Search SFE    Search EoF

  Omit cross-reference entries  

Horner, Donald W

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

Icon made by Freepik from


(1874-1944) UK astronomer, meteorologist and author who specialized in popular-science texts. Though published as boys' fiction, By Aeroplane to the Sun: Being the Adventures of a Daring Aviator and his Friends (1910) offers a numerate and complex vision of a high-tech Near Future, featuring picturephones, television and electric cars, and describing the protagonists' usual tour of the Solar System with prescient realism, though the inhabitants of Venus and Mars are conventionally depicted in terms of love and War. The ship operates by a kind of Ion Drive; its inhabitants, some of whom are women, use pressure suits when necessary; and the planets themselves, as well as the cool Sun, offer a wide range of challenges. Its thematic sequel, Their Winged Destiny: Being a Tale of Two Planets (1912; vt The World's Double: Being a Tale of Two Planets 1913) expands the scope of the earlier book, sending its astronauts from a possibly doomed Earth – stopping briefly at a Pluto-like planet beyond Neptune (see Outer Planets) – to Earth's double in orbit around Alpha Centauri. The cover of the vt shows the protagonists in spacesuits gazing from their Spaceship at Earth under threat from a dark star; both novels demonstrate the speed with which the advance of science – Horner being professionally trained – was engendering radical changes in the venues and plotting conventions that went to make up Genre SF long before the founding of Amazing Stories in 1926. [JC]

Donald William Horner

born Lambeth, London: 1874

died Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset: 28 February 1944



previous versions of this entry

This website uses cookies.  More information here. Accept Cookies