Star Traders Worlds: Shelley, Verne & Wells
Mary Shelley (1797 – 1851; first SF publication, 1818) is the earliest, and perhaps youngest, author in this list. At the time she wrote (in the early 1800s, when she was less than twenty years old) there was no such thing as “science fiction”; her Frankenstein was (and often still is) classified as horror and gothic. However, her story of Dr. Frankenstein’s experimental attempts to create life from non-living matter is definitely also science fiction. Her later books tend toward the historical and romantic, although she does write at least one other SF title, the apocalyptic The Last Man. For me, Shelley tends more to Respect rather than Enjoy. I confess that I find older novels (particularly those prior to 1900) harder to work my way through.
Essence of Life
As Dr. Frankenstein conducts his experiments, he discovers the Essence of Life, which along with a jolt of electricity, brings his Creature to life.
Jules Verne (1828 – 1905; first SF publication, 1863) wrote many stories, usually attempting scientific education — he wanted to teach science while providing an entertaining read. His guesses and extrapolations based on the knowledge of his day are sometimes wrong, but sometimes breathtakingly accurate.
I believe Verne is the only non-English author on this list. His most well-known stories are part of his “Extraordinary Journeys” series, and include Journey to the Center of the Earth, From the Earth to the Moon (in which a debate is held on whether to launch the rocket from Texas or — the eventual choice — Florida!), Around the World in Eighty Days and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.
A Nautilus Submarine
As with a few other authors on this list, Verne’s works offer little in the nature of commercial manufacturing. The number of ties I saw him referred to as “farseeing,” I was tempted to simply have the world of Verne export farseeing jewels … however, the Nautilus is the ahead-of-its-time submarine which Captain Nemo pilots in Twenty Thousand Leagues, and the choice for Verne’s export here.
H(erbert) G(eorge) Wells (1866 – 1946; first SF publication, 1894), despite what Warehouse 13 tells us, was a man, about twenty years behind Verne. He wrote lots of stories, including science fiction titles The Time Machine, The Island of Doctor Moreau, The Invisible Man and The War of the Worlds — all written within four years! The War of the Worlds is the Martian invasion story with which Orson Welles terrified the U.S. through a radio dramatization, in 1938. In The World Set Free Wells predicted the devastation of nuclear weapons. He also created the first published rules for miniatures gaming (and arguably for wargaming of any sort) in Floor Games and Little Wars.
In The Time Machine, a gentleman inventor devises an apparatus that will carry its rider forward and backwards in time, and he eventually explores millions of years into the future, witnessing the final destruction of the Earth. A precise description of the machine is never given, although we know it has ivory and nickel bars, and brass rails.