Friday, November 16, 2012

The patron saint of steampunk, 1908

More than a century ago, on of the first science fiction series ever appeared in Germany. Entitled Der Luftpirat und sein Lenkbares Luftschiff (The Air Pirate And His Dirigible Airship), it featured a mysterious hero, Captain Mors, the man with the mask whose face and true name nobody knew.

This doomed hero in the vein of Verne's Robur le Conquerant and Captain Nemo had a similarly tragic past. The underworld had killed his wife and children and had framed the brilliant inventor, ensuring that he was hunted everywhere on the globe as a mass murderer and criminal. He had given himself the name 'Mors', since he was already dead in the eyes of public opinion. A man without face and past.

Captain Mors though possesses a giant, metal airship. Equipped with powerful propellers and engines, he has the most advanced weapon in the world. Acting like a Robin Hood, he steals from the rich to give the spoils to the poor, plundering states, corporations and the wealthy but Mors has discovered a higher aim. The unknown wonders of the universe.

Relentlessly Mors toils to finish the construction of a space vessel to further his aim, the flights to Mars, Venus, Jupiter and beyond the borders of the solar system. There he will encounter alien races, extraterrestrial civilizations and ancient mysteries of creation.

The series was forbidden in 1916 by the German military censors, not because of its contents, but because of a shortage of paper. Considered a lowly form of lecture, issues were destroyed, carelessly thrown away or even burned. As a consequence, copies of this series that numbered 165 issues, are very, very scarce.

Worldwide, there is only one almost complete collection. Residing in the Villa Galactica in Germany they are found in the legendary collection of the late Heinz-Jurgen Ehrig. He passed away unexpectedly in 2003. The collection has attained international attention in recent years. He spent 35 years in diligently collecting this unique series. It is the most complete set, only lacking issues 111 and 118. The good news: Villa Galactica has some very interesting pages on the series and it even offers facsimile copies for sale.

Also, make sure to stop by at the Captain Mors, Luftpirat webpage by Jess Nevins for additional information.

Captain Mors is the patron saint of steampunk.