NOVAE TERRAE #6 (August 1936)
The rear two pages are missing from the copy of this issue in my possession. My thanks to Alistair Durie for supplying scans of these.
Copytyping this issue by Joe Patrizio.
NOVAE TERRAE...................(NEW WORLDS)Volume 1, Number 6.............AUGUST 1936
A great deal of care and work has been necessary to produce this
issue of NOVAE TERRAE since it contains more than fifty per cent more
material than any other previous issue. Though there are welcome signs
that perhaps before long Britain will see its first printed fan magazine,
NOVAE TERRAE remains for the moment the only regular production in these
islands, and as long as it remains such a variety of useful work is waiting
to be done, and hence this enlarged production.
The Editors of NOVAE TERRAE do not hold themselves responsible for the
statements made, or the opinions expressed by contributors.
Subscription rates: England, 2d a copy, 1/6 per year
A great deal of care and work has been necessary to produce this issue of NOVAE TERRAE since it contains more than fifty per cent more material than any other previous issue. Though there are welcome signs that perhaps before long Britain will see its first printed fan magazine, NOVAE TERRAE remains for the moment the only regular production in these islands, and as long as it remains such a variety of useful work is waiting to be done, and hence this enlarged production.
The Editors of NOVAE TERRAE do not hold themselves responsible for the statements made, or the opinions expressed by contributors.
Subscription rates: England, 2d a copy, 1/6 per year
ESPERANTO: ITS RELATION TO SCIENTIFICTION
By Forrest J. Ackerman, Scientifictionist
First-Class, Active-Honorary SFL Member 1
Maurice K. Hanson, Co-Editor of NOVAE TERRAE, writes me: "..Rocketry and science fiction, for example, always march hand in hand, their connection with each other is self-evident. But although there is a certain amount of connection between science fiction and Esperanto, they do not seem exactly Siamese twins, as you might say." Not as I might say! In this "Akermanuscript", I shall attempt to convince of the concrete kinship of Esperanto with profetic fiction.
British brothers, can it be, as "Dr. Jekyll" said in the Stevenson scientifilm, that England is "...So full of fog it has penetrated your minds, set boundaries for your vision?" As devotees of science fiction, you, surely, are insighted enuf to peer beyond the present, foresee the profecy of today come true!
Have you never considered the catastrofe it would be, should that first marvelous rocket return from Mars bearing an Ambassador ravishing us to our roots with consuming, unexampled excitement! -- but that representative from the Red Planet address our waiting world ... especially the ears of our scientificircle of future-fans... in German, Russian, Japanese?! For what guarantee the first flight will be made by ENGLISH-speaking explorers? (And we must not seriously imagine that Man of Mars will match the incredible ability of the Sea, Sky, and other Menagerie Man of the mystery planet Mongo, in speaking perfect English as per the Flash Gordon scientificartoon and cine-serial.) Definitely, adoption of a simple scientific language is of utmost importance. And that synthetic tongue -- out of 2000 invented, tested, found wanting, discarded -- has proven thru forty-five years of
service, to be
ESPERANTO. "Wings Over The World" with ESPERANTO! --ESPERANTO for World Communications!
And then -- one day -- ESPERANTO for initial interplanetary idea-exchange!
Yes. For Science' Sake we should not put Earthian Intelligence in immediate contempt with the Canal People (who, if they exist, are probably members of an older civilisation than ours, and therefore more sensible on tho subject, I trust); bewilder the Barsoomians (Burroughs) with, for example, our nonsensical English. Imagine attempting to explain why "s" is added to house to pluralize it, but not to "mouse"; or, other way round, why, in quantities we have "mice" 'but not "hice". Incongruous, baroque! that science should conquer space, but communication create a barrier!
Reflect but a moment upon our insane spelling-pronunciation -- where "come" does not rime with "home", tho "comb" does; yet "loam", spelt still a third way, rimes with the latter -- what's the matter "tomb" doesn't rime with "comb", and "bomb" doesn't rime with either of them; yet "loom" rimes with "tomb"! It is "tomb" much, in fact decidedly DUMB!
