Saturday, December 5, 2009

Auf Zwei Planeten, 1897 novel by Kurd Laßwitz

Auf Zwei Planeten, by Kurd Laßwitz (1897)

At left: Paperback (New York: Popular Library, 1971), 383 p., 95¢. Translated from German by Hans H. Rudnick. Epigraph by Wernher von Braun. Afterword by Mark R. Hillegas. Here is the piece from the back cover:

Seeking the North Pole, the tiny band of explorers found instead a Martian settlement on earth, an artificial island with a floating ring space station, populated by ideal beings with light hair and shining powerful eyes -- peaceful, civilized creatures who wanted to educate men in advanced Martian ways. In return, they sought only air and energy from earth’s bountiful supply. But human folly provoked the Martians to war, and their easy victory spelled separation for Joseph Saltner and La, lovers from two planets whose happiness personified the possibilities of universal peace. The utopian vision of this remarkable and important novel had a profound influence of German astronomy and the American space program. Its astonishing fantasy has for decades captured the imagination of European readers. One, Wernher von Braun, writes "I devoured this novel with curiosity and excitement as a young man. ..." Here is the first English translation.

A “lost science fiction classic,” Two Planets is the English translation of Kurd Lasswitz’s novel Auf Zwei Planeten, which was originally published in German in 1897 and abridged by his son, Erich Lasswitz, in 1948 and 1969.

Interestingly, a review of Two Planets by Theodore Sturgeon in the May 14, 1972, issue of The New York Times mentions that “the book was banned by the Nazis as ‘democratic.’"

Auf Zwei Planeten is one of author Kim Stanley Robinson’s 10 favorite Mars novels.

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