Thursday, June 26, 2008


Been really getting into Crank Literature recently, buying up everything I can get my hands on:

This hardback is from 1934, I think. H S Bellamy was a writer who helped popularise the pre-WW1 Cosmic Ice Theory of Hans Hörbiger aka Welteislehre or Glazial-Kosmogonie (Glacial Cosmology) which theorised that ice was the basic building block of all cosmological processes. Hörbiger was an old school engineer whose theories were later pounced on by the Nazis in their search to counter what they saw as Jewish dominance in Astronomy and Physics - it's fascinating stuff, this: the universe seen through the eyes and mind of a jobbing engineer/designer/inventor who lived and worked at the grimey/greasy/steamy cuttin' edge of the early 20th century Industrial-Modernist world...these are the thoughts and theories and background stuff that helped shape the imaginations of the first wave of Golden Age SF writers.

Bellamy (whose pen-name hides his own German origins) chucks a trough-load of ancient-myths into the mix and asks: did the Babylonians, etc and assorted pre-History civilisations see the fall of the other, earlier Earth-satellites that once accompanied Luna. There's some compelling connections made here (and lots of great diagrams!) I love all this stuff - it feeds into my fiction-writing all the time, specially if you use as your starting-point: ie what if the cranks were actually right and all modern science is wrong? So, if I see your Cosmic Ice Theory story gettin' published in 6 months time, then I'll know where you nicked the idea from("Notebooks out, plagiarists!" lol) - but yr too late, so get back in yer box, Andy-Pandy.

Bellamy's descriptions of stars colliding and planet-sized plumes of steam erupting from a Red Giant star after billions of tonnes of cosmic ice spiral down thru its gravity-well read like they've been lifted straight from the apocalypto-carnage of E E 'Doc' Smith's Lensmen series or early Heinlein, etc - Science Fiction as some collossal, militaristic, Ayn Rand style Physical and Social Engineering project. No wonder John Sladek wrote satires of that sort of thing called "Engineer of the Gods", "The Moon is Sixpence", etc...(and the Nazis jumped on it, and Norman Spinrad wrote the Hitler-in-Space mayhem of "The Iron Dream.")

'Course, it's too easy to laugh at this stuff now and dismiss it as as pseudo-science - actually, I hate it when people do that (how rigidly mapped your world must be!)...I prefer instead to view it as just another way - rightly or wrongly - of seeing the world.

Selenography - the study of the surface of the moon - was once a pretty big deal back in the 1st half of the 20th century, before we started mapping the moon in detail, photographed it and then finally went it's a forgotten word for a forgotten science. Is it really so weird that folks once thought that the moon was covered in ice (or that Mars had canals)?

I like to think that it still is.