NOVAE TERRAE #1 (March 1936)

Text lifted of this issue lifted from FANAC site. Original copytyping by Judy Bemis. Page breaks and general format by reference to scans of the issue provided by Alistair Durie. Note: Unlike subsequent issues, this fanzine was printed on a single side only of each sheet.


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Volume 1, No. 1. March 1936


This journal is compiled and published by the members of Chapter Twenty-two of the Science Fiction League -- the Nuneaton, England, Chapter -- in the interests of Science Fiction in general, the Science Fiction League, and the Chapter itself. We have called the journal 'Novae Terrae' -- New Worlds -- and we think that the name is appropriate for a magazine devoted to science fiction where new worlds are being opened up a great deal of the time.

We have one favour to ask of everyone who reads it. We would like every reader of this (and future) issues to send us their frank criticism of it, (preferably of the constructive kind).

"Novae Terrae" will be published around the beginning of each month at the price of 2d a copy post-free (5 cents in U.S.A.). The subscription price is 1/9 per year (45 cents in U.S.A.), and six months subscriptions can be held at half these prices (special rate of 25 cents for U.S.A.) Payment from countries outside the British Isles should be made by international Money Order or U.S. coin. Address all communications to either of the addresses below.

We sincerely hope you will enjoy this first issue now in your hands.


Maurice K. Hanson,
c/o Mrs. Brice,
Main Road, Narborough,
Dennis A. Jacques,
89, Long Shoot,

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No. 1 -- The Perfect Science Fiction Story

Have you ever read a science fiction story that you could honestly call absolutely perfect? Obviously, you haven't; even in the best there must be some minor flaw in science, or in plot, or in something.

What are the qualities that a story must have to be perfect? Opinions differ considerably, but there are certain qualities on which most science fiction readers will agree that a story must have. Any science fiction story could be classified with reference to the science part of it, and to the fiction part. Good science fiction must be good literature. A really great scientific idea may be thrown away by the story being written as one of the blood-and-thunder type. Three stories that most science fiction fans think finely written are "The Moon Pool" by Merritt, Smith's "The Skylark Of Space", and "The Exile of the Quiet Sun" by Richard Vaughan. Each of these has many points but a large percentage of these are dependent on the way they are written, and that is what makes them classics. Some stories that have a good plot and original situations are poorly written with mediocre characterization and indifferent description; others that are well written are often based on the old mad-scientist and insect-army ideas.

In the scientific part of the story the same kind of things can often be seen. The scientific fact may be inaccurate and deductions made at variance with modern views without reasons for such deviations being given. Science should be accurate in present day known details while deductions should be truly logical, and the scientific basis of the story original. Comparatively few writers can really successfully combine good writing with good science. Especially in the efforts of new authors does the science

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tend to swamp the action, or the action so predominate that the science is almost entirely neglected. The smooth flow of the story is rudely disturbed, and a discordant note of harshness is introduced that is very detrimental. There are three main qualities that a science fiction author should possess: an ability to write a story which holds interest throughout in which real characters are created, and which is written in a style of real merit; a good knowledge of all the chief branches of science; and the ability to combine science and fiction so that a harmonious whole is obtained. And so the perfect story must be written by someone whose abilities in these three qualities is at the point of perfection. Unfortunately this is never the case in practice so that a 100% perfect story has yet to be written. Such a story must have a good style, good action, accurate, original, and plausible science, all fused into a plausible and original plot. Few people agree on the order of these factors, but the majority must insist on good style and all that goes with it, occupying first place. The position of the other factors is definitely a matter of personal opinion, and so the analysis of the perfect science fiction story must end here.



Charles D. Hornig and also the members of the Muskogee SFL for the greeting-cards received from them at the beginning of the year.


Its member J.E. Barnes on obtaining a Scholarship to Oxford University.

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Primarily for the English science fiction fan -- usually neglected -- we present this monthly feature. But other readers will no doubt be helped by it -- we hope so, anyway.


The first two months of this year were rather prolific in books of interest to the science fiction fan One of the first was "THEY FOUND ATLANTIS" by Dennis Wheatley (Hutchinson 7/6), also published serially in the "Daily Mail" --- A German scientist locates Atlantis below the ocean and finds it peopled by degenerate beings and also by a utopian race; incidentally his boat is seized by gangsters ......... Early in the year also, came "WORLD D" by Hal P. Trevarthen, (Sheed and Ward 7/6) in which among other things a scientist with a mind a hundred times greater than Aristotle makes a world under the Pacific Ocean ............. Two film releases of the first few weeks of January have a scientific flavour: "MURDER BY TELEVISION" featuring Bela Lugosi is a routine but ingeniously handled mystery with a few television technicalities of science fiction nature. Both this film and "DEATH FROM A DISTANCE" (featuring Russell Hopton, and is a moderate murder mystery, the circumstances of the murder adding interesting scientific touches), are American. ............... The January London Mercury was distinguished by containing a science fiction poem "Time is past" by Tee Poh Leng. ................. Hutchinsons are the publishers of "THE TABLE" by R. Curtis, a variation on "The Island of Dr. Moreau". It is priced 7/6. "SKIN AND BONES" by Thorne Smith describes how a man turns into a skeleton, experiencing gruesome adventures, such as being buried alive. (Published by Baker at 7/6) ................ Marion Mitchell author of "Traveller in Time" (Sheed and Ward 7/6) introduces "tempevision" in a series of travel sketches ............... The scenario of the H. G. Wells film "THE MAN WHO COULD WORK MIRACLES" was published in January "Nash's

