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Mesaerion: The Best Science Fiction Stories 1800-1849

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Andrew Barger, award-winning author and engineer, has extensively researched forgotten journals and magazines of the early 19th century to locate groundbreaking science fiction short stories in the English language. In doing so, he found what is possibly the first science fiction story by a female (and it is not from Mary Shelley). Andrew located the first steampunk short Andrew Barger, award-winning author and engineer, has extensively researched forgotten journals and magazines of the early 19th century to locate groundbreaking science fiction short stories in the English language. In doing so, he found what is possibly the first science fiction story by a female (and it is not from Mary Shelley). Andrew located the first steampunk short story, which has not been republished since 1844. There is the first voyage to the moon in a balloon, republished for the first time since 1820 that further tells of a darkness machine and a lunarian named Zuloc. Other sci-stories include the first robotic insect and an electricity gun. Once again, Andrew has searched old texts to find the very best science fiction stories from the period when the genre automated to life, some of the stories are published for the first time in nearly 200 years. Read these fantastic stories today! OUR OWN COUNTRY So mechanical has the age become, that men seriously talk of flying machines, to go by steam, --not your air-balloons, but real Daedalian wings, made of wood and joints, nailed to your shoulder, --not wings of feathers and wax like the wings of Icarus, who fell into the Cretan sea, but real, solid, substantial, rock-maple wings with wrought-iron hinges, and huge concavities, to propel us through the air. Knickerbocker Magazine, May 18


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Andrew Barger, award-winning author and engineer, has extensively researched forgotten journals and magazines of the early 19th century to locate groundbreaking science fiction short stories in the English language. In doing so, he found what is possibly the first science fiction story by a female (and it is not from Mary Shelley). Andrew located the first steampunk short Andrew Barger, award-winning author and engineer, has extensively researched forgotten journals and magazines of the early 19th century to locate groundbreaking science fiction short stories in the English language. In doing so, he found what is possibly the first science fiction story by a female (and it is not from Mary Shelley). Andrew located the first steampunk short story, which has not been republished since 1844. There is the first voyage to the moon in a balloon, republished for the first time since 1820 that further tells of a darkness machine and a lunarian named Zuloc. Other sci-stories include the first robotic insect and an electricity gun. Once again, Andrew has searched old texts to find the very best science fiction stories from the period when the genre automated to life, some of the stories are published for the first time in nearly 200 years. Read these fantastic stories today! OUR OWN COUNTRY So mechanical has the age become, that men seriously talk of flying machines, to go by steam, --not your air-balloons, but real Daedalian wings, made of wood and joints, nailed to your shoulder, --not wings of feathers and wax like the wings of Icarus, who fell into the Cretan sea, but real, solid, substantial, rock-maple wings with wrought-iron hinges, and huge concavities, to propel us through the air. Knickerbocker Magazine, May 18

53 review for Mesaerion: The Best Science Fiction Stories 1800-1849

  1. 4 out of 5

    Don O'goodreader

    A curiosity including obscure Poe, Hawthorne, and more. Mesaerion: The Best SF1800-1849 by Andrew Barger includes stories about the hot science topics of the early 19th century including hot air balloons, mesmerism, perpetual motion, and clockwork automata. Especially interesting is the editor's introduction to the stories placing them in context such as first steam punk story or first SF by a woman. I recommend this volume more for scholars interesting in early 19th century literature than those A curiosity including obscure Poe, Hawthorne, and more. Mesaerion: The Best SF1800-1849 by Andrew Barger includes stories about the hot science topics of the early 19th century including hot air balloons, mesmerism, perpetual motion, and clockwork automata. Especially interesting is the editor's introduction to the stories placing them in context such as first steam punk story or first SF by a woman. I recommend this volume more for scholars interesting in early 19th century literature than those looking for interesting SF reads. A well-read person has certainly seen better by Poe and Hawthorne than the couple of selections by each author in this volume. I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway on March 28, 2014. I received my copy on May 7, 2014.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Justin Melter

    I have always been a sci-fi fan but my knowledge of early works were limited. This was a great compilation of works from the 1800's which is a really interesting view on how people then saw the possible future. I really had to laugh at some of the things they were right and wrong on. Also what I enjoyed was how they gave a little bit of a bio of each author, how they came to their beliefs, etc. Which was a really nice intro before jumping into their short stories. I would be curious to read some I have always been a sci-fi fan but my knowledge of early works were limited. This was a great compilation of works from the 1800's which is a really interesting view on how people then saw the possible future. I really had to laugh at some of the things they were right and wrong on. Also what I enjoyed was how they gave a little bit of a bio of each author, how they came to their beliefs, etc. Which was a really nice intro before jumping into their short stories. I would be curious to read some more compilations similar to this. Good read!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Justin

