Wednesday, October 14, 2020

PASHUBALA by K. Shivarama Karanth (Chapter 2)

(before you read this here below, read Chapter 1 here)


— K. Shivarama Karanth  

Chapter 2


Today is a momentous day. The first of March. Everyone stands on the shores of Gateway Island with an air of anticipation and impatience. (Readers, the group considered their secret location a doorway that would lead them to Mercury and so had named it Gateway Island.) This was the date they had all previously agreed upon. Kline and Dennis will have to embark on this historic journey without the outside world having any knowledge of it. But the joy and enthusiasm they had earlier has waned. Even Kline looks downcast. The fact that Loben is not with them is preying on his mind. “Why has Loben not returned even after so many days have passed?” he thinks, worrying for his friend. But even in such circumstances he didn’t want to step back on a decision they’d take. He was stubborn in that way.

“Whatever happens, we need to start today itself” he thinks and in the moment, “But how can we leave before Loben returns?”. Sensing his conflict, Wilson suggests, “Can we not postpone the launch?”. Kline doesn’t agree. Neither does he explain his reasons for saying so. Their new space-plane stands ready. Everyone on the island base is waiting to see it soar away. Daylight fades. The stars slowly start twinkling in the sky. “Come my friend, let us go. What else can we do now but leave”, a crestfallen Kline says to Dennis as he makes his way to the space-plane. A lone tear escapes from his eye. Wiping it off before anyone can notice it, he boarded the space-plane. The designated time of launch is close.

The rest of the people in the group were still wondering among themselves, “Where is Loben? Couldn’t he be here by now at least?”, oblivious to the fact that Kline and Dennis were making their way to the space-place. Suddenly, less than half a mile from where they were standing on the shore, Loben’s submarine surfaced. Overjoyed, everyone started waving at him. Kline noticed this and in that instant the shadow passed from his face.

 “Where is Kline?” asked Loben the instant he set foot on land, running towards his friends. As one, they pointed to the space-plane. Loben immediately set off towards it at a brisk pace, with the others following closely behind. No one knew the reason behind Loben’s impatience. Reaching Kline, Loben took out a letter and placed it in the former’s hand. “Can’t someone else go in your place?” he asked. Silence. “We have to then postpone the launch by four days”, said Loben. Pat came the reply, “That is impossible”. Loben didn’t have the heart to argue with his closest friend. Finally Kline said, “Dear friend, that is a foregone conclusion. It is indeed heart breaking news. But isn’t that what we humans have to experience anyway always?”.

What followed was a conversation on other matters between the two friends. Checking all the instruments on the space-plane, Kline and Dennis prepared themselves for launch. Joy, excitement, fear, impatience were all reflected in their faces as these two brave adventurers hugged each other. Kline switched on the space-plane. What now? In a few moments, they would get on and lift-off towards Mercury. Suddenly, remembering that was one last thing he’d forgotten to give Kline, Loben reached out and stuffed a small object in Kline’s pocket.

Soon, the space-plane disappeared into the sky at an astounding speed. Prof. Du Bois and Loben quickly made their way to the observatory and started looking at the craft through the telescope. The rest of the group stayed back on the shore gazing at the craft and finally started walking back to the base. The space-plane that was just a speck had by now disappeared from sight. It would take Kline and Dennis three to four months to reach Mercury. There was nothing to do now except wait by their instruments until the two landed at their destination and transmitted any news.

Our readers would be curious to know what transpired in the conversation between Kline and Loben, as also about the construction of the space-plane and its functioning. We will attempt to describe this incredible interplanetary vessel to the best extent possible.

But first, the matter of the news that Loben had come carrying. To understand that, all we need to do is listen in on the conversation that followed between the people left behind.

Prof. Du Bois: Old friend, all of us were exhausted just waiting for you. Even allowing for delays and a slow, careful journey, we had expected you here by the twentieth of February. What is the reason behind this inordinate delay?

Loben: I would have been on my way here much before that. But some domestic matters made it impossible for me to leave as scheduled.

Edmund Wilson: Domestic matters? What domestic matters could a bachelor like you have?

Loben: If it was my own personal affair, I would not have bothered too much. But this was a matter with Kline’s family. Every time I went to meet her, his wife would insist on coming here with me. But with no way to bring her here without arousing suspicion, I kept making excuses. This time when I went to their house, I found her bed-ridden and sick.

