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Glossary and Character Taxonomy Breakdown by Country of Origin Bibliography Table of Contents The Best of the Encyclopedia
Milford, Mac. Mac Milford was created by the German author Oskar Hoffmann and appeared in Mac Milfords Reisen im Universum (1902-3).
Mac Milford is a Scottish astronomer, scientist, and inventor who wants to be the first man not only to travel into space but also to land on the moon. Toward this end he creates three separate methods for space travel; he is aware that space travel is dangerous and develops redundancies for his ship. One method is a teleportation device which “electrolyzes” organic matter, disintegrates it, and then reconstructs it elsewhere, regardless of distance. Milford eventually decides to use another, “cozier” method: his “Anti-Gravitation Vehicle,” the Sirius.
But Milford is not alone in his trip to the moon and is not the first man into space. An American named “Lowell,” after the American astronomer Percival Lowell, has gone to the moon in a “magnetic dragonflyer.” Milford and Mary follow him, launching the Sirius from a mountaintop. They navigate their way through a swarm of shooting stars and then find a new, small moon, which Milford names “Liliput.” Liliput is inhabited by “ape men,” the Darwinian missing link. Milford and Mary leave Liliput and discover, in space, the remains of a crumpled balloon and its passengers, all dead from the cold and the vacuum. (Milford and Mary are a bit more warmly dressed). The balloon was caught up in the “Anti-Gravitation Cathode” of Sirius and were dragged into space. Further out the Sirius reaches the Lagrange Point, the area between the Earth and the Moon at which the gravity of the Earth and of the moon cancel each other out. The Cathode stops working at the Lagrange Point, and the Sirius is trapped, with the only means of escaping being by venting “precious anti-magnetic fluid.” This cancels out Earth's gravity and allows the Sirius to continue on its way to the moon.
There they find a race of beings, the Selenites, who were once at humanity's level of evolutionary development but who degenerated. Unfortunately, Lowell reached the moon before them, fought the Selenites, defeated them and made himself their ruler, and Milford and Mary are forced to flee from him and the Selenites. Milford and Mary find an underground world, with a valley of diamonds, a lake, a crumbling cave, and a forest of giant mushrooms. Eventually Milford and Mary escape from the moon and return, in the Sirius, to Earth. They land in England, but they are stopped from reporting to the King of England by the police, who do not believe their story of going to the moon and lock them in a sanitarium. Milford and Mary are rescued by Milford's servant, who springs them from the sanitarium with the help of the Sirius.
* I'm including Mac Milfords Reisen im Universum in the Best of the Encyclopedia category because of its historical importance. Mac Milfords certainly has imaginative content in it--multiple different methods of space travel is an approach not often used even today--but historically it was the first second major modern German science fiction series. There's been German science fiction since the 17th century, but modern German sf begins with Kurd Laßwitz and his Auf zwei Planeten (1897)--and then Oskar Hoffmann and Mac Milfords, and Mac Milfords proved to be as influential on German sf, particular the High Pulp adventure strain of it as later embodied by Perry Rhodan, with Auf zwei Planeten being ultimately more influential on German Art sf. Stylistically Mac Milfords is more concerned with describing scientific and technological advances than in thoughtfully describing its characters' personalities--a common flaw in pre-WW2 science fiction, American and international--but whatever Mac Milfords lacks as fiction it remains historical important.
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