Science Art: A Plunge into Space, book cover, 1890.


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This is the cover of an early science fiction hit, Robert Cromie’s A Plunge into Space, which was in print from 1890 to 1910. It’s about a scientist, Henry Barnett, who…

…discovered the origina and essence of that law which, before me, never man did ought but name, or, at best, did but chronicle its known effects – the law which makes that universe of worlds a grand well-ordered army instead of helpless mob of mutually destroying forces; when I tell you that within this ragged room, there stands a man who – grant him but ten years of human life – could sway a star in its course, could hurl a planet from its path? Man, I have discovered the mightiest secret of creation. …I have discovered the origin-of-force!

So of course he builds a little space capsule, the Steel Globe (which looks surprisingly like Sputnik did, six decades later), visits Mars with an expedition team, where the inhabitants have conquered gravity and, like, hang out… and then on the way home, with limited oxygen and rations, they discover a Martian girl has stowed away.

There’s more about the book here, in this Fantastic Fiction synopsis. Or you could just read the thing. Jules Verne liked it.

I found the image at the British Library Flickr page.