Garrett Serviss was a well known astronomer, born March 24th 1851 in Sharon Springs New York he graduated from Cornell University in 1872. He then turned to law and was admitted to the bar in 1874 but, like so many of his predecessors with a fascination for space, he turned away from a law career and spent much of his life as a writer of fiction and science journalism. By 1888 he had written his first serious work of non-fiction called Astronomy with an Opera Glass, much later in life he would be the first to write a popularization of Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity, this short book would even be made into a hit motion picture explaining the intricacies of Einstein’s revolutionary theory. In 1898 Serviss added to his already burgeoning reputation by contributing a sequel to H.G. Wells’ famous tale of interplanetary war, The War of the Worlds. The sequel was called Edison’s Conquest of Mars and it began serialization on February 6th in the Post (although it started its run on January 12th in the New York Evening Journal) and it would run uninterrupted every day until March 13th.
What is particularly remarkable about this so-called sequel is that it disappeared as quickly as it had arrived. Serviss would continue to attract new readers over the next two decades and would become one of the most highly respected science and science fiction authors of his era. His later novel The Second Deluge would be recognized as one of the greatest works of its type. However his sequel to Wells’ famous story would sink into total obscurity for almost fifty years.
In 1912 a new short story by Serviss would appear in Munsey’s Magazine, and in the by-line Serviss would write, “By the author of Conquest of Mars, A Columbus of Space and The Second Deluge.” This short notation would send Serviss’ fans into a frenzy because none of them knew about Conquest of Mars. It had never appeared in any of Frank Munsey’s magazines and as the decades ticked past even that ubiquitous purveyor of science fiction, Hugo Gernsback, had not managed to exhume the obscure and highly sought-after Serviss story in any of his profusion of science fiction pulps, despite the fact that Gernsback frequently featured Serviss’ name on the cover of his magazines alongside Wells and Verne.
Serviss would also introduce the notion of a nuclear powered spacecraft in his A Columbus of Space. Barely remembered today, Serviss was one of the most respected scientists and science fiction authors of the late 19th and early 20th century.
First appearances in fiction, created by Garrett Serviss:
Accurate space suits
Manned Maneuvering guns
Using the moon to train for Mars
Using the Martian moons as staging posts
Asteroid mining for platinum group metals
Exploration and accurate description of an asteroid
Description of the behavior and difficulties of light and shadow in a vacuum
Suggestion to use scientists as astronauts
Accurate understanding of the moon’s history
Aliens building the pyramids