SF Signal
SF Signal
A community for science fiction fans!

Lost Classic Comes to Life

  • Feb 27, 2011
The Great Romance
By The Inhabitant
Edited by Dominic Alessio
University of Nebraska Press/Bison Books

Summary: A second section of a short novel originally published in New Zealand in 1881 is recently discovered. This short story contains some of the earliest hard sf ever written in the English language.

Summary the 2nd: John Brenton Hope revolutionizes the 'future' of the 1950s with his mechanical design genius and then drinks a suspended animation potion. He reawakens in the far future of 2143. Humanity is now telepathic and lives a utopian existence.  Hope falls in love, makes friends, is recognized for his genius and leads the first interplanetary expedition to Venus, where he meets and befriends the intelligent natives.

Summary the 3rd: Dominic Allessio writes an introduction that ably explores the history of this newly recovered tale, provides an excellent literary CV - including plausible identities of its anonymous author and explores the numerous ground-breaking (for 1881) concepts detailed in the text.

HIghlights: Aerobraking, the physical effects of zero-G, and an astounding (for 1881) exposition on celestial mechanics.

Key Themes: Interplanetary travelogue, future utopias, telepathy

Datedness: cobwebs and bookworms in this one

Audience: If you can handle Mary Shelly, HG Wells, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, this ought to be a piece of cake. If you are into steampunk - REAL steampunk, give it a read.  If you are a student or historian of science fiction, its a must.

Fan Rating: Would be relatively low, except for the great historical importance.

Special Note: Alessio's introduction deserves four or more walking sticks if taken as a separate piece.

What did you think of this review?

Fun to Read
Post a Comment
February 28, 2011
This is a classic that I've been meaning to read! Even given the datedness :P Thanks for sharing!
About the reviewer
Steve Davidson ()
Ranked #2
Consider the Source

Use Trust Points to see how much you can rely on this review.

Your ratings:
rate more to improve this
About this book


The Great Romance is a science fiction and Utopian novel, first published in New Zealand in 1881. It had a significant influence on Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward, the most popular Utopian novel of the late nineteenth century.

In this anonymous work, first published in New Zealand in 1881 and lost until the 1990s, John Hope puts himself to sleep in 1950 and wakes up in 2143 to find that everyone is telepathic, and evil is almost unknown. He heads off to colonize Venus and soon encounters aliens, with whom he develops a daringly intimate relationship. Despite paltry characterization and amateurish prose by the standards of any century, Hope's story includes surprisingly advanced ideas. This may have been the first time that anyone described space suits, air locks or the difficulties of landing on an asteroid or entering a planetary atmosphere. Alessio argues in his almost obsessively analytical introduction that the story may have had considerable, indirect influence on one of the most widely read books of the 19th century, Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward. This reprint will be of considerable interest to specialist scholars of science fiction, if not the casual reader.(May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
view wiki


First to Review

"Lost Classic Comes to Life"
© 2015 Lunch.com, LLC All Rights Reserved
Lunch.com - Relevant reviews by real people.
SF Signal is part of the Lunch.com Network - Get this on your site
This is you!
Ranked #
Last login
Member since