Thursday, December 30, 2021

Arnold's "Lieut. Gullivar Jones: His Vacation" (1905)

Ace 1964, Frank Frazetta
Edwin L. Arnold's 1905 novel Lieut. Gullivar Jones: His Vacation (also known as Gulliver of Mars) describes an early form of planetary romance, later made popular by Edgar Rice Burroughs in his John Carter/Barsoom series of novels. 

In this narrative, an American Navy lieutenant named Gullivar Jones finds himself somewhat magically-whisked away (via "magic carpet") to a fictional version of Mars (replete with oceans and vegetation) populated by two contrasting humanoid societies. When Jones first lands, he encounters the Hither folk, a frail, fairy-like race who spend most of their time avoiding work, getting drunk and generally having a festive time. In short order, he adapts to their lifestyle and becomes infatuated with a Hither woman named Heru (a Princess of the city Seth). However, Heru is soon kidnapped by the Thither folk, a "barbarian" people who levy severe taxes on the Hither folk and frequently take beautiful Hither women as tribute to their leader, King Ar-hap.

Bison Frontiers of Imagination 2003, Thomas Floyd

Jones soon goes on a quest across the Martian landscape in order to rescue his lost lover. On the way, he encounters exotic Martian beasts and various forms of lethal vegetation. Interestingly, he also begins to find common ground with the more "manly" Thither folk he encounters, although when he reaches Ar-hap's realm he doesn't hesitate to facilitate Princess Heru's release. Later in the final sequence, when Ar-hap's forces raid Seth in an effort to retrieve their King's stolen prize, Jones helps Heru escape once again, but he himself ends up in a much different relationship than the reader might expect considering the preceding events.

Frank Frazetta

It may be interesting to compare Arnold's Hither and Thither folk with H.G. Wells' Eloi and Morlock races from The Time Machine, published ten years earlier. A satirical subtext might be sensed in Arnold's depiction of the two races, just as Wells' novel satirized the class struggle in England of his time (and Burroughs' Martian conflicts will later seem to evoke the struggle for dominance in North America between native Americans and European colonials).

George Bell & Sons 1905
Synopsis

  1. While on leave in New York City, a U.S. Navy lieutenant named Gullivar Jones walks into a dark alley and sees a strange little man fall out of a carpet hovering in the air. Discovering the man to have died in the fall, Jones takes the "oriental" rug back to his apartment for safekeeping. Bored and seeking adventure, on a whim he declares that he wishes he were on Mars. The carpet immediately rolls Jones up inside of its bulk and carries him out the window toward space.   
  2. Jones is eventually thrown from the rug to land amidst a group of short, fragile-looking humanoids, somewhat "fairy-like" in appearance and build. When he shows ignorance of the language, a youth named An uses a form of mesmerism to instill in Jones a familiarity with the local language. After some more conversation, Jones is stunned to learn that he is indeed on the planet Mars.
  3. An (who turns out to be a female servant) leads Jones to a floating skiff where she intends to take Jones to the ivory city of Seth, located downstream. On the way, they run into the processional barge of Prince Hath, the ruler of Seth. During the encounter, Jones gets an opportunity to rescue the beautiful Princess Heru from drowning after she is knocked overboard.
  4. The next day, Jones learns that An's "Hither" folk's only enemies are the savage "Thither" folk (led by a ruler named King Ar-hap), who once possessed the lands they now occupy. Later, An and Jones return to the tents and markets beyond the palace and become intoxicated into a sense of laxity, joining the rest of the indolent (but good-natured) Martians.
  5. Some time later, Jones enters a contest against a "magician" who is able deflect javelins with his mind. Somehow, Jones is able to strike the magician with his hurled spear. As evening falls, Jones attends a ceremonial reading of the future overseen by Princess Heru. When Heru's white globe of prophecy turns dark red (signalling disaster and causing Heru great distress), Jones knocks down the mechanism, freeing her from her trance.
  6. Later in the palace, Jones spends some time with the Princess who is now infatuated with him. Jones asks Heru to read to him a book titled "The Secrets of the Gods", which describes the origin of the universe. However, when she stops at the sound of a dinner bell, he becomes annoyed and leaves the palace. 
  7. After witnessing a funeral ritual in which the dead are sent floating down a river to an unknown destination, Jones attends a community wedding ceremony, where Princess Heru manages to arrange for Jones to be selected as her groom. Unfortunately, raiders from the barbarian Thither folk arrive to kidnap Heru for King Ar-hap. Although he tries to save her, Jones finds himself too drunk to stop them and is knocked out.
  8. Upon regaining consciousness the next day, Jones rushes to the harbor to intercept the barbarians before they can depart with Princess Heru. Outnumbered, he is knocked into the water. He eventually manages to tow himself to an unknown shore with the help of a mountain elk swimming by.
  9. That night, Jones observes a battle between two elephant-sized, rat-like creatures, but is fortunately himself unscathed. The next day, he discovers a small fishing encampment and poses as a "spirit" before an young female fisher. He learns that in order to seek out the "woodsmen" (Thither people) he must go further north.
  10. After a couple days of traveling, Jones reaches a Thither fishing village where he is shown how Martians grow their boats from plants, forcing them to grow inside pre-molded hull shapes.
  11. After he is given a canoe, Jones accidentally finds himself wandering onto the wintry, black river of the dead. Caught in the current and surrounded by ships of the recently-deceased, he and his craft are drawn into a lake, where he escapes to shore just as the river goes down a fall. In the surrounding cliffs, he sees the petrified remains of many dead Hither folk.
  12. While making camp in a cave, Jones is attacked by a resurrected Martian noble unexpectedly thawed out by his fire. After killing the Martian (and pocketing his gold-encrusted jawbone), he climbs down the waterfall and discovers a lower pit where he spies a Thither woodsman collecting trinkets of the dead. After a brief struggle, Jones convinces the woodsman thief that he is a thawed ice-spirit, and has him show the way back to the surface snow-fields.
  13. Together, the two travelers reach a woodsman village surrounded by desolation. A woodcutter friend leads him towards the path to King Ar-hap's realm, but on the way Jones nearly falls prey to a carnivorous plant.
  14. While spending a warm evening with the woodcutter, the man warns Jones of the palace of Queen Yang, whose suicide was accompanied by the execution of 1000 children. The next day, Jones heads off alone in the direction of King Ar-hap's palace. After a brief fight with an excitable spear-maker, Jones gets lost. After following the strange sounds of children weeping, he winds up in the abandoned Hither city which he had been warned away from earlier. 
  15. After making his way into the forbidding city by following a procession of strange bluish lights, Jones spends the night in the ruined castle of Princess Yang. Fortunately, he only experiences strange dreams. The next day he departs the haunted grounds with Queen Yang's jeweled crown, intending to give it to Heru. He eventually finds his way to a port village where he gets further directions to Ar-hap's palace.
  16. Jones obtains passage on a ship which turns out to be carrying tribute from the Hither people to Ar-hap. Once he arrives, he meets Si, another of Ar-hap's Hither slaves who, like the other Thither people, believes Jones to be a spirit. While trying to come up with a plan to save Heru, a comet passes by Mars, causing a heat wave.
  17. During a confrontation, Ar-hap challenges Jones to prove his spirit power by retrieving the golden jawbone of a lost Hither king and the crown of Queen Yang through his spirit powers. Jones soon produces both items, but before he can gain possession of Heru, King Ar-hap is called away to attend to a ritual to "pray away" the approaching comet.
  18. In the ensuing days, the comet gets closer and closer until death seems inevitable. However, at the last second (just before Jones falls on his own sword), the comet veers away. During the following thunderstorm, Jones spirits Heru out to the nearest port and, despite a brief tussle with one of the guards, escapes out to sea with Heru.
  19. Although Jones and Heru are pursued by Ar-hap's soldiers, they manage to evade them with the help of the mist lying on the sea and with aid from a friendly rural couple Jones had befriended earlier. They soon arrive back in Seth.
  20. A celebration erupts when news of Heru's safe return spreads. The next day, another ceremony takes place with the crystal globe to divine the nature of Seth's future. Unfortunately, at that moment Ar-hap and his soldiers arrive and begin attacking the city. Jones helps Heru's servants escort her away to an escape canoe while Jones tries to rouse Prince Hath. After Hath is killed by an arrow, Jones flees back into the castle but becomes lost and ends up trapped in a storeroom. Fortunately, the storeroom also holds the rolled-up carpet which had brought him to Mars in the first place. Using another mental command, Jones makes the carpet take him back to New York (after which the rug disappears). Later, Jones reunites with his fiance Polly, who, despite her misgivings about Heru, urges Jones to publish his adventure in a book.