 Prof. Du Bois: Sick? What illness was she suffering from?

 Loben: Typhoid.

 Wilson: Then she would have been cured by now.

 Loben: Oh yes, extremely cured!

 Wilson: What do you mean by that?

Loben: What can I say, friends? She passed away waiting to get one last glimpse of her husband. I made all the arrangements post her death, finished her funeral and only then could I leave.

Prof. Du Bois: What did you hope to achieve by giving us this news now? If you had informed us earlier, I would have volunteered to go to Mercury in Kline’s place. Poor fellow. It is a very unfair thing we have done, letting him embark on such a journey in a state of grief.

Loben: I spoke to him about this very same thing. I tried to impress upon him that he should not be the one to go. But he brushed aside my objections just as he refused to be swallowed by sadness. Leaving now as planned is the right thing to do he said. Despite his grief, I could see his enthusiasm and thus, I could not but wish him well and let him leave.

Wilson: Truly, such commitment to our project is commendable.

Suddenly there was a knock on the door. Loben went and opened it to let one of the workers in, who then proceeded to place a small package on the table at which they sat. “Oh what a careless fool I am!” exclaimed Loben as he collapsed into a chair. The blood has drained from his face. Shocked at his reaction, the others made haste to open the package. What did they see inside? The Light-o-Phone that Kline and Dennis were meant to take with them. It had been left behind!

Meanwhile aboard the space-plane, the Light-o-Phone was furthest on Kline’s mind and he would not think about it till he reached the end of their journey. The first thing he had done after lift-off was to inspect the pendant Loben had given him. It was a keepsake that his wife – on her deathbed, having given up all hope of ever seeing her husband again – had sent to Kline to remember her by. Was it an expensive, jewel-encrusted pendant made of a precious metal? Not at all! It was a simple pendant made out of ordinary copper. The only thing that could be considered valuable about it were the two words inscribed on them. This pithy statement was the distillation of his wife’s life experience, what she had learnt through her dealings with people throughout her life. Her final gift to him. 

Turning the pendant around, Kline finally saw the words, “Ignore gold”. Kline did not have an inkling of what she meant by that. But since his wife had sent this message to him it must be important he thought. Keeping the pendant safely back in his pocket, he looked out of the window. What did he see in the space he was travelling in? Trees? People? Dwellings? Nothing. All he saw, in every direction were just the silently twinkling stars. Letting out a sigh, he made his way next to the navigation instruments and sat down.

Now it's time for a few words about this new interplanetary space-plane: The craft was oval in shape. But its extremities were not as curved like an egg but sharper like the ends of a boat. It had four propellers at each end. Currently the four propellers in the front were working, accelerating the space-plane forward. If the propellers at the rear of the craft were switched on instead of the ones in the front, the space-plane would move in reverse. It was impossible to accurately measure the speeds that the space-plane was capable of. When it was in motion, you could only see the propellers. If you saw the space-plane while in flight, it would be impossible to sight by the time you blink again.

What about the two voyagers during their journey of 48 million miles; how would it go? As soon as they boarded the craft, they shut all the windows and concentrated on their journey wasting no time. Once they reached outer space there would be no air to breathe. For this reason, apart from supplies of food, they also carried with them canisters of life-sustaining gas. They would get their supply of oxygen from these to last them for the duration of their onward journey. It was their firm belief that Mercury had a breathable, Earth-like atmosphere.

On to the question of the space-plane’s energy source. This too was the result of Kline and Loben’s extraordinary prowess. If they used petrol as the source of energy for the craft, it would never attain the speeds required to reach Mercury and neither would it be possible for any vessel to carry the large amount of liquid fuel required onboard. This they had known from the outset. That is why the first device they invented and constructed was an engine that could generate electricity in outer space. I has been surmised by some that this device worked on the principles of a repeating rocket, but that would mean the craft would not be capable of a return journey. But such matters are beside the point. Let us return to the matter at hand, which is that this was a self-powered space-plane that could generate as much electricity as it needed through the entire duration of its journey. With no limit on the power it could generate to power itself, it could achieve impossibly fast speeds. Over the course of its journey, the space-plane would reach a region where the gravitational pull on it from Earth would be the same as that of Mercury’s. A little beyond this point in interplanetary space, there was no further need for the front propellers. The reason? Mercury’s gravity would start to pull the space-plane towards itself. But this does comes with its own risk. The closer the craft gets to Mercury, the faster it will accelerate. The higher its speed, the more are its chances of crashing into the planet and getting destroyed completely. This why the space-plane had been equipped with rear propellers which would, once switched on, pull the craft in the opposite direction. By controlling the rotary speed of the rear propellers it was possible to slowly land the craft without any danger to its occupants.