    The editor of this anthology honors the authors in this collection with his research, wonderful annotations illuminating arcane vocabulary and references, and most of all his respect and enthusiasm for the works themselves. I like to think of science fiction as the most important genre of literature because, by examining the future or other dimensions, it opens a window to the anxieties of the present. I especially love dated sci-fi not only for its quaint imaginings of "modern" technology, but The editor of this anthology honors the authors in this collection with his research, wonderful annotations illuminating arcane vocabulary and references, and most of all his respect and enthusiasm for the works themselves. I like to think of science fiction as the most important genre of literature because, by examining the future or other dimensions, it opens a window to the anxieties of the present. I especially love dated sci-fi not only for its quaint imaginings of "modern" technology, but because here we can see how people long past expressed their fear and awe of a future that is in our distant past. Barger's archaeology of science fiction traces these tales to the origins of science fiction itself. Here, we have uncovered the first imaginings of suspended animation, robot insects, laser guns, flights to the moon via hot air balloon. Alas, the historical significance of some of these tales surpasses their redemptive value as works of art. I found A Visit To the Lunar Sphere and Glimpses of Other Worlds ponderous, full of superfluous detail and bogged down by stuffy, professorial narration mingled with scant character development. Very stoic without any sense of fun. A common flaw of some of these stories is that the narrative focus takes the reader away from the action, presenting the imagined world from the distant vantage point of being on the outside looking in, without really engaging with it. My favorite pieces ended up being stories with more traditional elements of literature: characters, substantive theme, a plot, and conflict, in other words--a story to tell. Perceival Leigh's The Aerial Burglar presented a dystopian fantasy world in the clouds that was like Bladerunner combined with the Jetsons. Lydia Maria Child's Hilda Silfverling, A Fantasy was the crown jewel of this collection, combining chemistry (alchemy, really)suspended animation, crime and punishment with fairytale to create what must be the most charming story about incest ever written. Child's other story included here was also wonderful. The Rival Mechanicians provides a nuanced, artfully wrought depiction of binary contrasts in human nature, artifice versus nature, delicacy versus durability, and aesthetics versus utilitarian value. Child asks the question, much as in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, can we overcome the vicissitudes of nature with the ingenuity of humankind. At times, Child's philosophizing borders on the grace and eloquence of the Greeks: "In grand conceptions, and in works of durability, you would always have excelled Florien, as much as he surpassed you in tastefulness and elegance. By striving to be what he was, you parted with your own gifts, without attaining to his. Every man in the natural sphere of his own talent, and all in harmony; this is the true order, my son; and I tempted you to violate it p.166." The other story that transported me was Nathaniel Hawthorne's Rappaccini's Daughter, a tale that delves into the subject of chemical transmutation of the human form, alienation, amoral experimentation, with a Romeo and Juliet-like twist. I would recommend this collection on the strength of these four visionary tales alone, though the other six certainly contain points to recommend them as well. While the depictions of "modern" technology were indeed quaint and silly at times in these stories, I was most struck by the ethereal, dream-like narratives, the elements of fable, fairytale, and magical realism found sprinkled like pixie dust liberally throughout these works. For the sake of identifying the origins of a genre, Barger's logic in placing them in this science fiction collection makes sense. However, many of these stories belong equally to the world of fantasy. If these tales are any indication, it seems that the early Victorians were most concerned with the ability of technology to change nature, and to replace morality with utility. The stories dealing with trans-human metamorphosis and the construction of artificial beings remind us that when we transcend the limits of human nature, we irrevocably alter it, and sometimes not for the best. Ultimately, these stories seem to impart the message that life and love are fleeting, and when we tinker with the "mechanics" of either, we are destined to lose both.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    Best appreciated by those who want to see how American Romantics incorporated science into their writings. The editor, Andrew Barger, comments more on the stories' relevance for today rather than how they would have been received by a contemporary audience: for example, Barger introduces Hawthorne's story about a mechanical butterfly by noting that the 21st century U.S. military is working on flying robotic insects, rather than noting the Romantics' interest in questions about the nature of the Best appreciated by those who want to see how American Romantics incorporated science into their writings. The editor, Andrew Barger, comments more on the stories' relevance for today rather than how they would have been received by a contemporary audience: for example, Barger introduces Hawthorne's story about a mechanical butterfly by noting that the 21st century U.S. military is working on flying robotic insects, rather than noting the Romantics' interest in questions about the nature of the soul and how the butterfly was a classical symbol for the human soul. Barger deserves credit for unearthing and collecting some interesting historical curiosities.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    I won this book on Goodreads first reads giveaway and Andrew Barger signed the book but even better he personalized it, so cool. I don't read a lot of sci-fi but this is a good mix of short stories, I am looking forward to reading more sci-fi books. Also the was an introduction to each author before each short story. Overall I gave this book four out of five stars as it was a good read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I won this book on Goodreads first reads giveaway and Andrew Barger signed the book but even better he personalized it, so cool. I don't read a lot of sci-fi but this is a good mix of short stories, I am looking forward to reading more sci-fi books. Also the was an introduction to each author before each short story. Overall I gave this book four out of five stars as it was a good read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Berenice