New English Library 1977, Joe Petagno

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Bulwer-Lytton: The Coming Race (1871)

Cover of the program for the 1891 event 'The Coming Race' and 'Vril-Ya' Bazaar and Fete

In Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton's 1871 short novel The Coming Race (or Vril, the Power of the Coming Race), an American explorer falls into a mine shaft and stumbles upon an underground race of somewhat "angelic" humanoids wielding a form of advanced energy called "vril" (hinted to be related to a electricity or magnetism). During his stay, the narrator describes the utopian society which the "Vril-ya" have achieved, although these people also have no qualms about destroying "inferior" races with their awesome weapons of mass destruction. Also, although the Vril-ya lead idyllic lives devoid of crime and stress, the creation of new art and literature no longer takes place, as there isn't any passion in their perfect lives. 

One of the other major differences between the American narrator's world of 1871 and the Vril-ya is that  Vril-ya women are the dominant sex in terms of courtship, and thus "chivalrous" women regularly propose to "coquettich" male partners. The female Vril-ya (also known as "Gy-ei") are also larger and more scholarly than the males ("Ana"), although after marriage a female Gy takes on a more subservient role.

After a period during which the explorer is introduced to the various social structures and industrial centers of the Vril-ya, he attracts the attentions of the daughters of  some Vril-ya leaders. Unfortunately, due to his "impure" racial background, he is sentenced to death for even being considered for such a role. Fortunately, one of his admirers takes pity on him and helps him return to the surface. However, the narrator believes that one day the Vril-ya will invade the surface world and eradicate mankind for its inferior and aggressive ways.

2017 Praetorius Books, Corget Julia

In some ways an early "lost race" novel (a sub-genre later invigorated by H. Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines (1885)), the "Hollow Earth" aspect of the premise was famously explored seven years earlier in Jules Verne's Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1864). However, because Bulwer-Lytton's novel is dominated by long, almost academic descriptions of the Vril-ya's society (and has very little plot), it probably works more as a kind of speculative essay on a form of "anaemic utopia", rather than an "adventure romance". In some ways, H.G. Wells would revisit this idea with the "Eloi" of his novel The Time Machine (1895). The concept of a society with courtship rituals dominated by females would also be explored at greater length in Charlotte Perkins Gilman's novel Herland (1915)

Bulwer-Lytton in later life
 Synopsis:

  1. While exploring an underground mine, the narrator's engineer friend discover a strange chasm, at the bottom of which he sees a paved street lighted with gas lamps. 
  2. The next day, the two of them descend with ropes, but the engineer falls to his death in an accident. At the bottom, the narrator flees when he encounters an alligator-like creature emerging from a fissure in the rock.
  3. After the creature disappears with the engineer's body, the narrator discovers a cultivated landscape filled with strange plants and animals formerly thought extinct. He also sees figures flying through an underground sky.
  4. The narrator soon comes across an Egyptian-styled structure, where he encounters a giant, winged humanoid with odd clothing.
  5. Although he cannot understand the language of the humanoid, the narrator is invited into the building and introduced to several more of its kind. He soon learns that the wings are mechanical, but this doesn't prevent him from a moment of violent panic in which he begins to wonder of these beings are subterranean demons of some kind. The humanoids eventually render him unconscious.
  6. When he wakes up several days later, he learns that in his dreams he has been unconsciously teaching the humanoids English.
  7. The narrator describes the surface world to his host Aph-Lin and his daughter Zee, a land and people totally unknown to these underground beings. The host advises the narrator to not speak of this other world to other natives of his underground world. Later, Zee explains the idea of "vril", a form of exotic electro-magnetic power with great destructive power. Vril can also be used for healing and for achieving a form of telepathy.
  8. When Taë, the son of the Tur (chief magistrate) arrives, the narrator describes the alligator-creature to him.
  9. After more language lessons, the narrator is introduced to the culture of his hosts the Vril-ya, a subgroup of the underground humanoids named the Ana, who had survived an ancient "Deluge" after their lands had sunk underwater. 
  10. The narrator describes the Gy-ei, the female of the Ana species and how their roles differ from females of the surface world, in part due to their greater control over the vril power.
  11. The narrator describes the comfortable climate in the Vril-ya's underground world, despite the modern theories of an increasingly hot core at the center of the Earth.
  12. The narrator describes the language of the Vril-ya and its relationship to aboriginal languages of the surface.
  13. The narrator describes the monotheistic religion of the Vril-ya.
  14. The narrator further describes the religion of the Vril-ya, which incorporates a belief in reincarnation.
  15. Zee describes the social structure of the Vril-ya to the narrator.
  16. The narrator describes the vril staff, a weapon by which the Vril-ya focus vril energy to destroy or heal. While visiting a museum, the narrator learns of a controversial theory linking the Ana with tadpoles and humans in the ancient primeval past.
  17. The narrator learns of the Vril-ya's culture and arts. Due to the utopian nature of their society, their arts lack passion, although the pursuit of science remains undimmed. Aph-Lin also explains that there exist unenlightened Ana "primitives" (also known as Koom-Posh), whom the narrator identifies with in many ways. Were the Koom-Posh to declare war, the Vril-ya could easily destroy them with their advanced vril technology.
  18. Taë takes the narrator on a trip to hunt down the giant reptile he had reported encountering upon his arrival. When the narrator resists being used as bait, Taë uses his vril mental powers to bend the narrator's will. When the creature (a Krek) tries to attack the narrator, Taë incinerates it with his vril staff.
  19. The narrator describes some of the vehicles and automatons which the Vril-ya use in their daily lives. He also explains that the Vril-ya have a system of fair taxation which benefits everyone in their society.
  20. The narrator tries to learn how to use the Vril-ya's artificial wings but is unable to achieve any practical skills with them due to his "hereditary defects". Nonetheless, Zee begins to show some attraction for her "pet", the narrator.
  21. The narrator believes that Zee is attracted to him as a form of sympathy for his "inferior" nature and decides to tell her father in order to halt the developing relationship (which he does not desire).
  22. When the narrator asks to return to his people, Aph-Lin tells him that he will not be permitted to leave for fear of attacks from his barbarian peoples. When he tells Aph-Lin that his daughter might be attracted to him, the Vril-yan tells the narrator that he should resist, otherwise the community would probably destroy him (for fear of polluting their genetic line).
  23. Aph-Lin gives the narrator a tour of the farming communities of the Vril-ya (which include automatons as laborers). Later, Zee joins them and further expresses her devotion to the surface-dweller.
  24. The narrator is permitted to witness a Vril-ya funeral and cremation (a practice unknown to the narrator).
  25. When the narrator meets Taë's sister, he senses her attraction for him, and hopes that marrying the daughter of the Tur might probably prevent his execution by the community's fear of genetic pollution. He also fantasizes about inheriting the Tur's position and remaking the Vril-ya's customs into something closer to his own sensibilities (for example, the abolishing of vegetarianism and the reintroduction of wildlife hunts). After Zee appears and whisks the narrator away, she tells him that were he to join with the "Princess", her father the Tur would have him incinerated immediately.
  26. In the following days, Zee's overtures cool, but the narrator realizes that he must escape the Vril-ya. Although the Vril-ya have a utopian social structure, their lives are passionless and without accomplishment. Furthermore, if they were to become interested in the surface world, a war would soon break out for dominance of the globe.
  27. The narrator reflects on how the social positions of men and women are reversed here from his own society. Female Gy-ei, being stronger, larger and more learned than the Ana (the males), woo the Ana with "chivalry", while the men act "coquettishly". One day, the Princess flirts with the narrator once again, but her father the Tur sees them.   
  28. When the narrator learns that the Tur has ordered his son Taë to execute him, he asks Taë to allow him to return to the surface. Unfortunately, he learns that the chasm passage has already been blocked off for a long time under Aph-Lin's orders. Learning of the narrator's fear of death (a fear unknown to his own kind), Taë offers to consult his father once again.
  29. When Zee learns that the Tur has insisted on the narrator's execution the next day, she uses her vril wand to blast open a tunnel in the rock and takes the narrator back to the mine from which he had originally descended from. Afterwards, she returns to her own people and the tunnel is resealed. Years later, diagnosed with a terminal disease, the narrator writes an account of his experience in order to warn mankind of the destructive power of the Vril-ya, the Coming Race.

Friday, December 24, 2021

George Griffith: Future War and Invasion Literature (1893-94)

Although science-fiction space opera reached a "mature" form in the late 1920s with the novels of E.E. Smith and Edmond Hamilton, its roots lie in the "future war" thrillers and "invasion literature" of the late 19th century. This trend started out in 1871 with Sir George Chesney's "The Battle of Dorking", a novella in which England is invaded by a fictional (but German-speaking) country assisted by some form of secret technology. Due to this story's popularity with readers, other British invasion thrillers soon followed. However, while these stories usually featured traditional war campaigns in their narratives, in 1893 aspiring writer George Griffith (George Chetwynd Griffith-Jones) began incorporating more elaborately-drawn futuristic weaponry and vehicles into his fantastical war epics, allowing him to explore the tactical possibilities of these inventions. The two Griffith novels which best demonstrate this militaristic science-fictional direction are:

In these novels, Griffith describes advanced airships (somewhat inspired by the airborne Albatross found in Jules Verne's 1886 novel Robur the Conqueror/The Clipper of the Clouds) which fly at hundreds of miles per hour and are able up to reach the upper limits of the atmosphere. Additionally, these airships are equipped with artillery which can fire devastating explosive shells with a range of several miles. In these novels, Griffith's warring nations also possess fleets of high speed submarines armed with radar and torpedoes, as well as "war balloons" which are used for reconnaissance and bomb-dropping. This form of speculative future war/invasion romance would eventually develop into an early example of "proto-space opera" as can be seen in novels like H.G. Wells' seminal The War of the Worlds (1897), its sequel Garrett P. Serviss' Edison's Conquest of Mars (1898) and Robert William Cole's interstellar war saga The Struggle for Empire (1900).



