the CALL of the COSMOS


Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky (1857-1935). Photograph by V. V. Assonov, 1920







FOREWORD. ‘Translated by -A. Shkarovsky .

ON THE MOON. Translated by A. Shkarovsky .

DREAMS OF EARTH AND SKY. Translated by D. Myshne

ON VESTA. Translated by A. Shkarovsky

OUTSIDE THE EARTH. Translated by V. Tulmy <.

THE AIMS OF ASTRONAUTICS. Translated by X. Danko . CHANGES IN RELATIVE WEIGHT. Translated by A. Shkarovsky LIVING BEINGS IN THE COSMOS. Translated by X. Dunko . BIOLOGY OF DWARFS AND GIANTS. Translaled by A. Shkarovsky ISLAND OF ETHER. Translated by A. Shkurovsky

BEYOND THE EARTH'S ATMOSPHERE. Translated by A. Shka- rovsky



T. To Inventors of Reaction-Propelied Machines JJ. Is This Mere Fantasy? . IT. Pages from a Young.Man’s Notebook .


Taken as a whole, this book makes interesting, even fascinating reading. Tsiolkovsky’s stories are of tremen- dous interest and urge us to ponder over the many purely specific problems of space travel. They will, undoubtedly, increase the number of enthusiasts in this branch of science and technology. His “On the Moon”, “Outside the Earth” and other stories afford hours of entertainment and leave a lasting impression.

Illustrated here is the world outlook of Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, original thinker, self-taught scientist, founder and keen enthusiast of space travel. Though man is bound by every fibre to his home-planet, Tsiolkovsky argues that he stands to gain immeasurably by gradually con- quering space. Life in space, where there is no accelera- tion of gravity in relation to manned spacecraft, or even on such objects as the Moon or the asteroids, where the gravity is negligible compared with the Earth’s, presents tremendous advantages, Tsiolkovsky claims, since with the same effort it is possible there to accomplish an in- comparably greater amount of work. In addition, in the absence of disease-producing germs and drawing on the Sun’s continuous radiation, it will be possible to cultivate in artificial hothouses with temperature control and air-con- ditioning, various kinds of plants, which provide food for a human population and also consume the excreta of animal organisms.

The achievement of this balance between animal and plant life on mammoth space rockets, a balance which would make possible space journeys of indefinite dura- tion, provided the consumption of solar energy is con- trolled, presents an extremely interesting idea that should be closely examined with a view to the possibility of actually putting it into practice.

One may also agree with Tsiolkovsky in thinking that life will develop and prosper wonderfully in the absence of gravity pull as well and that for anima! organisms atmos- pheric pressure can be much lower than what is usual and normal on the Earth. What he has to say about the different apparatus for making rocket travel comfortable in the absence of gravity, is most absorbing.

His descriptions of lunar landscapes, and journeys on the Moon, his fantastic stories about leaping lunar animals or beast-plants which either hide in crevices or try to keep abreast of the Sun to escape the approaching cold of the lunar nights, are most entrancing. Even these fantastic stories seem quite in place, because, for all their absolute improbability, they soften the picture we have of the harsh and rigorous natural conditions on the Moon.

However, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky lets his imagination run away with him, when he begins to describe the imag- inary life of intelligent creatures on Mercury, Mars, the asteroids and other planets. Consequently, “Life in Space”, “On Vesta”, “Mercury”, “Mars”, “The Asteroids” and several other stories are fantasies of the first water, and where mention is made of intelligent beings on planets and asteroids no worthwhile information is desirable. Stories of this kind include his “Island of Ether’—about the structure and evolution of the Universe. Like the physicists of the nineteenth century, the author assumes that there exists “light ether” which, in his opinion, does not extend far beyond the limits of the material Universe accessible to us. Thus, in his opinion, our system of galaxies must be hopelessly isolated from other similar systems, as in


the absence between them of an ether medium capable of transmitting light, they must be totally inaccessible to observation. These arbitrary assertions—and this should be emphasised—do not at all coincide with Tsiolkovsky’s general outlook, since he considered that there were no limits to our cognition of the infinite Universe.

And even those of Tsiolkovsky’s writings, which are acceptable from the scientific point of view, contain several errors to which attention should be drawn.