    It is a fantastic and amazing book

  7. 4 out of 5

    Corentin Gastalle

    Nice collection overall with stories very well put into context. Hawthorne and Child's short stories are just plain enjoyable for any reader (The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar and The Aerial Burglar would be just below the top), while some of the other stories might just be appealing to those who study science-fiction. Nonetheless, all short stories develop sometimes classic, sometimes original but always interesting ideas. As for the short stories: The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar (Edgar A Nice collection overall with stories very well put into context. Hawthorne and Child's short stories are just plain enjoyable for any reader (The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar and The Aerial Burglar would be just below the top), while some of the other stories might just be appealing to those who study science-fiction. Nonetheless, all short stories develop sometimes classic, sometimes original but always interesting ideas. As for the short stories: The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar (Edgar Allan Poe) A case of mesmerism in which a scientist tries to surpass death. Horror ensues. The fact that this has been thought to be a true story makes it even more enthralling. The Aerial Burglar (Percival Leigh) A case of mesmerism transporting to another world. We witness a slice of life in this world. Its depiction is quite poetic and very interesting especially since, as Andrew Barger points out, this might be the first steampunk short story. A visit to the Lunar Sphere (Captain Frederick Marryat) Glimpses of Other Worlds (Thomas Charles Morgan) I had the same problem with both short stories: the idea behind them are great and the topic interesting but it might feel tiresome for a reader who wants to enjoy a good story. Might need to re-read them in order to appreciate them. Hilda Silfverling, A Fantasy (Lydia Maria Child) Descent into hell for a woman wrongly accused of murdering her own child. The effects of "cryopreservation" are very well described and feel absolutely legitimate. It seems to be a case of inescapable fate, but there is a kind of twisted happy ending. Rappaccini's Daughter (Nathaniel Hawthorne) Very nice example of an impossible love story where the protagonist is manipulated by scientists. Not only the scientist disfigures nature but he also corrupts the figure of the pure maiden through his experiments, leading both her and the protagonist to a total alienation. The final twist is the cherry on top. The Rival Mechanicians (Lydia Maria Child) An old craftsman seeks a replacement and will put in competition his two apprentices. Companionship thus turns into rivalry and nothing good comes out of it. There is once again a very interesting corruption of the maiden. There is a strong alienation but unlike in Rappaccini's Daughter, the end promises a salvation for the wretched apprentice. A descent into the Maelstrom (Edgar Allan Poe) Sea Story that becomes quite technical at times. It felt quite tiresome for a non-native like me. It's a somewhat good story although its science-fiction components, apart from the description of the whirlpool, were a bit underwhelming. The Artist of the Beautiful (Nathaniel Hawthorne) This short story in itself is a near perfect summary of romanticism. The scientist is an outcast, nature and science, art and craftsmanship are in conflict and there is a very surprising and interesting twist on the figure of the pure maiden as she is just the fruit of Owen's poetic imagination (but is in reality quite a common woman). The Iron Shroud (William Mudford) A very classic case of inescapable fate due to avarice and plain malevolence. There is this very romantic idea that, on the verge of death, the main character understands he can only find refuge in nature.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea Cohen

    Okay. I won this from a Goodreads First Ready giveaway and I just got it today. I HAVE NOT READ IT YET, but when I opened it, I saw that the book uses a sans-serif font. This is bad typesetting and book design. Sans-serif fonts are harder to read than serif fonts and they do not make good body copy. From looking at the Table of Contents, it appears to be a good selection and I look forward to reading through it, but the font choice is a distraction.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mirta

    Dificil de leer, en el sentido que los autores son antiguos y aridos. Algunas historias si me gustaron: Rappaccinis daughter y los dos mecanivos rivales.

  10. 5 out of 5

    John P.

  11. 5 out of 5

    OTIS

  12. 4 out of 5

    Constructionv4

  13. 4 out of 5

    Betty

  14. 5 out of 5

    Darling

  15. 4 out of 5

    Drew Bennett

  16. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Sharma

  17. 5 out of 5

    Dunlap Reviews

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

  19. 4 out of 5

    Maryellie

  20. 4 out of 5

    M Beal

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jack Jericho

  22. 4 out of 5

    James Lynam

  23. 5 out of 5

    David Nickle

  24. 4 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  25. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kayla

  27. 4 out of 5

    Erik

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rhona Minton

  29. 5 out of 5

    Michelle & Tony

  30. 4 out of 5

    Laura Dobb

  31. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

  32. 5 out of 5

    Richard Tyler

  33. 4 out of 5

    Teresa Lavender

  34. 4 out of 5

    Xeno

  35. 4 out of 5

    Brochettes

  36. 5 out of 5

    Simon

  37. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Gates

  38. 5 out of 5

    Rhonda

  39. 4 out of 5

    Brit Thorton

  40. 5 out of 5

    Daniela

  41. 5 out of 5

    Margaret scotland

  42. 4 out of 5

    Kirsty

  43. 4 out of 5

    Maureen Ryan

  44. 4 out of 5

    Nat

  45. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

  46. 5 out of 5

    Terrell Sanzone

  47. 5 out of 5

    Kevis Hendrickson

  48. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Moore

  49. 5 out of 5

    Brandy

  50. 4 out of 5

    Gordon Bingham

  51. 5 out of 5

    Kim Coomey

  52. 4 out of 5

    Diana Senn

  53. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

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