“My Polar Flights”

Umberto Nobile, the Italian airship builder and pilot, came together with the great Arctic explorer Roald Amundsen to reach and cross the North Pole by air for the first time, in the year 1926. Two years later, on a subsequent expedition, Nobile and his men were shipwrecked. This first part of this volume, entitled “The First Crossing of the Arctic Ocean”, covers the successful voyage of the N1 Norge, known as the Amundsen–Ellsworth–Nobile Polar Expedition. The second part, “The Tragedy of the Italia”, is about twice as long.

Having read My Zeppelins, I thought that this would be of similar interest, and also that it might be best to give General Nobile the chance (as it were) to defend himself against some belittling remarks of Dr Eckener’s regarding his skill as an airshipman.

  • 2024–02–20 The preface ; the first chapter, The Preliminaries of the Expedition ; and a little bit of the second chapter, On the Eve of the Flight. (Chapters are not numbered.)

“My Zeppelins”

Im Zeppelin über Länder und Meere (1949), an autobiographical account of the development of intercontinental airship flight by Hugo Eckener, long–time head of the Zeppelin organization, was abridged and translated into English by Douglas Robinson, published 1958. I found to my sorrow that the local library’s copy, which I had checked out many times, had been discarded ― but I managed to buy it, in order to read it to you. As usual, there is a great deal of my chatter intermingled with the actual material.

  • 2023–11–07 Introduction, and first part of Chapter I, “The Flight of the ZR III Los Angeles
  • 2023–11–21 Remainder of Chapter I, and commencement of Chapter II, “The First Flights of the Graf Zeppelin
  • 2023–12–05 Continuation of Chapter II
  • 2023–12–12 Conclusion of Chapter II, all of Chapter III, “A Sentimental Journey to Egypt”, and the very beginning of Chapter IV, “The Flight Around the World”
  • 2023–12–19 Continuation of Chapter IV
  • 2024–01–05 Conclusion of Chapter IV, and beginning of Chapter V, “The South American Service, 1930―37”
  • 2024–01–09 Conclusion of Chapter V
    Links to a British Pathé Newsreel series showing a trip to South America aboard the Graf Zeppelin : “Flying Down to Rio” Part 1 (not to be confused with the musical film of the same title) ― Part 2Part 3Part 4
  • 2023–01–12 Commencement of Chapter VI, “The Arctic Flight of 1931”, with commentary about, inter alia, Fritjof Nansen’s humanitarian efforts, and Eckener’s undeserved censure on Nobile, with a promise to read the latter’s book My Polar Flights
  • 2024–01–16 Conclusion of Chapter VI ; beginning of Chapter VII, “The Victory of the Zeppelin Concept, 1931―37”
  • 2024–01–19 Conclusion of Chapter VII ; beginning of Chapter VIII, “The Hindenburg” (plus some chatter about the Japanese SLIM lunar landing mission)
  • 2024–01–23 Conclusion of Chapter VIII, and almost all of Chapter IX, “Helium Troubles and a Gloomy Ending”
  • 2024–01–26 After a few minutes of dead air (owing to my failure to un–mute the mic), the conclusion of Chapter IX, and with it the main text ; and the first part of the Appendix, “A Note on the Technology and Development of the Zeppelin Airship”, by Dr–Ing Knut Eckener, son of the author
  • 2024–02–02 Not quite the whole of the remainder of the Appendix
  • 2024–02–06 A short show, just the conclusion of the Appendix, with a promise to start My Polar Flights by Umberto Nobile with a show of its own

“Science–Fiction : The Early Years”

This monumental work by Everett F Bleiler, the compilation of which occupied six years altogether and involved the reading of more than two thousand stories (when we consider the ones the author rejected for inclusion), many of them very difficult to get hold of before the arrival of the Internet and large-scale scanning of old books and periodicals ― and in many cases, that difficulty has not gone away ― attempts to list, categorize, and even summarize the material out of which the literature which we know as science–fiction developed.

Continue reading ““Science–Fiction : The Early Years””

“The Flying Scarab and the Seventh Heaven”

Here we have another story by Rene Mansfield from Popular Electricity magazine. This and “The Sun Victim”, which appeared in The Popular Magazine, are mentioned by Everett Bleiler in Science Fiction : The Early Years ― his comment on this one is “horrible writing”. Possibly I will be able to get my hands on that third story at some future date.

Illustrations below the cut

“A Sherlock of the Skies”

This brief story combines the detective genre with aviation, as the name would imply, but also with wireless, the other wonder of the age. It is thus science fiction, of a sort at least. It appeared in Popular Electricity magazine, 1912 October, over the name of Rene Mansfield.

Illustrations below the cut

Superb Owl Sunday 2023

In celebration of this important American religious festival, I am reading for your delectation, All Men are Brothers by Pearl S Buck. And what is that? It’s a translation of the 14th–century Chinese adventure novel The Water Margin. There are lots of Chinese names and by–names, very challenging to keep track of, along with violence, occasional cannibalism, and minor supernatural elements ― all kinds of fun! And in the 02z00 hour I’ll be calling in to aNONradio OpenVoIP, in case you want to talk with me about the story.

A Journey in Other Worlds

Best–selling books written by very wealthy people are usually along the lines of “The Secrets of My Success” ― but this is a space–travel story!

A Romance of the Future

John Jacob Astor IV (1894)

  • HNtW 092 (2021–08–13) : Author’s Preface, Book I Chapters I―IV
  • HNtW 093 (2021–08–17) : Introduction by SM Stirling for a reprint edition (following the main content of the show, which is Chapter II of The Castle of Otranto)
  • HNtW 094 (2021–09–02) Book I, Chapters V―VII
Continue reading “A Journey in Other Worlds”

The Castle of Otranto

This is regarded as the first “Gothic novel” of terror and suspense. I had trouble restraining my laughter all through.

Horace Walpole (1764)

  • HNtW 091 (2021–08–10) : Author’s Preface and Chapter I
  • HNtW 093 (2021–08–17) : Chapter II (plus an introduction to A Journey in Other Worlds, written by SM Stirling)
  • HNtW 096 (2021–09–10) : Chapter III ― we are now on even numbers, because of the special episode 95 for the 25th anniversary of aNONradio

For those who wish to follow along at home, the text is available on Project Gutenberg.

Pickwickians Abroad

Dier Treblig Nhoj

This book, published in 1913 (but also dated 1989, in accord with the story) to benefit the International Institute of Shanghai, was the generous gift of well-known leading SDF member smj. The author, alias John Gilbert Reid, was only 14 at the time of publication, & one supposes much of the work was written at least a year or two before that.

My plan is to present one chapter per show of this intriguing work, with something closer to our usual theme rounding out the show.

Continue reading “Pickwickians Abroad”

The Warlord of Mars

Edgar Rice Burroughs

This further sequel to A Princess of Mars and The Gods of Mars has no preface to explain how the author came into possession of Captain Carter’s story. Rather, it picks up directly where the previous book left off.


Continue reading “The Warlord of Mars”