NOVAE TERRAE #5 (July 1936)


Copytyping this issue by Rob Hansen, from scans provided by Alistair Durie.

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JULY 1936

NOVAE TERRAE...................(NEW WORLDS)

VOLUME 1 .............NUMBER 5

Recently we were afforded an instance symbolising one of the essential differences between the psychology of the English mind and that of the American, for all must agree that many such differences do exist.

On July 4th, an American radio concern, the N.B.C., broadcast a programme of various items from six or seven cities in the U.S., Chicago, San Francisco, Washington D.C., etc, which was relayed in this country. Of interest to the science fiction enthusiast is the fact that the listener was led to imagine that the journey from city to city was made by rocket-ship.

We have ample reason. to believe that science fiction fans meet with very many sceptics in America, but one is inclined to think that this is even more so in Britain. Such an attitude is convincingly confirmed when an incident as the above is met with. It must be admitted that, possibly due to the work of the American Rocket Society, the widespread publicity accorded to Dr. Goddard's experiments, and no doubt certain other factors, the rocket idea would seem to be more universally accepted in U.S.A. than in these more conservatively- minded isles.

However, the greatest reason for this, we believe, lies in the general frame or mind of the American, with qualities thriving on virile ideas, a frame or mind quite possibly left over from the not so distant pioneering days.

This frame of mind is reflected in the American language, full of pithy -- sometimes ugly --- epigrammatic-phrases. It is this frame of mind more than any other which fosters and

(Continued on page 14)

The Editors of "Novae Terrae" do not hold themselves responsible for the statements made, or the opinions expessed by contributors.

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by Walter H. Gillings

Keen students of science fiction must have noticed with pleasure the recent incursion of the fantasy element into the literature, cinema -- even the drama of these islands. Month after month, in "Novae Terrae", we read of some new tendency towards the exploitation of this neglected medium, which I have tried to reflect in my contributions to the American fan magazine FANTASY.

Although, so far, science fiction has been introduced over here only in its mildest forms, there are indications that its development as a distinct branch of popular literature has begun, and that its tremendous possibilities in other fields are also being recognised.

The Wells film, "Things To Come", which has captured the public fancy to such an extent......"The Great Experiment", at St. Martin's theatre, with fake messages to Mars as its theme .......... John Beynon Harris's Martian serial in "The Passing Show".....all are signs and symbols that those who devise our various amusements are becoming increasingly aware of the vast scope offered by science fiction.

We, of course, are primarily concerned with the literary aspect of this imminent boom in fantasy ideas, for such it seems to be. For nearly ten years now, we have had to rely on magazines imported from America for our favourite form of reading matter. In our enthusiasm for the subject, many of us - including myself - have long endeavoured to persuade British publishers to pay more attention to this type of fiction, with as yet little result.

But we have good reason to suppose that, before many months have passed, a prominent London publishing house will make a serious attempt to exploit this field by producing Britain's first

(Continued on page 9)

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by L. J. Johnson
(Hon. Secretary, The British Interplanetary Society)

I must commence by agreeing with Mr. Barnes to the extent of saying that "interplanetary rocket flight" (meaning a voyage to, a landing on, and a safe return from the moon or one of the planets) would be highly difficult of achievement with our present resources, quite apart from the question of expense. However it is a little drastic -- and perhaps a little narrow -- to denounce the idea as being impossible, for by recourse to the four-step rocket principle or the space-station idea (of which space prohibits a description here) a rocket vessel might quite reasonably be assumed capable of a successful interplanetary voyage. Moreover, it would be as well to point out an "Interplanetary Society", unlike a "Rocket Society", is not necessarily tied down to the one means of propulsion.

The most important attribute of the rocket motor from our view-point, is the fact (elucidated in theory and since proven experimentally) that it will operate in a vacuum, such as evidentally comprises interplanetary space. In this respect it appears to offer greater promise than any known method of propulsion. The major problem of jet propulsion is, of course, the provision of a sufficiently powerful fuel per unit mass to encompass the conquest of space. For although an efficiency of 70% was achieved by Dr. Goddard - a figure slightly superior to Mr. Barnes' best!), and an efficiency of almost 100% should be obtainable in vacuo, known fuels still fall far short of what could be desired. The position is however, by no means hopeless, and by the proper application of the power available, interplanetary travel is certainly not out of the question. Incidentally, the maximum mechanical efficiency of a rocket should be attainable when its velocity is zero with reference to that of the exhaust gases. i.e., the gases give up all their kinetic energy to the task of driving forward the rocket-ship.

