Kaluga: 4-ia Sovetskaia tipografiia, 1920. , X, 188 pp. 24,5x17 cm. In original printed wrappers. Small fragments of covers and spine lost, lack of blank corner of p. 89, but clean internally.
First complete edition. Extremely rare.
This is a science fiction novel written by the Russian father of rocketry Konstantin Tsiolkovsky (1857-1935) based on his calculations on the only possible vehicle for the space exploration. It couldn’t be just a fantasy in the hands of the genius scholar, Tsiolkovsky explained in detail how to make this travel possible. In contrast to his early novel “Na lune” (On the Moon; 1893), Tsiolkovsky was much further in his research and had already compiled the work ‘The Exploration of Cosmic Space by Means of Reaction Devices’. The plot showed how the real research
on starship’s construction was developing. He started with egg-shaped spacecraft (represented in the mentioned work) and then transformed it to “bobbin” vehicle. An idea of the book and its ten chapters appeared in 1896, but it was finally composed 20 years later. The magazine ‘Nature and Humans’ published a part of work in 1916 but was closed earlier before the whole novel was printed. In 1920 he decided to take matters into his own hands and had published the book using his own money in his native town of Kaluga.
Tsiolkovsky knew that science fiction could popularize serious scientific works. The events in the novel take place in 2017 when the full-metal airships and airplanes should be built and actively used. In the Himalayan mountains the group of scientists from the different epochs live in the remote castle, giving lectures and working on inventions (the abridged list include Newton, Benjamin Franklin, Laplace and Galilei), when the main character (aka Tsiolkovsky) pays the visit to them claiming he has figured out the space travel. The rest of the book gives the specific details and calculations, which in the end make a very unusual mix of science and fiction. The book was published on the eve of a Soviet era showing what people may strive for in the future.
The only copy located at the British Library.