The Angel of the Revolution: A Tale of the Coming Terror (1893)

In George Griffith's 1893 novel The Angel of the Revolution: A Tale of the Coming Terror (initially serialized in 39 issues of Pearson's Weekly from January 21 to October 14 of the same year), a "future war" is described in which a coalition of nations headed by Russia invades Britain. At the same time, an Englishman named Michael Arnold discovers a new energy source which allows the development of powerful propeller-driven air-ships, armed with technologically-advanced artillery. Arnold is soon recruited into a secret global organization named the "Terrorists", whose aim is to abolish all forms of current government rule and replace them with a new world order based on peace and social equality. 

The first part of the book describes Arnold's entry into the world of the Terrorists, and the establishment of an airship construction site in a hidden region in the heart of Africa. Eventually, war breaks out between the Franco-Slavonian League (headed by Russia and France) and the Anglo-Teutonic Alliance (led by Britain and Germany). Armed with "war balloons" (allowing them advanced reconnaissance and the ability to bomb targets from above), the Franco-Slavonian League soon conquers all of Europe and invades England. With Britain on the verge of total surrender, the Terrorists offer salvation if England agrees to the join their "Anglo-Saxon Federation". The King eventually agrees and the Terrorists' air-fleet decimates the invading forces, after which it abolishes warfare around the globe.

Detailed Synopsis (Illustrations by Fred T. Jane)

