Several early modern writers, including Athanasius Kircher and Emanuel Swedenborg, hypothesized contact with Mars. Early science fiction about Mars often involved the first voyages to the planet, sometimes as an invasion force, more often for the purposes of exploration.
Prominent early works about Mars prior to 1910:
- Across the Zodiac (1880) by Percy Greg. The narrator flies his craft, the “Astronaut,” to visit diminutive beings on Mars.
- Uranie (1889, translated as Urania in 1890) by Camille Flammarion. A young astronomer and his fiancée are killed in a ballooning accident and are reincarnated in new bodies on Mars.
- Melbourne and Mars: My Mysterious Life on Two Planets (1889) by Joseph Fraser. A sick man named Jacobs starts having visions in his sleep, which turns out to be a telepathic link between him and a child called Charlie Frankston, his other self on Mars, who lives in a technological utopia.
- Mr. Stranger’s Sealed Packet (1889 ) by Hugh MacColl. People from Earth travel to Mars in a flying machine, and find peaceful Martians that are technologically inferior to humans with a few exceptions like voice-recording devices and electric lighting.
- A Plunge into Space (1890) by Robert Cromie. Dedicated to Jules Verne, the character Henry Barnett learns how to control the ethereal force which combines electricity and gravity and “which permeates all material things, all immaterial space”, and secretly builds a globular spaceship called the “Steel Globe”. Barnett and some friends travel to Mars and find a society where there is no need for politicians, and Martians who travel in airships or flying through levitation.
- Unveiling a Parallel (1893) by Alice Ilgenfritz Jones and Ella Merchant. The authors use a journey to Mars as the frame for a utopian feminist novel.
- Journey to Mars (1894) by Gustavus W. Pope. An adventure story that may have influenced Edgar Rice Burroughs’s later books.
- A Prophetic Romance (1896) by John McCoy. Reversing the usual pattern, the book brings a Martian visitor to Earth for a utopian novel.
- Auf zwei Planeten (1897) by Kurd Lasswitz. A Martian expedition to Earth takes Earthmen back to visit Mars; interplanetary war follows the initially peaceful contact. Lasswitz’s Martians are human in appearance, but with much larger eyes.
- The War of the Worlds (1898) by H. G. Wells. Features an attack on England by cephalopod like Martians and their advanced technology to employ fighting machines to decimate the world.
- Edison’s Conquest of Mars (1898) by Garrett P. Serviss. In this Edisonade, Earthmen respond to an attack from Mars with a successful genocide of the Martian race.
- A Honeymoon in Space (1900), by George Griffith. A young couple on a journey through the solar system are captured by hostile Martians.
- Gullivar of Mars (1905) by Edwin Lester Arnold. An Edwardian fantasy in which Gullivar Jones travels to Mars on a magic carpet and interacts with the slothful but innocent Hithers and the brutish but honorable Thithers.
- Doctor Omega (1906) by Arnould Galopin. A crew of explorers from Earth visit a Mars inhabited by reptilian mermen, savage dwarf-like beings with long, tentacled arms, bat-men and a race of civilized macrocephalic gnomes.
- Le prisonnier de la planète Mars [Vampires of Mars] (1908) and its sequel c (1909) by Gustave Le Rouge. French engineer Robert Darvel is dispatched to Mars by the psychic powers of Hindu Brahmins. On the Red Planet, he runs afoul of hostile, bat-winged, blood-sucking natives, a once-powerful civilization now ruled by the Great Brain.
- Red Star (1908) by Alexander Bogdanov. The narrator is taken to Mars, which is imagined as a socialist utopia.