Rocket pioneer Max Valier on the case for women (but not the working class) in space

Max Valier im RaketenautoAustrian physicist and rocketry pioneer Max Valier became a friend and populariser of Hermann Oberth, and working with Fritz von Opel became the first person to test-drive a liquid-fuelled rocket-propelled car (he should also have been the first person to fly a rocket-propelled plane, but Opel was a bit of a dick about it all). He also wrote fiction, including ‘Auf kühner Fahrt zum Mars’ published in Die Rakete (1928), and then translated by Francis Currier as ‘A Daring Trip To Mars’ for Hugo Gernsback’s Wonder Stories (July 1931). Valier’s preface boasts of the accuracy of the ‘mathematical parts’, which ‘as based on careful calculation’, which I believe, although his claim that the story is ‘entertainment’ is debatable. Unless he means the bits where he raises gender and class politics in relation to spaceflight:

          ‘What, your wife is going with you [on your experimental spaceflight]?
‘Somebody must do the housekeeping, even in the rocket. That is not work for men. And then who knows whether other planets are not perhaps inhabited? She would surely not want me to succumb to the enticements of the beautiful dwellers in other worlds.’

Later, four months into their journey, thanks to ‘the unescapable boredom’, it’s all getting a bit claustrophobic and intense:

They quarrelled, merely in order to quarrel and to prove to themselves that they were actually still alive and not lying in an eternal sleep. These mutual torments slowly took on a more threatening form. When the science fiction novelists have written about space flight and depicted a mutiny of the crew or something of that sort, they have shown something psychologically well founded. But among the engineer, the doctor, and Inge it went no further than rudeness, but rudeness which they would never have pardoned under terrestrial conditions. In the case of baser stock there would actually have been mutiny and stabbings.




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