On two planets

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On two planets (original edition, Emil Felber, Weimar 1897)
Title page of the first volume of On Two Planets from 1897

On two planets is a science fiction novel by the German writer Kurd Laßwitz , published in 1897 . The plot describes a reality in which Martians and Earthlings meet at the end of the 19th century. Furthermore, the consequences and the resulting conflicts of this initially friendly encounter are shown. Their turnaround is not least due to the fact that the aliens on their planet have not known a war for generations .


At the end of the 19th century, the director of the scientific airship department, Hugo Torm, the naturalist Josef Saltner and the astronomer Grunthe discovered the North Pole in a hot air balloon . At the place where, according to their calculations, the pole should be, they find an apparently artificial island with an incomplete map of the earth on its surface. After a short interview, the three men decide that these are obviously inhabitants of a non-human nature. After Saltner photographs the card and Torm has sent a carrier pigeon with the film, the men try to escape the unknown power. This project is doomed to failure by an inexplicable, ever-increasing suction over the island. It quickly becomes clear that the inhabitants of the island, creatures from Mars , Martians, are responsible for this phenomenon . The suction was not activated deliberately because of the balloon, but because a ship is being transported from the island to the space station above the pole. The scientists were drawn into this suction controlled from the island. After the ship reaches the space station, the suction is turned off and the balloon falls into the water near the island. The Martians leave their base to rescue the men in the triple gravity of the earth.

When Grunthe and Saltner wake up, they find each other well cared for, but Torm seems lost because he has not been found. Two Martian women, La and Se, look after them. Saltner very much agrees with this treatment, while Grunthe is distant. After brief conversation difficulties (the Martians had only gotten to know Inuit so far ), the people received from their hosts all the objects that could be recovered from the crash site, including a book they did not know about, a German-Martian dictionary. The fact that this book bears the handwriting of Friedrich Ell, a friend of Torms, raises the suspicion that he was already in contact with the Martians. Grunthe recalls that Ell was the driving force behind the expedition, so could expect them to meet the Martians.

At this point, neither of the two is clear about the motives of the Martians. They are very friendly and helpful. They tell of their home planet, which has known no war for centuries, and they boast of martianity - their mark, the reason and culture of the Martians. They are described as highly intelligent people who have mastered all techniques in order to fully focus on their education. However, the Martians are fascinated by the solar energy that the earth has - many times as much as on their home planet.

Saltner and Grunthe have the desire to go to their home countries, which the Martians dismissed but not denied. The reason for this is that the Martians are waiting for the arrival of a Martian ambassador who wants to officially greet the people. They expect new orders from him. While they wait for the ambassador, a loving relationship develops between Saltner and La. However, since the Martians view people a little condescendingly and love relationships among Martians do not seem to be of an exclusive nature, the carrying force of this development is defused. During an excursion, the Martians discover that Torn was parachuting before the balloon hit. So he could still be alive.

The two people are invited to the space station to watch a ship depart for Mars. In doing so, they notice the much higher level of development of the Martian technology, especially the ability to change the gravity of any object, which is also the main propulsion energy of their spaceships.

After a few weeks, Ill, a Martian leader, appears and invites the two people to come to Mars. The North Pole Island will be deserted at this time due to the harsh weather conditions - so the two people actually have no choice. After a dispute with Grunthe, in which he is defeated by the Martian despite his high intelligence, a compromise is found: Grunthe is brought to Germany in a flying ship, Saltner will go to Mars with him.

At the same time, the events surrounding Friedrich Ell, the author of the dictionary, and Isma Torm, wife of the apparently lost Hugo Torm, in the German town of Fridau will be examined. Ell, whose father All was the sole survivor of one of the first Martian landings, keeps his identity as a half-Martian undercover. It quickly becomes clear that he loves Isma, but respects the relationship between her and Hugo.

When the two friends meet, the telegram is delivered to the carrier pigeon. The two now know that the expedition group hit the island.

A few days later, Grunthe and Ill appear in Fridau - Ill explains Ell about his parentage and that All was Ill's brother. So Ill is Ell's uncle.

Isma wants to find Torn, Ell goes with her, Grunthe stays. Shortly before the North Pole there is an accident with an English warship, the Martian flying ship can no longer return to Germany - Ell and Irma now have to visit Mars.

Torn survived because he was taken in by Inuits. Through a martian apparatus that can look back in time, the protagonists see that it is found by an English warship.

It took a few months before the North Pole station was approached again. The relationship between La and Saltner intensifies. However, she believes that because of her ancestry, she cannot be united with him. Isma becomes ill and cannot take the first ship to earth straight away. Torn then tries to get to Mars himself through Ell, in order to finally see his wife after more than a year.

The Martians then send ambassadors to every European city to introduce themselves. Several conditions for an alliance between Martians and humans are imposed by the Martians, which England in particular does not accept.

The Martians own ships with which they make themselves invulnerable to conventional projectiles - in this way they defeat the English without losing their own. The world makes an alliance with the Martians.

The initial peace with the European countries is destroyed by the fact that they declare war on one another over the colonies of England . The Martians now take the politics of the world into their hands.

A year later, Torn arrives in Germany and finds his country changed by the Martians. He doesn't dare to visit his wife because he doesn't know what her relationship is to him now. The initially peaceful approach of the Martians has changed due to a political change on their home planet and the resistance among the people is hardening.

After Saltner escaped capture by saving La, he married her. La changed her mind, realizing that she couldn't be without him.

The resistance of mankind is ultimately successful. The Martians are driven away. Politics on Mars is changing, a new comprehensive peace offer without Martian interference is dispatched. Ell dies on arrival, but knowing full well that the people and the Martians will finally live in real peace according to his wishes .


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