By: J. Schlossel
October 13, 2023

J. Schlossel’s first story, “Invaders from Outside,” appeared in the January 1925 issue of Weird Tales. It was one of only six stories that he’d publish. SF historians agree that — with its solar system of inhabited planets, a council of worlds, and a space battle between fleets of ships — the story is an early example of “space opera.” HiLoBooks is pleased to serialize it here for HILOBROW’s readers.

ALL INSTALLMENTS: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9.


From the moment that the strange world so suddenly armed, and with its first ruthless act took up its sullen position as a new member of the solar family, the watchful eyes of the Twelve Confederate Worlds did not leave it for an instant. Every act was viewed with suspicion. Intently did they watch the two-legged creatures repair and build the huge pyramidal structures that reared their heads several miles above the surrounding surface. With deep wonder they watched them bring out from the interior of their planet large, metal, boxlike objects. They were not producing them one at a time, but by the thousands, and stacking them up near the huge pyramidal structures. On the very pinnacle of each pyramid there was a square opening that was exactly the size of those metal boxes, and each opening extended down to the very base of its pyramid. The Scientific Society, try as it would, could not discover to what use those boxes were being put.

The numbers of those strange two-legged creatures were seen to increase, and still increase. The Scientific Society had often discussed, wondering, how so many could exist on so small an area. There seemed hardly room for a fraction of their numbers.

Where did they get their supply of food? They did not grow it on the surface, for there was no room. Did they manufacture artificial foods? Several times in past ages the Scientific Society had produced artificial foods, but the inhabitants did not seem to relish them, though they were as palatable and nutritious from the chemical standpoint as any of the foods that nature produced.

It was just three Martian years from the moment that they had arrived to the solar system until they began to leap the tremendous void that separated Neptune from the four moons of Uranus. From each square opening on top of the pyramidal structures a steady stream of metallic cubes flashed out into the bleak void of space on their journey toward the moons of Uranus. Each square box was large enough to accommodate one hundred of those queer two-legged beings.

They landed upon the four moons of Uranus, and with the cubes that had carried them across the void they formed a wall surrounding their first rude camp. They immediately set to work building a city. The structures that they put up were identical with those that covered the surface of their own world. After their first city was completed these ruthless two-legged creatures went out in their thousands and commenced slaughtering for their furs the wild life that had lived there prior to their coming — killed those living creatures just for the bit of skin or fur that covered their backs!

The world of their origin, now the moon of old Neptune, still continued to send those metal cubes in a steady stream to the moons of Uranus. City after city sprang into existence. They flourished, growing so swiftly that the outskirts of each city soon blended into the outskirts of its neighbors.

The Twelve Confederate Worlds still continued to think of peace. It seemed strange that the inhabitants of those twelve worlds did not realize their danger. They went about in the smug belief that they were invulnerable.

The one thing that most amazed those who studied the strange, two-legged aliens was the speed with which they continued to increase their numbers. In a very short time the four moons of Uranus were too small to hold them. An air of intense activity pervaded the four moons of Uranus. They commenced building pyramids that were to be at least six miles high. As soon as these were completed the square, metallic cubes made their appearance and were stacked up by thousands near by.

The invaders leapt from the moons of Uranus to the five habitable moons of Saturn, which were members of the Confederation. The inhabitants of those five Confederate Worlds were unprepared. There was a steady whiz as the cubes shot through the air of those five worlds. They came in countless hordes.

Rhea, Dione, and Tethys, the three smallest, were snuffed out in a twinkling. Japetus and Titan put up so savage a front that they were able to hold them off. Each sent its desperate appeal for help throbbing through the ether.

Even though the invaders had many efficient death-dealing weapons and used them ruthlessly, the unprepared inhabitants of Japetus and Titan put up so grim a struggle, fought so fiercely with what they could lay their hands upon, that they were able to stop the forward charges time after time. Still it was plain that those pitiless two- legged invaders held their most desperate attempts at resistance cheaply —held them in sneering contempt— held even the whole combined power of the Twelve Confederate Worlds in contempt—played with them as a cat would play with a mouse!

The Confederate Worlds awoke to their danger at last. Was it too late? They sought in their museums and in the old archives of their early histories for plans of death-dealing devices that their own ancient, bloodthirsty ancestors had used. They discarded their foolish dreams of peace and selected the ideas for the most terrible weapons that they could find; and they began to manufacture these with lightning rapidity. Meanwhile, the inhabitants were conscripted, and the use of the weapons explained to them; and they were soon ready to be sent out against the invaders. The Twelve Confederate Worlds did not make the terrible mistake of underrating their antagonists.


RADIUM AGE PROTO-SF: “Radium Age” is Josh Glenn’s name for the nascent sf genre’s c. 1900–1935 era, a period which saw the discovery of radioactivity, i.e., the revelation that matter itself is constantly in movement — a fitting metaphor for the first decades of the 20th century, during which old scientific, religious, political, and social certainties were shattered. More info here.

SERIALIZED BY HILOBOOKS: Jack London’s The Scarlet Plague | Rudyard Kipling’s With the Night Mail (and “As Easy as A.B.C.”) | Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Poison Belt | H. Rider Haggard’s When the World Shook | Edward Shanks’ The People of the Ruins | William Hope Hodgson’s The Night Land | J.D. Beresford’s Goslings | E.V. Odle’s The Clockwork Man | Cicely Hamilton’s Theodore Savage | Muriel Jaeger’s The Man With Six Senses | Jack London’s “The Red One” | Philip Francis Nowlan’s Armageddon 2419 A.D. | Homer Eon Flint’s The Devolutionist | W.E.B. DuBois’s “The Comet” | Edgar Rice Burroughs’s The Moon Men | Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland | Sax Rohmer’s “The Zayat Kiss” | Eimar O’Duffy’s King Goshawk and the Birds | Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Lost Prince | Morley Roberts’s The Fugitives | Helen MacInnes’s The Unconquerable | Geoffrey Household’s Watcher in the Shadows | William Haggard’s The High Wire | Hammond Innes’s Air Bridge | James Branch Cabell’s Jurgen | John Buchan’s “No Man’s Land” | John Russell’s “The Fourth Man” | E.M. Forster’s “The Machine Stops” | John Buchan’s Huntingtower | Arthur Conan Doyle’s When the World Screamed | Victor Bridges’ A Rogue By Compulsion | Jack London’s The Iron Heel | H. De Vere Stacpoole’s The Man Who Lost Himself | P.G. Wodehouse’s Leave It to Psmith | Richard Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game” | Houdini and Lovecraft’s “Imprisoned with the Pharaohs” | Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Sussex Vampire” | Francis Stevens’s “Friend Island” | George C. Wallis’s “The Last Days of Earth” | Frank L. Pollock’s “Finis” | A. Merritt’s The Moon Pool | E. Nesbit’s “The Third Drug” | George Allan England’s “The Thing from — ‘Outside'” | Booth Tarkington’s “The Veiled Feminists of Atlantis” | H.G. Wells’s “The Land Ironclads” | J.D. Beresford’s The Hampdenshire Wonder | Valery Bryusov’s “The Republic of the Southern Cross” | Algernon Blackwood’s “A Victim of Higher Space” | A. Merritt’s “The People of the Pit” | Max Brand’s The Untamed | Julian Huxley’s “The Tissue-Culture King” | Clare Winger Harris’s “A Runaway World” | Francis Stevens’s “Thomas Dunbar” | George Gurdjieff’s “Beelzebub’s Tales” | Robert W. Chambers’s “The Harbor-Master”.