In the first place, Tsiolkovsky does not sufficiently take into account that even in the case of diminished gravity the same inert mass remains, to which the same force must be applied to impart a definite acceleration as that applied on the Earth. Further, he overestimates the possi- bility of protecting a living organism from the excessive gravity which occur, for instance, during rocket accele- ration, by immersing the living organism in an air-tight water bath. It is true, as Tsiolkovsky indicates, that the immersed organism would scarcely feel any violent blows on the outside of the vessel. But it would certainly feel intensive deceleration or acceleration of the vessel as a whole, and this might even prove fatal. The author com- pletely underestimates the danger of collisions with me- teorites and his descriptions of the way one might catch approaching bolides from the spacecraft, using something like a butterfly net, are most curious and can be attrib- uted to his own typical brand of humour. Because in actual fact every time one of the host of micrometeorites whirring through space hits a spacecraft, it produces a minor explosion and is sure to dent the plating of the spaceship. These direct hits which should occur extremely often would almost immediately destroy the external green-house suggested by the author, which is shielded from its cosmic environment only by thin glass panes. Even far from the Earth, where its gravitational pull exerts almost no influence, the relative speed at which the me- teorite collides with the spacecraft will nevertheless be of


the order of several kilometres, even tens of kilometres, a second. Hosts of meteorites thus would constitute a con- siderable danger to the safety of the spacecraft.

Various factors in some of Tsiolkovsky’s writings are occasionally wrongly appraised. For instance, he points out several times that the temperature in the focus of mirrors concentrating the Sun’s rays of a definite inten- sity will reach 6000°C. Purely theoretically a temperature of this order is conceivable only when the Sun’s angular dimensions are magnified by mirrors to the dimensions of a complete sphere which, in practice, is not possible.

In accordance with the notions current at the time his stories were written, Tsiolkovsky speaks about each star being surrounded by a family of planets and all these planets being inhabited irrespective of their temperatures and other physical conditions. In his opinion—to which, incidentally, other authors have frequently subscribed— the living organism can be composed of any kind of ele- ments able to produce liquid compounds at a given tem- perature. There is not even the slightest mention of the unique part played in the structure of the living organism by compounds of carbon with oxygen, hydrogen and also nitrogen, which require absolutely specific, strictly defined conditions. Neither did Tsiolkovsky think an atmosphere indispensable for organic life, presuming that organisms can produce and subsist on their own micro-atmospheres. There is no need to show the completely fantastic nature of such ideas.

Tsiolkovsky rendered a great service in so zealously advocating attempts to conquer outer space. But his fan- tasies in this direction knew no limits. He wanted to emphasise that mankind will of necessity migrate to other planets circling around some other sun, when our own Sun will have greatly cooled, which he thinks may happen in several million years from now. Of course, in Tsiolkov- sky’s time the gravitational energy of compression was thought to be the sole means by which the Sun maintained

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radiation. However, to think today that the Sun may cool, in the direct sense of the word, is out of the question. It may, of course, ultimately pass into the category of white dwarf stars, which though of unusual density and having insignificant radiation, nevertheless have a high internal temperature. This process will require not millions but at least several thousands of millions of years. In some of his writings Tsiolkovsky suggests that the populations of the numerous planetary systems in various parts of the Universe establish associations or alliances of mutual as- sistance for promoting migrations to the most suitable planets, in order to avoid the dangers arising from their own suns “going out of commission”. Here Tsiolkovsky reaches the extreme limits of fantasy.

Actually life in outer space should be viewed as a rare exception, and not a universal rule. However, this in no way minimises the vast scientific and practical importance of Tsiolkovsky’s ideas about space exploration, on the threshold of which we now stand as a result of the tremen- dous Soviet scientific and technical achievements that have now ushered in a new era in the history of mankind.

The break through into space is proceeding along much the same lines as those which Tsiolkovsky forecast with such extraordinary insight so many decades ago. Tsiolkov- sky was a most unique person and everything associated with him is of great interest. So though many of his state- ments are unacceptable today, they still serve as the best possible illustration of the fact that Tsiolkovsky was more than a designer of jet engines. In his dreams and scientific fiction he was already beginning to live in space.

