SKYWARD AND EARTHWARD. Arthur Penrice, pseudonym.

SKYWARD AND EARTHWARD. London: Samuel Tinsley, 1875. Octavo, pp. [i-v] vi-viii 1-279 [280: blank] + 16 page catalogue of "Samuel Tinsley's Publications" dated February 1875 inserted at rear, inserted folded chart of Mars, original pictorial blue cloth, front panel stamped in gold and black, spine panel in gold, rear panel in black, all edges trimmed, pale yellow coated endpapers. First edition. "Four men, old chums just out of college, and all with a strong interest in science, construct a balloon to explore the Earth. It is an odd hybrid (somewhat like this novel!), with a body like a ship, plus rudder and wings, and four wheels like a car, and a balloon filled with a special gas discovered by the narrator. After provisioning the vessel they accidentally rise up to the Moon and find there a dystopian world inhabited by a people who have no gender and no reproduction, no need for food or sleep (a lack felt also by the protagonists while there) -- a convenient characteristic as there is no food on the planet. They communicate telepathically and live in caves illuminated by copper mirrors that reflect outside light. Social status is measured directly by the level of the person's cave inside the mountain and by the number of certain white stones -- apparently without utilitarian value -- piled up in the cave. Now and then a person is chosen by random to take a lap around the moon, after which he loses all memory and is assigned -- randomly -- a new status upon his return. Thus a certain social dynamism is achieved to relieve envy. The protagonists, finding this world 'inexpressibly wearisome' contrive a ruse to escape, and after a long period of semi-consciousness, they land on what they believe is an unknown tropical part of the Earth. They eventually learn that it's Mars. This is a utopian world, verdant and peaceful, inhabited by beautiful humanoid people with rose-colored skin, primitive but friendly and disciplined. They are vegetarian -- and so is one of the trees, which picks up a fallen fruit and deposits it into its trunk. Some of the birds are trained to pick fruit and serve it to the people. The protagonists explore the planet, finding a series of beautiful submarine grottoes that look as if they were 'built of rainbow,' but finally decide they should return home. On their way they briefly visit Io, the Jupiterian moon, a kind of miniature world with six-inch tall monkeys. Upon their return to Earth they find out that eight years have elapsed, and they get to work finding fortune and love while exploring remote parts of the Earth on their balloon. An unusual Victorian interplanetary in that it is neither an earnest occult romance nor a rah-rah boys adventure. Published during the first big wave of Verne's popularity in English, it is Vernean at some times, with careful attention paid to scientific details, such as the construction of the craft the protagonists use for their journey, but oddly dreamlike at others. A rather curious work." - Robert Eldridge. Locke, Voyages in Space (2011) V 527. Suvin, Victorian Science Fiction in the UK, p. 19. Bleiler (1978), p. 156. Reginald 11306. Not in Sargent. Locke, A Spectrum of Fantasy, p. 174 reports a copy with a folding color chart of Mars and inserted 16-page publisher's catalogue dated May 1875. Like other copies we have seen, neither chart nor catalogue were bound into this copy. Early gift inscription dated April 1875 on the half title page. Covers damp spotted, but a sound, internally tight, clean copy of a book difficult to find in any condition. This copy has the inserted folded chart of Mars missing from many (most?) copies. OCLC reports 2 copies in the U.S. (MIT and TxU-HRC) (#149693).

Price: $1,000.00

See more items by ,
Printing identification statement for this book:
No statement of printing.