  • I. AT THE ELEVENTH HOUR: An ambitious inventor named Richard Arnold invents a new form of energy which will make practical heavier-than-air flight. Although he is able to build a small working model aircraft, he has no funds with which to build a large-scale version. One day, he comes across a newspaper article describing an assassination on a train carried out by a Nihilist group calling themselves the "Terrorists".
  • II. AT WAR WITH SOCIETY: Later, while wandering along the Thames and fearing what horrors his invention might encourage in the form of aerial warfare, Arnold is befriended by a mysterious gentleman named Colston who expresses his approval of Arnold's declarations against war and social inequality. After identifying himself as an enemy of the Tsar of Russia, Colston gains Arnold's confidence.
  • III. A FRIENDLY CHAT: The next morning, Colston confides to Arnold that he is a member of the Terrorists and asks for his help. Arnold agrees to help Colston's cause with his invention as long as it is used honorably and with only himself privy to the secret of its fuel.
  • IV. THE HOUSE ON CLAPHAM COMMON: Arnold invites Colston to his apartment and demonstrates his model flying aircraft to him. Impressed, that night Colston brings Arnold to a secret meeting of the Terror.
  • V. THE INNER CIRCLE: The Terrorists (known internally as the Brotherhood of Freedom) explains that it intends to bring about peace across the globe, through force if necessary. Arnold agrees to join their cause and help them with his new flying technology.
  • VI. NEW FRIENDS: After Arnold demonstrates his model flying aircraft, the leader of the London Terrorist group tells Arnold that he will be escorted to St. Petersburg to share his plans with Natas, the leader of the Terror, in person. During the meeting, Arnold also meets the beautiful Natasha, Natas' daughter.
  • VII. THE DAUGHTER OF NATAS: Later, Arnold asks Colson about Natas and his daughter, and admits his infatuation with the girl.
  • VIII. LEARNING THE PART: The next day, Colston brings Arnold to meet the Russian Princess Ornovski, who will help Arnold and Natasha reach Petersburg while on an inspection tour of a new French balloonist's invention for the Tsar.
  • IX. THE BEGINNING OF SORROWS: In the ensuing months, Arnold begins building the first of his airships, the Ariel, on Drumcraig Island, while Natasha remains in Russia as a spy for the Brotherhood. When Natasha is eventually exposed and arrested, Colston is ordered to employ the Ariel in a rescue mission. In the meantime, the Brotherhood prepare for a likely war to break out in Europe in a few weeks.
  • X. THE "ARIEL": Shortly after Colston  arrives on Drumcraig Island, Arnold takes the Ariel up on its maiden flight with himself, Colston and four crewmen. Colston is amazed at the great speed of the Ariel.
  • XI. FIRST BLOOD: As the Ariel flies over Russia, Arnold and Colston fire a special form of aerial artillery on the Russian fortress at Kronstadt, thus striking the Brotherhood's first blow against Russia.
  • XII. IN THE MASTER'S NAME: After the Ariel quietly lands outside a rail station at Tiumen, Colston and another crewman disembark and make they way to meet a fellow member of the Terror embedded with the Russians.
  • XIII. FOR LIFE OR DEATH: Impersonating prison guards, Colston infiltrates the Tiumen station and kill the guards, after which he breaks out Princess Ornovski and Natasha. While racing towards the woods, theyare pursued by Cossacks, but the Ariel soon appears and destroys the Cossacks with artillery. Before the Ariel lifts off, Colston leaves behind a note signed by Natas of the Terrorists.
  • XIV. THE PSYCHOLOGICAL MOMENT: News of the Ariel's attack on Kronstadt and Tiumen heightens tensions around the world. At the same time, the Tsar of Russia prepares a fleet of war-balloons in order to attack Britain and her allies. Hostilities soon break out between Russia and British forces in India.
  • XV. A VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY: After escaping Tiumen, Arnold sets the Ariel on a course for the interior of Africa, where he hopes to find a semi-mythical hidden land named Aeria. Aeria is supposedly a sheltered region whose existence has only been hinted at from a manuscript found in a "message in a bottle" signed by a lost explorer.
  • XVI. A WOOING IN MID-AIR: During the journey, Arnold tells Natasha that he wishes to make her his queen, but agrees to wait until world peace has been attained. Soon, the Ariel sees signs of Aeria below.
  • XVII. AERIA FELIX: After taking the Ariel through a gap in a mountain range, the airship discovers a hidden valley. After landing, the Terrorists are greeted by the long-lost original explorer who had sent word to the outer world of the hidden valley in the first place.
  • XVIII. A NAVY OF THE FUTURE: Soon afterwards, a Terror steamer containing materials for the construction of more airships arrives at a nearby island. Arnold meets them and directs the assembly of 12 more airships, after which he leads them to Aeria. There, the inner circle of the Terrorists begin to establish a permanent independent base. Later, Arnold, Colston and Natasha leave the Aeria in the flagship Ithuriel in order to rendezvous with Natas near London.
  • XIX. THE EVE OF BATTLE: In Europe, political tensions rise, until open war breaks out between Russia (allied with France) and Britain (allied with Germany).
  • XX. BETWEEN TWO LIVES: At the English estate of Lord Alanmere, Natas (revealed as a crippled recluse) consults with the Lord, also known as Viscount Tremayne. Using some strange mental powers, Natas gives Tremayne (his 2nd in command) a vivid vision of the future struggle ahead.
  • XXI. JUST IN TIME: Tremayne and Natas board a steamship to meet the Ithuriel in the Atlantic. Unfortunately, their ship is attacked by a French naval force, but just as it is destroyed the Ithuriel appears and rescues the two leaders of the Terror.
  • XXII. ARMED NEUTRALITY: After the Ithuriel helps a nearby British battleship destroy the attacking French ship, the British captain asks for a meeting, during which Arnold tells him that the Terrorists plan to take a stance of neutrality until they decide to end the war themselves. Arnold also learns that another, unknown airship has been sighted.
  • XXIII. A BATTLE IN THE NIGHT: Roburoff, the Terror's Chief of American affairs, boards the Cunard liner Auritania, leaving New York to meet with the Brotherhood in Europe to report on America's stance in the war. On the way, the Auritania is ambushed by a force of French and Italian ships. Fortunately, the Ithuriel arrives and destroys the enemy forces.
  • XXIV. THE NEW WARFARE: In the opening months of the global war, the Anglo-Teutonic Alliance (led by Britain and Germany) experiences many defeats under the Franco-Slavonian League (headed by Russia and France), due largely to the League's use of "war balloons" which are used for reconnaissance and for dropping bombs. 
  • XXV. THE HERALDS OF DISASTER: In the Baltic Sea, an Allied fleet is defeated when a Russian fleet attacks, aided by an unknown airship.
  • XXVI. AN INTERLUDE: When Natas arrives in Aeria, he learns that a group of renegade members of the Brotherhood (Russians) had stolen away with one of the airships. After a quick ceremony to wed Colston (real name Mazanoff) and his lover Radna, three airships (the Ithuriel, the Orion and the Ariel) take off in pursuit of the Russian traitors.
  • XXVII. ON THE TRACK OF TREASON: On the flagship Ithuriel, Natas supposes that the traitors will have first delivered some of their airships' power cylinders and special shells to the Russian scientist Volnow in Petersburg for examination. The Ithuriel soon arrives at Petersburg, after which Colston holds the city at gunpoint and kidnaps Volnow.
  • XXVIII. A SKIRMISH IN THE CLOUDS: Heading deeper into Europe, the Terrorist fleet spots a group of 10 Russian war balloons. While the Ariel and the Orion drive the balloons upwards into the clouds, the Ithuriel ambushes them from above. Eventually 7 balloons are captured and attached to the Terrorists' convoy.
  • XXIX. AN EMBASSY FROM THE SKY: The Terrorists' air-fleet next locates the Russian Tsar's army on the doorsteps of Berlin. With his guns trained on the helpless Tsar's forces, he demands the return of the stolen airship, the Lucifer. With no other choice, the Tsar gives up the location of the Lucifer. Later on board the Ithuriel, Natas demonstrates his power of hypnosis to Volnow.
  • XXX. AT CLOSE QUARTERS: When the Terrorists eventually intercept the Russian fleet and demand that the Lucifer be returned as per the Tsar's orders, the Russian admiral declines and opens fire on the Ariel. Colson/Mazanoff fires back at the flagship and the explosion briefly knocks him unconscious.
  • XXXI. A RUSSIAN RAID: In order to recover the Lucifer intact, Natas orders his forces to wait for an opportunity later on to recapture their stolen airship. Eventually, the Russian fleet nears a British fort at Aberdeen and destroys it. As a storm begins, Arnold signals his ships to action.
  • XXXII. THE END OF THE CHASE: Descending from the dark storm clouds, Arnold's fleet takes the Lucifer by surprise and seizes it with grappling hooks. After executing the traitors, Natas tells the remaining Russians that the Terrorists will now withdraw from the global war. Eventually, the Russian prisoners are dropped off in Spain, after which the Terror fleet heads back to Aeria.
  • XXXIII. THE BREAKING OF THE CHARM: In London, news arrives of the Russian fleet's capture of Aberdeen, the first sign of a land invasion of England. Additionally, news of the League's capture of Berlin (and thus Germany) also arrives.
  • XXXIV. THE PATH OF CONQUEST: Although the League soon captures Vienna and Constantinople as well, its Mediterranean fleet is defeated by the British. However, due a blockade enforced by the League in the Atlantic, England begins to starve.
  • XXXV. FROM CHAOS TO ARCADIE: While the global war rages, in Aeria the Terrorists build up their base, and Arnold and Natasha develop their relationship. However, one day Natas informs them that Natasha is to go to America to be wedded to Roburoff.
  • XXXVI. LOVE AND DUTY: Although upset, Arnold follows orders and brings Natasha to the Terror base in the Appalachian Mountains of America to deliver her to Roburoff. Once they arrive, Natasha reveals that Roburoff has been holding ransom the American forces of the Terror so that he can have Natasha as his wife. Natasha then puts a bullet in Roburoff's brain.
  • XXXVII. THE CAPTURE OF A CONTINENT: In the ensuing days, Tremayne activates the American Terrorist forces and captures the U.S. government in a sudden coup. It is soon revealed that the American government has until now been under the control of a shadow "Ring" of ruthless capitalists who had planned to help the Russian League with a fleet of ships. After Natas and Tremayne draft articles for a new Anglo-Saxon Federation, they ask Britain to join them, but the English King refuses. In the meantime, the League conquers the rest of the European continent with their war balloons.
  • XXXVIII. THE BEGINNING OF THE END: Britain tries to prepare for an invasion, but the land army is untrained, and the public still remain in disbelief that an invasion could even be possible. Eventually, the League's war balloons begin crossing the Strait of Dover.
  • XXXIX. THE BATTLE OF DOVER: In an initial attack, 75 League war balloons drop explosives on Dover and other coastal defense points, destroying British artillery and forts. The coastal British fleet is then attacked by overwhelming numbers of Russian and French battleships, as well as a couple dozen French submarines, who destroy British ships with primitive torpedoes. By the morning, the fleet and coastal defenses of Britain are completely destroyed.
  • XL. BELEAGUERED LONDON: A few weeks later, the League armies reach the outskirts of London and begin a bombardment from the north. London is soon starved and conditions become desperate in the city.
  • XLI. AN ENVOY OF DELIVERANCE: Mazanoff visits the King of England in London and promises aid if England agrees to become a member of the Anglo-Saxon Federation (which would also require that the King step down from his throne). With no other choice, the King agrees, and Mazanoff heads back to New York with the news. On the way out, the Ithuriel destroys two of the French submarine docks.
  • XLII. THE EVE OF ARMAGEDDON: While the League works towards London's anticipated total surrender, the Federation prepares its American forces for battle, which include several "dynamite ships" (explosive catapults) originally built by the former capitalist Ring intended to help the League On the eve of battle, the Ithuriel flies over several British cities shining down a red light, signalling the Federation's British members to prepare for action.
  • XLIII. THE OLD LION AT BAY: At Harwitch and Colchester, Russian troops are decimated by the appearance of Federation airships and battleships. Additionally, embedded members of the Federation within the Russian ranks turn on their colleagues. Upon hearing this news, Tsar Romanoff sends war-balloons to try and quell these areas of unrest. Later, when the deadline for London's surrender arrives, London instead raises its own flag rather than a white flag. When the Tsar orders the bombardment to recommence on London, twelve Terrorist airships suddenly descend from the air and bombard the Tsar's batteries. When the Tsar sends his remaining balloons to pursue the airships, the Federation fleet draws them away from London so that their bombs only hit their own siege force, while the ranged artillery of the airships continue to wipe out the Tsar's ground batteries.
  • XLIV. THE TURN OF THE BATTLE-TIDE: In the north, the Ithuriel rams a formation of League war balloons in a series of lightning maneuvers, after which more embedded agents of the Federation use the remaining balloons to destroy the Russian troops below. Once every invader has been killed, the Ithuriel journeys to London where Arnold and Natasha see the streets filled with desperate fighting.
  • XLV. ARMAGEDDON: South of London, Federation agents in control of more League balloons attack their enemies with explosive-tipped arrows. In short order, the Franco-Italian army is destroyed. Horrified by the scale of destruction, Natasha tries to contact her father to prevent a total slaughter of the invaders.
  • XLVI. VICTORY: On Natas' instructions, Tremayne descends to the southern League army and obtains a surrender from the Franco-Italian force there. Later, the Russian Tsar is finally forced to surrender from his palace base north of London, after which Natasha sings a song of peace, which is amplified from speakers in the Federation air-fleet in the sky.
  • XLVII. THE JUDGMENT OF NATAS: After Natas reads out a list of the Tsar Romanoff's crimes, the former Tsar and his staff are sentenced to life in the Siberian Mines. Afterwards, Natas declares Tremayne to be the ongoing leader of the Federation.
  • XLVIII. THE ORDERING OF EUROPE: The rulers of Italy, Germany and Austria are brought to London and forced to accept the new world order of the Federation, which requires the disbandment of all armies in Europe. Afterwards, Arnold, Tremayne and Natasha fly to Tremayne's estate in Alanmere.
  • XLIX. THE STORY OF THE MASTER: That night at Alanmere Castle, Natas describes his origins as a Jewish Hungarian merchant who had been wrongfully sentenced to imprisonment and hard labor in Russia, and of the later abduction and subsequent death of his beautiful English wife. His vengeance in the form of the Terrorists has been the driving force behind his ascension to the leadership of the Terrorists and their subsequent activities. Later, he gives his blessing to Arnold and Natasha and the two wed.
  • EPILOGUE. "AND ON EARTH, PEACE!": In the ensuing months, the Federation establishes its military superiority over the remainder of Asia, and the last remaining battleships are sent to the bottom of the sea, after which an era of utopian social equality begins. The Tsar Romanoff dies on the way to the Siberian mine. Arnold and Natasha welcome a child.
 