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Magazine". Not particularly scientifictional though it looks like a good film. The outstanding science fiction film release of the first six weeks of the year was "HANDS OF ORLAC". This was adapted from a story by Maurice Renard (the H. G. Wells of France) who wrote "The Flight of the Aerofix" in Wonder's science fiction series. Peter Lorre who starred, gives a fascinatingly good performance as a doctor who grafts the hands of an executed murderer on to the wrists of a famous pianist injured in a railway accident. The film is not particularly remarkable for its science fiction angle but for Peter Lorre's acting and the imaginative direction of Karl Freund who was the cameraman of the German science fiction film "METROPOLIS". "Hands of Orlac" was made by M.G.M..................In "WOMAN ALIVE" by Susan Ertz (Hodder 5/-) a man is transferred to 1985 for one year during which a world wide war manages to kill all women but one, by a special poison gas -- neatly written.................The February "New Health" has an article "GLANDS AND CHARACTER" in which Dr. Leonard Williams gives an absorbing account of the real facts about glands, and for most fans who have read 30(0) gland stories this article is worth reading, to see that a large percentage had a real scientific basis... "Tarzan and the City Of Gold" by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Bodley Head 7/6 needs no comment .....................Finally, two more books: "THE NEXT HUNDRED YEARS" by C. C. Furnas, (Cassell 8/6), "From Eugenics to economics, from the constitution of the atom to flight in the stratosphere the author ranges over a whole field of scientific research pointing out what has yet to be done before the researchers can rest on their laurels" ---- and "IN THE SECOND YEAR" by Storm Jameson, Cassell 7/6, is an account of England under a dictatorship in the year 1940; propaganda, not science fiction..............................

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In accordance with our policy of keeping entirely within the territory of science fiction we shall occasionally include amongst our articles those based purely on science, as for example:


The Greeks who built the framework of logical argument were the predecessors of many famous scientists of centuries ago. Through the years up to the middle of the nineteenth century science fitfully evolved and became progressively sweeping in its scope. During the latter half of the century the rush for knowledge became greater and many then undeveloped sciences graduated into comprehensive and classified subjects. Indeed, towards the end of the nineteenth century, Victorian scientists regarded the search for truth as practically over, all that was necessary being closer research on lines already laid out. Their complacency was soon shattered, however, by a brilliant young man named Einstein who introduced the conception of relativity, while Rutherford, Wilson, and others began to explore the mysteries of the atom. At once a field vaster than any yet known was waiting to be explored and their goal was again an immense way off.

But practical science has gone from one triumph to another with huge advances in medicine, machinery, psychology and every other branch of life.

And so the advances made during the last fifty years are obvious, and yet what is fifty years compared with eternity? A mere tick of a clock; what will another fifty or five hundred years bring? Obvious conclusions such as penetrations into outer space, races living entirely on synthetic products come readily to mind.

How are we today fitting ourselves for such a future? Well may we ask ourselves this. The average person is practically unconscious of the changes around him. We cannot expect him to master De Broglie's wave mechanics, but we can expect him to take the trouble to grasp the broad principles of scientific knowledge. Indeed if we were science-conscious we would see that machines and cheaper

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When WILL the Space-ship Arrive?

The day when the headlines of our newspapers announce that a successful journey to the moon has been accomplished is bound to live long in the mind of every science fiction enthusiast, but estimates of when space flight will be an accomplished fact vary enormously. Surprising is that of the Editorial Staff of Amazing Stories whose opinion it is that space flight will never come about. In contrast to this there is the opinion of an author in Scoops who believes that man may set foot on the moon as early as 1942, and also of an optimistic nature is M. Robert Esnault-Pelterie, the French engineer who has claim to distinction in connection with aeronautics (as well as astronautics).

What are the chief difficulties that must be overcome? Two that seem least solved are the development of an adequate fuel, and the appropriation of sufficient money for building the vessel. The most powerful fuel known at present will scarcely do even with the utilization of such ideas as the stop-principle. Suggestions have been made for remedying this have cropped up in science fiction, for example, the use of a catalyst (as in the Schachner-Zagat classic "Exiles Of the Moon"). Unfortunately no convenient catalysts have yet been found. An interesting suggestion made some time ago was that liquid ozone should be used instead of liquid oxygen. It is very improbable that a suitable fuel will never be found, but it isn't possible to say when the fuel problem will finally be overcome.

The question of getting money for the construction of a space-ship is formidable, for the spaceship of actuality will not be constructed in a week, but must represent the cream of our engineering and scientific skill, and the cost may be comparable to that of a modern battle-cruiser. But before the time when building a space-ship is possible, occurs, circumstances may be different from those today, general official lethargy and scepticism may have disappeared.

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There are many other problems to be faced, a few that come to mind are: the danger of meteors, which possibly is over-emphasized; the problems of providing air and food supplies for the journey, overcome to some extent in submarine construction today; there are the extremes of temperature to which the vessel will be exposed; the varying gravitational effects may have profound effect on our bodies; the psychological problem of how the mind will behave under all the alien conditions.........And there are numberless other technical difficulties to be taken into account. For example the material of which the explosion chamber is made must withstand great temperatures, must be light and must have certain other characteristics. Efficient pumping systems for pumping the liquid fuel to this chamber must be evolved. And there are literally thousands of other problems of a like nature. But none of these seem insuperable and research is even now being carried out in several countries.

While many factors have already been settled a huge number more remain to be dealt with -- and these must take up a long period -- during which time the long-awaited Fuel may have been developed.

It is a question of time before legions of science fiction fans can sit up and ram a certain pleasant phrase down the throats of the sceptics: "I TOLD YOU SO."

M. K. Hanson

Progress (continued from Page Six)

foods are in reality a boon, not an evil, if they are properly controlled. Nor would we indulge in the almost suicidal policy of using up all our natural resources merely for temporary profit.

The world must realise what is being done and become capable of looking after itself in the coming scientific age instead of relying on a small select body of scientists.