A Honeymoon in Space is a 1901 novel by George Griffith. It was originally serialized in abridged form in Pearson's Magazine in 1900 under the title Stories of Other Worlds. The scientific romance story depicts a tour of the Solar System, a type of story that was in vogue at the time.

A Honeymoon in Space
An illustration of a man and woman in Victorian clothing sharing a toast while looking out the window of a spaceship.
Cover of the first edition
AuthorGeorge Griffith
IllustratorsHarold H. Piffard (frontispiece)
Stanley L. Wood (illustrations)
GenreScience fiction
PublisherC. Arthur Pearson Ltd
Publication date
1900 (abridged serial)
1901 (complete novel)
Publication placeUnited Kingdom

Reviewers' opinions on the book's literary quality have varied, while scholars have viewed it as a historically significant work. Important themes identified by critics include Darwinian evolution—which had a significant influence on a large number of works of fiction around the turn of the century—and imperialism.


 Neptune in fictionUranus in fictionSaturn in fictionJupiter in fictionMars in fictionEarth in science fictionMoon in science fictionVenus in fictionMercury in fiction
The narrative visits various locations in the Solar System. Clicking on a planet leads to the article about its depiction in fiction.

Chapter I–V


British aristocrat Rollo Lenox Smeaton Aubrey, the Earl of Redgrave, is in love with an American woman by the name of Lilla Zaidie Rennick, who is engaged to marry another man.[1][2]: 150 [3] Redgrave intercepts the ocean liner carrying Zaidie to her fiancé in England in the Astronef, a spaceship he built from designs made by her deceased father, Dr. Rennick.[3][4] The Astronef is powered by a form of anti-gravity called the "R. Force", developed by Dr. Rennick with the help of funding from Redgrave.[3][4][5]: 112, 265  Redgrave lures Zaidie—along with her chaperone—on board the Astronef and then kidnaps her by taking off at great speed to Washington, D.C., where he delivers a top secret alliance treaty from Britain to the president.[3][4] In delivering the treaty, Redgrave prevents the outbreak of a World War against France and Russia.[5]: 112 [6] Zaidie and Redgrave marry on board the Astronef, hovering above the Capitol.[3][7]

Chapter VI–VIII: "A Visit to the Moon"

Original frontispiece by Harold H. Piffard

The newlyweds set out on their honeymoon in the Astronef, equipped with spacesuits and accompanied by the ship's pilot Murgatroyd, and make their first stop at the Moon.[3][4][8] There, they discover the ruins of a civilization and the skeletons of giants.[5]: 244 [9][10] What little life still exists on the Moon has devolved to a beast-like state and is found only in the deepest craters where small amounts of air and water remain.[3][9][11]

Chapter IX–XI: "The World of the War God"


From the Moon they go to Mars.[3] Upon arrival, they are immediately attacked by an aerial fleet of Martians.[3][4] After defeating the enemy aircraft,[4][10] they land and discover that the Martians speak English. The reason, it turns out, is that Martians have evolved in parallel with humans and recognized English as the "most convenient" language.[2]: 159 [3][5]: 223  The Martians are giant humanoids, and they have rejected emotions in favour of pure intellect.[3][9][12] Zaidie's beauty intrigues one of the Martians whose baser instincts thus begin to re-emerge; disgusted, she shoots him dead in cold blood.[2]: 155 [11]

Chapter XII–XIII: "A Glimpse of the Sinless Star"


The couple's next stop is Venus,[3] which is a paradise populated by angelic beings.[9][13] The Venusians have progressed to a state of spiritual enlightenment and are entirely without sin.[9][12] While they do not speak English like the Martians, they use music to communicate, and Zaidie is thus able to make herself understood through singing.[3][5]: 223–224 [14] Worried that they may be a corrupting influence on the pure and innocent Venusians, Zaidie and Redgrave decide to depart.[4][9]

Chapter XIV–XVI: "The World of the Crystal Cities"


