“The Jameson Satellite,” Neil R. Jones, 1931

“The Jameson Satellite,” Neil R Jones, 1931 – A man preserves his life by launching himself into space and orbiting the earth as a satellite.  Millennia pass and he is discovered by alien cyborgs (the Zoromes).  The aliens possess metal bodies, organic brains, and names of letters and numbers.

Comments: Read in Asimov’s Before the Golden Age, Book One.  He notes that this is the first use of the word of astronaut in published story, the first use of cryogenics, and the first coherent future history. He also describes the portrayal of the aliens as balanced; they are concerned but not intrusive, disinterested but arguing with dignity for the man to preserve his life rather than commit suicide. 

Wikipedia notes that the story influenced Asimov’s Robot series, Robert Ettinger (the father of cryogenics), and was alluded to in Masamune Shirow’s “cyborg-populated Ghost in the Shell saga.” At the same, sf critics have criticized the quality of the writing in the Jameson series, with Everett F. Bleiler opining that it is marked by “drearily innocuous similarities” as well as “weak writing and literary flatness.”

Of the story and the “Professor Jameson” series, Wikipedia notes: “The Zoromes, or machine men as they sometimes called themselves, were cyborgs. They came from a race of biological beings who had achieved immortality by transferring their brains to machine bodies. They occasionally assisted members of other races with this transition (e.g. the Tri-Peds and the Mumes), allowing others to become Zoromes and join them on their expeditions, which sometimes lasted hundreds of years. So, much like the Borg of the Star Trek series, a Zorome crew could be made up of assimilated members of many different biological species. The Zoromes discovered that Jameson’s body had been so well preserved that they were able to repair his brain, incorporate it into a Zorome machine body and restart it. The professor joined their crew and, over the course of the series, participated in many adventures, even visiting Zor, the Zorome homeworld, where he met biological Zoromes. The professor eventually rose to command his own crew of machine men on a new Zorome exploration ship. ‘The Jameson Satellite’ proved so popular with readers that later installments in Amazing Stories got not only cover mentions but the cover artwork.”

Author: Wikipedia: “Neil Ronald Jones (29 May 1909 – 15 February 1988) was an American author who worked for the state of New York. Not prolific, and little remembered today, Jones was ground–breaking in science fiction. His first story, ‘The Death’s Head Meteor,’ was published in Air Wonder Stories in 1930, possibly recording the first use of ‘astronaut’ in fiction. He also pioneered cyborg and robotic characters, and is credited with inspiring the modern idea of Cryonics. Most of his stories fit into a ‘future history’ like that of Robert A. Heinlein or Cordwainer Smith, well before either of them used this convention in their fiction.”

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About jennre

Lifelong sf fan, first-time blogger
This entry was posted in 1926-1939, astronauts, cyborgs/posthumans, death/immortality. Bookmark the permalink.

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