ACADEMICIAN V. G. FESENKOV Moscow, October, 1960


A Tale of Fantasy I

I woke up, and, as I lay in bed, pondered over the dream I had had. I had dreamt I was bathing, and this dream of summer bathing was particularly pleasant, since it hap- pened to be winter.

But it was time to get up.

I stretched myself and sat up in bed. How easy it was! Easy to sit, easy to stand. What can have happened? Was I still dreaming? I felt I was standing so lightly, that I might have been up to my neck in water. My feet hardly touched the floor.

But where on earth was the water? I could see none. I flourished my arms about: but I felt not the slightest resistance.

Was I dreaming? I rubbed my eyes; everything was just the same.

How odd!

But I had to get dressed.

I moved chairs, opened wardrobes, took out my clothes, lifted various objects and—I could not understand a thing!

Have I grown stronger? Why was everything now so ethereal? Why could I lift objects which I could not shift before?

No! These feet, these arms, this body could not be mine!

Mine were always heavy and moved with difficulty.

How was it that my arms and legs were now so strong?


Could it be that some force was drawing me and every- thing else upwards and so lightening my work for me? But in that case what a strong pull it was exerting! A little more and it seemed to me that I would bump against the ceiling.

And why was I leaping instead of walking? Something was pulling me in the direction opposite to gravity, tensing my muscles and making me leap.

I could not resist the temptation, I jumped.

I seemed to have ascended rather slowly and descended equally slowly.

I leapt higher, and looked round the room from a fair height. Ouch! I knocked my head against the ceiling. The rooms are high-ceilinged and the concussion was unex- pected. ...I decided to take more care in future.

The yelp I gave awoke my friend. I watched him turn over and, a little later, hop out of bed. And I saw him ‘make the same spectacle of himself as I, all unawares, had just made of myself. In fact, I derived the greatest satis- faction from watching his rolling eyes, his comical pos- tures and the unnatural agility of my friend’s movements. His odd exclamations, so like mine, amused me.

I gave my physicist friend time to exhaust the supply of surprises; then I asked him to solve just one question: what had happened? Had we grown stronger or had the gravity diminished?

Both conjectures were equally astounding. But one be- comes indifferent to everything once he grows accustomed to it. My friend and I had not yet reached that stage, but we already wanted to know what was at the bottom of it all.

My friend, accustomed to analysing problems, soon sorted out the mass of phenomena that had stunned and confused my mind.

“We could use a dynamometer or spring balance,” he said, “to measure our muscular power and discover whether it has increased or not. Watch me press my feet


against the wall and pull at the dynamometer hook. As you see, it is five poods.* I haven’t grown any stronger. You can do the same, and you'll also see that you have not become a Hercules.”

“How can I agree?’ I objected, “when the facts are against it? Just explain why I can lift the end of this book- case, though it weighs at least 50 poods? At first I imagined it was empty, but when I opened it, not a single book was missing. And while you’re about it, explain how I managed to leap to a height of five arshins.’”’**

“You can lift heavy loads, leap so high and feel so light not because you are stronger—the dynamometer refuted that supposition—but because the gravity is less; you will see jt for yourself by using the same spring balance. We can even find out how many times less it has grown.”

And he picked up the first weight to hand—it happened to be a 12-pounder—and hung it on the dynamometer.

“Look!” he continued, taking the reading. “This 12- pound weight now weighs only two pounds. That means gravity is six times less.”

Then after a moment’s thought he added:

“This is exactly the gravity on the surface of the Moon, owing to its small volume and small density.”

“We're not on the Moon, are we?” I guffawed.

“Supposing we are,” the physicist laughed, assuming a frivolous tone, “there is not much to worry about, for if such a miracle is possible, it can be repeated in reverse order which means we'll get back to where we belong.”

“That’s enough quibbling. But suppose we weigh some- thing on an ordinary pair of scales? Will the diminished gravity be noticeable?”

“No, because the object being weighed will lose the same amount of weight as the weight on the other pan. The scales will balance despite the changed gravity.”

* One pood is 36 lb.—Tr. One arshin equals 28 inches.—Tr.


“I see!”

Nevertheless, I tried breaking a stick, hoping to find I was stronger. But I could not do it though the stick was not thick and only the day before had yielded in my hands.