They sound alike; come, sum, thumb; tome, roam, home, comb; doom, whom, tomb; balm, bomb, Tom; but "Og's philogistines" as Forrest J.A. would say ""the senseless spelling"
Have you ever heard that "ough" has thirteen different sounds? "Cough" for instance, "plough", "rough", "thorough", "through" --there're five offhand.
--But I did not intend this to turn into an outline of the absurdities of the English language. Nor need I try French, with its two thousand, two hundred and sixty-five verb-endings! (Esperanto has twelve).
Except to emfasize the scientific simplicity
of the Universalanguage, where every plural ends alike and, among other things, "c"
at last comes into its own with a definite, unvarying pronunciation instead of
altering unpredictably between the sound of "s" and "k"....
In Esperanto, due to the ingenious use of suffixes and prefixes, enormous vocabularies may be built from but a few words; things, it has been suggested, said which have never been said before! Thus these are some of the reasons why Esperanto, to my mind, is as well interwoven with imaginative literature us the raketo, roboto, and other mechanical marvels.
Future-minded fans, is it not intriguing to consider using the auxiliary language which profetic fictioneers call future civilization's communication method? Progressive pioneers get a colossal kick out of talking the "Tongue of Tomorrow" today, crystallizing one of the Things to Come!
Quoting in conclusion, a few excerpts from personal oorrespondence received on the subject: "I am a science fiction reader and am always interested in any project, as this, that makes for the betterment of civilisation" -- "I thought Esperanto might be a good subject for the SFL to take up. Would add interest to the League, and certainly a universal language should be interesting to science fiction fans." -- "I believe it would be just the thing to introduce into the Millheim (Pennsylvania) Chapter of the SFL."
Nu, sufice? In other words --English words -- have I proved my point?
(English readers wishing further information on Esperanto may source same from La Brita Eperanto Asocio; 148 High Holborn, London, W.C.1. The Association supplies, I believe, a Grammar and Vocabulary of Esperanto for 2 1/2d. Any chance American or Canadian readers interested may obtain the pamflet from me for ten cents. Address: 236 1/2 E. New Hampshire, Hollywood. Anyone particularly enthusiastic about Esperanto might send for the publication PLANETEER, 69, Halsted Street., East Orange, New Jersey, USA....15 cents a copy...............which contains my
scientificolumn, "Epizodoj Esporantaj", in both English and Esperanto.)
----------------do feel that it is high time we expressed our appreciation to Mr. Malcolm Plant
who has consistently and capably looked after the Art Work in NOVAE TERRAE. Our
thanks are all the more opportune since Mr. Plant is a confirmed opponent of
------------The July issue of NOVAE TERRAE contained an article by Mr. Walter H. Gillings
outlining his plans for the production of a printed British fan-magazine,
"SCIENTIFICTION, The British Fantasy Review", to appear in the near future
providing he could be assured of the support of a sufficient number of fans.
If you are interested in such a production and have not yet written, you should
Mr. Walter H. Gillings, 10 Shore Road, Ilford, Essex.
--------------The astronomical article promised in the last issue of NOVAE TERRAE, has been
crowded out of this already much-enlarged issue. The article will appear instead
in the September issue---------------
----------------Those who are reading NOVAE TERRAE for the first time with this issue will no
doubt be interested to hear that it is produced monthly by Chapter 22 of the
Science Fiction League, the Nuneaton, England Chapter------------------
----------------do feel that it is high time we expressed our appreciation to Mr. Malcolm Plant who has consistently and capably looked after the Art Work in NOVAE TERRAE. Our thanks are all the more opportune since Mr. Plant is a confirmed opponent of scientific fiction----------------------
------------The July issue of NOVAE TERRAE contained an article by Mr. Walter H. Gillings outlining his plans for the production of a printed British fan-magazine, "SCIENTIFICTION, The British Fantasy Review", to appear in the near future providing he could be assured of the support of a sufficient number of fans. If you are interested in such a production and have not yet written, you should write to
Mr. Walter H. Gillings, 10 Shore Road, Ilford, Essex.
