Friday, November 28, 2008

Mars and the Paranormal 1880-1940

The November 2008 issue of Science Fiction Studies, DePauw University’s thrice yearly academic journal, has an article titled “Mars and the Paranormal,” by Robert Crossley. While I have not had an opportunity to read the article, here’s an abstract, taken from the journal’s website:

“The parallel emergence of modern Martian studies and psychical research in the later nineteenth century led to a strange fusion of the literary imagination and spiritualist practices. Both Percival Lowell and Camille Flammarion were drawn into this association, the latter far more committedly than the former. The turn-of-the-century case of the Swiss medium Hélène Smith, who claimed to have traveled to Mars and learned the Martian language, is a celebrated instance of the link between Mars and the paranormal, but the phenomena of telepathy and astral projection also make their way into such sf narratives as Wells’s The War of the Worlds (1898), Burroughs’s A Princess of Mars (1912), Stapledon’s Last and First Men (1930), and Lewis’s Out of the Silent Planet (1938). The extent and significance of the role of the paranormal in early sf can be most fully grasped in less well known narratives by Henry Gaston, Flammarion, George DuMaurier, Louis Pope Gratacap, Mark Wicks, Sara Weiss, J.L. Kennon, and J.W. Gilbert. Collectively, these narratives reveal the persistence of the problematic issue of the interweaving of science (or pseudoscience) and romance in the fashioning of fiction about Mars.”

Presumably, the untitled narratives mentioned in the abstract include:

Mars Revealed, Or, Seven Days in the Spirit World: Containing an Account of the Spirit's Trip to Mars, and His Return to Earth, what He Saw and Heard on Mars (1880), by Henry A. Gaston

Urania: a Romance (1889), by Camille Flammarion

The Martian: a Novel (1897), by George Du Maurier

The Certainty of a Future Life in Mars: Being the Posthumous Papers of Bradford Torrey Dodd (1903), by Louis Pope Gratacap

Journeys to the Planet Mars, Or, Our Mission to Ento (Mars): Being a Record of Visits Made to Ento (Mars) (1905), by By Sara Weiss

To Mars via the Moon: an Astronomical Story (1911), by Mark Wicks

The Planet Mars and Its Inhabitants: a Psychic Revelation (1922), by Eros Urides, a Martian (i.e., J. L. Kennon)

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