On July 10, 1744, a German astronomer named Eberhard Christian Kindermann thought he had made the discovery of a lifetime — a never before seen moon orbiting the planet Mars, more than 130 years before any were officially observed. Instead of announcing his discovery the usual way, Kindermann chose to dramatize it by writing a story about an interplanetary voyage to his alleged Martian moon. The result was The Speedy Journey on the Air-Ship to the Upper World, perhaps the first story ever written about a trip to Mars (or at least somewhere close by). By turns quirky and even bizarre, the story is still astonishing today for its sheer imagination as a work of pioneering science fiction. Besides traveling through space and encountering alien life forms on another world, Kindermann’s heroes even use balloons for aerial transportation nearly forty years before the actual first balloon flight in 1783. Never before translated into English, little known outside its native country, and usually relegated to uncertain references in footnotes and bibliographies, The Speedy Journey is now available after 270 years to science-fiction fans and historians, astronomy buffs, and everyone else in “the curious lower world,” as the author would have said. This edition includes the complete translated text of the original story as well as essays by science-fiction historian John J. Pierce and translator Dwight R. Decker that put it in the context of its time. The cover by Alan Fletcher Bradford and new illustrations by Donna Barr are supplemented with vintage illustrations from E. C. Kindermann’s own works.
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Dwight R. Decker has been a translator, technical writer, and editor. In recent years he has translated an Italian-produced comic book (or “graphic novel”) featuring an adaptation of Dante’s Inferno with Disney characters (published in Walt Disney’s Comics & Stories #666), and a 19th Century Danish story that can only be described as steampunk when steampunk was what was right outside your front door, and not just a genre (published in the anthology Steampunk II). He also writes lighthearted novels in a science-fictional vein, and has just published Pleistocene Junior High, with The Napoleon of Time coming soon, available from the usual online sources.
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