The OF Blog: Would you be interested in reading this book?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Would you be interested in reading this book?

Here's part of the description of Garrett Serviss's Edison's Conquest of Mars, published in serial form in the New York Evening Journal in 1898, as described in Roger Luckhurst's Cultural History of Literature: Science Fiction:

Serviss, editor of Collier's Popular Science Library and author of texts on astronomy, conceives of the solar system largely as a series of sites for colonization: the diamonds of the Moon and the gold of a large Martian-occupied asteroid need to be seized and secured for American use. Once the initial engagement with the defences of Mars is played out, the text abandons mechanical display for a melodrama plot that - as with the boy-inventor tales - concerns race. The decadent Martian emperors are soothed by the music of a captured human woman; it transpires she is a descendant of ancient Aryans, used for centuries by Martians as slave labour. The nubile Aryan beauty is rescued and avenged by the American warrior throwback, Colonel Smith. Their final embrace allows Serviss to conclude the book: 'And thus was united, for all future time, the first stem of the Aryan race, which had been long lost, but not destroyed, with the latest offspring of that great family' (186). Edison and indeed the Mars setting are almost abandoned in these closing chapters. Yet it is the vehicle of American technical prowess that constitutes the ground on which the great fantasy of reunification of the white race - as propounded in the 1890s by imperialists like Cecil Rhodes - takes place under American not British command. (pp. 57-58). I mean, I knew just how the Zeitgeist was during that time from several courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, but to read once again something that would seem at home with the wild fantasies of Alfred Rosenberg is something else. And if anyone wants to read the entire thing, it's on Project Gutenberg. Enjoy?


Liviu said...

If you dig a little you can find gems like this today too, maybe written in code and as non-fiction, though I am pretty sure there is fiction like this too - P. Robertson New World Order or Pat Buchanan's tracts come to mind as quick examples I browsed -

The good news is that today' similar stuff is marginalized not mainstream...

tim said...

This sounds AWESOME!!! I love this crazy stuff. It reminds me of Howard's Solomon Kane series. Frightening and for some reason alluring at the same time. But for some reason, I don't think that kind of thinking has passed. It might be hidden a little better, but books like McDonald's River of Gods and Brasyl, while perhaps more subtle, do treat their non-euro/american characters and places in the same way.

Felix said...

I always wonder how Edison felt about this sort of thing.

Felix said...

This novel contains the sentence:

""It is an asteroid," said somebody."

(under the chapter heading "The Asteroid")

Best worst sentence ever?

bloggeratf said...

@ Liviu

Some authors might indeed be marginalized, but too many from that fringe slip through the cracks and are highly respected/read scholars/psychos. I'm thinking about a great article Huntington wrote on Mexicans... it was priceless... in a bad way.

Also, probably one of my favorites, is the psycho who runs Eight books later he is still running strong... remember that Hitler was marginalized at first too.

Lsrry said...


If you keep quoting gems like that, you might make me read the entire thing! :P


I am a bit wary about presuming that things are "marginalized." I do live in the Bible Belt and some of what I've heard said in passing conversations has chilled my blood before.


I suspect that books like this one inspired reactions over the next century. Good thing, no?

Unknown said...

oh go on, read it, it'll take you ten minutes at most

it features not only Edison, but also Kelvin, Roentgen, and a random assortment of other European scientists, who all play second fiddle to Edison; and so it establishes early that America is Top Western Nation, before moving on to explore the Aryan roots of all Western Nations (Spoiler alert! They discover proof that Aryans originated in Kashmir).

Unknown said...

"Negotiations were at once begun. The United States naturally took the lead, and their leadership was never for a moment questioned abroad."

take that, abroad

Lsrry said...

You're so tempting me to read this now, I see...

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