--------------The astronomical article promised in the last issue of NOVAE TERRAE, has been crowded out of this already much-enlarged issue. The article will appear instead in the September issue---------------
----------------Those who are reading NOVAE TERRAE for the first time with this issue will no doubt be interested to hear that it is produced monthly by Chapter 22 of the Science Fiction League, the Nuneaton, England Chapter------------------
This month's commentary on what science fiction readers may find of interest
among recentlypublished books, articles, films, etc.:
THIS SIDE OF THE ATLANTIC
The height of the mercury can scarcely be said to have caused the paucity of scientifictional material apparent this month though general seasonal tendencies are quite probably to blame.... Early on the book-list comes "The Glass Centipede" by Thomas Painter and Alexander Laing (Thornton Butterworth, 7/6). A synopsis of the plot reads encouragingly. A blameless chemist is employed to create germs which are stolen from him by his employer who tries them out on the unemployed before attempting world dominion through the medium of germ warfare...... ...Of a little interest, for it is by no means Wellsian is "Nobody Talks Politics" by Geoffrey Gorer (Michael Joseph, 8/6) in which, through contracting "lemurosis" the hero falls into suspended animation until 1944. The silver screen is represented by the ever-fascinating Karloff in "The Walking Dead" at the Dominion. With the intriguing story of the bringing to life of an electrocuted convict (reminiscent of more then one s-f yarn) who spends his time scaring the people who sent him to the 'chair', it had a mediocre reception. One of the critics enjoyed it, one or two found it just too childish, the rest ignored it. Directed by Michael Curtiz (of Captain Blood fame), Edmund Gwenn is also featured..... Two magazine articles out of the usual run as far as the s-f fan is concerned are "We Call It Air" of interest as author is the president of the "British Interplanetary Society" P.E.Cleater, appearing in the July Part 2, "Chamber's Journal" ---- and "The Man Of the Future" by Alec Waugh in August "Nash's Magazine" another of those what'll be what in 2036 affairs.
We offer a
For the first time we believe, the spheres of jazz and science fiction have been interconnected. The result of uniting two such widely separated spheres could scarcely be expressed in any usual form so that we have embodied the idea in a novel CONTEST.
We imagine that more than a few science fiction readers are familiar with some of the products of Tin Pan Alley and Charing Cross Road and hence that this contest will meet with some measure of popularity.
The contest is conducted according to the following rules.
The account following of a very minor adventure in space contains in its text the titles of a number of well-known jazz compositions.
See next page for "An Episode in Space"
An Episode In Space
It was about a quarter to nine mean earth time. The two officers were discussing earthy fruits -- valued luxuries on the space cruiser approaching Venus. "Give me an orange every time. I once saw an orange grove in California." "Oh you can't pull the wool over my eyes, I like bananas every time, although --" The captain of the vessel had brusquely entered, coughing in the hazy atmosphere.
"Smoking again? This confounded smoke gets in your eyes. But I came to ask one of you to go and ray an oversize meteorite ahead; it's an absolute menace in these lanes. It's none too cushy a job; how about you Fain?" But the other officer expostulated "Supposing I won't? I'll soon do it. Let it be me. I'm young and healthy, I've been waiting for a chance like this all my life."
"Well, it's no fun. Did anyone ever tell you you might find yourself left out there? Alone tormented by a hundred dangers? Still, there's no time like the present to learn. Get the auxiliarocket ready."
A few minutes Later the auxuliary vessel was ready to start.
"You know the pass-words that operate the controls of course?" "Gee, I'd forgotten. What are they?" "Oh it's easy to remember; I always say the words are in my heart." "Thanks a million, you saved my life." "Good luck, keep your fingers crossed." "You can bet I've got my fingers crossed already. Maybe I'll come back in little bits and pieces." "I'll stand by. Ready? Let yourself go, then."