Jupiter is found to be a still-developing and uninhabitable volcanic wasteland, and the lovers go to the planet's moon Ganymede instead.[9][12] There they find a highly advanced civilization living in domed cities to withstand the cold and dry environmental conditions of the moon.[3][4][8] The inhabitants of Ganymede are superintelligent and near-divine.[9][12] They show the Earthlings the moon's evolutionary history on an immensely more advanced version of a cinematograph and join them on an expedition into the Jovian atmosphere.[4][5]: 285 

Chapter XVII–XVIII: "In Saturn's Realms"


The final destination for the honeymooners is Saturn.[4] The planet is home to a diverse ecosystem of bizarre lifeforms.[3][11] The atmosphere is so thick that giant airborne jellyfish-like creatures are capable of living in it while roaming for prey.[4][5]: 244 [9] The life found here is more primitive near the equator, and grows increasingly more advanced as the voyagers approach the planet's south pole, starting with marine reptiles resembling those of Earth's Mesozoic era and culminating with cavepeople.[11][12]

Chapter XIX–XX: "Homeward Bound"


On the journey back to Earth, the Astronef is caught by the gravitational pull of a dark star. In breaking free, the ship's anti-gravity engines cause two such dark stars to collide, resulting in the creation of a new solar system.[3][9] The travellers make a brief stop on Ceres.[1] As their fuel is running out, they scramble to get back to Earth, which brings them dangerously close to the Sun. They eventually arrive safely back home.[4][11]


Author George Griffith, seen here on the frontispiece of his 1901 book In an Unknown Prison Land

George Griffith wrote the novel while on a trip to Australia.[15] Science fiction historian Sam Moskowitz posits that the idea may have been inspired by Camille Flammarion and Sylvie Pétiaux spending their honeymoon in a balloon in 1874, which Flammarion wrote about.[15][16] The interplanetary tours in W. S. Lach-Szyrma's 1883 novel Aleriel, or A Voyage to Other Worlds and John Jacob Astor IV's 1894 novel A Journey in Other Worlds are identified by Brian Stableford as other likely influences.[17][18] A Honeymoon in Space was a return to the scientific romance genre that Griffith had worked on earlier in his writing career (for instance the 1893 novel The Angel of the Revolution), having spent the preceding years mostly writing works in other genres.[19]: 104, 107 

Publication history


The narrative was first published as an abridged six-part-serial in Pearson's Magazine under the title Stories of Other Worlds in 1900.[1][15] It was accompanied by a total of 25 illustrations by Stanley L. Wood.[20] The six instalments were:[1][21]

  • "A Visit to the Moon" (January 1900)
  • "The World of the War God" (February 1900)
  • "A Glimpse of the Sinless Star" (March 1900)
  • "The World of the Crystal Cities" (April 1900)
  • "In Saturn's Realms" (May 1900)
  • "Homeward Bound" (July 1900)[a]

These stories were later assembled alongside additional material that had been cut for publication in Pearson's Magazine—roughly a quarter of the total length of the work, consisting of the earliest portion of the story—and published in novel form as A Honeymoon in Space in 1901.[1][15][20] The book had seven illustrations by Wood and a frontispiece by Harold H. Piffard.[1][20]

The magazine version was reprinted in the anthology Worlds Apart: An Anthology of Interplanetary Fiction in 1972 and the novel version was republished in 1975.[20] In the year 2000, the abridged magazine version and the complete novel version were combined in a single volume and published under the title Stories of Other Worlds and A Honeymoon in Space.[21]



Critical opinions on the book's quality have varied. Moskowitz, in the 1976 book Strange Horizons: The Spectrum of Science Fiction, describes the novel as one of Griffith's most engaging.[15] Stableford, in the 1985 book Scientific Romance in Britain, 1890–1950, opines that "it is an absurd conglomerate of a book, whose silliness is accentuated by a lack of literary skill, but it has an undeniable panache".[18] E. F. Bleiler, in the 1990 reference work Science-Fiction: The Early Years, calls Griffith "historically important, but a bad writer" and dismisses the story as infantile.[3] Don D'Ammassa, in his 2005 Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, calls the book "a kitchen sink space adventure whose scientific basis was unsound even for its time", while acknowledging that he nevertheless found the depictions of the Martians and Venusians interesting.[23] In a 2005 review, Robert Reginald and Douglas Menville write that "the book's portrayal of alien civilizations is quite compelling".[4]



Place in science fiction history


No generalization in terms of specific influences seems adequate or significant; rather, one may judge Griffith to exemplify the often conflicting attitudes with which the popular imagination tried to comprehend the universe and technology that had already destroyed the old orders but had not yet established a satisfying new basis for the twentieth century.

