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A Journey In Other Worlds: A Romance Of The Future (2003)

A Journey in Other Worlds: A Romance of the Future (2003)
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2.97 of 5 Votes: 2
ISBN
0803259492 (ISBN13: 9780803259492)
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English
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bison books
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A Journey In Other Worlds: A Romance ...
A Journey In Other Worlds: A Romance Of The Future (2003)

About book: A Journey in Other Worlds is a science fiction book published in 1894 and available these days in Kindle format, and describes a space journey taking place in the year 2000. I came across it through a Google+ post by a friend.It is definitely of the old science fiction school in which the appeal of the book was reckoned to be in the lavish detail supplied of future inventions and society. I realised that EE “Doc” Smith (writing from around 1920 onwards) was following in the same pattern. They share the same tendency for male protagonists, supported by supremely beautiful and talented women who remain faithfully at home while their men go out and face danger. They also both posit a world where white American society (and to a lesser degree English culture) have dominated the world and other races and ethnicities have been absorbed or marginalised.Astor, an extremely rich man who died on the Titanic, was himself something of an inventor, and clearly took great delight in long descriptions of the engineering feats of the future. One of the spaceship’s crew of three is on a well-earned rest after co-ordinating a global project to straighten the earth’s axis so that it is perpendicular to the orbital plane, in order to remove seasonal extremes. This feat is described in considerable length for those who want to put it into practice today – though in fact it would be as out of reach today as it was in Astor’s day.Modern readers will probably be impatient with what comes over as great naivety about the role of science (an unmitigated boon and triumph of human ingenuity) and of politics (the right way to run the world is so abundantly obvious that there is no real opposition of any kind). And many modern readers, both religious and otherwise, will find difficulties with his methodology for fusing scientific and biblical statements. However, his ability to imaginatively project the knowledge of his time, and his recognition of the limits of knowledge, are both striking and appealing.The book is divided into three parts: an initial review of life on planet earth, followed by extended descriptions of the explorers’ visits to Jupiter and Saturn. Jupiter is basically an extended big game hunt, together with musings on the ease with which parts of Jupiter could be appropriated for colonisation from earth. Not sharing the 19th century desire to hunt anything large enough to be shot at, I did not find this especially moving. The characters come over as unconsciously arrogant and parochial.The Saturn trip, however, brings out a very different side to the crew. Anxieties and worries surface in them, along with existential fears that their lives are not, after all, up to the quality that they had imagined for themselves. As a result, this section of the book was much more engaging for me.I found A Journey in Other Worlds to be an interesting book – significantly more modern in outlook than parts of Jules Verne, and with a clear line of descent through Smith to more recent writers. Not everybody will like the book, either for its writing style or the ideas expressed in it, but I am glad to have read it. It seems slightly churlish to rate a book of this kind, but for consistency with other books I would give four stars.