After what seemed hours to Fain, unable to watch the proceedings, a rhythmatic pulsing in the air-lock betokened the return of his companion, but not until the "morning" after did he get a chance to speak to him. Anticipating him the latter remarked "Don't ask me any questions. By heck, I can tell you everything without that. Who would have thought there such swell controls in the "aux"? Would you? Knee-action rockets and hand-grip rays. What a perfect conbination. First shot I took went high. I glanced over my shoulder at the ship and thought 'this won't do. Where am I? I'm shooting high. Pull yourself together'. Then to get full power I had to put all the lights out, and for shot after shot then it was smooth sailing."
THE ROBOT ULTIMATE
The significance of the term robot is an ill-defined one, being usually applied in scientifiction to more or less human-shaped machines with mechanical brains equal, sometimes, to the brain of an ordinary artisan. The other aspect, that of laboratory produced men is less widely used by authors and may be dismissed as fantastic.
The metal robot is much nearer to us for inventors have in fact already produced human shapes with very limited brain-like mechanisms. The only observed possibility in these is the purpose for what they are already used, namely as star attractions at various exhibitions. They will obey certain orders or answer questions, but for utilitarian purposes are useless since a robot should be able to replace none but humans at work.
Ignoring the economic side of the question, the fact that immediately strikes one is that that is just what machines are already doing, and with the increased perfection of the machines, so are more and more humans replaced. Clearly, then, engineering is slowly proceeding on the correct path, always providing the path reaches the objective. The path consists in extending the automation of the machine but the limit to this is fast approaching.
Present day automatic machines work to a strict cycle of events, a cycle that is repeated uniformly whether useful work is being done or otherwise. External conditions do not alter this cycle in any way unless they are such as to damage the machine. The next stage in the development of automatics is to provide them with reactions to conditions, so that the operations are not proceeded with unless the position of the piece of work is satisfactory. A development on the lines of the robot traffic controller is indicated, leading to a mechanism which will, so to speak, perceive causes and produce corresponding effects. With such a mechanism, the development of self-tending machines
would proceed rapidly until the dream of an entirely
mechanical factory might be realised. The machines could be made to feed
themselves, from mechanical feeders to mechanical fitters would be a comparatively
short step, with machines that could be made to adjust themselves to maintain
correct sizes, and eventually, a single machine to produce one article – a
complete motor car for instance – might be possible.
Those mechanisms, (one would hardly call a completely non-reasoning machine a “brain”), could be applied domestically. There would be no need for a mechanical cook, a metallic parlour-maid, a steel butler or any other robot servant. Place a single complex “brain” in the cellar, give it photo-electric eyes and radio ears in every room, design the house as a single machine with vacuum cleaners, self-making beds, completely automatic kitchens and table waiting, with the controlling brain to watch that the beds are not made until unoccupied, the meals are not removed regardless of whether eaten or uneaten, with necessary arrangements for varied meals, and we have a robot house that would be much more comfortable than an ordinary house containing several half-ton metal servants.
The possibilities are endless, and it is surely obvious that robots, in the sense of human shaped mechanisms will be worth developing only for amusement. The human shape would be extremely difficult to develop satisfactorily as a machine, weak and inefficient when produced and of no use to an age skillful enough to produce it. In one sense, the machines will all be robots, but in another there will be none.
Suppose these wonderful machines went wrong? That is the question that might leap to a reader’s mind, and the answer is that even if they did, which is not necessarily probable, no damage except possibly to individuals would result. It is to be hoped that they would go wrong occasionally,
or else nine tenths of the
world’s population would perish of boredom leaving only a few theorists behind.
The first robot houses may come in a couple of hundred years, the perfect machines
in a couple of million. The end will be the completely robot planet, an entire
world one complete robot on which a race of pure thinkers may develop to the
Unless the robot war machine has eliminated humanity in the meantime!
Concerning the article “Hymn of Hate, No.2” which appeared in the last (July) issue of NOVAE TERRAE, our contributor, Mr. D.R.Smith, writes: “John Russell Fearn has objected to the wording of the first, and last two paragraphs of ‘Hymn of Hate, No.2’. I am sorry that these should appear to be direct personalities, such being far from the plan of the article, which was intended as a general story criticism. Naturally, I offer full apology for anything in this article that can be taken in any way as a reflection on the personal or professional character of Mr. Fearn”.