Given that the space-plane was almost completely opaque and that its occupants would need to see and know where they are, it was also equipped with a viewing instrument. Through this, its occupants could look at their surroundings and gauge their current location and thus steer the craft towards Mercury. Across the exterior of the space-plane ‘glass-eyes’ had been installed. These are not really eyes made of glass but newly invented instruments that can be said to like telescopes. Whatever was outside the space-plane, these ‘glass-eyes’ would not just reflect but magnify manifold, while at the same time, combining the views from all directions into a single picture so that they could see Mercury clearly.

What else did these voyagers need? A place to sit and sleep in comfort that would not be affected by the vagaries of the space-plane’s acceleration and changes in direction. This problem was solved with the use of delicate instruments and a mariners compass so that they would not be affected in the least by the law of inertia. All these and many such fantastic instruments were being used by the two intrepid voyagers in their first voyage.

Let us return now to the people left behind on Gateway Island. It has been three months since they have been separated from their two friends. They have not been able to spot or locate the space-plane using their telescope. The reason? At the distance it is at, that craft is smaller than a minuscule speck. They have also been unable to know about the progress their friends have made and their current situation. The reason? The two voyagers simply forgot to take the Light-o-Phone along with them. All that the group now awaits is that one signal that their friends have landed on Mercury safely. The signal in question being the light from an immensely powerful electric torch that was stored on the space-plane. Loben, Prof. Du Bois and Wilson had confidence in their friends that when they reach Mercury, the torch would be the first equipment they would use and so had trained their telescopes on spotting the light from the torch – instead of looking for the space-plane – in hopes of catching the signal. One they eagerly awaited. As per their calculations, they should have spotted the signal in the fourth month itself.

It has been five months now. And the people on Gateway Island have yet to see the signal or any signs of it.

As regards Kline and Dennis in the space-plane – in the second month itself, on schedule, they had reached the region where the gravitational pull from Earth was the same as that from Mercury. They had switched off the front propellers of the space-plane as planned. It was now being pulled towards Mercury through its gravity alone. In the third month, once their craft had started to accelerate extremely fast, they switched on the rear propellers to stabilise its speed.

At some point, Kline looked at the shimmering planet fast approaching, checked their speed and relative location as always and said, “Okay then, we shall reach in another two days”.

Dennis: Two more days you say? Why so?

Kline: Yes. Our rear propellers are counteracting the gravitational pull of Mercury but it seems our speed is still steadily increasing.

What he did not say was that he was now truly worried. To land on Mercury is one thing. But to land alive was another matter altogether; it seemed like a remote possibility now. He calmed himself and tried to think. He switched on the front propellers too but reversed the direction of their rotation. This helped reduce the speed of the space-plane.

They were now a few miles from the surface of Mercury. But where do they land? A little further away, Kline saw a region that was blue in colour. Assuming it to be an area of an ocean deep enough, Kline decided that it would be the ideal location to land, if not to float. His guess turned out to be right. It was indeed an ocean. But the clear black objects under its surface indicated rocks, which most likely meant it was not of great depth. If the ocean had been deep enough, the space-plane would’ve sunk to its depths and then slowly risen back up to float on its surface. But unfortunately our space-plane, having crashed into this water, disappeared beneath the surface never to be seen again!


