Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mars from the Turn of the Last Century


As I read through Victorian periodicals, which I am wont to do, I am always amazed by just how much time was spent speculating about the planet Mars and, in particular, the life thereon. These two images come from a 1907 article on the latest thinking about the red planet. The image above is captioned: "This is perhaps the chief diversion of the Martians. If Martians exist, it is reasonable to assume that they possess a civilisation mush higher than our own. Our artist has given reign to his imagination in this remarkable picture, and shows a group of Martians as distant spectators of one of our street scenes, the representation of which is shown in Mars reflected upon a screen by an enormously powerful optical instrument". Yes, clearly, the best thing that this higher caste of being can think of to do is to sit around watching us.

The image below is captioned: "The Martians as represented by an American medium. An American spiritualist pretend to have journeyed 'in spirit' to Mars, and declares that there are two species of Martians - huge giants, ugly and hairy, and smaller beings who can crawl up walls like flies." And of course the human being illustrated, reaching out to make first contact with the shake of a hand, is wearing a bowler hat. Why wouldn't he be!

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