It may be unknown to English readers that by taking out a direct subscription to Street and Smith for ASTOUNDING that it is mailed to arrive in England on the actual publication date in America… practically three weeks prior to its arrival on the book-stands here, as it doesn’t reach the London distributors until the 10th of each current month.
By E.J. Carnell
The April-June issue of the SCIENCE FICTION CRITIC which I have recently received from California (incidentally the mag is printed) contained a very interesting article by Hugo Gernsback giving the reasons why he sold WONDER. As I haven’t read anything elsewhere, you may be interested in a few points from it.
Mr. Gernsback says that WONDER has been discontinued by him “…for the reason that the interest in scientifiction at the present time seems to be on the wane, and it seems almost impossible to get out a magazine of a high type because readers are so few.” He then mentions that conditions may change later on when he will no doubt bring out another.
“WONDER”, he continues, “will be perpetuated by a fellow publisher of mine, who will continue it as a strictly juvenile mag by leaving out the science, at least in such a manner that a boy of eight or twelve will have no trouble in understanding what it is all about…” “….it has been a source of regret to me to note the continuous squabbling among scientifiction fans most of whom were bent on destroying scientifiction rather than building it up……this was particularly apparent in all readers letters, not only in WONDER, but in others as well. The point is that there is too much fault-finding and too little propaganda between scientifiction fans and the rest of the public….”
He then goes on to mention about the subscription blank in the April WONDER and says “…I made a test which would show me whether there was sufficient interest in scientifiction and particularly WONDER. I included a blank in the mag which required no postage and which readers were to send in at our expense, so that we could send them the mag every month. Less than 2000 coupons were received…”
“This was so discouraging and so conclusively revealed the apathetic attitude of scientifiction readers that I thought it best to discontinue the magazine.”
Nicely phrased if we can believe it all, though it is more probable that financial
difficulties were the main reason. I have just heard that Pragnell hasn’t received
payment for his “Green Man of Graypec” and that was quite a recent story.
The new THRILLING WONDER was on the news-stands in America late in June, some five weeks prior to its publication date, and I eagerly scanned an advance copy recently. In the first issue there is no noticeable tendency towards ‘juvenile stf’ though the whole standard of the mag has deteriorated. Weinbaum’s “Circle of Zero” is good, as is “Blood of the Moon” by Ray Cummings and “The Hormone Menace” by the Binders. There are five complete novelettes and three short stories. The usual departments are all in abbreviated form….League, two pages….Letters, three pages.
I note that Jack Beaumont of Barnsley formed Chapter 37 of the League early in February.
To the many fans who wrote letters to WONDER complaining about the illustrations in the past, at last they will have something to really complain about, for, in my own words, they are ‘junk’ and the cover is ‘vile’ under the new owners.
Bob (Dictator) Tucker of anti-wire-staple fame married Mary Jane Jeesting on March 16th this year. The ‘joke’ about Bob’s ‘death’ last year it transpires, was perpetrated by Mary Jane.
A list of League Chapters which are now defunct reveals that they now number over fourteen.
It is rumoured that George Clark’s BROOKLYN REPORTER (the first Chapter mag) discontinued October last year, may again be published this Autumn.
It is also reported that the fourth Anniversary issue of FANTASY will run to 2000 copies and will be sent free to all SFL members. FANTASY has another unique surprise to offer to the readers again this year in the nature of a surprise story.
And now for a few ANGLICISMS
John Beynon Harris’ story “Stowaway to Mars” now published in a complete book entitled “Planet Plane” (see this month’s “This Side of the Atlantic”).
A movement is being projected for a transfer of The British Interplanetary Society headquarters from Liverpool to London. In the last issue of the JOURNAL, you may have read the letter from a Mr. Edwards in which he proposed forming a London branch. Providing this can be arranged it is almost certain the transfer will take place. The reason is that the BIS has grown so fast [of] late that the few members in Liverpool who have been doing all the hard work, can now no longer adequately cope with it.