Monday, October 05, 2020

PASHUBALA by K. Shivarama Karanth

Kota Shivarama Karanth. Writer, novelist, environmentalist, folklorist, performer, science communicator, essayist, activist, polymath, legend, renaissance man. The third Kannada writer to be awarded the Jnanpith Award (after Kuvempu and Bendre) for his novel, Mookajjiya Kanasugalu. He breathed new life into Yakshagana. To write about him would take many a page, but you get the idea. Do check out the wikipedia page on Karanth. One little-known fact about is that he also wrote science fiction stories. Two among these being ಮಂಗಳ ಗ್ರಹಕ್ಕೆ ಓಟ (Mangala Grahakke Ota; Race to Mars) and ಪಶುಬಲ (Pashubala; 'Brute Force', lit. Animal Strength), a story first published in 1928 in Vasantha magazine. For context, this is a whole decade, ten years before 1938, the year usually attributed to the beginning of the 'Golden age of science fiction'. As things stand, this is the first 'ವೈಜ್ಞಾನಿಕ ಕಥೆ' (Vaigyanika Kathe; the term used for 'science fiction' in Kannada) which makes it the first science fiction story in Kannada. Pashubala then represents not just a landmark in Kannada and Indian literature but also in world SF. A first-contact story, Pashubala tells the story of a group of scientists, inventors and explorers who come together to mount an interplanetary expedition to Mercury in search of aliens, and explores the reactions and ramifications when humans make contact with an alien society. Pashubala is not just an example of the versatility of Karanth as a writer (because this story is clearly by someone who understood the genre and what it was capable of) but also his always-curious mind, his philosophical bent and his scientific temperament. 

Pashubala is currently available in its original Kannada version in two books: In the anthology ನಾಳೆಯ ಕಥೆಗಳು (Naleya Kathegalu) edited by Savitha Srinivas & first published in 2008 by Sahitya Akademi, and in the collection, ರಂಗಪ್ಪನ ಗೊಂಬೆ ಹಾಗೂ ಇತರ ಕಥೆಗಳು (Rangappana Gombe Hagoo Ithara Kathegalu) published by Geethanjali Pustaka Prakashana. To the best of my knowledge, this story has never been translated into English, which is a terrible thing to happen to a landmark story such as this. So, for my own personal enjoyment and while at it, to do my bit so that non-Kannada readers and SF fans everywhere can read this story I started to translate it. Purely for non-commercial reasons and all copyright rests with the owners of it thereof. Now on with the story which i hope i have done justice to with my translation, this being the first non-advertising work I've translated, stumbling a bit upon the prose of that age and Karanth's vocabulary which includes neologisms he came up with to describe/explain things for which there was no Kannada word. I will be putting up the translation of Pashubala as and when i finish each chapter. I hope you stay with me through the story. Everything you love about it is all due to the late great Shivarama Karanth. Any mistakes and whatever you don't like is my doing. Anyways, here goes.


— K. Shivarama Karanth  

Chapter 1


Prof. Du Bois: Friends, our work for today is done. All arrangements needed for our newest invention to work are also finished. Isn’t it high time we set a date for our first expedition? There is no point in delaying it further. Remember, our base may not stay secret from the outside world for longer. All of you must have surely noticed the monoplane that flew above this new home of ours a few days ago. We may have avoided being detected thus far, but in this age of airplanes it may not be possible to keep our base secret for much longer. If its location is revealed and made public before our project reaches fruition, people will surely make their way here. If that does indeed happen, what then is the use of all these years of secrecy?

Dr. Kline: Prof. Du Bois, the location of this island is not known to anyone except those of us working on this project. If as you fear, some people do find out about this base, what can they do? Will they arrive by ship to this island? In anticipation of this very problem I have placed underwater explosives all around the island. Will any ship be able to make its way through them all?

Edmund Wilson: It is true that no one can approach this island through the sea. But what stops them from taking the aerial route?

Dr. Kline: Even if they come in airplanes, perhaps one or two may attempt to land. If that does actually come to be, we will be able to see them landing and to deter them. We have enough arms and ammunition on the island to discourage them don’t we?

Prof. Du Bois: Be that as may, we must not delay our launch any further. It has been six years since we came to live on this island to work on this great adventure of ours. It has taken us this long to get everything ready and make all the arrangements. Even if we launch now, we do not know how many years more it will be before we know the full results of our project. Kline, you are a young man. But my friend, Wilson and I are not. Our hair has already turned white. We are most curious as also impatient to know about the harvest we shall reap from our efforts.

Dr. Kline: If that is the matter, I have no further objections.

John Dennis: What is the date today?

Dr. Kline: January 21.

Dennis: Hmmm…then in the next few days let us run all the final checks on our solar space-plane and examine it thoroughly and set the 1st of February as the date on which we bring our project to fruition and launch our craft.

