Headline: "AMAZING EXPERIENCE OF GOVERNMENT WIRELESS OPERATOR -- Receives Message from Unknown Source by a Wave New to Science. Official Washington in the Greatest Excitement". In this new story the secret of the Flying Ring and the wonders wrought by the Violet Ray brought under control for the first time in history are illuminated, based on scientific fact.
ead with an air of importance.
"Take your word for it," answered Hood without emotion, save for a slight annoyance at the other's arrogation of superior information. "'Tain't the first time there's been an earthquake since creation." And he strolled out, swinging to the doors behind him.
The night shift settled himself before the instruments with a look of dreary resignation.
"Say," he muttered aloud, "you couldn't jar that feller with a thirteen-inch bomb! He wouldn't even rub himself!"
Hood, meantime, bought an evening paper and walked slowly to the district where he lived. It was a fine night and there was no particular excitement in the streets. His wife opened the door.
"Well," she greeted him, "I'm glad you've come home at last. I was plumb scared something had happened to you. Such a shaking and rumbling and rattling I never did hear! Did you feel it?"
"I didn't feel nothin'!" answered Bill Hood. "Some one said there was a shock, that was all I heard about it.
A remarkable work of hard science fiction from 1915, a collaboration between Arthur Train, a lawyer and popular author, and Robert W. Wood, a celebrated physicist and inventor. Train was acclaimed for his humorous stories about the fictional lawyer Ephraim Tutt, "the best-known lawyer in America." Among Wood's other honors, he received the Henry Draper Medal of the National Academy of Sciences for his contributions to astrophysics in 1940, and the lunar crater Wood was named for him.) It's as if John Grisham and Stephen Hawking wrote a novel together.
While much pre-"Golden Age" sf seems all but unreadable today, the prose in this book, like the works of H.G. Wells (who is mentioned within, and whom I suspect was an inspiration) flows smoothly, with a plot that doesn't feel dated.
The world is at war when a message comes that fighting must stop, or he'll tilt the earth on its axis. It's dismissed as a hoax, but then it happens. There's too much exposition and some loose ends never quite get tied up, but it's still a very interesting novel.
There is a sequel, "The Moon Maker," from 1916, but unfortunately it does not seem to be online anywhere. Search turns up only used copies of a 1958 edition and e-editions from for-profit publishers available.
What a great book. HARD science fiction from 1915, co-written by a member of the Royal Society, future president of the National Academy of Sciences, discoverer and inventor, recipient of many honors, degrees etc., etc.
Mad scientist styles himself Dictator of Earth and changes the planet's axis with his uranium-fueled atomic disintegrator, for starters!
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