Neil Barron, Anatomy of Wonder: A Critical Guide to Science Fiction (1981)[8]

David Langford, writing in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, identifies the book as belonging to the tradition of fictional "Grand Tour" journeys traversing the Solar System.[24] Stableford adds that among these stories, A Honeymoon in Space was one of the first where "scientific imagination came to outweigh religious imagination as a source of inspiration".[9] Neil Barron, in the 1981 edition of Anatomy of Wonder: A Critical Guide to Science Fiction, says that the book is historically important inasmuch as it serves as a record of what the other planets were imagined to be like at the time.[8] Moskowitz argues in the introduction to the 1968 anthology Science Fiction by Gaslight that Griffith was ahead of his time in displaying "a rebellion against confinement of ideas", while calling the underlying scientific basis of the book "weak in particulars, but conceptually strong in imparting the scope of science fiction".[1] Stableford comments that inasmuch as little in the story is wholly original to Griffith—aspects being variously traceable to earlier fiction by authors such as Jules Verne and Lach-Szyrma and scientific speculation by the likes of Flammarion and Herbert Spencer—the story serves as an archetypal example of the scientific romance genre.[18]

The "breathing dresses" may be the first space suits in fiction.

The book is also, says science fiction scholar Gary Westfahl, sometimes considered one of the forerunners of the space opera subgenre of science fiction that flourished in the later era of the science fiction magazines, alongside such works as Garrett P. Serviss' 1898 novel Edison's Conquest of Mars.[25] According to astrophysicist Andrew May, Griffith's "breathing dresses" may be the first space suits in fiction.[26] The Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction also cites the book (and its component short stories) as providing the first known use of several terms in science fiction, including "earthborn", "homeworld", and "space explorer", as well as "vessel" in the sense of a spaceship.[27]

Science fiction critic Robert Crossley [Wikidata], in the 2011 non-fiction book Imagining Mars: A Literary History, categorizes the book among a group of works from around the turn of the century which he dubs "masculinist fantasies"—works characterized by standing in fundamental opposition to works of feminist science fiction such as the 1893 novel Unveiling a Parallel: A Romance by Alice Ilgenfritz Jones and Ella Robinson Merchant [ca]. Crossley comments that while A Honeymoon in Space does not feature any alien princesses for the hero to court—unlike other works in the same tradition—Zaidie serves the same function within the narrative. In Crossley's view, characters embodying this archetype "translate the antifeminist cultural assumptions of the authors into extraterrestrial fantasy".[2]: 149–150 

Darwinian evolution


One of the central themes of the book is evolution by Charles Darwin's model of natural selection.[11][12] Redgrave is explicitly a proponent of Darwin's ideas and provides explanations for the creatures they encounter in those terms.[28]: 378  The narrative depicts different worlds in various stages of their evolutionary history. Jupiter is primordial and has not yet developed the necessary conditions for life to exist. Saturn exhibits a spectrum of prehistoric lifeforms ranging from ancient reptiles to primitive humanoids. Mars and the Moon are in an earlier and later stage of decline, respectively.[11][12] According to Barron, the idea of the survival of the fittest combined with the decline and ultimate death of planets constitutes "the cornerstone of [Griffith's] cosmic philosophy".[8] Mars in particular exemplifies the Darwinian theme: the Martians encountered in the story belong to the last surviving race that outcompeted the others as the planet's available resources dwindled. As a result, the Martians that remain are ruthless and unfeeling "over-civilized savages" in possession of highly advanced weaponry but little in the way of humanity.[11][12][28]: 378–379  David Darling and Karl Siegfried Guthke [de] both identify Venus and Ganymede as exceptions to the overarching scheme of worlds in various evolutionary stages from early rise to final decline.[12][28]: 378–379  Life on Venus has progressed not in terms of biology but theology, achieving a higher spiritual state; both authors draw parallels with the later portrayal of Venusians in C. S. Lewis' 1943 novel Perelandra.[12][28]: 378  Life on Ganymede, on the other hand, has overcome the struggle for survival by technological advancement and enabled the cultivation of a society based on rationality and morality.[12][28]: 379 