“How stubborn you are! Chuck it!’ said my friend. “You'd do better to think about how perturbed the world probably is now because of all the changes.”

“You are right,” I replied, dropping the stick. “I’d for- gotten it all, forgotten about mankind with whom J, like you, passionately wish to share our thoughts.”

“Something’s happened to our friends. Could there have been other upheavals?”

I had opened my mouth to speak and had pullea aside the curtains (drawn to the night before to shut out the moonlight that prevented us from sleeping), but immediate- ly recoiled. Horror of horrors! The sky was blacker than the blackest ink!

Where was the town? Where were the people?

This was some wild, inconceivable place, bathed in bright sunshine!

Perhaps we had indeed been transported to a desert planet?

These thoughts passed through my mind, I could not express them. I merely muttered incoherently.

My friend rushed across to me, presuming that I felt faint, but I pointed to the window. He looked out and was petrified with astonishment.

That we did not actually faint was because the small gravity prevented too much blood from rushing to the heart.

We looked around us.

The curtains were still drawn and we could no longer see the astonishing spectacle. Meanwhile, the normal ap- pearance of the room and the familiar objects helped to restore our peace of mind. |

Standing close together, and still a little scared, we first lifted a corner of the curtain and then drew it


completely aside. Finally we decided to step outside and observe the funereal sky and our surroundings,

Though our minds were filled with thoughts of the walk we intended to take, there were one or two things we par- ticularly noticed. Thus, when we walked about the large, high-ceilinged rooms, we had to use our crude muscles with some caution, otherwise our feet just slid over the floor; there was no danger, however, of falling as might happen on damp snow or ice. But our bodies bobbed about very much. When we wanted to move rapidly, we had first to lean perceptibly forward like a horse when Starting to pull a heavy cart. It only appeared to be like that, be- cause actually every movement we made was extremely light. How boring it was to descend a Staircase, step by step! How slow to move at a walking pace! Soon we aban- doned all these procedures, so suitable on the Earth but so ridiculous here. We learned to move by leaps and bounds; we took ten or more steps at a bound up or down the staircase like the most harum-scarum schoolboys; sometimes we jumped the whole flight or leapt through the window. In short, by force of circumstances we were transformed into jumping animals, like grasshoppers and frogs.

So, after rushing all over the house, we jumped out and ran in leaps and bounds towards the nearest mountain.

The Sun was dazZlingly bright and seemed almost blue. Shielding our eyes with our hands to protect them against the glare of the Sun and the brightness of our surround- ings, we could see the stars and planets which were also, for the most part, tinted blue, Neither stars nor planets twinkled, which made them like silver-capped nails stud- ding the black firmament.

Ah! there was the moon, in its last quarter! We could not help being amazed, since its diameter seemed three or four times larger than that of our old familiar Moon. And it shone more brightly than it does in daylight on the Earth, when it appears as a small, white cloud. Silence


reigned. The skies were clear and cloudless. We could see no plants, no animals. A desert with a black monotonous firmament and blue cadaverous Sun overhead. No lakes, no rivers, not a drop of water! If only the horizon were lighter—that would indicate the presence of vapour. Alas, it was as black as the zenith!

There was nothing of the wind that rustles the grass and sways the tree tops on the Earth. No chirping of grasshoppers. No birds, no brightly coloured butterflies! Nothing but endless mountains, forbidding, high mountains, on whose peaks no snow sparkled. Not a snow-flake any- where! And there lay the valleys, plains, and table-lands, heaped high with stone and rock, black and white, large and small, and all of them jagged and shining. None were rounded or softened by waves; they had never rolled here, had never merrily, noisily, dragged at them in play, had never worked on them!

Here was an undulating, smooth area, without a single pebble. Only dark crevasses sprawled out in all directions like snakes. This was a solid floor of rock with no soft humus, no sand, no clay.