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The important fact to be realised is that astronautics is as yet in its infancy, scientific rocket development having so far enjoyed an existence of barely twenty years. Furthermore, since the rocket motor possesses no real commercial or military value at the present time, it commands small support from the powers that be. Accordingly what interest is shown in interplanetary matters is by small bands of altruists, who are interested in such developments from the purely scientific standpoint, and to whom it is interesting to contemplate the idea of future space flights, possibly brought to fruition on the foundations which their enthnsiasm will have laid. Prospective astronauts are of the opinion that a study of the possibilty of space travel, employing any means of propulsion at all, would have been fully justifiable had it been undertaken in the days of the Pharoahs.

Since all rocketers are, of necessity, amateurs (as opposed to professionals!) consequently, not over-possessed of worldly goods, the idea was conceived to organise societies. Their objects include the popularisation of the interplanetary idea, and when sufficient support has been obtained, the conducting of the costly research work necessary to the development of the method of propulsion showing most promise for the future conquest of space - this method being the rocket motor. These societies, in their short periods of existence, have done much towards the achievement of at least their more immediate objects -- the dissemination of knowledge and the stimulation of public interest in rocketry and the interplanetary idea. Considering their recent establishment, and the comparatively sparse support accorded to them, I think they have all done commendably well. It may give some idea of the difficulties encountered when it is explained that the total income of the B.I.S. for the year 1935 did not reach the sum of £28! Precious little can be done on such a pittance, but we certainly do our best, there need be no doubt.

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All the funds of these societies do not go, by any means, to finance research. To mould a society into a common whole, to retain the interest of the more distant members, and to attract new support it is essential to issue a journal devoted to theoretical research and to the advancement of the society's objects. And here I must refute, with all my power, the allegation that devotees of rocketry are all merely lovers of fantasy. Moreover, I am unaware as to which rocketry journals have come up for criticism, but from my personal knowledge I think they must be some of whose existence I have been unaware. If any funds still remain after the production of the journal, they can be devoted to research work. So it happens that whatever experiments are undertaken must, of necessity, be arranged in a manner consistent with the most rigid economy. Materials are skimped where possible, (and sometimes where it is not possible!), and the most suitable materials, and any necessary expert advice on specialised problems, etc. for which cash payment may be requested are almost unobtainable. So many difficulties are encountered, indeed, that it is a wonder that any progress is made at all. In addition to this rocketers must suffer the destructive criticism of those who, while professing an interest in our aims, if they do not hinder us, at least do nothing to advance our cause.

Nobody knows better than the rocket proponent the difficulties and dangers that have to be met and overcome in this work; and likewise none know better the possibiltties of his irresponsible infant. So irresponsible is it indeed, that with fuels that are higher explosives than T.N.T., it would be the most abject folly not to hide behind a barricade during tests, in the present early stage of development. Not that rocketers are killed off with a 'monotonous regularity'. Far from it! The last to meet with

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such tragic fates were Herr Reinhold Tiling and his three assistants in 1933. And they used the most dangerous powder fuel, about which they had previously been warned.

It must he recognized that neither Onnes nor anyone also would have been successful in any project, unless they had first tried to bring about its accomplishment. As we obtain more support (perhaps Mr. Barnes will join the B.I.S.?) so will we be able to announce more progress in research. It is only a matter of time, and unfortunately, money before we can construct a rocket that will justify our faith in the possibilities. Already much research has been made. Despite the alleged incompetence of experimentalists (even such apparently trivial observation as the colour of the exhaust gases will tell a long story to the experienced rocketer!), rocket models abroad have exceeeded the speed of 700 m.p.h., and future possibilities are certainly there. I am confident that the day will come when the first spaceship will successfully return from the moon. And be it in ten, a hundred, or a thousand years time, we, the founders of the movement, may be able proudly to point out our own contribution (however unimporant it may seem today) in that epoch-making achievement.

The popularity of such books on astronautics as do exist is very doubtful indeed. Hence the scarcity of these works. However a number printed in the English language are obtainable, and will be listed in the September issue of the journal of the British Interplanetary Society. In the meantime, a perusal of Mr. P.E. Cleator's recent book, "Rockets Through Space", should go far towards convincing those unacquainted with the science of astronautics of the difficulties met, the progress being made, and the complete competence of the majority of those connected with this stimulating work.

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by Denny JACQUES

Dinitrobenzene is generally used as a starting-point in the dye industry which indicates that this industry is intimately connected with the explosives branch and it is interesting to note moreover that it is an important "key industry" dominating the manufacture of textiles, paper, paints, ink, etc.

Coloured organic substances are not called dyes unless they are capable of attachment to a fabric in such a manner as to withstand the action of soap and water, and in addition dyes for ordinary use must be reasonably fast to the action of sunlight, though a parent substance from which others are produced may not necessarily itself be a dye.