Two regrets to mention………… one, the discontinuance of Claire P. Beck’s SCIENCE FICTION CRITIC, from which the opening paragraphs were taken ………….two, that the New Zealand Science Fiction Association, mentioned by me some time back, was practically strangled at birth. It never grew into an Association of any remarkable size. Repeated enquiries by my N.Z. correspondent has failed to elicit any further details from them.
A remarkable wave of enthusiasm has greeted Walter H. Gillings’s proposal to launch a printed fan mag in this country. The required number of subscribers has not, as yet, been reached but, we feel sure that it will be reached during the next few weeks. He has been inundated with callers and letters offering help and suggestions but the most gratifying item is that through his leaflets certain members in London have at long last decided to call the first SFL meeting ever to be held within the mythical walls of our fair city. This has been planned by two members who live at Brixton, and they should have a record crowd attending. No date has yet been fixed, but I have no doubt that I shall be able to write first-hand information about what transpires at same.
I first learned of the project in the soft coolness of a June evening, June 1913. Dr. Warren was strolling with me in the grounds of his pleasant Essex house when he mentioned the subject. Several inches taller than myself the doctor made a striking figure, his greying hair and moustache, huge hands, finger-tips stained with nicotine – these always impressed themselves upon me. He suddenly changed the drift of our conversation: “No one” he said “can really know the terrific complexity of matter of any kind; illustrations are often given of the millions of millions of molecules in a glass of water, but are next to useless.”
We had been approaching a long low shed away in one corner of a shrubbery, and, the door being ajar, the doctor pushed it open and we entered, my friend speaking all the time as was his wont in his slow quiet tones, though, indeed, I hardly realised what he was saying. My attention was engrossed upon the most strikingly intricate mechanism sprawled out for twenty feet or so along a broad work-bench down one side of the building.
Nearest to me was a forest of keys, each with a neat label attached, and flanking this a bank of octagonal ebonite knobs each corresponding to a set of five dials placed higher up on the wall. Further along the bench was an inchoate mechanism composed of steel tapes, innumerable little tumblers and slugs in grooves with wires weaving in and out between cams and thin steel axles all set in the same direction. From a standard framework all along the bench this acme of intricacies, with occasional projections where even Warren’s mechanically ingenious brain had failed to fit in certain complications, at the time of construction but half-conceived.
“I recognized only dimly” I heard him say “how everything is a function of its potentialities and surroundings, how one thing co-ordinates with the next, that reacts with a further, to set upon a fourth. If I knew every factor governing the behaviour of an atom at a given instant I could predict its
condition, position and
behaviour at any future instant a second, a year, or a quintillion years ahead as
long as I know the laws of its behaviour under the conditions it was going to encounter."
Not wishing to be a party to a typical Warren scientific monologue and not being
entirely without a desire to display what scientific knowledge I did possess I
broke in at this point with perhaps more spirit than good manners.
"In fact, you studied Laplace's idea of an all-knowing demon --"
"Yes, I realise I'm within certain scientific circles even in, what shall we say -- my more eccentric ideas? But on that principle, nevertheless, I have constructed a machine that shows the future state of any given piece of matter."
"You really mean this?"
"Absolutely. In fact I've already carried out quite a reasonable amount of work in this direction. My most promising investigation has been in determining the condition of the contents of that lead chest on the right, thirty years in the future, with, I think, I might say rather surprising or disturbing results."
Mechanically my gaze turned to a solid looking dull metal container, a foot or so high. As I wandered over to examine it I was thinking that Warren who had so enriched certain aeronautical, radio and theoretical chemistry spheres with his devices and reasoning would scarcely be the man to indulge in some wild time-machine stunt. And this impression was confirmed by the rational if daring explanation that the doctor offered me.