A gloomy spectacle! Even the mountains stood bare in shameless nakedness. They had no flimsy veil, none of the transparent, grey-blue mist which envelopes mountains and remote objects on the Earth. Nothing but severe, Strikingly well-defined landscapes! And the shadows! How deep they were! What sharp changes from darkness to light! There was nothing of the so familiar colour modu- lations that only an atmosphere can produce. Even the Sahara desert would seem a paradise compared with what we were seeing here. We would hardly have minded the scorpions and locusts, the white-hot sands tossed up by the dry wind, not to mention the rarely encountered sparse vegetation and groves of date palms. But we had to think of returning. The ground was cold and our legs and feet felt frozen, yet the Sun was baking hot. We had the un- pleasant feeling of coldness which one gets when one is


freezing cold yet trying to get warm in front of a blazing fire-place; the room seems too cold to get warm in, and although a pleasant feeling of warmth covers the outer skin, nothing seems able to prevent one from shivering.

We warmed ourselves on the way back by skipping with chamois-like ease over large rocky boulders. They were rocks of granite, porphyrite, syenite, rock crysta!, various quartzes and silica, transparent and opaque, and all of volcanic origin. Incidentally, we observed also traces of volcanic activity.

At last we were back home!

Inside we felt fine: at least there was an even temper- ature. So we felt inclined to try out a number of new experiments and to discuss everything we had seen. Clearly we were on another planet, which had neither air nor any other atmosphere.

If there were gas, the stars would twinkle; if there were air, the sky would be blue and the distant mountains veiled in mist. But how were we able to breathe and hear each other? That was something we could not understand. From a mass of phenomena it was evident that there was neither air nor gas of any kind: we could not light a cigar, and we rashly used up innumerable matches trying to do so. We were able to compress a closed, impermeable rub- ber bag without the slightest effort, which we could not have done if there had been gas inside. Scientists indicate that there is no gas on the Moon, too.

“Perhaps we are on the Moon, after all?”

“Have you noticed that from here the Sun seems no bigger and no smaller than from the Earth? This would be so only from the Earth and from its satellite, as these ce- lestial bodies are almost equidistant from the Sun. From other planets it should seem either larger or smaller. Thus, from Jupiter we would see the Sun at a fifth of the present angle, and from Mars, at two-thirds the angle. From Venus, on the contrary, the angle would be one and a half times greater. On Venus the Sun burns twice as fiercely,


whereas Mars feels only half the warmth. And there is the same difference from the Earth’s two closest planets! But on Jupiter, for example, the warmth received from the Sun is only one twenty-fifth of what the Earth gets. We do not see that sort of thing here, though we well could, if it existed, because we have enough of protractors and other measuring instruments.”

“Yes, we are on the Moon. Everything points to it!”

“It is even borne out by the size of the cloud-like moon we saw, which is evidently the planet we departed from not of our own accord. What a pity we cannot now discern its spots, its profile, and determine our location once and for all. Let us wait till nightfall.”

“So you say,” I remarked to my friend, “that the Earth and the Moon are the same distance away from the Sun? But in my opinion, the difference is all the same fairly large, 360,000 versts*.”

“But I said almost, since 360,000 versts are only 1/400th part of the total distance to the Sun,” the physicist objected, “and 1/400th can be ignored.”

How tired I was, not so much physically as morally! I had an irrepressible desire to sleep. What would my watch tell me? We had risen at 6 a.m. and now it was 5 p.m. Eleven hours had passed, yet, judging by the shadows, the Sun had scarcely moved. The shadow from the steep hill yonder had barely reached the house and it was in the same position now; the shadow cast by the weather-vane still lay on the same boulder.

More proof that we were on the Moon!

Indeed, its axial rotation was as low as that. Here, the day lasted for as Jong as about 15 of our 24-hour days, or 360 hours. And the night was just as long. Not very

* One verst is 3,500 feet.—Tr.

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convenient. The Sun prevented us from sleeping. I remem- ber experiencing the same thing when I spent a few sum- mer weeks in arctic lands. The Sun never sank below the horizon and 1 grew sick and tired of it! However, there was a great difference between my experiences then and now. Here the Sun was moving slowly but in the same way. There it moved quickly, describing a circle once every 24 hours just above the horizon.

But in both places there was the same remedy: to close the shutters.

But was my watch right? Why did my watch not tally with the pendulum clock on the wall? My watch indicated five o’clock, and the clock on the wall—only ten a. m. Which was right? Why was the pendulum swinging so lazily?

Quite obviously the clock on the wall was slow!