I'm listening to this while knitting... and I'm kinda tempted to stop it, because its full of a lot of science that is honestly a bit boring. And it's talking about a lot of climate change, which, while the idea of a planet having eternal spring by the process of changing the pole oceans every 6 months... I just can't imagine the havoc that would wreak on the ecosystem. I'm also not really sure that it's the heaviness of the pole oceans that keeps the Earth's axis tilted. Still, it started out with them landing on Jupiter, which sounds intriguing. The whole thing reminds me a bit of Perelandra.-sigh- I cant decide what to do about this. It's kinda interesting, just in terms of speculative fiction, but story-wise it's hella boring. I'm on chapter 6 now and they're discussing the physics of Christ's ascension, if it could be attributed to the 'apergy' that is believed to be the force that annuls gravitation. I really wonder what current scientists would think about the science here.Hahahah!! The government in this story has a Promotion of Science Act whereby their Congress funds scientific endeavors such as space exploration. Wow. Also, they just said something about running out 'inferior races'. So much contradiction in one story. Made it to chapter 13 tonight, calling it a night and I think it's about to start getting good... ^_^So after wading through this, I actually really enjoyed it. It got better once it actually got to the adventuring, though at times I was rolling my eyes at what is essentially a trio of boys exploring and shooting stuff, in true 19th century style. Overall though, the author really constructed some interesting worlds, and while he did get a bit preachy at times, the mixture of science and spirituality was intriguing. I still really want a real scientist to read this and tell me their thoughts...
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Reviews
Lisa
John Jacob Astor is best known for being the richest man to go down with the Titanic, but he should be better known for his science fiction. This is a great work of early science fiction and is an interesting story of exploration, not just the exploration of Jupiter and Saturn, but the exploration of how science and religion can co-exist. I have studied the history of the biological sciences, but wish I knew more about the history of the physical sciences so I could better appreciate the world he created. The history chapters in the beginning are interesting, but a little difficult to get through; Astor's capitalist views shine through pretty strongly. But they are needed to set the scene, so get through them, then enjoy visiting other worlds.Oh, and I love how whenever the characters want to study a creature they find on these new worlds they shoot them! How wonderfully Victorian.
Debbie Zapata
What do you do if you are one of the wealthiest men in the world and you are bored with your normal day to day activities? If you are John Jacob Astor, you write a book that will share your vision of what life will be like in far away year 2000. The Terrestrial Axis Straightening Company will be hard at work to correct the tilt of the Earth and therefore provide a more temperate climate, and your three heroes will travel for six whole months in outer space, having grand adventures on both Jupiter and Saturn before returning home.The book is a museum piece, but I was tickled with it. The science is naturally either outdated or too bizarre to ever have been factual, and the attitudes of the heroes are not exactly pc according to modern day standards, but I can usually overlook that when reading the antiquated books I enjoy. Someday I imagine people will be shocked at the attitudes revealed in our modern books, too.The fun for me here was the idea of this incredibly wealthy man sitting down to imagine What If.....and then filling pages with his visions. Astor would have been a completely fascinating dinner guest. I would ask him How? and Why? and generally be totally nosy about the book. The fact that he was a passenger on the Titanic and went down with theship adds poignancy to the story...I kept wondering if he would have written another book if he had survived.
Pam
I really enjoy reading old futuristic stories and seeing what people got right and how they got things wrong--and also reminding myself that all of our favorite hard scifi will one day sound as dated as this book does, and wondering what people will be able to infer about us from the values we project on our visions of the future.The perspective of this book is so very 19th century, rich, white, American, well-educated. It has manifest destiny written all over it. All of the countries of the Americas have become part of the United States, because of course, what else would they do? Non-white peoples outside of Europe have slowly died out making room for the white people (yes, really), and next humanity will expand to other planets, perhaps even other stars! (They discover later that there are other intelligent people in the universe, but fear not, only humans have souls.) And though the protagonists undertake a mission to Jupiter, do not mistake it for a scientific mission, they are on safari.Despite all that, it's also interesting what he gets right. Toward the beginning are a couple chapters of the history of the 20th century, which get a lot of the details wrong but the overall picture isn't all that far off. For instance, he predicts a cold war between France and Germany leading to the rapid development and science and technology; both sides create weapons so powerful that they could never be used, preventing what was apparently already referred to as the Great War. The rapid advance in technology also led to many innovations like automobiles, freeways, and suburbs.The science is also dated, of course. This is pre-plate techtonics, and the reigning view of the way celestial bodies work is they start out molten like the sun, then gradually cool and shrink, with the shrinkage creating mountain ranges. Smaller planets cool faster, so Mars is already dead. The very large planets are still warm, which keeps them inhabitable despite being further from the sun. Once the planets cool, life proceeds in nearly the same way as on Earth; since Jupiter cooled enough to support life much later, it's in an earlier stage of evolution, corresponding to the Devonian period on Earth (though not exactly, I don't think the devonian had dinosaurs) with plants and animals recognizable from Earth's geological record. Saturn is slightly more "advanced", as it's smaller than Jupiter.(Side note: at this point I realized why landscapes of dinosaurs always have erupting volcanoes in the background--not just because one may have killed them, but also because according to the pre-plate techtonics theory of geology the earth was actually more volcanic back then, and has cooled and become less active over time. So of course there were erupting volcanoes all over the place back then.)That covers parts 1 and 2. Part 3 veers away from the science into the metaphysical, and I didn't enjoy it very much. Part of Christian doctrine is that once you die, all the good and bad that you've done are tallied up and you can't change your condition with respect to God any more after that. I've never liked that doctrine, and part 3 expounds on it at length.
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