Using the nomenclature due to Otto Witt, the parent coloured compound is called a chromogene, the colour of this, and of the dyes derived from it is due to a certain grouping of molecules known as a chromophore, whilst dyeing properties are conferred by the additional presence of subsidiary groups known as auxochromes.

The dyeing of fabrics is dependent upon the nature of the fabric as well as upon that of the dye. Silk and woollen materials may usually be dyed by direct immersion in the solution of the dye, though fabrics of plant origin (such as cotton) are usually unable to absorb the dye until mordanted; i.e. the fabric is impregnated with certain metallic hydroxides when on immersing a lake [link?] is formed with the dye which firmly adheres to the fabric, however, there are certain dyes which will adhere directly to the cotton fabric, the latter being called substantive dyes............

In conclusion, one need hardly repeat the couplet which, so to speak, has been the theme song of this series of articles:

You can make anything from a salve to a star,
(If you only know how), from black coal-tar.

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An Appeal To British Fantasy Fans (Cont.)

real science fiction magazine, The project has been in the air for many months now, and numerous veiled hints have been published concening this eagerly awaited event, for which no definite date has yet been fixed.

If our anticipations are fulfilled, this will prove to be the forerunner of further interesting results in this direction. You will naturally want to hear of these developments, and to receive advance information of the projected magazine, which as the first of its kind in England will merit your whole-hearted support.

I therefore propose, in view of what is to come (providing our expectations are realised), to establish a medium whereby I may keep you informed of growth of the science fiction movement in this country, which I confidentally believe is destined to make great strides in the future. My view is shared by other enthusiasts who are behind me in this project without whose help --- and yours --- it is impossible of achievement.

I propose, with your approval, to publish a journal with a direct appeal to all fantasy fans, which will be distributed to subscribers at regular intervals and serve to keep them in touch with developments as they mature. News -- and views -- of forthcoming stories books, films and other activities in the fantasy field will be presented to you in attractive form. Particular attention will be paid to the efforts to establish science fiction on this side of the Atlantic but every aspect of the movement, both at home and abroad, will be carefully observed.

First, however, I should like to be assured that my proposal will met with your valuable support. If you welcome such a journal -- and I think you do --- I shall be glad if you will notify me as soon as possible, addressing all communications to me at

15, Shere Road, Ilford, Essex.

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This regular feature, of some value we hope to all science fiction enthusiasts may prove of particular interest to those


Presumably as a logical step in the recent more or less definite development of science fiction in England, the last few weeks have seen a minor boom in isolated science fiction stories, features and books.................... A two-part serial running in the June and July "Pearson's Magazine" is a dyed-in-the-wool science fiction work. "ORDEAL BY FIRE" by Francis H. Sibson tells how a terrific natural resevoir of combustible gases under pressure under the earth's surface is pierced and how the resulting conflagration threatens the whole earth..............The scene is laid in 1963 in "CHANGE OF HEART" by"J.M.D.P" in the "Manchester Guardian" of June 25th, when the English and the Japanese are utterly tired of their own countries and plan and execute a reciprocal migration.................John Beynon Harris's "STOWAWAY TO MARS" concluded in the "Passing Show" and is now published in book form................ The "News-Chronicle" revived Wells's "THE MAN WHO COULD WORK MIRACLES" and published it as a five day serial, the first part on June 22nd,....... "AND THE TOWER FELL" by James Peers appeared in the "Daily Herald" for June 26th and described the construction - and destruction -- of a Manhattan building two hundred and twenty stories, high, twice as high as the Empire State building..... ............... The Karloff-Lugosi film "The Invisible Ray" has finally arrived within these shores, though rather unostentatiously, showing as a supporting film at the London premiere of "Klondyke Annie", and experiencing less than a fortnight's run.

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Also recent showing at Manchester and Brighton heralds a quick release, good news for most provincial fans. ................ A recent issue of the "Passing Show" had a further "THE WORLD OF TOMORROW" feature by Ray Cummings ........................ The Western Children's Hour is now serialising H. Rider Haggard's "King Solomon's Mines"................ ....... "POPULAR WIRELESS" for June 6th featured a list of fifty-six inventions of the future arranged by Columbia Broadcasting System (U.S.A.) engineers. Such well-known science fiction amenities as the space-suit, thought projector ray, vibro destructor ray, rocket gun, force screen, etc., were included.............. Among recent science fiction books, is "THE SCARLET VAMPIRE" by Norah Burke, published by Stanley Paul, 7/6. It tells of the trials and tribulations of East European dictators after the next war, fought with poison gases, death rays, etc............. Books with a scientifictional flavour are "EXPLORING THE STRATOSPHERE" by Gerald Heard (Nelson, 3/6), and "OUT OF THE NIGHT" by H.J. Muller, published by Gollancz. This latter discusses eugenics and biology in the world of the future. Dr. Muller, it is interesting to note, carried out the original experiments with X-rays on the drosophila fruit-fly, and obtained the freak specimens that are so often mentioned by the authors of biological stories............... "THE STUFFED MAN" by Anthony Rud, Newnes, 7/6, centres around the activities of a Chinese secret society with the unique way of killing undesirables