It was to the effect that a recent study of Rutherford's atomic theory had led him independently to the results published by Bohr a few weeks previously, and he had gone further to infer the existence of what we now know as neutrons and positrons besides determining the nature of the forces acting both inside and outside the atom. So, I later realized, his idea of the atom was that used for practical purposes by atomists twenty years later. Knowing this, and having a detailed knowledge of the
physical properties and conditions of some piece of
matter he could represent every atom in it in mass, position and velocity by
means of the controls I had seen. From the cardinal factors he possessed it
was a complexity of deduction to determine more particular details, and from
those another step to others more intricate, and so on right down, working
always from the general to the particular. The ultimate must be an exact
knowledge of the composition and position of every molecule of the original
together with the nature and magnitude of all factors acting on each molecule.
Such monumental knowledge could only be registered on a bewilderingly complex
machine in which the condition of one atom was analogous to one arrangement of
a large number of tumblers or slugs, the condition of another by a different
arrangement of the same slugs. A million slugs would give an almost infinite
number of arrangements, or permutations, and in that way the well-nigh number
of atoms in any material was represented. The movements of the slugs
represented the changes in the condition of the atoms, and by integrating
the separate positions of all the slugs at one instant into one coherent whole,
the condition of the original material at that period in future would be given.
A practical time-machine, in a limited sense, it seemed.
I was just digesting the implications of this as we strolled back to an invitingly laid-out supper. Over this meal Dr. Warren told me of his initial experiments wwith the machine, and of their bizarre results. As he told me, the machine seemed limited in its applications unless extremely original experiments were tried and to this end he had investigated the development of some of the new radioactive salts that Lefevre had sent him from the Congo basin, together with together with the higher organic nitro-compounds Fischer had synthesized.
He had taken a film of what the integrator had shown, and after supper we adjourned to a room where an ungainly projector stood ready for use. The doctor extinguished the lights and adjusted the lenses and commenced to flash these supremely weird scenes on to the coarse screen. Such a film would seem terribly crude today, but for twenty years ago my friend’s projector was almost unbelievably efficient. The show lasted only three minutes, but three such minutes as might well replace three hours in ordinary humdrum life.
In the beginning the screen shone with a dozen or so bright flashes scattered
diversely; these areas of light suddenly grew more intense, increased, and
with indefinable rapidity engulfed the whole screen. As quickly, they died
down and a myriad beams of light shot from one corner to another, swivelled
round, crossing and intercrossing, formed a perfectly-shaped geometric
pattern for one instant, to dissolve it the next and for each beam to become
a train of waves moving in slinking undulations dreamily at first, then with
increasing tempo, beam after beam whirling round and throbbing in sympathy
with a central focus from which all seemed to emanate. The background
unoccupied by these beams was filled with motionless bands of light, edges
jagged, broken by serrations, and each band incredibly grimacing in momentary
flickers so that the screen represented the quintessence of a nightmare's
horror. It must have been my imagination that formed this background into a
turgid expanse crowded with gargoyles, each dissolving into the next and
finally sweeping into the central nucleus. Just as the, screen was blurring
indicating some repelling new development the film came to an end....
I began to write this on the twenty-third anniversary of that June evening and during those twenty-three years much has happened that has added to my cares. Greatest of all was the death of Dr. Warren during an influenza epidemic early in 1914. In his will he made provisions that the lead chest should be left exactly where it was to be opened by myself or someone named by me in 1943 in order to see exactly what supernormal events were occurring inside it. The doctor himself had had full confidence that it would be exactly as we had seen. If this were so, what explanation would suffice? That the radioactive salts had caused unique chains of reactions in the organic compounds liberating light energy in patterned flashes? Or that a race of beings had been evolved capable of warring with such light-flashes as weapons? Each seemed equally possible -- or impossible. I could not, and did not place myself open to ridicule by asking anyone else to explain such vagaries of reason. None
but Warren himself could operate what was remaining of the machine, and
the whereabouts of the film has always been unknown to me; and then always
the thought of what will happen when I open the chest some years hence, as
I feel myself bound to do.