The influence Darwin's ideas had in this era on fiction in general, and science fiction in particular, can be found in the works of numerous authors besides Griffith.[2]: 161 [28]: 368 [29]: 744–745  The two most historically significant science fiction examples, according to Guthke, are H. G. Wells' 1897 novel The War of the Worlds and Kurd Lasswitz' 1897 novel Auf Zwei Planeten.[28]: 368  Other examples include Astor's A Journey in Other Worlds and Gustavus W. Pope's 1894 novel Journey to Mars.[28]: 369–370  On the topic of Darwinian evolution in A Honeymoon in Space, Stableford suggests that "had Griffith read his Flammarion more attentively, or even his Wells, he might have done much more" instead of mainly representing aliens as variations on humans.[9] The unease many in this time period felt towards the implications of Darwin's teachings as they relate to humanity is reflected in the book: Zaidie objects to Darwin's book title The Descent of Man, saying "We—especially the women—have ascended from that sort of thing, if there is any truth in the story at all; though personally, I must say I prefer dear old Mother Eve", and thereby rejecting the biological explanation for humanity's origin in favour of the Biblical one.[2]: 150 [11][29]: 748  Crossley also comments that the influence of Darwin in the extraterrestrial fiction of this era included not only the original concept of Darwinian evolution but also the later notion of social Darwinism.[2]: 157, 161 



[The book] follows the theory that, while peaceful human-type alien races can be accepted as Man's equals (so long as their skin is white), anything ugly or really alien in appearance must be no more than an animal and may therefore be destroyed without compunction. There is no doubt that this idea stems from feelings of white imperialist superiority, an assumption that one has a God-given right to enslave or kill any lesser being than oneself.

Chris Morgan, The Shape of Futures Past: The Story of Prediction (1980)[30]

According to Barron, Griffith's negative outlook on the future of the Earth is overshadowed by what he calls "jingoistic and racist themes". One of the principal such themes Barron identifies is the position of dominance ascribed to English-speaking people in general and the British in particular.[8] Thomas D. Clareson, in the 1984 reference work Science Fiction in America, 1870s–1930s: An Annotated Bibliography of Primary Sources, likewise writes that "The idea of the supremacy of the Anglo-Saxon people is the cornerstone of [Griffith's] thinking".[7] Crossley comments that the explanation given in the story for the Martians speaking English is an example of the kind of Anglocentric cultural attitudes that had previously been the subject of satire in Wells' The War of the Worlds.[2]: 159 

Iwan Rhys Morus [Wikidata], in the 2022 book How the Victorians Took Us to the Moon, writes that the exploration of space in the story reveals the influence of imperialism through the apparent desire to conquer alien worlds. On the subject, Morus notes that the description of the fictional spaceship bears more resemblance to the warships of the era than to either existing airships or the powered flying machines that were being developed at the time.[10] Crossley views the remorseless killing of a Martian by an American heroine as a parallel to the history of US westward expansion that "suggests a smoothly allegorical justification of the removal, by death and relocation, of the indigenous people of the American prairies for the convenience of Anglo-Saxon pioneers".[2]: 155  The identification with imperialism is also present in the text itself; Crossley notes that Zaidie's suggestion that the Earthlings take Mars by force, should the Martians not be open to sharing it freely, is labeled "the new American imperialism" by Redgrave.[2]: 156 