My watch, on the other hand, could not be wrong as its pendulum is not swung by gravity but by the resilience of a steel spring, which is the same on the Earth as on the Moon.

I could check this by feeling my pulse. It used to beat 70 times a minute. Now it beats 75 times. A little more than usual, perhaps, but that may be due to the nervous excitement of finding myself in such unusual circum- stances and to all the strong new impressions.

There was still another way of checking the time. At night we would be able to see the Earth turning on its axis once every 24 hours. That is the best clock, an infal- lible one!

Though we could hardly keep awake, my physicist friend could not resist the temptation to put the clock right. I watched him remove the long pendulum, accurately meas- ure it and shorten it to a sixth of its previous length. But even the shortened pendulum behaved staidly, though not quite like the longer one. After the metamorphosis, the clock ticked off the hours in harmony with my watch.

At last we went to bed and covered ourselves with the light blankets, which here seemed almost ethereally light.


We hardly made use of pillows or mattresses at all. One could sleep soundly on boards here.

J could not rid myself of the idea that I was going to bed too early. The Sun! The time! They were frozen stiff into stillness like the whcle nature of the Moon!

My friend was no longer conversing with me; I too dozed off.

We woke up in good spirits. We felt cheerful, but famished. Until now, the excitement had deprived us of our customary appetites.

How thirsty I was! I removed the stopper from my wa- ter-bottle but what did I find? The water seemed to be boiling! Slowly and gently boiling. Cautiously I touched the water-bottle in case it was too hot. But no, the water was only warm and most unpalatable!

“My dear friend, what have you to say about this?”

“We are in an absolute vacuum, which is why the water is boiling, not being subject to atmospheric pressure. Let it boil a while. Don’t put the stopper back. In a vacuum boiling water gradually freezes. But we shall not let it freeze. That is enough! Pour some water into a glass and stopper the bottle, otherwise too much will boil out.”

How slowly liquid pours out here on the Moon!

The water in the bottle became still, but in the glass it continued its lifeless agitation, which with time became weaker.

The water left in the glass turned to ice. Then the ice evaporated and grew smaller in size.

How would we be dining now?

It was easy enough to eat bread and other more or less solid foods, though they rapidly dried up in our by no means air-tight box. The bread had turned to stone, the fruit had shrivelled and become pretty hard. Of course the skin and peel had helped to retain some moisture.

“This habit we have of eating hot dishes! What are we going to do? We can’t start a fire here: no wood, no coal, even no matches will burn here!”

2* 19

“What about making the Sun do the job? After all people cook eggs in the hot sand of the Sahara desert!”

We adapted our pots, saucepans and other utensils, so that the lids fitted tightly. Then, filling them all accord- ing to the rules of culinary art, we set them out in the sunshine. Then we collected all the mirrors from the house and set them up so that the sunlight was concen- trated onto the pots and pans.

In less than an hour we were enjoying well-steamed, well-baked food.

But why talk about it? Have you heard of Mouchauld?* We left his improved system of solar cooking far behind! Call it boasting or bragging, if you like. Perhaps our pre- sumption should be attributed to our ravenous appetites, due to which any foul food would have seemed perfection.

There was one nasty thing about it, however: we had to hurry. I must confess that we more than once choked and spluttered over our food. And no wonder, for the soup boiled and cooled not only in our plates but even in the throat, oesophagus, and stomach. If we did not look alive about it, we found ourselves swallowing a lump of ice instead of soup.

It was surprising that our stomachs remained unharmed! The pressure exerted by the vapour greatly distended them.

At any rate our appetites were satisfied and we felt at peace with ourselves. We did not understand how we were living without air, and how we, our house, our gar- den and orchard, our stores of food and drink in the cel- lars and barns had been transported from the Earth to the Moon. We even had our doubts. We began to think per- haps we were asleep and dreaming or that we had fallen victim to some diabolical hallucination? But for all that, we grew accustomed to our situation and treated it with mixed feelings of curiosity and indifference. The inexpli-

* Mouchauld chose astronomical subjects for the science fiction stories he wrote in the 1890’s.—Ed.


cable no longer astonished us and the thought never en- tered our minds that we might die of starvation, alone and miserable.

As the story of our adventures unfolds, you will dis- cover why we were so incredibly optimistic.

