By: J. Schlossel
October 21, 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.


A great force of invaders had surrounded Eelee, one of the largest cities on Titan, and were slowly forcing the weary defenders back. The invaders fought with swift, death-dealing weapons, while the defenders had only sticks and stones to oppose them. Was it any wonder that the dispirited inhabitants of Titan were being forced back on every hand?

The city of Eelee was full of weary, trembling fugitives who had fled before the invaders from the surrounding open country. The morale of the defenders was breaking. Time after time they tried to fight through the slowly tightening ring of those terrible two-legged invaders. The defenders were slaughtered in their thousands. They were driven back from every nook and cranny until they met in the center of their city. This could hardly be called their last stand: they were merely waiting their turn to be butchered. In one solid, compact mass they cowered in the public square in the center of the city. The only protection at their backs was a solidly built public building. Eelee’s central station for wireless transmission of matter. Would help never come?

There came a shout of encouragement from the main wide entrance to the wireless transmission of matter building, and a solid line, some thirty deep, of fully armed Jovians from the four Confederate Worlds of Jupiter leapt out to attack. A wide avenue was immediately opened in the tightly packed mass of Eelee’s cowering populace, and the Jovians leapt through and spread out fanwise in front of the defenseless inhabitants.

Each of the Jovians in the front lines carried on his back a small tank that sprayed out a hundred feet in advance a chemical, which ignited everything it touched and burnt with a hot, livid flame. Those behind them carried stubby metal tubes, which would bark with short, thunderous reports, and which left ruin and death in the ranks of the invaders.

Help had come in the blackest moment. Similar scenes were taking place in all of the larger cities on Titan.

Back, back they drove the invaders. The Twelve Confederate Worlds (now there were only nine, and two of those threatened with momentary extinction) hurled their conscripted forces across the void so swiftly and in such numbers that the invaders were startled. Reluctant to give ground that they had previously gained, the two- legged warriors contested desperately each inch of their retreat. From every direction they were met by the defenders, who were armed with weapons as good as their own.

Could these be the despised, peace- loving inhabitants of the solar system whom they had meant to destroy so as to have undisputed possession of the entire solar system? They could hardly believe it, for the once peaceful Jovians fought with a ferocity that was terrible.

Whenever the invaders stopped and tried to stand their ground, the defenders swarmed up; the chemicals sprayed fires upon the two-legged invaders; and those in the lines behind the first came with their short metal tubes that roared with thunder and wrought havoc in the ranks of the invaders. The Jovians forced them back, always back, and began to surround the isolated detachments of the invaders and destroy them. Not till they had wiped them completely from Titan did they turn their attention toward the beleaguered inhabitants of Japetus.

The inhabitants of Japetus were still fighting desperately when the Jovians came. Following close on the heels of the Jovian came the first detachment from No. 5. There was also a steady influx of invaders. A desperate battle raged for possession of Japetus. Reinforcements were pouring in on both sides.

The invaders, who had successfully destroyed the inhabitants and buildings on Rhea, Dione, and Tethys, now turned their attention toward Titan. Once more the invaders stormed Titan. They did not drop down upon defenseless inhabitants this time. They were met and repulsed by a strong force of beauty-loving inhabitants from No. 5. Those beauty-loving beings from No. 5, despite their estheticism, fought with an incredible fury in defense of the union of the twelve worlds.

When the news of the first setback reached the invaders, from the four moons of Uranus and from their densely packed parent world steady streams of cubes shot out toward the Twelve Confederate Worlds. They were bringing new and better weapons to combat those of the Confederacy. They were coming at incalculable speed, using their own secret means of propelling the cubes besides the additional attraction that the sun’s gravitational force exerted upon them. But though the invaders could send their forces swiftly, the Twelve Confederate Worlds could transport their defenders ten times more quickly.

Prior to the invasion, the passenger service from world to world had always been subordinate to the commercial traffic of the wireless transmission of matter system of transportation that interlaced the twelve worlds. But with a few slight modifications the whole system of transportation was made available for passenger service. The Twelve Confederate Worlds were now able to hurl their defenders from world to world at the speed of light.

In a steady line the defenders would march into a station for wireless transmission of matter, enter the automatic transmission chamber and there receive the preliminary charge of specific high-frequency current that would cause temporarily suspended animation; then they would automatically be carried to separate vibrating chambers of high intensity, which would cause the electrons that composed the bodies to be impinged upon the sending apparatus in the compartment; a few minutes later, the process reversed, they would be ready to leave the receiving station at their destination. After the experience of leaping millions of miles at the speed of light they would be none the worse except for a slight touch of nausea.


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”.