A Martian Named Frank & Lord Rosse’s Telescopes

Birr Castle, Parsonstown, County Offaly, Ireland;
alternate 1847CE timeline
Lord Rosse Exhibition temporary islet
Lord Rosse Exhibition temporary islet

The day begain normally – I had arrived at the official opening of the “Lord Rosse’s Leviathans” historical telescopes display that Troy McLuhan had commissioned from Avatrian and then added his riding tour to.  Judging from the clothing styles of the audience members from Desmond Shang’s Victorian Independent State of Caladon continent, we were in 1847, when William Parsons put his world’s-largest 1.8m (72 inch) ‘Leviathan’ into service.

Festive opening day crowd for Rosse Exhibition

Festive opening day crowd for Rosse Exhibition

Troy wrote about the opening day speeches and events here,  and the blogosphere’s initial reactions to the exhibit/ride in this followup post.

But Troy had left out some details and was wholly unawares of what plans were being drew by intellects vast and cool …

I was sitting in the audience of two dozen avatars, marvelling still at Lord Rosse’s achievements with them, astronomers, builders, Caladonians, and others.   The noonhour arrived, heralded by the nearby tower bells.

The sharp-headed metal tripod approaches

The sharp-headed metal tripod approaches

As the tolling bells ended, we suddenly heard splashing noises – water running off of wet metal onto more metal, and hollow, at that.  I turned to look and saw a dark shiny metallic sharp-edged something raising slowly and massively from the island’s bay, dripping seawater from its bulk.  The machine, or creature, for it moved deliberately and with purpose, had five hooded glaring eyes or lanterns set into the forward jagged edges of its conical body.  It had a pair of tentacles underneath, slashing back and fro swiftly, then still, then writhing again … 

Under the regard of the tripod

Under the regard of the tripod

As it rose higher, we could see that it was supported by three straight black legs, that moved one by one towards us.  The audience shifted nervously – I could hear their chairs creaking as i shifted nervously in my seat.  I wasn’t running for the park exit only because ParkMaster McLuhan was smiling, and also because I didn’t want to be the first one out of my chair and also because my legs were shaking too hard …

We heard a low powerful humming sound coming from it,  and sudden clattering sounds like loud horseclops from within the elongating legs as it rose in height over us and the stonework supporting walls.

The thuds of two of its legs on the stone walkway was heavy – then stopped abruptly as the looming creature stopped its movement.  (The 3rd leg had left feet-deep holes in the grass behind it, but yet the metal head had remained level.)  I started breathing again.  No one heard *my* knees knocking under the shadow of this metal device – because I had my shivering hands between them, but silently.  I estimated its towering height against the hazy clouds as being more than twice that of the walls or the nearby lighthouse – certainly over one hundred feet.

Beneath the tripod shadow

Beneath the tripod shadow

Creaking and squealing, its head turned and also tilted down, regarding us below.  Then it was still.  Troy waved his arm in welcome to the dark colossus.  “This is Frank, the Martian.  I’ve invited him here to be part of the ribbon-cutting ceremony.”

The clocktower struck noon, the peals echoing off the thick walls of Lord Rosse’s cradling construction.  The humming sound from Frank rose in pitch and intensity.


The sword of ghostly light Photo Credit: Anna

A thin blue spear of ghostly light jumped from one of Frank’s eyes straight down to and through the red ribbon!  There was a lighter blue glow in the air around the sword of heat, a crack of sound as it disappeared, and the smell of burnt concrete as a little fire started below the also-burning ribbon in the new hand’s-width crater that was now evident in the pavement.  An unperturbed Scholar McLuhan gestured upwards and shouted  “Thanks Frank!” to the deadly machine (for what creature could manifest such a hot ray?).

Frank nodded slowly to Troy, then with slow thumps, returned to the waters of the bay.  The audience’s murmuring returned, only much louder now …

Later, Docent McLuhan gave a talk about Lord Rosse’s life and optical marvels with the visual aid of drawings and daguerrotypes to illustrate points of his lecture, on large panels projecting from the hub of a spoked wheel, turned by a small steam-powered Caladonian engine.  This device giving the PoweredPoints(TM) display is another McLuhan invention, called a projecting slider or a slide-projected.

Troy McLuhan with his Sliding-Projector illustrating the lecture

Troy McLuhan with his Sliding-Projector illustrating the lecture

But in addition, Frank had a secret mission – to assess the humans’ ability to observe and travel to Mars.  We could not.  And so the 1st cylinder fired from Mars hit near the sandpits on Horsell Common in 1901 …

This text is duplicated at flickr, but with two extra pictures.

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