Dr. Kline: No! That is impossible. We cannot do anything of that sort until Loben returns. If you want, we can launch the very next day after he returns but not before that. Don’t forget that he is making arrangements for a second space-plane. He is also procuring all the parts as per our specifications for the dictation machine, speaker, recorder and other components which we need to wait for to create the Light-o-Phone (ತೇಜೋಭಾಷಕ). Without it, what is the use of going on a voyage? Apart from all this, what if he gets angry that we didn’t wait for him to return before going ahead with the launch? Let us not entertain any thoughts in this direction.

Wilson: So what do you think is a suitable time?

Dr. Kline: As soon as Loben returns. It has been a week since he left. He should have reached Germany by now. It will take him a fortnight to procure everything and make all the arrangements we need. So I think he will be able to return only in the middle of next month. Don’t forget that he cannot leave when he wishes. He needs to leave Germany in our submarine without arousing any suspicion and away from prying eyes. If you consider this delay, I can hazard a guess that he will reach here only by the twentieth of next month. Given this, I suggest the first of March as the launch date. I am sure my English and American friends will not approach the end of their old age by then.

Wilson: Kline, if you want to put it like that, let me tell you that I am confident I will not die before I’m a hundred years old! But let us not dwell on such matters. What is important is that the first voyage has been postponed to the first of March. Dennis, I hope you are in agreement.

Dennis: Wilson, we may be older and grey-haired, but when it comes to subjects in which Kline is an expert, with more experience in such matters, I think it is advisable to listen to him regardless of his age.

Prof. Du Bois: It is settled then. Now about the second matter. Who will be the fortunate travellers in the first voyage of our space-plane? I think it should be one among the four of us. Five if you include Loben. For a voyage as important as this, I don’t think we should consider the workers and complicate matters.

Dr. Kline: That is correct. They are not qualified enough. It is also futile to consider Loben for this task. He is the only one amongst us who can keep the base supplied with all essentials covertly. Wilson and Dennis are very old. That leaves Prof. Du Bois and myself. Furthermore, both of us are willing to take the life-threatening risk.

Prof. Du Bois: This is an excellent suggestion!

Wilson: No! This will surely not do. When people like me are around, who have lived their life, it is not right to put the life of a talented young man like you at risk.

Dennis: There is merit in what Wilson is saying. At the end of the day, only two people get to go. Instead of nominating people, selecting candidates from amongst us and debating them, why not leave it to each one’s luck?

Dr. Kline: Leave it to chance? What you mean by that?

Dennis: What if we draw lots?

Dr. Kline: Looks like our dear friend here hasn’t forgotten his horse-racing and gambling days. But fine, let us do as he suggests and draw lots.

(Once this was decided, each person’s name was written on a separate piece of paper and two such chits drawn).

Wilson: John Dennis and Dr. Kline!

The place broke into a happy uproar. Dr. Kline and Dennis were wholeheartedly cheered. The reason? Fate had chosen them to be the lucky ones to undertake a journey like no other. One was a youngster, the other an old man. Everyone on the island base came and congratulated them. But of the two, it was Dr. Kline who people had faith in and trusted more. He was an extraordinary person. “He will bring glory to the inhabitants of Earth”, they said.

But who is this person who will bring glory to the inhabitants of Earth? Such a question will naturally arise in the minds of the readers. What adventure is he embarking on? What new exploits await him? Surely they are curious to know the answer to these questions.

Dr. Kline and Loben are two young men from Germany. Being of the same age, they were in the same class since childhood and were thick as thieves, the best of friends. After finishing his education, Dr. Kline started a research centre in Berlin city. His friend, Loben also joined him there. From the beginning, they were both driven to make new discoveries and invent things. They did not have any one direction or a particular field in which they wanted to conduct research or a singular point from which to begin their research. All they knew was that they will dedicate their life to science and discovering new things. The bonds of their friendship were strong. Neither Dr. Kline’s extreme wealth not Loben’s lack of money got in the way. Dr. Kline never let his wealth go to his head. He is now nearing thirty years of age. After all these years, there is no fear that he will let his financial position change him. Whatever is mine is Loben’s too and whatever we get belongs to both of us. This was what he believed, making their friendship firmer.

One or two years after establishing the research centre, both Dr. Kline and Loben found themselves curious to know more about the planet Mercury. It was fortunate that Dr. Kline had spent the latter part of his higher education studying astronomy. At the same time, people were also getting interested in Mercury. Some had even decided that a similar earth-like society existed there. One day when they were together, Loben asked Dr. Kline, “What do you think of studying about and researching into Mercury?”

