Garrett P. Serviss

Garrett P. Serviss

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Garrett Putnam Serviss (March 24, 1851–May 25, 1929) was an astronomer
Astronomer
An astronomer is a scientist who studies celestial bodies such as planets, stars and galaxies.Historically, astronomy was more concerned with the classification and description of phenomena in the sky, while astrophysics attempted to explain these phenomena and the differences between them using...

, popularizer of astronomy
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

, and early science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 writer. Serviss was born in upstate New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, and majored in science at Cornell
Cornell University
Cornell University is an Ivy League university located in Ithaca, New York, United States. It is a private land-grant university, receiving annual funding from the State of New York for certain educational missions...

. He took a law degree at Columbia, but never worked as an attorney. Instead, in 1876 he joined the staff of the New York Sun newspaper, working as a journalist until 1892 under editor Charles Dana
Charles Dana
Charles Dana may refer to:* Charles Anderson Dana , U.S. journalist, author, government official* Charles A. Dana , of the Dana Foundation, and New York State legislator and industrialist* Charles R...

. Serviss showed a talent
Aptitude
An aptitude is an innate component of a competency to do a certain kind of work at a certain level. Aptitudes may be physical or mental...

 for explaining scientific details in a way that made them clear to the ordinary reader, leading Andrew Carnegie
Andrew Carnegie
Andrew Carnegie was a Scottish-American industrialist, businessman, and entrepreneur who led the enormous expansion of the American steel industry in the late 19th century...

 to invite him to deliver The Urania Lectures in 1894 on cosmology, astronomy, geology, and related matters. With Carnegie's financial backing, these lectures were illustrated with magic lantern
Magic lantern
The magic lantern or Laterna Magica is an early type of image projector developed in the 17th century.-Operation:The magic lantern has a concave mirror in front of a light source that gathers light and projects it through a slide with an image scanned onto it. The light rays cross an aperture , and...

 slides and other effects to show eclipses, presumed lunar landscapes, and much else. Serviss toured the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 for over two years delivering these lectures, then settled down to become a popular speaker in the New York area. He wrote a syndicated newspaper column devoted to astronomy and other sciences. He also wrote frequently for the leading magazines of the day.

Serviss's favorite topic was astronomy, and of the fifteen books he wrote, eight are devoted to it. He unquestionably was more widely read by the public on that topic than anyone prior to his time. He worked with Max
Max Fleischer
Max Fleischer was an American animator. He was a pioneer in the development of the animated cartoon and served as the head of Fleischer Studios...

 and Dave Fleischer
Dave Fleischer
David "Dave" Fleischer was an American animator film director and film producer, best known as a co-owner of Fleischer Studios with his two older brothers Max Fleischer and Lou Fleischer...

 on The Einstein Theory of Relativity
The Einstein Theory of Relativity
The Einstein Theory of Relativity is a silent film directed by Max and Dave Fleischer and released by Fleischer Studios.In August 1922, Scientific American published an article explaining their position that a silent film would be unsuccessful in presenting Albert Einstein's theory of relativity...

(1923), a short silent film
Silent film
A silent film is a film with no synchronized recorded sound, especially with no spoken dialogue. In silent films for entertainment the dialogue is transmitted through muted gestures, pantomime and title cards...

 released in connection with one of Serviss' books. He also wrote six works of fiction in his lifetime, all of which would today be classified as science fiction. Five of these were novels, and one was a short story.

In his private life Serviss was an enthusiastic mountain climber, describing his reaching the summit of the Matterhorn
Matterhorn
The Matterhorn , Monte Cervino or Mont Cervin , is a mountain in the Pennine Alps on the border between Switzerland and Italy. Its summit is 4,478 metres high, making it one of the highest peaks in the Alps. The four steep faces, rising above the surrounding glaciers, face the four compass points...

 at the age of 43 as part of an effort "to get as far away from terrestrial gravity as possible." His son was the Olympic high jumper Garrett Serviss.

Scientific Popularizations

  • Astronomy Through an Opera Glass, 1888
  • Pleasures of the Telescope, 1901
  • Other Worlds: Their Nature, Possibilities and Habitability in the Light of the Latest Discoveries, 1901
  • The Moon, 1907
  • Astronomy With The Naked Eye, 1908
  • Curiosities of the Sky, 1909
  • Round the Year with the Stars, 1910
  • Astronomy in a Nutshell, 1912

Science Fiction

  • Edison's Conquest of Mars
    Edison's Conquest of Mars
    Edison's Conquest of Mars, by Garrett P. Serviss, is one of the many science fiction novels published in the 19th century. Although science fiction was not at the time thought of as a distinct literary genre, it was a very popular literary form, with almost every fiction magazine regularly...

    , 1898 (written on commission from The Boston Post as a sequel to "Fighters from Mars", an un-authorized and heavily altered version of H. G. Wells
    H. G. Wells
    Herbert George Wells was an English author, now best known for his work in the science fiction genre. He was also a prolific writer in many other genres, including contemporary novels, history, politics and social commentary, even writing text books and rules for war games...

    's War of the Worlds)
  • The Moon Metal, 1900 (short story)
  • A Columbus of Space, 1909 (dedicated to people who read Jules Verne and written in his style; first published in All-Story magazine in 1909; republished by G. W. Dilligham, 1974, by Hyperion Press)
  • The Sky Pirate (novel)
    The Sky Pirate (novel)
    The Sky Pirate by science fiction writer Garrett P. Serviss was published in 1909 in the periodical Scrapbook. Owned by Frank Munsey, it was given further periodical publication by being syndicated out to newspapers around America, which in those days included short stories and serialized fiction...

    , 1909
  • The Second Deluge, 1911
  • The Moon Maiden
    The Moon Maiden
    The Moon Maiden is a science fiction novel by Garrett P. Serviss. It was first published in book form in 1978 by William L. Crawford, without imprint in an edition of 500 copies. The novel originally appeared in the magazine Argosy in 1915....

    , 1915

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