See also



  1. ^ Intended for June, but delayed one month due to a plague outbreak.[1] The June 1900 issue of Pearson's Magazine bore a note from the editor reading "We regret that we are unable to publish this month the last instalment of these stories. Mr. Griffith was despatched on a special commission to New Caledonia where he has been delayed for some months by an outbreak of the plague and, in consequence, has been unable to forward the manuscript in time for publication."[22]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Sam, Moskowitz, ed. (1968). "Introduction: A History of Science Fiction in the Popular Magazines, 1891–1911". Science Fiction by Gaslight: A History and Anthology of Science Fiction in the Popular Magazines, 1891–1911. World Publishing Company. p. 38. OCLC 160292.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Crossley, Robert (2011). "Masculinist Fantasies". Imagining Mars: A Literary History. Wesleyan University Press. pp. 149–150, 155–157, 159, 161–162. ISBN 978-0-8195-7105-2.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Bleiler, Everett Franklin (1990). "Griffith, George (i.e., George Chetwynd Griffith-Jones, 1857–1906)". Science-fiction, the Early Years: A Full Description of More Than 3,000 Science-fiction Stories from Earliest Times to the Appearance of the Genre Magazines in 1930: with Author, Title, and Motif Indexes. With the assistance of Richard J. Bleiler. Kent State University Press. pp. 302, 306. ISBN 978-0-87338-416-2.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Reginald, Robert; Menville, Douglas (2005). Classics of Fantastic Literature: Selected Review Essays. Wildside Press LLC. p. 74. ISBN 978-0-8095-1918-7.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Bailey, James Osler (1972) [1947]. Pilgrims Through Space and Time: Trends and Patterns in Scientific and Utopian Fiction. Greenwood Press. pp. 112, 223–224, 244, 265, 285. ISBN 978-0-8371-6323-9.
  6. ^ Barron, Neil (1987) [1976]. Anatomy of Wonder: A Critical Guide to Science Fiction (Third ed.). Bowker. p. 42. ISBN 978-0-8352-2312-6.
  7. ^ a b Clareson, Thomas D. (1984). Science Fiction in America, 1870s–1930s: An Annotated Bibliography of Primary Sources. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. pp. 122–123. ISBN 978-0-313-23169-8.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Barron, Neil (1981) [1976]. "A Honeymoon in Space". Anatomy of Wonder: A Critical Guide to Science Fiction (Second ed.). Bowker. pp. 56–57. ISBN 978-0-8352-1339-4. Griffith fashions an episodic novel still important historically because it reveals what the popular imagination of the period thought the remainder of the solar system to be like.
    No generalization in terms of specific influences seems adequate or significant; rather, one may judge Griffith to exemplify the often conflicting attitudes with which the popular imagination tried to comprehend the universe and technology that had already destroyed the old orders but had not yet established a satisfying new basis for the twentieth century.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Stableford, Brian M. (2006). "The Biology and Sociology of Alien Worlds". Space, Time, and Infinity: Essays on Fantastic Literature. Wildside Press LLC. pp. 53–56. ISBN 978-0-8095-1911-8.
  10. ^ a b c Morus, Iwan Rhys (2022). "Flying High". How the Victorians Took Us to the Moon: The Story of the Nineteenth-Century Innovators Who Forged the Future. Icon Books. ISBN 978-1-78578-929-8.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i McNabb, John (2012). "Scientific Romances: George Griffith". Dissent with Modification: Human Origins, Palaeolithic Archaeology and Evolutionary Anthropology in Britain 1859–1901. Archaeopress Publishing Ltd. pp. 317–318. ISBN 978-1-78491-078-5.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k