Olga Romanoff (1894)

Olga Romanoff is George Griffith's sequel to The Angel of the Revolution, published only one year later and also serialized in 33 episodes as "The Syren of the Skies" in Pearson's Weekly from December 23, 1893 to August 4, 1894. Where the title of the earlier book referred to the angelic Natasha, the second novel is named after a ruthless "conqueress" named Olga Romanoff, a direct descendant of the defeated Russian Tsar of the first book. 

Following The Angel of the Revolution, a century passes during which the Aerians essentially enforce peace and social justice on the governments of the world, and outlaw the independent development of air-flight technology by any subject nation. Eventually in 2030, as ordered by Natas in his final testament, the Anglo-Saxon Federation dissolves and the Aerians leave mankind to once again seek its own destiny and hopefully maintain the peace that has existed for the last century. Unfortunately, this relaxation of oversight allows Olga Romanoff, a descendant of the disgraced Tsar of Russia, to begin her own plans of vengeance and world domination, starting with the capture of the Aerian President's son, Alan Arnold. Using a secret drug formula, Olga mentally enslaves Alan and forces him to help her build a massive air-fleet in her secret base in Antarctica.

When Olga openly begins hostilities, she releases Alan and his fellow prisoner Alexis from imprisonment, believing them to be no longer useful to her. However, Alan manages to quickly rally his people's forces and deflect some of Olga's initial conquests. Olga then forms an alliance with the Sultan Khalid in order to build up an even greater coalition force. A global war on two fronts eventually breaks out, but the conflict is interrupted at its height when it is revealed that a comet will soon strike the Earth, destroying all life on its surface. While the Aerians race to create some kind of underground refuge, the skeptical Tsarina and her ally the Sultan complete their conquest of the rest of the world. However, in the end, Olga's victory quickly turns into a bitter defeat of the worst kind.