An after-dinner constitutional would not be amiss, I thought.

I persuaded my friend to accompany me.

We Stood in a big courtyard, with a climbing pole stand- ing erect in the middle, and a fence and outhouses all around.

But what was the reason for this boulder? One could easily fall over it. In the yard the ground was of ordinary, soft earth. Let’s chuck it out, over the fence! Pick it up boldly! Don’t let its size perturb you! With our united efforts, we lifted the 60-pood boulder and tumbled it over the fence. We heard it drop with a thud on the Moon’s rocky surface. We heard the thud not through the air, but from the ground. The impact produced a concussion on the ground and then on our bodies and the bones in our ears. In this manner we could often hear the blows we struck.

“Perhaps this was the way we heard one another?”

“Hardly so! The sound would not be heard as it is heard in the air.”

The ease with which we moved gave us a Strong desire to climb and jump.

Sweet childhood days! I remembered climbing onto roofs and tree tops, imitating the cats and birds. How wonderful it had been!

And the competitions for the high jump over ropes, the long jump over ditches! The races for a prize! These were my passion!

Should I recall old times? I was not very strong, espe- cially my arms. I could jump and run pretty well, but climbed ropes and poles with difficulty.

I had always longed to be physically strong! To pay back my enemies, to reward my friends! The child and the


Savage are one. These dreams of being strong were now ridiculous. My eager childhood longings had now been fulfilled. Because of the Moon’s insignificant gravity I seemed now to be six times as strong as before.

Moreover, the weight of my own body now meant noth- ing to me, which fact increased the effect of being strong. What was a fence to me now? No more than the threshold or a stool on the Earth over which I could step with ease. And, as if to test this thought in action, we soared up and without a running start leapt over the fence. Then we jumped and even bounded over the shed, but for this we had to have a running start. How pleasant it was to be racing about! We could hardly feel our feet. Let’s run a race. Off we go!

Whenever our feet struck the ground we leapt several yards, especially horizontally. Whoa, there! In one minute we had raced round the entire yard. Five hundred sazhens* —the speed of a race horse.**

We took some measurements. At an easy gallop we rose some four arshins upwards and in length we leapt five sazhens or more, depending on the speed at which we ran.

“Now for some gymnastics!”

Making hardly any effort, and simply to amuse our- selves, we climbed the rope, using only the left hand.

It was terrifying! After all, it was a four sazhens drop! We still felt we were on our own clumsy planet. Our heads went round and round.

My heart was in my mouth, but I decided to jump first. Here I go. Ouch! I knocked my heels!

I should have warned my friend, but instead I slyly egged him on. Raising my head I shouted:

“Come on, jump! You won’t hurt yourself!”

“I don’t need you to persuade me. I know perfectly well that to jump from this height is the same as jumping from

* One sazhen equals 2.3 metres.—Tr. ** The speed is slightly exaggerated.—Ed.


a height of two arshins on the Earth. I know I'll bash my heels a bit!”

My friend jumped. It was a slowish process, particularly at first, and took him about five seconds.

Time enough to think of many things.

“Well, physicist?”

“My heart’s beating fast, but that is all.”

“Now for the orchard, to climb the trees and race along the paths!”

“Why haven’t the leaves shrivelled?”

The verdure is fresh and will shield us from the Sun. Tall lime-trees and birches! We leapt and climbed among the thin branches like squirrels, and they did not break under our weight. No wonder, for here we are no heavier than a couple of fat turkeys!

We flitted over the bushes and among the trees, moving as though we were flying. What a merry time we had! How easy we found it to keep our balance! We swayed unsteadily on a branch, about to fall, but the inclination to fall was so slight and the deviation from equilibrium proceeded so slowly, that we had only to shift the leg or arm slightly, to regain balance.

Now for the wide, open spaces! The big courtyard and orchard seemed like a cage. At first we raced over the level ground. On our way we encountered shallow ditches some ten sazhens across.

We took them in our stride, fleeting over like birds, We came to a hillside. At first we went up a gentle slope but later the going became steeper and steeper. So steep, indeed, it was that I felt sure [ would get out of breath.

But there was no reason to fear. We took the ascent easily in long and rapid strides. It was a high hill and we felt tired on the Moon with its low gravity. We sat down to rest. Why was it so soft here? Could the rocks have softened?