  13. ^ Stableford, Brian (2006). "Venus". Science Fact and Science Fiction: An Encyclopedia. Taylor & Francis. p. 547. ISBN 978-0-415-97460-8.
  14. ^ Davies, H. Neville (1967). "Bishop Godwin's 'Lunatique Language'". Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes. 30 (1). University of Chicago Press: 315–316. doi:10.2307/750747. eISSN 2044-0014. ISSN 0075-4390. JSTOR 750747. S2CID 195050037.
  15. ^ a b c d e Moskowitz, Sam (1976). "War: Warriors of If". Strange Horizons: The Spectrum of Science Fiction. New York: Scribner. p. 213. ISBN 978-0-684-14774-1.
  16. ^ Sheehan, William (2014). "Editor's preface". Camille Flammarion's The Planet Mars: As Translated by Patrick Moore. Springer. p. vii. ISBN 978-3-319-09641-4.
  17. ^ Stableford, Brian (2004) [1976]. "A Honeymoon in Space". In Barron, Neil (ed.). Anatomy of Wonder: A Critical Guide to Science Fiction (5th ed.). Westport, Connecticut: Libraries unlimited. p. 222. ISBN 978-1-59158-171-0.
  18. ^ a b c Stableford, Brian (1985). "George Griffith". Scientific Romance in Britain, 1890–1950. New York: St. Martin's Press. pp. 52–53. ISBN 978-0-312-70305-9.
  19. ^ Harris-Fain, Darren (1997). "George Griffith". British Fantasy and Science-fiction Writers Before World War I. Dictionary of Literary Biography No. 178. Gale Research. pp. 103–108. ISBN 978-0-8103-9941-9.
  20. ^ a b c d Locke, George (1975). Voyages in Space: A Bibliography of Interplanetary Fiction, 1801–1914. Ferret Fantasy Limited. pp. 31–32. ISBN 978-0-904997-01-9.
  21. ^ a b Eggeling, John; Clute, John (2022). "Griffith, George". In Clute, John; Langford, David; Sleight, Graham (eds.). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (4th ed.). Retrieved 2023-05-24.
  22. ^ "Contents for June, 1900". Pearson's Magazine. Vol. 3, no. 6. C. Arthur Pearson Ltd. June 1900. p. 489. Archived from the original on 2023-05-29.
  23. ^ D'Ammassa, Don (2005). "Griffith, George". Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. Facts On File. p. 168. ISBN 978-0-8160-5924-9.
  24. ^ Langford, David (2023). "Solar System". In Clute, John; Langford, David; Sleight, Graham (eds.). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (4th ed.). Retrieved 2023-05-24.
  25. ^ Westfahl, Gary (2003). "Space opera". In James, Edward; Mendlesohn, Farah (eds.). The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction. Cambridge University Press. p. 198. ISBN 978-0-521-01657-5. The origins of space opera are disputed, since space adventures preceded the sf magazines, and commentators label texts such as Garrett P. Serviss's Edison's Conquest of Mars (1898), Robert W. Cole's The Struggle for Empire (1900) and George Griffith's A Honeymoon in Space (1901) progenitors of the form.
  26. ^ May, Andrew (2017). "A Brief History of the Moon". The Telescopic Tourist's Guide to the Moon. The Patrick Moore Practical Astronomy Series. Springer. p. 47. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-60741-2_3. ISBN 978-3-319-60741-2.
  27. ^ "First Quotations from George Griffith". Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction. Archived from the original on 2023-01-29. Retrieved 2023-06-08.
  28. ^ a b c d e f g h Guthke, Karl Siegfried (1990). "Novels at the Turn of the Century: The End of the World—the Future of Mankind". The Last Frontier: Imagining Other Worlds, from the Copernican Revolution to Modern Science Fiction. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press. pp. 368–370, 378–379. ISBN 978-0-8014-1680-4.
  29. ^ a b McNabb, John (2017-10-20). "Anthropology by gaslight: Sherlock Holmes, Conan Doyle and the anthropology of detection at the Victorian fin de siècle". World Archaeology. 49 (5): 728–751. doi:10.1080/00438243.2017.1406396. ISSN 0043-8243. S2CID 159006224.
  30. ^ Morgan, Chris (1980). "Theme: Alien Contact". The Shape of Futures Past: The Story of Prediction. Exeter, England: Webb & Bower. pp. 146–147. ISBN 978-0-906671-15-3.

Further reading