Detailed Synopsis (Illustrations by Fred T. Jane)

  • PROLOGUE: THE PROPHECY OF NATAS: In 1930, 25 years after the establishment of the Anglo-Saxon Federation (the "Great Deliverance"), Natas writes a deathbed note ordering his descendants to return independent rule to the individual nations of the Earth in 100 years. However, he also predicts that a "flaming fire" is heading towards the Earth and may someday possibly destroy it.
  • I. THE SURRENDER OF THE WORLD-THRONE: In 2030, Alan Arnold, a descendant of Michael Arnold and now President of the Aeriens, addresses the leaders of the world and tells them that the Aerians now release them to rule their own lands without supervision or fear of punishment from the Aerians. However, he also warns them of Natas' prophecy of doom, and urges them to rule benevolently whether the Earth will one day be destroyed or not.
  • II. A CROWNLESS KING: In a small octagonal room, Paul Romanoff, an aged descendant of the last Tsar of Russia, meets with a man named Serge Nicholaivitch and his lover, a young girl named Olga, both also descendants from the House of Romanoff. On his deathbed, he gives them the lost Crown of Russia and tells them to discover the secret of air-flight and destroy the Aerians (who had killed Olga's father when he had earlier tried to build his own airship in defiance of the Aerians).
  • III. TSARINA OLGA: Serge and Olga learn that the old man's secret papers include plans and names of contacts with which to build a new resistance force. The papers also include Olga's father's notes on the discovery of a new energy source derived from a combination of solar, coal and electrical power. One small page also includes a secret message which Olga withholds from even her soon-to-be husband, Serge.
  • IV. A SON OF THE GODS: Olga and Serge soon board a train to Petersburg in order to take Paul Romanoff's ashes to Russia. When they recognize as passengers Alan Arnoldson (son of Alan Arnold) and Alexis Masarov (a descendant of Colston), they try to befriend them under false names. Alan tells Olga that any information about Aeria's way of life is secret, but hints that they possess advanced technology that rivals even that of the Vril-ya in Edward Bulwer-Lytton's 1871 novel The Coming Race.
  • V. A VISION FROM THE CLOUDS: Later, Olga notices an Aerian airship hovering over their train at St. Petersburg. When Olga expresses her amazement, Alan promises to give her a ride on the airship.
  • VI. DEED AND DREAM: That night, Olga uses the secret notes found in Paul Romanoff's last papers to distill two potions which have the power to kill or enslave. Afterwards, she has a dream in which, while sailing aloft in an airship, she flies over Aeria and then sees the Earth destroyed by a glowing ball from space.
  • VII. THE SPELL OF CIRCE: The next day, she successfully tests the enslavement drug on Serge without his knowledge. Later, she and Serge are taken on board the Ithuriel by Alan and Alexis.
  • VIII. THE NEW TERROR: The Ithuriel is not seen for the next five years. The loss of Aeria's flagship causes tension to mount around the world, and several nations begin contemplating a more militaristic stance (in particular the Sultan Khalid). Also during this time, many sea vessels mysteriously go missing, presumably destroyed by an unknown enemy. One day, a steel box is dropped from the sky into the center of Aeria, revealed to contain a only a single parchment. The text, addressed to Alan Arnold, tells the President where he can find his missing son, and is signed "Olga Romanoff".
  • IX. THE FLIGHT OF THE “REVENGE”: Immediately after receiving the message, Arnold orders his airship fleet to scan the skies, after which they soon spot a foreign airship (formerly the stolen Ithuriel and now renamed by Olga as the Revenge). A fleet of ten Aerian ships immediately goes into pursuit of the Revenge. Unfortunately for the Aerians, the high speeds of the Aerian pursuit vessels prevent their artillery from hitting the Revenge accurately, while stern shots from the Revenge easily destroy eight of the pursuit ships. When the two remaining Aerian ships (the new Ithuriel and the Ariel) manage to follow the Revenge to Antarctica, they are ambushed by an enemy fleet of 31 airships. However, the Aerian ships quickly fire all of their guns at once and take down 20 of Olga's ships, after which they escape back north.  
  • X. STRANGE TIDINGS TO AERIA: Arnold sends an airship to look for his son at the location specified in Olga's note, but it returns with only another note, this one from Alan, admitting that Olga had used drugs to make he and Alexis into slaves, forcing them to help her build her air and underwater fleet. Alan vows to find Olga before allowing himself to return to Aeria, and additionally reports that Olga plans to attack Kerguelen Island, Aeria's most important outpost. In the meantime, Alma Tremayne, Alan's betrothed, awaits his return, as well as Alan's sister Isma (Alexis' betrothed).
  • XI. THE SNAKE IN EDEN: Alma mourns the "violated" state of her beloved Alan and feels that he may never be redeemed, but Isma argues that they will become stronger men for having gone through such adversity.
  • XII. THE BATTLE OF KERGUELEN: When Alan and Alexis bring a captured Russian sub named the Narwhal to Kerguelen Island, they are met by an Aerian submarine and airship fleet, sent there by Alan's father to anticipate Olga's attack. When the Russian air-fleet arrives, the Ariel swoops up behind them under cloud cover and attacks them mercilessly from above. At the same time, the Narwhal rams through several ships of the Russian naval fleet before they can approach the island. Olga's forces eventually withdraw.
  • XIII. THE SYREN’S STRONGHOLD: Alan sends a letter to the Council at Aeria, describing Mount Terror, Olga's underground base, situated inside a dormant Antarctic volcano and open to submarines by way of an underwater passage. Later, Alexis tells Alan that it may be possible for the Narwhal to reach Olga's fortress and lay some explosives in its underwater passage before Olga returns. Alan orders an immediate departure.
  • XIV. FROM THE SEA TO THE AIR: The Narwhal soon returns to Kerguelin and reports their mission to have been a complete success, with the underwater passage to Mount Terror blocked and many of Olga's submarines destroyed. After the Council of Aeria is notified of the victories at Kerguelin and Mount Terror, Alan and Alexis are given command of the Ithuriel. At the same time, Aeria begins building new airships and submarines in anticipation of the great struggle ahead. 
  • XV. OLGA IN COUNCIL: After her rage over her recent defeats abates, Olga and her war councilor Lossenski decide to spend the next year rebuilding their shattered air-force and navy. They also decide to approach the Sultan Khalid in order to form an alliance, intending for the Sultan to create a naval force based on the Russians' designs.
  • XVI. KHALID THE MAGNIFICENT: Lossenski visits the Sultan at Alexandria and delivers Olga's proposal of alliance. However, just as the Sultan is about agree to the arrangement, the Ithuriel lands and takes the Russian party prisoner. After giving the Sultan a demonstration of the Ithuriel's powers of destruction, Alan extracts from him a promise of neutrality for the next year.
  • XVII. AN UNHOLY ALLIANCE: The next day, Olga lands in Alexandria with her own force. By promising to have all of her subjects convert to Islam, she gains the Sultan as an ally, although for the next year the Sultan must still avoid armed conflict as per his promise to Alan.
  • XVIII. A MOMENTOUS COMMISSION: Back at Kerguelen Island, Alan receives reinforcements from the Aerian Council and is instructed to go back to Alexandria and reconfirm the Sultan's compliance with a formal document. When he gets there, he discovers Olga's air-fleet still on the grounds and soon comes face to face with Olga herself, his former enslaver.
  • XIX. FACE TO FACE AGAIN: When Olga threatens to destroy the Aerians, Alan warns that Alexandria and all of her occupants will be instantly destroyed by the Aerian fleet if any harm comes to them. In order to save his city, the Sultan intercedes. Eventually, a truce of one year is established, after which a full-scale war between Aeria and the Russian-Moslem alliance will officially commence.
  • XX. THE CALL TO ARMS: After Olga returns to her Antarctic base, she immediately begins sending the Sultan plans for building a great fleet of airships and submarines. At the same time, Alan journeys to London to rally the forces of Anglo-Saxendom. Unfortunately, parliamentary democracy in Britain makes any decisive action impossible, and so Alan makes an ultimatum, threatening to have Aeria reassert control of Britain unless they begin to prepare their armies for battle.
  • XXI. THE HOME-COMING: After a year during which Alan re-institutes the Anglo-Saxon Federation to build a massive fleet of airships and submarines for the coming war, he and Alexis finally return to Aeria, with only 5 days remaining before the end of the truce. However, Alma still resents Alan for his past role as Olga's "love slave". 
  • XXII. THE EVE OF BATTLE: After a few days of celebration (for Alan and Alexis' return), the Aerian-Federation fleets are prepared for deployment, with defense of Britain assigned to Alan's squadron and the Balkans assigned to Alexis'. As Alan leaves, he awkwardly says farewell to Alma, the specter of Olga still standing between them. 