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NOVAE TERRAE is produced by members of the NUNEATON SFL, at 2d a single copy, 1/9d. a year's subscription or in U.S.A. 5 cents a single copy, 45 cents a year'subscription

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Hymn Of Hate No. 2 by D.R.Smith

John Russell Fearn

It is an unfortunate characteristic of scientific fiction that many authors know less science than a reference library bookcase, but even among such a class of sub-men Fearn stands out like a carthorse in the Aga Khan's stud. If we are to believe an article he wrote in "Fantasy Magazine" he does know some science but believes that "a truly scientific story loses interest all through". It is incredible that anybody cognizant of the work of such authors as Campbell and Smith should make such a statement seriously, and its more charitable to his intelligence to assume that he is entirely ignorant of science. This assumption is borne out by a later statement in which he says that "only those who dare to deny facts and reach out beyond ever got anywhere", for such a statement could not be made by anyone familiar with the development of any scientific theory. Neither Galileo, Newton, or Einstein denied any facts in postulating their theories of the constitution of the universe, while the same applies to any branch of science, and any theory proposed from the time of the Greek philosophers.

Even with the assumption that his entire knowledge has been gained from scientifiction Fearn's blunders give rise to extremely lurid thoughts about his reasoning. For example, somewhere he read that the sun is hot, and somewhere else that radiant energy is bent by magnetism. His genius combines those two ideas and produces "Earth's Mausoleum" in which an unspecified magnetic force draws all the heat out of the sun and cools it absolutely in a few days, the energy being stored in the walls of a tower on the Moon's surface. Later on this energy is released suddenly turning the moon into a body giving the same effect to the Earth as the sun. I do not think there is one reader of scientific fiction who could not see at least one glaring flaw in this, and most fans must have reeled under the shock of so many inanities in so few sentences.

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Again, in time-travel stories inconsistencies with logic are inevitable, but in "Liners of Time", Fearn so far from making any decent attempt to hide them, seems to go out of his way to make more. As for his conception of the 'time stream' (originally invented by Taine, I believe) as a stream of gas in which vessels could float and be propelled along by direct mechanised reaction, such a collossal absurdity is rare even in a science fiction magazine.

To return to his article in "Fantasy" he says there "I'm better capable of turning out, I hope, interesting fiction than good science." This apparently infers that he believes he can write good fiction, and it must be admitted that as a writer of poor fiction Skidmore has got him beaten. Nevertheless he is fully as bad as the average semi-literate scientific fiction author. Poor characters, dull narrative, poor description, all the characterstics of the average author are there, together with the lack of common sense that caused him to spoil his best story "Mathematica" with its annoying sequel.

Fearn belongs to the over-numerous class of authors who are responsible for the just contempt in which many intelligent people hold scientific fiction, and, in particular the magazines. The sooner his fatuous self-satisfaction collapses and he attempts to correct his major defects, the better it will be for scientfic fiction.

All who are interested interplanetary travel should communicate with Mr. L.J. Johnson, 46, Mill Lane, Liverpool, 13, who will forward them free literature and a copy of the journal of the


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This Side Of The Atlantic (Cont.)

by infecting them with the spores of a fungus that grows extremely quickly in the body, clogging arteries and body cavities, etc..... .......,, "THE BIRDS" by Frank Baker, published by Peter Davies at 7/6d describes the destruction of British civilisation by a kind of Egyptian plague in the form of a swarm of invulnerable birds.....................................

NEXT MONTH : - An enlarged twenty-page issue is planned for AUGUST with outstanding features, as, for example:

Esperanto; Its Relation to Scientifiction by

The inauguration of an occasional department for short

Article by a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society

EDITORIAL (Continued from Page 2)

develops science fiction and all its ramifications., and as long as the British reading public is unable to acquire for the majority of its members, this attitude, so long will science fiction in this country be read only by the few.


Maurice K. Hanson, 95, Mere Road, Leicester, England,
Dennis A. Jacques, 89, Long Shoot, Nuneaton, Warks, Eng.