Happy Irish Fiction Friday! Today we feature Belfast author and journalist Robert Cromie, who was born in Clough in 1855 and died in Belfast in 1907. We have featured Cromie on IFF before, but today we turn to his first science fiction novel, A Plunge Into Space. The novel is dedicated to Jules Vernes. There is some controversy surrounding the book in connection with HG Wells’ The First Men in the Moon. While Cromie’s novel predates Wells’ by 10 years, Cromie wrote to the Academy, pointing out numerous similarities between the two works. Both works may have been influenced by Chrysostom Trueman’s The History of a Voyage to the Moon (1864) as they both use an antigravity device similar to the one in Trueman’s novel. Wells’ insisted he’d never even heard of Cromie and that Cromie was simply trying to use him to draw attention to his own work. Jules Verne was hostile to Wells’ novel, but primarily on the basis that Wells created fictional anti-gravitational material instead of relying technology.
This link will take you to the first four chapters of Cromie’s A Plunge Into Space, including the dedication to Verne and the rest of the novel is available at minimal cost. The entire novel is available through the link in the first paragraph from the Toronto Library’s wonderful Merril Collection – a terrific repository of science fiction.