  • XXIII. THE FIRST BLOW: As the Sultan's fleet rises above Alexandria to begin their invasion of Britain, Alan's flagship, the Avenger, charges down from the sky and destroys three of the airships in a single swoop.
    Later, while the Sultan's surface fleet crosses the Atlantic, Aerian submarines attack from below, destroying the bulk of his transports. Some of the Aerian ships are even able leap out of the water to destroy some of his airships.
    Much of the success of the Aerian Federations' underwater attack is ascribed to Aerian Admiral Ernstein's invention of a sonar-based radar which gives more accurate readings of their enemies' locations. Additionally, since the Muslim submarines use magnetic radar, the Federation subs are able to confuse them using magnetic decoys.
  • XXIV. WAR AT ITS WORST: As Olga's force begins an invasion of Germany, Alan and Alexis' air-fleets attack her Russian ground troops with aerial artillery. At the same time, the Sultan's air-force bombs Paris. Aerian and Federation forces begin to converge on Paris when Alan suddenly receives a message from his father, ordering all Federation forces to break off operations and return home.
  • XXV. A MESSAGE FROM MARS: When Alan and his forces arrive home, he is informed that they have received a message from the inhabitants of Mars informing the Aerians that a comet will strike the Earth in four months, destroying everything on its surface. In a council meeting, President Arnold reads a message from Natas. In his last years before his death, the old Master had seen a stellar object through his telescope and realized that its orbit would one day bring it into contact with the Earth. Natas recommends that a select few of the Aerians seek shelter in the underground caves of Mount Austral (bordering Aeria), and then rebuild civilization after the Earth cools once more.
  • XXVI. SENTENCE OF DEATH: When the news is made public, the Aerians try to face the terrible news with stoicism. When the President decides that the outer world must be informed as well, Alan insists on taking out the Avenger to accomplish this, hoping to also have a final opportunity to gain vengeance on Olga.  
  • XXVII. ALMA SPEAKS: The night before Alan's departure, he and Alma finally reconcile and restore their betrothals.
  • XXVIII. THE SIGN IN THE SKY: The next day, the Aerian Council decides that Alan must postpone his trip for two months so that he can help outfit the caverns of nearby Mount Austral for the Aerian "Children of Deliverance". In the meantime, messages are sent out to their allies in the outer world, but communications are soon cut off as Olga and the Sultan conquer all of Europe. Finally, signs of the doomsday comet can be seen by telescopes on Earth.
  • XXIX. THE TRUCE OF GOD: With the preparations at Mount Austral complete, Alan and Alexis marry their betrothed. Afterwards, they head out with their wives to visit the Sultan at Alexandria in an attempt to warn him of the comet. Soon after they arrive, Olga also arrives with her own fleet. Alan learns that they have arrived on the wedding day of Khalid and Olga.
  • XXX. THE SHADOW OF DEATH: Alan and Alma try to convince Olga of the coming apocalypse, but she scoffs at them and tries to shoot Alma. Alan shoots and scars Olga, and then has the Avenger immediately depart for home, leaving the Tsarina's forces far behind. Back in Aeria, the Children of Deliverance are solemnly selected from amongst the people of the city. 
  • XXXI. THE LAST BATTLE: Two days before the arrival of the comet, a massive fleet of Russian airships approaches the now mostly-abandoned Aeria. In order to protect the mechanism for sealing off Mount Austral, the last of the Aerian air-fleet takes off for one last battle, and after a day of fighting the two fleets obliterate each other. Finally, the Aerians retreat behind the doors of the mountain and seal the door.
  • XXXII. THE SHE-WOLF TO HER LAIR: Seeing her air-fleet destroyed and finally appreciating the approach of the comet, Olga flees to Mount Terror in the Revenge hoping to surviving the comet's effects in the Antarctic ice. On the way, she realizes that she is the only woman aboard the ship, and so poisons the entire crew except for Khalid. One crewman realizes her betrayal and injures Khalid with a gunshot before he finally dies. At Mount Terror, Olga and Khalid await their fate in the ice cavern.
  • EPILOGUE. “VENGEANCE IS MINE.”: A few days after the comet passes through the Earth, the temperature cools enough for the surviving Aerians to emerge from their mountain refuge. After discovering a charred world, Alan insists on seeking out Olga, whose flight from the great Battle of Aeria had been reported to him. He, Alexis and Alma reassemble a small airship and fly down to Mount Terror, where they discover Khalid dead and Olga driven into madness. Shortly after their arrival, Olga drops dead.