Naturally I have made an effort to keep abreast of the branches of science touching on the work of my friend and through this my more rational self has finally received some measure of explanation. However, up till recently, modern theoretical ideas on atomic structure left me floundering in a sea of wave-mechanics, lost in a fog of probability, until I chanced to read the work of the continental scientist, Heisenberg whose well-known Principle of Uncertainty has given me much food for thought. Heisenberg, I discovered, was responsible for an edict held in high esteem in scientific circles to the effect that an exact knowledge of the position of a particle is incompatible with an exact knowledge of its velocity --- the position and velocity of an atom at the same instant can never both be known. But Warren’s machine had assumed a knowledge of the positions and velocities of countless atoms. In some way the machine had contradicted its own reasoning, giving the entirely imaginary results, taking the incredible form that we had seen.
Very-nicely fitting, but to one who has realised to the full the piquant reality of the scenes on that film, possibly too nicely fitting. I feel it would be foolish to go against the balance of the world’s scientific knowledge, but I wonder yet more often than I should, and I still shall – until June, 1943.
(We have included fiction within the pages of NOVAE TERRAE for the first time with this current story, coming from the pen of “Space-Ray”, the whole procedure being largely in the nature of an experiment. Do you think that we are justified in including a feature of this kind, that takes up about a fifth of an issue on its own? Our policy for the future will be largely molded on what you have to say on this question. –The Editors.)
This Side Of The Atlantic (Continued)
.......... The Problem of Rebirth" by Ralph Shirley (Rider 5/-) gives an examination of the theory of. reincarnation from a scientific standpoint............ ..."After Us: The world as it might be" by J.P Lockhart Mummery, M.A., M.B., B.C., published by Stanley Paul at 18/- is an authoratative work on the world of fifteen hundred years hence, the kind of people that will inhabit it and the conditions that they will experience..................... "Planet Plane" by John Beynon (Harris) was recently published by Newnes at 3/6. The book was reviewed in that august organ "The Daily Telegraph" an event of sufficient rarity in the case of an out and out science fiction novel as this to merit quoting the review here: "Mr. Beynon,...... has evidently an extensive knowledge of the literature of interplanetary travel (though he seems to have missed both George Griffiths "A Honeymoon in Space" and "Los Navigateurs de l'Infinite" by J.H. Rosny Aine), and it is a pity that his own contribution to it should be at once so promising and so slight. What is wanted is a story of the first voyage to Mars which shall be as solid and as rich in verisimilitudinous detail as, say, Kellerman's "The Tunnel". Mr. Beynon gives us no more than a sketch of such a book and the fact that it is a very good sketch must only make deeper the regret of those who enjoy this peculiar branch of literature. But perhaps he will do it again, and if not better, at greater length." The book was published serially in "The Passing Show" under the name "Stowaway to Mars" Our congratulations to an author so well known in the pages of scientifiction magazines......... .....Another scientific thriller is "The Death Pool" by James Corbett, (Jenkins 7/6), the title being the special name for a unique form of Oriental hypnotism and the plot hinges around the struggle to obtain the formula of a new poison gas dozens of times more lethal than any known at presont, using all the wiles of hypnotism and more than a flavouring of telepathy........
Maurice K. Hanson.
(Chiefly a curio-article for the curious-minded)
(Further installments of this "five-second featurette°" in future issues.)
Editorial Comments (Continued)
The amount of support and interest shown in
the production in the past has been very gratifying
and we take this opportunity of pausing for a moment
after half a year's existence and offering our thanks
to numerous enthusiasts whose help and support is
extremely valuable. We hope that others who read
NOVAE TERRAE for the first time with this issue will be
equally loyal to the cause of science fiction in Britain.
Maurice K. Hanson, 95, Mere Road, Leicester, England,
The amount of support and interest shown in the production in the past has been very gratifying and we take this opportunity of pausing for a moment after half a year's existence and offering our thanks to numerous enthusiasts whose help and support is extremely valuable. We hope that others who read NOVAE TERRAE for the first time with this issue will be equally loyal to the cause of science fiction in Britain.
Maurice K. Hanson, 95, Mere Road, Leicester, England,