I picked up a large stone and struck it against another. Sparks flew.


After resting we turned back.

“How far are we from home?”

“Not very far now, perhaps 200 sazhens.”

“Do you think you could throw a stone that far?”

“T don’t know, but I can try!”

We each picked up a small piece of rock. Who would throw it farthest?

Mine flew right over the house. It was just as well. As I watched its flight I greatly feared it might smash a window.

“Where did yours go? Farther still, think!”

Shooting was very interesting here. Bullets and cannon- balls should fly horizontally and vertically for hundreds of versts.

“But will gunpowder do its job here?”

“In a vacuum the force of explosives is even greater than in the air, as the latter only hampers the expansion of gases. As for oxygen they don’t need it, because they themselves contain as much as they need.”

We reached home.

“I shall sprinkle some gunpowder on the window-sill in the sunshine,” I said. “Now focus your burning glass on it. You saw the flash and the explosion, though it was noiseless. And there was the familiar smell, only it van- ished instantaneously.

“You can fire a rifle, only don’t forget to put the per- cussion cap on. The burning glass and the Sun will take the place of the trigger.”

“Let’s aim the rifle vertically, in order to retrieve the bullet afterwards close by.”

There was a flash, a slight pop and the ground shook slightly.

“Where’s the wad?” I exclaimed. “It ought to be close by, though it won’t be smoking!”


“The wad went up with the bullet and will most likely remain with it. Back on the Earth it is only the atmos- phere that prevents it from winging after the lead bullet. Here a feather will fall or fly up as headlong as a stone. Suppose you pluck a feather from your pillow while I take a little iron ball. You'll find you can throw your feather and hit something, even far away, just as easily as I can with my little ball. I can throw the ball 200 sazhens; you can throw your feather just as far. True, you will not kill anyone with it and you will not even feel that you have thrown it. So let us throw our projectiles with all our might—I think we are about the same in that respect— at one and the same target—that lump of red granite, for instance.”

We watched the feather slightly outfly the iron ball, as if carried away by a strong whirlwind.

“But what can have happened? It is already three min- utes since we fired the shot, and still there’s no bullet!” I exclaimed.

“Wait a couple of minutes, it’s sure to come down,” replied the physicist.

And indeed, roughly in the time specified we felt the ground tremble slightly and saw the wad bobbing about near by.

“But where is the bullet? The scrap of tow could not have caused the ground to tremble?” I asked in astonish- ment.

“Most likely, from the impact the bullet heated up to melting point and the splashes flew off in different di- rections.”

After searching around we indeed found some tiny pel- lets—evidently particles of the vanished bullet.

“The bullet certainly flew quite a time! How high should it have gone?” I asked.

“Up to some 70 versts—all because of the small grav- itational pull and the absence of atmospheric resistance.”

* * *


We were tired mentally and physically and needed rest. The Moon is all very well in its way, but all the leaping about had made itself felt. As the flights were prolonged we did not always fall on our feet and so we sometimes hurt ourselves. In the four to six seconds we spent in flight we not only had a bird’s-eye view of the vicinity, but could also move our arms and legs. But we never seemed able to somersault in space. Later we learned to control our bodies and even do as much as three somersaults in space. This is an interesting experience and it is interesting to watch others doing it. 1 spent a long time observing the movements of my physicist friend; he performed many experiments off the ground and without any support. To describe them I would have to write a book.

* * *

We slept for 8 hours.

It was getting warmer. The Sun had risen higher and was not beating down so fiercely. Now it shone on a small- er surface of the body, but the ground had warmed up and no longer gave off coldness. In general, both the Sun and the soil were warm, almost hot.

It was time, however, to take precautions, as we clearly realised that we would become burnt up before noon.

What were we to do?

We proposed different plans.

“We could spend a few days in the cellar, but there’s no guaranteeing that towards evening, that is, in about 250 hours from now, it will not be like a furnace there, because the cellar is not deep enough. Then we shall also long for comfort and be sick and tired of remaining in a confined space.”

True, it is easier to suffer boredom and inconvenience than to be baked alive.

But would it not be better to choose one of the deeper crevasses? We could