“What do we stand to gain by just doing research? What do we care what Mercury is like? If you are interested in going there, then let me know. Let us go to Mercury together!” replied Dr. Kline in jest.

The joke took root in Loben’s mind and soon became a personal mission. Loben started researching widely and deeply about Mercury; collecting any and all information and experiences about the planet from all the sources he could find. 

One fine day he went to Dr. Kline. “Look at all this. The result of my extensive research. My part of the job is done. The rest is up to you. To come up with a way of getting to Mercury is your responsibility. You know much more about electricity and other things than I do. Why not put it to good use?” said Loben. “I concur”, Dr. Kline replied with a nod. But who would assist him in this project, where would he find such people he wondered. The thought of a secret location far from any human habitation where they could start and finish this project as desired also crossed his mind.

A few months later, there was an international scientific conference held in Germany. Scientists, research students and inventors from across the world were expected to attend this prestigious event. I should make good use of this opportunity thought Kline. And so he did. Among the people who had come to attend the conference were the aforementioned Prof. Du Bois, an aviation expert from Paris city, and Edmund Wilson from the United States of America.

After the conference was over, Kline invited both of them to his research centre. He spoke to them about the project and asked them many questions and once he was convinced that they would be ideal members for the team he decided that he should join hands with them to complete the project. Of the two, Du Bois was not just an expert in aviation systems but also adept in avionics. But like Loben, he was a man of limited means. On the other hand, Wilson – while not a scientist – was the son of the richest man in America. This meeting ended with all of them forming a secret group.

The next matter at hand was about finding a suitable location for their base of operations. In a time of economic and political turmoil, it was not feasible for the base to be set up in any of their own countries, be it Germany, France or America. At this juncture, an Englishman called John Dennis came to their aid. 

Dennis was an explorer. He was also the brother of Wilson’s wife and it was natural that they would be on good terms with one another. As soon as the meeting was over, Wilson contacted Dennis at his residence in Glasgow city and asked him to come to Berlin city. Dennis arrived soon after and it can be stated that the place that they were looking for came about as a result of his explorations. Due to some reasons, Dennis had not disclosed its location to any person or any periodical. A big island in the middle of the ocean which had not yet caught the eye of any country or other explorers. Dennis laid down a condition that he should be made a part of the secret group if he was to disclose the island’s co-ordinates, and so he was accepted into their circle.

It was thus that this group of inventors and adventurers came to be. The conversation that we were privy to at the beginning of this story took place six years after the secret island base was established. Since then, everyone in the group had lived on the island itself, readying for a great new adventure. The story was circulated that they were all deceased – except for Loben – as the result of an airplane crash. Only Loben now lived in Germany, making sure he kept the island base supplied with everything that its inhabitants needed, and then too in secret using a submarine. The only person from the outside world who was aware of this group and the goings-on in the island was Loben.

A few words on what this group achieved in the past six years are in order.

Their greatest accomplishment since they embarked on their project was the construction of a vessel capable of travelling to Mercury, a modern space-plane. It was completely new in all aspects, a model unlike anything that existed. It was an inter-planetary craft that could generate its own electricity in the vacuum of outer space and use that to power itself. It could however only seat two occupants. There was just enough room to accommodate the occupants and a month’s supply of all the things they would need during their journey.

The other object that they created was the Light-o-Phone mentioned earlier. This little device had three main parts: a ‘composer’, a ‘writer’ and a ‘speaker’. The ‘speaker’ component had a powerful light source through which messages could be transmitted. The light from this lamp is capable of travelling up to a million miles across space. However, this light is on a spectrum invisible to the human eye. If you are within a few miles of this transmitted message with another Light-o-Phone in your possession, then the ‘writer’ of your device – which contains a strange new type of mirror – will reflect the message for you to read. No matter how distant, using the Light-o-Phone it is possible to carry out a conversation using light itself, almost instantaneously. Until Loben returns to the island, along with the components required to complete this device, journeying to Mercury is out of the question for a simple reason: If the space travellers do reach Mercury, should there not be a way for them to communicate with the group back on Earth?

What an impossible, astounding adventure this is! But hasn’t the desire for name, fame and glory made people embark on equally impossible voyages?