Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday Scientifiction: An Excursion Into the Past

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Again, since we missed last week, you get a bonus this week—in this case, a story from the February 1922 issue of Science and Invention.

It's another in the early Gernsback mold of a scientific thought experiment... although, as he admits himself in the introduction, the science being thought about is pretty much bunk. Incidentally, he should have said that the mass of the ship would be infinite at the speed of light. As it approaches the speed of light, its mass would be increasing, but it would never reach infinity, because it can never reach the speed of light.

It's interesting, though, that the writer and/or Gernsback wouldn't allow faster-than-light travel by technological means even in science fiction. The ship in this story is literally heavenly in nature. As the author of the rules, presumably God can authorize bending them.

A bit of out-of-date terminology: When the angel speaks of leaving the universe and crossing others, he's talking about galaxies.

A bit of accurate-again terminology: Of course, Pluto had not yet been discovered in 1922. But by the recently-updated definition, Neptune is indeed "the farthest planet."


During this period, there was some experimentation with simplified spelling. For instance, thru instead of through, tho instead of though, gript instead of gripped, and so on. In this and previous stories, I've been using the more familiar spellings.

I mention it now because the first-person narrator uses some phonetic spellings, such as wuz, and I worried at times if I was correcting the deliberately incorrect. The writer twice uses focust in the first-person narration, but once uses focused in another character's dialogue. Of course, since everything is being told to us by the protagonist, dialogue and all, you'd think that, right or wrong, it would be spelled the same everywhere. Either way, I decided it was editorial inconsistency, and made them all focused.

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