. HG Wells had no conception of rockets. In the War of the Worlds novel, the Martians get to Earth via huge interplanetary canons in hollow conical bullets. The peak of Martian technological supremacy is when they experiment with a flying machine of some kind, and all the Englishmen still alive in the ruins of London pull their hair saying that mankind is doomed for man could never compete with such high technological witchcraft. HG Wells has moments of prescience, though, even when he’s wrong about everything. One of the English gentlemen gazed upon the lunar landscape and says “this is no environment for man, but it’s appealing anyway,” followed by childish play in the lunar gravity. Apollo astronauts would wake up in their hammocks, remember where they were, and stare out the porthole while they brushed their teeth and say “we’re on the moon!” And they’d go outside and play in the lunar gravity while they did science. The narrator describes a feeling of otherworldly novelty mixed with classic human fascination with our nearest celestial body, a feeling many Apollo astronauts described in their retelling in all the years afterwards.
The Q15 ask us, “where will you go? What will you do?” Well, I bought a 4K tv to watch raw Apollo footage on, and I’m working my way through the HG wells novels. It’s working out pretty well for me. Got feelings of intense loneliness sometimes, but then I have these other sublime moments of laughter and pure joy in life like when I read about two Victorians in top hats prefiguring Neil Armstrong throwing back liquor to magically compensate for the lunar environment.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/08/2021 06:43AM by Cold-Dodger.